13/04/2024
Tim Kelly (pictured in a game against Gold Coast), performed admirably against Fremantle this pre-season. Picture: Daniel Cohen/File

Tim Kelly (pictured in a game against Gold Coast), performed admirably against Fremantle this pre-season. Picture: Daniel Cohen/File

After a competitive first-half, Fremantle has pulled away for a comfortable 52-point victory against West Coast at Mineral Resources Park, in the club’s first official practice match for 2024.

The Dockers set up the result by kicking eight goals to the Eagles’ two in the second half.

Fremantle’s bold play style was front and centre, looking to generate fluent ball-movement through the corridor, with prime movers Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong, regularly getting their hands on the ball and making full use.

Making his move into the midfield, after starring in the middle in the final month last season, Hayden Young’s composure was telling, with his left-foot orchestrating Fremantle’s set-ups out of the centre.

193 cm midfielder Matthew Johnson showed why he is the next tier of young and upcoming Dockers players, demonstrating his calmness in pressure situations, breaking numerous tackles.

But the most pleasing aspect for Dockers supporters is the clean-bill of health of dual Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe. 2023 was a frustrating one for the 32-year-old, managing only nine appearances as the injury-bug kept him on the sidelines. However, he showed minimal rust using his efficient disposal by hand to feed his teammates in the open.

Both teams didn’t have their kicking boots on in the opening half, particularly West Coast, who kicked 3.9 in the opening half. Whilst they didn’t capitalise on their opportunities, the Eagles endeavour and pressure around the coalface was an encouraging sign, with the slightest drizzle of rain playing a slight factor in tightening the contest.

Smooth mover Tim Kelly was again a standout, with his silkiness on full display, including a brilliant standing goal in amongst the confines of congestion.

However, by the third quarter, it became evident Fremantle’s skill and execution going Inside 50 was causing West Coast all kinds of problems.

Coming off a breakout 2023, Jye Amiss stamped his authority in the third, kicking three goals (two of those coming within a couple of minutes).

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Moving the ball past the middle of the ground, became a struggle for the Eagles, and breaking down in the middle didn’t help their cause.

By three-quarter time the game was effectively over.

In further encouraging news for Fremantle, Brandon Walker would feature in the final term in his first game back since he injured his knee against premiers Collingwood in round 18 last season.

He didn’t a miss a beat taking a courageous mark with an incoming Liam Duggan bearing down on him, then applying a terrific tackle on Jayden Hunt.

Fremantle’s forward set up is an intriguing talking point in 2024 having only ranked 14th for scoring in 2023 (79.8 points). In its forward structure, the Dockers will continue to use is having Luke Jackson spend the majority of game time up playing with Amiss and Josh Treacy as Fremantle three-prong tall forward setup.

The former number three pick was instrumental, kicking two goals, one involving a lovely left-foot dribbler, after seconds later competing in a marking contest.

As for their small forward brigade, Tom Emmett is putting himself in contention for a spot in round one against Brisbane after demonstrating his ferocious tackling and clever smarts around goal.

Although he finished with 1.2, his energy will be crucial in further injecting pace after Lachie Schultz’s departure to Collingwood at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, Eagles veteran Elliot Yeo flashed glimpses of his best, working tirelessly all game and being rewarded by kicking a lovely running goal, while Callum Jamieson didn’t look out of place down back taking a couple of intercept marks.

On the injury front, Fremantle escaped, but for West Coast in and under midfielder Reuben Ginbey will undertake the league’s mandatory 12-day concussion protocols after copping an incidental head knock trying to apply a tackle on Luke Jackson.

Both teams will head to South Australia for their final practice matches, with Fremantle taking on Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval next Saturday evening, 7:30 pm SA time, 5:00 pm WA time. West Coast takes faces Adelaide at Richmond Oval the following day, 2:40 pm SA time, 12:10 pm WA time.

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