West Coast confirmed their hold on a top-four spot with an impressive 53-point win over St Kilda on Saturday.
The slick Eagles raced to a 37-point lead at quarter-time and were able to keep the resurgent Saints at arm’s length before powering away to the 20.11 (131) to 12.6 (78) win at Etihad Stadium.
St Kilda launched a stunning comeback to defeat the Western Bulldogs at the same venue a fortnight ago, but they couldn’t overcome a similarly lethargic start against West Coast.
Nic Naitanui was important in the first quarter as Luke Schuey and Matt Priddis got on top around the stoppages, while Josh Kennedy kicked two of his four goals for the day as the Eagles flew out of the blocks.
The lifeless Saints looked set for a fearful hiding, but Leigh Montagna, with 22 disposals in the first half, sparked an unlikely resurgence that slashed the deficit to two goals at the main break.
That gap closed to as few as seven points as the Saints carried their momentum into the third quarter. But the Eagles steadied to kick the last three goals of the term to lead by 31.
On the evidence of their much-improved intensity over the previous two quarters, that margin wasn’t beyond St Kilda. But West Coast managed the first goal of the final term through Fraser McInnes.
Not satisfied to ease to the line, the Eagles took full advantage of their tiring opposition to convincingly claim their fifth win in succession.
Naitanui finished with 37 hitouts but failed to take a mark, while Andrew Gaff (33 possessions) joined Schuey (28) and Priddis (31) in an impressive performance by their onball brigade.
Jack Steven worked tirelessly for St Kilda to finish with 36 touches and nine clearances, with David Armitage (32) and Montagna (33) also influential.