West Coast’s wretched run with injury has continued during an uninspiring 15-point win over lowly North Melbourne.
- Josh Kennedy injured his left ankle during the second quarter and did not return
- The Eagles are provisionally third on the ladder but the Tigers (fourth) and Cats (fifth) are still to play this weekend
- Oscar Allen (three) and Liam Ryan (two) were the only multiple goal kickers from either side
Though the win kept the Eagles’ top four hopes alive it may have come at a cost when star forward Josh Kennedy landed awkwardly in a marking contest before half-time and limped off the field with a left-ankle concern.
He did not return for the Eagles, although Oscar Allen, Liam Ryan and Liam Duggan did enough to help ensure the Eagles move up to third spot on the ladder with a 7.7 (49) to 4.10 (34) victory at Carrara ahead of the completion of the AFL’s final round.
They now wait to discover their top-four fate with Richmond (fourth) and Geelong (fifth) still a chance to move ahead of the Eagles, who finished the home-and-away season on 48 points.
The Tigers, who play bottom-placed Adelaide on Saturday, are two points behind the Eagles, while the Cats will move ahead of West Coast should they beat Sydney on Sunday.
But the loss of spearhead Kennedy could be a bitter blow to the Eagles’ premiership prospects, as they continue to sweat on the fitness of Luke Shuey (hamstring), Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), Elliot Yeo (groin), Jack Redden (thumb) and Lewis Jetta (calf).
The Eagles made a disastrous start against the 17th-placed Kangaroos, who kept their opponents scoreless in the opening quarter.
The Kangaroos ran harder and smarter, dominated the contests and stoppages, and were more dangerous going forward.
The 16-point margin at quarter-time could have been greater but for some wasted chances in front of goal.
It was the Eagles’ third scoreless first quarter in club history and first since 1998.
Ryan was one of four Eagles players who did not have a touch in the first term, but he injected himself into the contest during the second term as he sparked the Eagles, kicking one goal and setting up another for Brayden Ainsworth.
Kangaroos forward Nick Larkey was crunched by Shannon Hurn and assessed for a shoulder injury but returned after the main break.
The Kangaroos would not go away in the third term but consistently let themselves down with poor goal kicking, none worse than Todd Goldstein’s hooked shot from 25 metres out right in front.
It ultimately proved costly, as two final-quarter goals from Allen put the Eagles out to a two-goal lead they would not surrender.
Allen finished with three majors and Ryan kicked two to be the only multiple goal kickers in a scrappy contest played in slippery conditions.
Jy Simpkin, Jed Anderson and Shaun Higgins were the Kangaroos’ best in a vastly improved performance to finish their season.
But the loss means the Kangaroos will collect their first wooden spoon since 1972 if the Crows upset the Tigers at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.