The West Coast Eagles’ forward line has been old meets new so far this season with Oscar Allen lining up alongside Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling.
This new tandem may continue to be a huge trump card for the Eagles going forward, with the trio combining for nine of the Eagles’ 14 goals in the loss to the Western Bulldogs.
Despite the loss, all three converted most of their opportunities throughout the match; Kennedy got involved early, while Darling and Allen impacted later in the match.
A wealth of options is always a benefit even with the lack of opportunities presented, as coach Adam Simpson explained.
“We thought, get enough supply in, we’ll be in with a chance,” he said.
“And we just couldn’t get that in the first half.
“Every now and then, we had to use Ozzie (Oscar Allen) behind the ball a couple of times, just to try to stop the damage.
“But for the most part he played forward and, he’s a young forward he’ll have up and down days, and Josh Kennedy and Darling, while they’re around, we’re gonna be really dangerous.
“So, we’ve got to get some supply.”
The Eagles were behind the Dogs in a lot of of statistics, yet still only lost by the single digit margin and were in the match until the end.
Simpson described the match as “a bit of a rollercoaster.”
“I thought we got jumped early,” he said.
“We got beaten in the contest, out possessed, out hunted, bit fumbly.
“But we defended well and our backs and our system held up to a reasonable point but the floodgates we felt, was close to opening.
“So we hang in there for the first half, challenge each other at three quarter time, and I thought we played more of the football that we’d like to be proud of in that second half.
“Worked our way back into it, and missed a few moments in time, a few opportunities here and there, it was a 50-50 game after halfway through the third really.
“We had momentum, and they had momentum, but we probably got nutted in the midfield. There was some dominance that we couldn’t stop.
“But I’m still proud of our players. A lot of resilience came out of that game.”
While there were positives, Simpson said the team will need to look at the concerns throughout the first half.
“When you get beaten in every area, that’s a bit of a concern,” he said.
“But like I said, I thought we did defend pretty well.
“Our backs saved the day, and they missed a couple of set-shots as well.
“Our identity this year, we’re still working on what that’s going to look like.
“We’re still developing some players in our side, we’re not totally full strength without our senior players.
“But I thought we had a good team to win today.”
Nic Naitanui was crucial in getting the Eagles back into the contest, especially in the third quarter and Simpson described him as a “barometer” for West Coast.
“You know, he’s our best and fairest winner,” he said.
“When he’s on the ground we walk a bit taller.
“And there’s a lot of expectation as well, every week they strategize against Nic, and every week he works his way through it.
“[He] definitely held up his end of the bargain.”