Win or learn: Errors to blame for Eagles loss to Wests in season opener
The Eagles fall short at home in their John I Dent Cup opener, losing to Wests 22-39 at The Nest on Saturday.
Tamati Ioane proved that he will again be a dominant force in the competition with a great showing for the Eagles, while wingers Corey Toole and Jamie Kotz provided immense spark on the outside.
It was a fast start for both teams, with Joey Caputo kicking the Eagles first points for season 2021. However, Wests were quick to respond with a penalty at the other end, where they knotted the score at 3-all.
The Eagles first try came from a solo effort courtesy of co-captain Brendon Taueki, who got a good bounce from his own kick to level the scores at 8-a-piece.
Caputo’s second kick on goal was successful, to give the Eagles a slim 10-8 lead, halfway through the first half.
It was a back-and-forth affair throughout the first half, with both sides still blowing off the summer cobwebs – errors and penalties riddled the match. However, Wests were playing the better rugby for most of the half.
The Eagles went into the main break trailing 15 points to 10, after a late Wests try and conversion put them in front.
Wests continued to mount pressure on the Eagles in the second half, leading to penalties on the goal line, most of them coming from their dominant work at the scrum. This pressure lead to a try to Wests in the corner, giving them a 22-10 lead.
However, the Eagles managed to respond, providing the home crowd with their best piece of rugby of the day with a great set piece leading to Corey Toole going over in the corner.
Caputo put another one through the uprights to edge the Eagles closer to the lead.
The Eagles errors continued to pile up in the second half with the visitors putting another try on the board, to give them a 10 point advantage.
Despite the score, the Eagles had wrestled back momentum, until Jamie Kotz’s try of the year candidate on the wing was disallowed. A ball floating in the air inside Wests in-goal area, ended with Kotz grounding the ball and a Wests defender on the ground. The moment proved costly as Wests ran in another 2 tries in rapid succession to put the result beyond doubt.
Corey Toole’s high-flying second try off a rugby league-like kick to the corner from Caputo, and AFL like contested mark, gave the Eagles some consolation, however, they came 17 points short at the full-time horn.
The Eagles take on Royals next weekend at The Nest in a grand final rematch at 3:05pm. Royals are always a tough opposition but revenge is the motivation for the Eagles players after last year’s grand final.
Be sure to get down to The Nest to see a cracking game of rugby next weekend.
Images from the game are courtesy of Jayzie Photography and can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1738600779656676&type=3
Written by Josh Dunstall