Top Lion admits sympathy for Eagles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Top Lion admits sympathy for Eagles

By Laine Clark 20/07/2008 11:51:13 AM Comments (0)

Sympathy for the lowly West Coast Eagles has come from an unlikely source - their AFL rivals the Brisbane Lions.

While Lions coach Leigh Matthews rued the fact his side did not put away the depleted Eagles at the Gabba on Saturday night to boost their points percentage, he could still feel for the once dominant West Coast.

The Eagles' 46-point loss to Brisbane was their seventh straight - one short of their club record.

They are now 2-14, equal last on the ladder.

It's a mighty fall for a team that tasted premiership success just two years ago.

But if anyone can empathise, it is Matthews.

The Lions are finally turning around a stunning freefall that followed a run of four straight grand finals.

Their win on Saturday night kept them in the hunt for their first finals campaign in four years.

"West Coast remind me a bit of us at the end of 2005," Matthews said.

"There is a very real physical and mental thing, where you are used to paying for premierships and top four positions and then within a very short period of time, less than 12 months, you are just struggling to win a game.

"The season is different and players who played the previous years often have trouble playing with the same energy.

"I saw that in our team. We still had 12 or 13 premiership players but by the end of 2005 we were the worst team in the competition."

West Coast coach John Worsfold was as pleased as anyone could be after being beaten by almost 50 points.

If not for a second-quarter lapse in which the Lions piled on five straight goals, the Eagles may have even threatened to extend their incredible run at the Gabba.

They had not lost in Brisbane since 2002 before Saturday night - and won eight of their past nine games against the Lions overall.

It was a gutsy effort - but the only way was up following last week's humiliating 77-point drubbing at the hands of Richmond at Subiaco.

"I saw a fair bit of improvement tonight," Worsfold said.

"I thought last week we really let ourselves down, everyone's talked about that.

"The effort was acceptable (against the Lions) but there's a lot of areas for improvement in physical maturity, to lay tackles, the ability to hold your own in clinches and use of the ball, decision-making under pressure - all those things are going to come together for the group."

Worsfold praised young defenders Eric Mackenzie - who kept Daniel Bradshaw to four goals - and Beau Wilkes.

He even dipped his hat to emerging midfielder Jamie McNamara, who was schooled by Brownlow Medallist Simon Black (27 possessions) despite recovering from a shoulder injury.

"He's nowhere near their physical maturity and he's learning how much further he has to push himself to get up to that, and as a 19-year-old it's exciting for him," Worsfold said of McNamara.

But the standout for West Coast was ruckman Dean Cox, who had 38 possessions and 27 hit-outs.

Worsfold said of Cox: "I think it reinforces the quality when people say he's one of the best ruckmen or players in the game."

Another worry for Worsfold was Darren Glass (quad).

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