Eagles coach Simpson holds line after Demons thrashing

Shayne Hope |

Putting on a brave face, West Coast coach Adam Simpson remains under pressure after another loss.
Putting on a brave face, West Coast coach Adam Simpson remains under pressure after another loss.

Adam Simpson insists he’s at peace with his football mortality as pressure mounts on the under-fire West Coast coach following a 54-point thrashing at the hands of Melbourne.

Simpson was desperate to see a strong on-field response after reports emerged mid-week of three players expressing their discontent towards him in a leaked chain of text messages.

But the Eagles were unable to contain an early Demons onslaught and trailed by 37 points at quarter-time before limping to a 17.10 (112) to 8.10 (58) defeat at the MCG on Sunday.

Making matters worse, star defender Jeremy McGovern was taken to hospital with suspected rib and lung damage following a final-quarter collision and was in doubt to fly home with the team after the match.

The Eagles’ sixth consecutive defeat left them sitting third-last on the ladder with a 3-13 record, pouring more heat on Simpson.

Kysaiah Pickett
Kysaiah Pickett kicked two goals and provided the highlight of the day with spectacular mark. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

The 48-year-old’s contract runs until the end of 2025, but a poor end to this season could spell the end of his 11-year reign.

“I’m here to do a job as best I can and I’ll do that until I get tapped on the shoulder,” Simpson said.

“That’s not really a question.

“I know how long the road’s going to be and I’m up for it, but if the club’s not then they’re not.

“That’s fine. I’m OK with my football mortality.”

Simpson was unmoved when quizzed again about the text-message leak.

“There’s always someone who’s disgruntled,” he said.

“We can’t apologise for trying to get better. You’d be pretty upset if everyone was really happy.

“We’ll keep working on it, we’ll stay resilient and I’ll try to lead as best as I can.”

Melbourne kicked seven goals to one in a dominant opening term to effectively end the contest early and had winners all over the ground.

Jacob van Rooyen booted 4.4 in a strong display in attack, Bayley Fritsch kicked three goals and Jake Melksham added two in a welcome return from a long-term knee injury.

Jacob Van Rooyen
Jacob van Rooyen booted four goals in Melbourne’s big win over the Eagles. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Trent Rivers continued his strong midfield form in the absence of injured star Christian Petracca, racking up game-high tallies of 29 disposals and seven clearances.

Koltyn Tholstrup provided a spark with two early goals and Caleb Windsor (25 touches), Ed Langdon (23) and Christian Salem (22) were all busy.

Kysaiah Pickett kicked two goals and provided the highlight of the day in front of 32,000 fans with a perfect ride on Josh Rotham’s back to haul in a spectacular mark.

“He’s a pretty special talent,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

“When he plays with the pressure that he played with today and throws in the skills that he has, it’s pretty exciting for our supporters. They loved it.”

Goodwin brushed off concerns over Max Gawn’s sore right ankle, declaring the skipper’s final-quarter substitution nothing more than a precautionary measure.

Jeremy McGovern
Jeremy McGovern was taken to hospital with rib and lung damage after a final-quarter collision. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Melbourne’s win put them within touching distance of the top eight, sitting outside the finals on percentage with a 9-7 record.

West Coast co-captain Oscar Allen competed well after quarter-time and kicked 4.3 from 10 disposals in his best return since coming back from a knee injury.

Tim Kelly (23 touches, seven clearances) and Elliot Yeo (21, four) also fought hard for the Eagles.

No.1 draft pick Harley Reid torched Melbourne in their previous meeting in May but was quieter this time, finishing with 16 disposals, seven tackles and four clearances in his first game at the home of football.