Swingman Oscar Allen has booted a career-high four goals to help West Coast overcome a major scare and beat Gold Coast by 25 points at Perth’s Optus Stadium.
The Suns’ hopes of victory looked bleak when star midfielder Matt Rowell suffered a game-ending knee injury in the opening quarter of Sunday’s match in 34-degree heat.
But the visitors dug deep, overcoming West Coast’s early barrage to open up a seven-point lead early in the final quarter.
West Coast sparked into gear from that point, booting the final five goals of the match to secure the 12.11 (83) to 8.10 (58) win in front of 38,493 fans.
Allen, who also spent significant stints in defence, finished with 4.0 from his 13 disposals and nine marks, while Dom Sheed starred with 34 disposals and nine clearances in the absence of gun onballers Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo.
“Hopefully he’s going to be a very good player for us for a long period of time,” Eagles coach Adam Simpson said of Allen.
“He’s got versatility. I think you’ve got to have some sort of options to go to with Oscar because he’s learning his craft.
“But if he’s in good form, well we’ll leave him forward. But he was important for us down back at stages as well. He’ll continue to grow. He’s not at his peak yet.”
Emerging Suns forward Ben King was crucial with three goals, while veteran David Swallow finished with 29 disposals and a goal.
Rowell sent a major scare through the camp when he limped off in the opening quarter after being driven into the turf in a tackle by Eagles forward Zac Langdon.
The 19-year-old’s left knee bore the brunt of the tackle, but coach Stuart Dew said the Suns’ medical staff didn’t believe the injury was season-ending.
West Coast made a blistering start to the match, booting three goals from their first 11 possessions to open up an 18-0 lead.
Allen booted two of them.
Only 131 seconds of game time had elapsed by that point, and the Suns looked to be in danger of copping an almighty drubbing.
Things went from bad to worse for the Suns when Rowell went off.
But the visitors put the setback to one side to work their way back into the match, and by quarter-time the margin was only five points.
Gold Coast’s injury substitute Nick Holman made his mark on the game when he kicked a goal in the opening seconds of the final term to give the Suns a shock seven-point lead.
But it was one-way traffic after that, with a strong mark and goal by Allen giving West Coast the momentum they needed as they went on a rampage.
“We started poorly – three goals in four minutes,” Dew said.
“That was disappointing. There was no panic on the bench. Guys came out, fought our way back in, had some really good looks, especially the third quarter.
“And then late, West Coast cranked up the heat and when they did that, we went searching for the ball and their experience and shape behind the ball was too hard to penetrate.”