Eagles fly back into running for title

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 July, 1996, 12:00am

West Coast showed they were back as a force in the Australian Football League premiership race with a convincing 17-point win over Richmond at the MCG.

In wet and slippery conditions the Eagles won 10.8 (68) to 7.9 (51) after breaking open the game with a five-goals-to-one second quarter. West Coast are now in third position, one game behind leaders North Melbourne who on Friday night won 21.18 (144) to 13.11 (89) over champions Carlton. Sydney hold second spot, half a game behind the Roos, after thrashing Geelong by 51 points before a record crowd of 44,047 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. With spearhead Tony Lockett firing for six invaluable goals, the Swans were tougher at the ball and more direct, winning 18.17 (125) to 11.8 (74). Hawthorn inflicted Collingwood's eighth successive loss with a 33-point win.

The Hawks led by a goal at the first change and were never headed to beat the Magpies 17.12 (114) to 11.15 (81). Hawthorn spearhead Jason Dunstall, with good supply from midfield, kicked six goals while Collingwood coach Tony Shaw desperately tried to find a focal point on his forward line. Nathan Buckley, with two goals, was switched from attack to defence and back to attack after Saverio Rocca kicked three goals, all in the first term, and sat out the last quarter and a half in unsuitable slippery conditions. The Hawks, with six wins and a draw for the season, have won four of their past five games with victories over Fremantle, Adelaide and Fitzroy before yesterday.

Melbourne defeated Footscray at the MCG yesterday, 14.10 (94) to 10.7 (67). Fitzroy, who will merge with the Brisbane Bears next season, were again outclassed on the field. The lightweight Lions were thrashed by Essendon 17.16 (118) to 7.10 (52). Fitzroy coach Mike Nunan resigned after the game.

He was replaced by assistant coach Alan McConnell, a former Fitzroy player. Nunan said after yesterday's defeat that his position at the club was untenable.

But Nunan could well return to AFL coaching, replacing besieged Robert Shaw as coach of Adelaide. After taking his side to a string of losses, Shaw returned to his suburban home last week to find it had been pelted with eggs. Earlier, fanatical Adelaide supporters had been suspected of vandalising his car. Pressure on Shaw eased on Saturday night when the Crows pulled off a thrilling eight-point win over the Brisbane Bears. Adelaide led by six goals in the first half only to see the Bears, fighting for a top four berth, storm back to hit the lead in the last quarter before steadying with two late goals to win 15.12 (102) to 14.10 (94). The victory kept alive Adelaide's finals hopes after a record five-game losing streak. Brisbane now find themselves in a slump with just one win from their past six games.

And in the last fixture of the round, St Kilda 15.10 (100) beat Fremantle 11.11 (77).