REIGNING AFL premierWest Coast has improved its chances of securing a top-two finish after surviving a scare against lowly Melbourne to win by 13 points in Alice Springs.
The Demons had fought back from a 32-point deficit to be up by a goal at the final change and looked well-placed to cause one what would have been one of the upsets of the season.
But despite the absence of skipper Shannon Hurn – a late withdrawal due to injury – the Eagles hung tough in the final term to win 14.7 (91) to 11.12 (78).
It lifted them to third place on 48 points, a game behind Geelong, who lost for the third time in five weeks earlier on Sunday.
Eagles midfielder Eliot Yeo had a relatively quiet match but three minutes into the final quarter he booted a team-lifting goal from beyond the 50m arc that levelled the scores.
Jack Darling kicked the next two goals – his third and fourth – including one from a questionable free kick against Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn.
Suddenly West Coast was two goals up and seemingly headed for victory.
Harrison Petty then goaled from a difficult set shot to keep the Demons in it after he had been one of their culprits in missing set shots in the first half.
However, Dom Sheed was able to kick a sealer, with the Eagles showing a bit more class and hunger in the final term.
The 17th-placed Demons were plagued by inaccuracy in front of goal early in the match, trailing by 20 points at quarter-time despite having the same number of scoring shots as the victors.
The contest appeared to be going to script in the second term, with the Eagles kicking the first two goals to lead by 32 points before the Demons mounted a stirring comeback.
Bayley Fritsch kicked a team-high four goals as a makeshift full-forward for Melbourne.
A sell-out crowd of 7,164 watched the match at Traeger Park.
© AAP 2019
WEST COAST 5.1 8.3 10.4 14.7 (91)
MELBOURNE 1.5 7.8 10.10 11.12 (78)
Goals: West Coast: J Darling 4 J Kennedy 2 J Petruccelle 2 D Sheed E Yeo J Waterman L Ryan O Allen W Rioli. Melbourne: B Fritsch 4 C Wagner 2 J Lewis 2 C Oliver H Petty J Viney.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Curtis Deboy, Eleni Glouftsis.
Official Crowd: 7,164 at Traeger Park.