The Sydney Swans will have to create history to play in the AFL finals this year after a 26-point loss to West Coast at Domain Stadium – their fourth straight defeat.
No team since the AFL instituted the top eight system in 1994 has recovered from a 0-4 start to play finals.
North Melbourne were the last team to do it, starting 0-4 in 1975 and winning the VFL premiership.
The Swans have lost their opening four games of a season for the first time since 1993.
Sydney fought valiantly but couldn’t contain the West Coast firepower with the home team winning 13.13 (91) to 10.5 (65).
The Swans never gave up and did put a scare into the Eagles with a Jake Lloyd goal at the 10-minute mark of the last term to get within six points.
But the Eagles steadied with four of the last five goals to win comfortably.
Even with limited involvement by Sam Mitchell, West Coast’s midfield got on top, Luke Shuey a leading light with 30 possessions, seven tackles and a goal.
Matt Priddis had another 29 disposals and Andrew Gaff 28 (two goals).
Elliot Yeo was strong off half-back again with 29 touches and 11 marks.
Jeremy McGovern played forward in the absence of Jack Darling for two goals, 19 disposals and eight marks. Jamie Cripps kicked three goals, Josh Kennedy two and Mark LeCras two.
Sydney captain Josh Kennedy racked up another 33 possessions with Lloyd finishing with 29 disposals, Luke Parker 27 and Dan Hannebery 23.
Will Hayward was a livewire in attack with two goals.
Lance Franklin kicked two also and worked hard despite an early clash with West Coast captain Shannon Hurn.
He struggled to move freely the rest of the game as did his former Hawthorn premiership teammate Mitchell.
The Eagles recruit hurt his leg when kicked accidentally by teammate Jack Redden in the second quarter. That limited his time in the middle for the rest of the night.
Mitchell still had 17 possessions and seven tackles.
It won’t get any easier for Sydney next Saturday night against the GWS Giants at the SCG.
The Eagles get another crack at the MCG against Hawthorn on Sunday.
Eagles coach Adam Simpson was happy with his team’s response to the loss to Richmond after only a five-day break.
“They (Sydney) came at us all night. The four-quarter effort was good but Sydney wouldn’t go away as we expected,” Simpson said.
“They play such a tough, hard brand regardless of who’s playing and to show that resilience in the last quarter was really good for us on the five-day break.”
Sydney coach John Longmire couldn’t fault his team’s effort, but they were made to pay for their mistakes.
“If you look at the stats after the game our effort and intensity was reasonably strong. It was just our execution that let us down at different times,” Longmire said.
“We suffered some bad goals against on turnovers. We conceded 10.9 on turnover which ends up really hurting you.”