After their discouraging 16 point loss against Essendon on Saturday night, several worrying trends of West Coast’s have been put in the spotlight and were addressed by Eagles midfielder Dom Sheed.
Talking to the media, he acknowledged the presence of these patterns, but didn’t provide any excuses.
Following Saturday’s clash, he revealed there were things to like and dislike about the game from both sides.
“There were a lot of good things and a lot of bad things,” he said.
“The overriding thing was they were tougher for longer and that’s essentially why they won the game. They stood up late.”
It’s not unusual for the Eagles to fade out over a game’s duration and this is evident through goal scoring. Every game this season, West Coast averages a goal less than the opposition in the final quarter.
The Eagles midfielder agreed these stats aren’t great and needs improvement, but isn’t sure what causes this fade out.
“Our stats don’t look good in the last quarter,” he said.
“We’re working on that and we’re trying to play a consistent brand of footy for four quarters.
“We haven’t been able to do that this year consistently enough, so we’ll keep working towards that.”
Many have thrown ideas around as to why these fade-outs are happening. Some have suggested a lack of concentration or a plan B when plan A fails. Some have even questioned the will to win.
Sheed said it was tough to measure the team’s will to win, but one way it can be measured is was through the contested ball.
“Contested ball is a very easy stat line to look at,” he said.
“I think our boys are hungry and we wanna win.
“Maybe other teams just wanted it a little bit more than us. But we’re going out there, we’re trying our best and we want to win every game.”
Although ranked first in contested marks (163) and eighth in one percenters (541), West Coast are also placed last in tackles (519) and 13th in contested tested possessions (1476).
While the Eagles are doing things well, there are two huge components that holds them back and urgently needs attention.
One thing favouring and hindering the Eagles is momentum. When it swings their way, it’s unstoppable, however, they struggle to halt it when it goes the other way.
“I think when we have momentum, we do a very good job of scoring goals,” said Sheed.
“On the flip side, when they’ve got momentum, we’ve really struggled to stop that.
“It comes down to winning the contest and getting the ball played in your half. That’s the best way to stop momentum.”
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West Coast’s well-documented run with injury hasn’t made it easy for it to perform. Over the course of the season, 12 of their best 22 have missed, or are set to miss games.
With Luke Shuey out, Elliot Yeo on limited minutes, and Tim Kelly lost to a knee injury early on, Dom Sheed needed to step up.
Sheed was one of the stronger Eagles on Saturday, accumulating 43 disposals at 56% efficiency, one goal, six clearances, and one tackle.
“We’ve had injuries all year,” said Sheed.
“I’ve had opportunities to step up in the midfield, and some games I feel like I’ve done that. Other games I feel like I haven’t.
“My mindset doesn’t change. I just wanna go out there and nail my role.”
However, like his coach and teammates have previously done, he did not use them as an excuse for Saturday’s loss.
“As much as we lack personnel at the moment, we play a system type of football,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter who’s playing that role, we expect them to do that to the best of their ability.
“It would be nice to get some of our top end players back, but that’s not an excuse for us.”
Despite the setbacks, Sheed and the Eagles are still aiming for finals.
“We want to stay in the eight and we want to qualify for finals,” said Sheed.
“Where we are now probably reflects how we’ve been playing.