Sunday, June 09, 2013

Tamako said it: they're flying high!

IT WAS punt that paid off on Sunday night and one that may continue to reap rewards for West Coast in the second half of the season.

The Eagles' decision to leave Beau Waters out for a third straight week as he recovers from a quad injury was made with the second half of the season in mind.

From the way coach John Worsfold spoke about Josh Kennedy and the Sunday afternoon late withdrawal call on his calf, it was clear no risks would be taken with the lure of the Eagles' bye next weekend providing a potential two-week rest for sore players.

Captain Darren Glass (hip) and Mark LeCras (arm) were others who missed the trip to Melbourne, after not being named on Thursday night.

Those players will now get a fortnight to rest their sore bits – but had the Saints prevailed in the tight game, the Eagles' long-term aspirations as a team would have looked bleak with the result cutting them loose from the top eight.

"If we didn't win tonight, it was going to make the season even tougher for us and there would be no use having Beau Waters fresh for the remainder of the year if we were languishing," Worsfold said afterwards.

"He felt he could play, we felt he could play [but] that was going to jeopardise his continuity throughout the rest of the year so we made a decision to look long-term for Beau in the hope we were going to be good enough to win tonight.

"I believe we made the right call there."

The importance of the four points wasn't lost on veteran midfielder Andrew Embley, who said it was a win that came with character.

"It would have made it very difficult had we dropped this game so whilst it wasn't pretty, it's always a good sign when you're not at your best but you can just do something – or do what it takes – to win," Embley

"It hasn't been the greatest first half of the year and we knew we had to play a really important game for us today.

"I thought we had to really dig deep in the end and I'm sure the guys would be pretty proud of their efforts."

When assessing the first half of the season, which has provided the Eagles with six wins and five losses, Worsfold used the phrase "a bit stop-start" with good patches and no great games.

Sunday's win came with intensity he was happy with but a skill and decision making level that was lacking.

Still, Worsfold said the result and the team's position overall gave them a chance to right some wrongs in the second half of the season – and do it over a more consistent period.

"We've got ourselves in a position where we believe we can play our best footy at some point throughout the season and maintain it for the rest of the season," he said.

"What I would say is we're disappointed we're not higher on the ladder – that would give us greater opportunities – but there's been some wonderful efforts by a lot of different players in helping us get to where we are.

"It's just four more points on the ladder. We're not happy with the way we played tonight or anything like that, but we've got the points and they're locked away.

"That's the key thing for us right at this moment.

"Yeah, we'd like to be playing better footy and have more players out there but we've got that to work towards - do the hard work now going forward."

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.

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