Sun, Oct 01, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Eagles top Swans in Aussie football

AP , MELBOURNE

West Coast Eagle Ben Cousin, left, captain Chris Judd, right, and coach John Worsfold, back left, celebrate winning the 2006 AFL Grand Final in Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday. The Eagles defeated the Swans by one point to win 85- 84.

PHOTO: AP

The last Australian Rules football championship to be decided by a single point happened 40 years ago. Two teams with a history of close encounters equaled that yesterday.

The West Coast Eagles kicked the first three goals and led for all of the game before holding on for a 12.13 (85) to 12.12 (84) decision over the Sydney Swans to win the Australian Football League finale.

It was the first one-point grand final since St. Kilda won its only premiership, beating Collingwood, in 1966, and the fourth in league history.

The win by the Perth-based Eagles reversed the result of last year's game between the same teams when the Swans won their first Australian Rules title by four points over the Eagles.

It was the Eagles' third league championship and first in 12 years.

Going into the match, Sydney led West Coast 3-1 in playoff matches, but three of them were decided by four points or less and the matches have been decided by a total of 11 points.

The last time the teams met -- three weeks ago in Perth -- Sydney beat West Coast by one point with a near-identical scoreline -- 13.7 (85) to 12.12 (84).

The Eagles led by 16 points after the first quarter yesterday and 25 at halftime. West Coast led 68-43 with 12 minutes left in the third quarter before the Swans began a comeback to pull to within 11 points -- 70-59 -- going into the final quarter.

The Swans were within one point four times in the last quarter but West Coast mangaged to hold on. The match was played before 97,431 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the biggest grand final crowd since 1997.

Sydney trailed by seven points 17 minutes into the final quarter when the Swans' Adam Schneider kicked a goal to make the margin just one point. The two sides then went goal-for-goal for the rest of the match, with Adam Hunter kicking the Eagles' last goal to put them seven points up.

Sydney's Nick Malceski's goal with four minutes left again made the margin one point and was the last score of the match. The Swans were unable to kick a one-point "behind" that would have leveled the scores.

West Coast midfielder Andrew Embley won the Norm Smith Medal as best player in the match for his 26 disposals, six marks and two goals. Quinten Lynch kicked three goals for the West Coast, while Nick Davis and Michael O'Loughlin had three each for the Swans.

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