West Coast must defy AFL history to win their finals rematch with Collingwood in next weekend’s grand final.
The Eagles thrashed Melbourne in Perth on Saturday afternoon to book their chance at a first premiership since 2006.
However, prior results suggest West Coast might not come away victorious against the team they beat in the qualifying final two weeks ago.
Since the top-eight system was introduced in 1994, just four grand finals have featured a repeat match-up from earlier in the finals series – and the loser of the first battle has won each time.
The first came in 2003, when Brisbane reversed their defeat to the Pies in the qualifying final with victory in the grand final.
In 2005 and 2006 the Eagles and Sydney Swans played each other in the finals four times. West Coast then Sydney won the qualifying finals but the grand finals went the other way.
Nine years later the Eagles defeated Hawthorn in the first week and met again in the grand final, but the Hawks won their third premiership in a row.
So is it Collingwood’s flag to lose next Saturday?
In 1992, when there was a top-six system in place, West Coast beat the minor premiers Geelong in the major semi-final to reach the grand final – and then beat them again to win the premiership.
Eagles thrash Dees to book spot in grand final
Melbourne’s supposed fairytale turned into a nightmare after suffering a 66-point loss to West Coast in an AFL preliminary final bloodbath at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles booted the first 10 goals of the match on Saturday to set up the 18.13 (121) to 7.13 (55) win in front of a record 59,608 fans.
West Coast will now take on Collingwood in next Saturday’s grand final at the MCG, and the Eagles will enter that match oozing confidence after crushing Melbourne to dust.
The Demons managed just 0.6 (6) in the first half and didn’t kick their first goal until 41 seconds into the third quarter. By that stage, the margin was 63 points and the game was already over.
Eagles spearhead Josh Kennedy booted four first-half goals in an inspired effort, while Jack Darling (three), Jamie Cripps (three) and Mark LeCras (three) also heaped pain on the Demons.
West Coast suffered a major injury scare when Luke Shuey hobbled to the rooms with a left ankle injury early in the second quarter but the star onballer allayed fears of major damage by returning to the field later in the term.
Jeremy McGovern also required medical attention after copping a big cork in the opening term but he was able to play out the match.
The Demons had beaten Hawthorn and Geelong in the previous two weeks to spark hope they could snare the flag from fifth spot but they will spend the summer licking their wounds after putting in one of their worst finals displays.
Melbourne were expected to dominate the contested possessions against West Coast but it was the home side that came up trumps when the game was on the line.
The Eagles won that stat 87-73 in the first half, with Kennedy feasting up forward in an inspired effort. Jack Redden (31 disposals, one goal) dominated through the midfield, while Shannon Hurn and McGovern cleaned up in defence. Liam Ryan added the X-factor with 18 disposals and a goal.
Melbourne set unwanted 91-year first in horror first half
* The Demons’ score of 0.6 at halftime in Saturday’s 18.13 (121) to 7.13 (55) thrashing at Optus Stadium is the lowest halftime score in a final since Collingwood’s 1.0 in the 1960 grand final.
* It’s the first time a team has been held goalless in the first half of a final since Richmond in the 1927 premiership decider.
* The last time Melbourne went goalless to halftime was round five, 2009.
* West Coast’s 63-point halftime lead is the fifth largest by any team in a final.
* Co-captain Nathan Jones was one of several big names who went missing for the Demons, managing just five disposals to halftime after averaging 24.9 a game for the season.