WEST Coast have overcome the loss of star ruckman Nic Naitanui to score an outstanding 35-point AFL win over Collingwood.
The 15.12 (102) to 9.13 (67) win on Sunday is the first time the Eagles have beaten the Magpies at the MCG since 1995.
There has been plenty of talk about West Coast’s poor form at the MCG and it is a massive boost for their confidence.
They are level on points with top side Richmond, took second spot on the ladder from the Magpies and also snapped Collingwood’s seven-game winning streak.
Starting with the disastrous 2015 grand final loss to Hawthorn, the Eagles had only won two of eight games at the MCG.
And those wins were against lowly Carlton.
Eagles forwards Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Mark LeCras all made successful returns from injury and midfielder Andrew Gaff continued his hot form.
But the fear is that Naitanui will need another season-ending knee reconstruction, this time on his “good” right knee.
West Coast’s MCG horrors looked set to continue when Collingwood kicked three goals in the first 10 minutes and raced to a 20-point lead.
Defender Jeremy McGovern was outstanding for the Eagles early with a succession of intercept marks and spoils that restricted the damage.
The Eagles kicked the next three goals to put the game on a level pegging and only trailled by 10 points at the first change.
West Coast took the lead at the start of the second term, but then suffered a massive blow when Naitanui was forced out of the game.
Naitanui hurt his right knee in a marking contest with Brodie Grundy at 17 minutes and went straight to the rooms.
But back-up ruckman Scott Lycett was massive, squaring his contests with Grundy.
Collingwood led by a point at the main break and it should have been more, given they had 15 scoring shots to nine.
But the Eagles kicked 8.1 in the first half to keep pace with the Magpies.
It was West Coast’s turn to spray their shots in the third term, kicking a wasteful 4.7.
Collingwood could only manage 2.1 and the Eagles had a game-high lead of 22 points at three-quarter time.
Darling kicked two goals in the last quarter to help seal the win.
Along with Kennedy and Willie Rioli, Darling finished with three goals, while Mark Hutchings shut down Steele Sidebottom.
© AAP 2018
WEST COAST 3.0 8.1 12.8 15.12 (102)
COLLINGWOOD 4.4 6.9 8.10 9.13 (67)
Goals: West Coast: J Darling 3 J Kennedy 3 W Rioli 3 M LeCras 2 A Gaff E Yeo J Redden M Hutchings. Collingwood: J de Goey 4 J Thomas 3 B Mihocek 2.
Best: West Coast: J McGovern A Gaff M Hutchings L Shuey J Redden E Yeo S Lycett S Hurn W Rioli. Collingwood: T Adams D Moore T Phillips S Pendlebury J de Goey.
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Jacob Mollison, Andrew Stephens.
Official Crowd: 53,439 at MCG.