Eagles show flag credentials in Tiger rout
IF doubters wanted a statement from West Coast, it came in the most emphatic style as the Eagles rose to the top of the ladder by disposing of last year's premiers in devastating fashion.
Looking to become the first Victorian team to take the points home from Perth Stadium on Sunday, Richmond instead found there is a new entrant in this season's flag race.
The top-of-the-table blockbuster turned into a rout as the Eagles piled on 13 goals to six after half-time to salute by 47 points.
The Tigers' trademark fast finish went missing amid the onslaught in front of a record WA footy crowd of 57,616.
Jack Darling underlined his status as the most improved player in the competition with a career-high six-goals, which came on the back of 15 marks in the best game of his career.
Jack Riewoldt could hold his head high with his own bag of five, but dual Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy chipped in with three of his own in a reminder the Eagles possess the most intimidating key forward duo in the AFL.
Richmond, unbeaten in Melbourne but now 0-2 on the road this season, looked to have the Eagles on the ropes in the second term but they couldn't find the killer blow as they sprayed a series of gettable shots on goal.
West Coast then announced their arrival as a genuine premiership contender during a sublime third term blitz, booting seven of the first eight goals after half-time.
It fell apart quickly for the Tigers as star pair Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin gave away 50m penalties which resulted in goals.
Martin was an excellent trier but West Coast star Elliot Yeo proved to be his kryptonite, defying the Brownlow Medallist's 'don't argue' to catch him holding the ball twice in the third term.
It shaped as an intriguing battle between the Eagles' kicking game and the Tigers' run and stun style and there was no hint of what was to come in the opening half.
The scores were level at half-time but momentum was wearing yellow and black and the second term ended with the Eagles clinging on for dear life.
Having set up their early lead with a run of five consecutive majors in a bright first term, West Coast had no answer as the Tigers took control around the ball in the second stanza.
The ball lived in Richmond's attacking half, with the visitors enjoying 23 inside 50s to four for the quarter as they added a wasteful 4.5 to 1.1.
The Eagles had predictably won the hitout battle as Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett got on top of Toby Nankervis and his band of part-timers. However the Tigers' ground-level brigade were able to get the ball going their way regardless as Richmond built a 9-5 advantage in centre clearances for the half.
The major break looked to have come at a bad time for the Tigers and it proved to be a new ball game when the teams re-emerged.
The Eagles got three goals in the first eight minutes as Darling and Kennedy imposed themselves, with the revival built on the back of some frenzied pressure and a series of holding the ball decisions.
It set the tone for the second half and there would be no way back for the disappointing Tigers.
West Coast: J.Darling, E.Yeo, J.McGovern, A.Gaff, N.Naitanui, J.Redden, S.Hurn
Richmond: J.Riewoldt, D.Martin, J.Caddy, T.Cotchin, K.Lambert, S.Edwards
3. Jack Darling (WCE)
2. Elliot Yeo (WCE)
1. Jeremy McGovern (WCE)
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