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HOW THE WEST WAS ALMOST WON by George on the Outer In the old Cowboy and Indian movies of the Wild West, the good guys usually won (well ... except for George Armstrong Custer). When the Demons went west to meet the Eagles at their home ground, they had reason to think they were on the side of the good. True. the baddies had beaten them every single time they met since just after the turn of the century in 2002 but it was time for good to prevail. However, like the 7th Cavalry, Melbourne found a way to lose again although, fortunately, unlike the outcome at Little Bighorn, it wasn’t a massacre. A solitary goal between the two sides was the difference at the final bell, and Melbourne surely had its chances. The team could not score a single major in the final term, but also managed a paltry one goal five behinds from set shots in the third. Without scoreboard pressure in a game where both sides struggle to kick 10 goals in a game, that alone was a reason for defeat. Some blame must also be sheeted home to the appalling umpiring that has been so prevalent at West Coast games. The home-crowd bias was demonstrated to the AFL at the end of last season, and yet they still roster Western Australian umpires to these games. Too often, the umpires respond to crowd decisions, when they obviously cannot see what has happened in tight situations. The decision to award a deliberate out of bounds against Dom Tyson in the final quarter was disgraceful. It wasn't Tyson who hit the ball out but rather, it was his opponent and yet the umpire fell for the crowd noise and despite him being behind both players and not able to see who hit it, he made the call. Two years ago, Demon fans were pleading for a side that was competitive. There is absolutely no doubt that we now have that. That we could take the match up to a top 4 side at their home ground interstate is a credit to the work of the coaching and administration staff at the Club. We just don’t have the skills, leadership or coolness of head to get us across the line when needed. It has happened a couple of times this season, and that is mighty frustrating for the fans. However, when we get those older heads, those cool heads and the skills ingrained the results will change. Hawthorn has managed 5 or 6 wins by less than a goal this season and without them, the Hawks would be sharing a position on the ladder similar to ours. In the game we had 64 critical errors. West Coast 47. The difference of 17 became the difference between winning and losing. Sadly, some of our leaders didn’t crown themselves with glory when they made simply stupid decisions at the wrong time. Maybe their actions are unable to be changed (old dogs, new tricks?) and we must look to the youth to show the decision making that is needed. Max Gawn was jumped into, blocked, scragged, held on to for the majority of the game. Yet he still fought through all these trials to give us a fighting chance when needed. Christian Petracca played his best game ever, and took on the opponents with vigour and also was willing to accept the responsibility when needed inside the forward fifty. He goaled when others choose to give that responsibility to others. He kept possession rather than dish off to others in no better position and in a panic. Jayden Hunt gives us the drive out of the backline, so desperately needed in years past. Jack Viney never, ever gives up the fight. These are the players who WILL get us over the line in coming seasons. Other results over the weekend have shown little difference between those teams who will play finals and those whose season is already over. Carlton also lost by a solitary goal against Sydney and St.Kilda won against a wounded Bulldog side. These results, including ours gives hope for next year. The players surely have learnt the difference between winning close games and not. We rue the games thrown away during the season, that are the difference between finals and not. Sitting Bull might have won the Battle at Little Big Horn, but the win wasn’t to be a victory. West Coast came away with 4 Premiership points from the game, but it did little for them and their standing leading to the finals. For the Melbourne side, a massacre in the West was a real possibility given past experience. It didn’t happen. Next time the West WILL be won, and just like the movies, next time it WILL be the good-guys. Melbourne 2.2.14 5.4.34 8.10.58 8.12.60 West Coast Eagles 2.1.13 5.2.32 8.4.52 10.6.66 Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 Dawes 2 M Jones Kent Petracca West Coast Eagles Kennedy 3 Cripps Darling Duggan Gaff Hill Lycett Priddis Best Melbourne N Jones Tyson Viney Garlett Kent Gawn West Coast Eagles Priddis Shuey Gaff Kennedy Hurn Lycett Changes Melbourne Nil West Coast Eagles Nil Injuries Melbourne Neville Jetta (knee) West Coast Eagles Nil Reports Melbourne Nil West Coast Eagles Nil Umpires Foot, Farmer, Hosking Official crowd 33,908 at the Domain Stadium