It was a rough day in the office as the West Coast Eagles’ lack of depth was exposed against a dominant Dockers outfit in a 47-point blow-out at Mineral Resources Park.
After a close, well-fought battle in the first quarter, Fremantle’s young but smooth-moving engine room piled on intensity and pressure, suffocating the Eagles and breaking the game open.
Nat Fyfe owned the first half before taking the boots off, spending most of his time in the midfield.
He and young superstar Andrew Brayshaw made presence felt and was influential and damaging all over the ground.
Blake Acres, Adam Cerra and Rising Star winner Caleb Serong, complimented this duo, proving this midfield is not one to be underestimated.
Until half time, West Coast skipper Luke Shuey’s was a stand out with bringing intensity and clean ball movement. Although he spent less time on the wing, it was business as usual for Andrew Gaff.
Dom Sheed worked hard as did Jamaine Jones who had moments of brilliance, showing what was to come.
Liam Duggan, in Elliot Yeo’s absence, played a defensive mid role, switching between the midfield and the backline. Xavier O’Neil and Brayden Ainsworth replaced Shuey in the second half, but had little impact.
Supply into West Coast’s inside 50 was limited, causing a lack of opportunity for goal.
Additionally, the chemistry and cohesion between their forwards looked off, allowing Fremantle to take full control.
After a quiet first half, defensive forward Jamie Cripps scored three goals, unfortunately, only once the damage had been done.
High flyer Liam Ryan had some striking moments, but never seemed to get the reward for his work.
Oscar Allen spent time both the West Coast’s defensive and forward 50s, taking strong marks. Meanwhile, Brander looked most comfortable in the forward line, kicking two goals late in the fourth quarter.
Upon return from long-term injury, defenders Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling delivered strong performances, remaining unscathed during the hit out.
The versatile Michael Walters was unconfined by West Coast’s usually stable backline, putting four goals on the board.
Although a quiet game in the first half, there were plenty of positive signs in the second as first year Josh Treacy contributed two goals. Rory Lobb also had two goals of his own.
West Coast’s defence crumbled once its two pillars Tom Barrass and Jeremy McGovern were removed after an effective first half.
Josh Rotham looked confident at half back, while former Lion Alex Witherden, fit in with their defensive structures, but delivered an uncharacteristic performance.
In the ruck, West Coast only proved their reliance on Nic Naitanui. Emerging ruckman Lloyd Meek impressed and had the edge over premiership ruckman, Nathan Vardy, Oscar Allen and makeshift ruck Harry Edwards.
If today showed anything, was the difference in depth from both sides.
While Fremantle’s future delivered dominant performances across the ground, West Coast’s due to a lack of experience and depth.
Assistant coach Jaymie Graham says the Eagles will ‘reflect and learn from this game and make changes for next week’.
“We’ve got four more quarters next week to really sharpen up for round one,” he said.
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir saw this victory as a ‘step-forward’ for them.
“We had some really good performances down there,” he said.
“We’ve got some great discussions coming up as a coaching group.”
Luke Ryan’s collision with opponent Jarrod Brander left him with a back complaint, but is clear of injury after scans.
The All=Australian is likely to play next week, as is Adam Cerra who was rested in the second half with a calf issue. Justin Longmuir confirmed Matt Taberner’s return next week.
From the Eagles, former Giant Zac Langdon was managed after a rolled ankle but should be clear to play next week. Big guns Josh Kennedy, Nic Naitanui and Tim Kelly are a chance to play.
The two sides meet again next Saturday at Optus Stadium in front of 35,000 fans for one final hit out before the round one.