Fremantle has defeated a gallant West Coast Eagles outfit to cap off both sides’ pre-seasons.
The injury-hit Eagles managed to test the Dockers for the whole match, with Fremantle’s dominance at some stages being undone by poor set-shot goalkicking.
Scroll down for our coverage and post-match analysis.
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The Dockers are in much better shape than their cross-town rivals with their only obvious missing star being dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe, who is being carefully managed after months of shoulder woes.
The Eagles, who Adam Simpson this week suggested have 10 of their best 18 players sidelined, will be hoping former Richmond wingman Patrick Naish shows enough to be worth signing in the pre-season supplemental period, which ends this Wednesday.
The match got underway at 7:10pm AEDT from Optus Stadium.
The Dockers did a good job of maintaining possession in the opening minutes of the game, with Matt Taberner getting busy working up and down the ground.
Caleb Serong wasted no time getting a cut to his head in 2022, getting it strapped up in the first quarter.
Sam Switkowski booted the first goal of the contest to give the Dockers some reward for their good play, but Jackson Nelson responded at the other end following a free kick.
Andrew Brayshaw finished a link of play to kick Fremantle’s second goal of the game. Dockers midfield trio Serong (six disposals), Brayshaw (seven disposals, one goal) and recruit Will Brodie (six disposals, three tackles) helped get Justin Longmuir’s team off to a strong start.
Fremantle racked up 74 uncontested possessions in the first quarter and 45 marks, while despite getting beaten in possession, West Coast laid just three tackles.
“This grid that West Coast are using at the moment isn’t working, there’s so much space, so many holes,” North Melbourne legend David King said on Fox Footy.
Taberner, who was off to a hot start, found himself wide open inside 50 to convert his first major for the night.
“How on earth does Matt Taberner stand down in front of goals on his own? That is frightening. Whether Tom Barras was covering someone else, it’s going to cost them, a goal. It’s poor defence,” Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy.
Rory Lobb collided with Sean Darcy in a pack, with Lobb coming off the ground and staying on the bench for an extended period while Darcy continued.
Lobb was eventually ruled out of the match in what was hopefully a conservative move by the Dockers.
The Eagles manufactured goals out of small opportunities, with Jack Petruccelle joining in with a quick collect and snap that brought his side within two points.
A classy finish from Blake Acres helped steady things for the Dockers, adding to an impressive opening half from the 26-year-old.
The Dockers entered halftime with a seven-point lead.
One of the major positives for the Dockers was the performance of Heath Chapman, with the 20-year-old entering the main break with 16 disposals at 87.5 per cent efficiency, five intercepts and four score involvements as he looked to build upon a promising first season that was hampered by injury.
Bailey Banfield got the Dockers off to a good start in the second half, drilling a set shot from 35 metres out after a beautiful pass from David Mundy.
Some vintage work from Willie Rioli saw him intercept a David Mundy kick and slot through a goal to keep the Eagles in touch.
Shortly after, Nathan Wilson came from the ground after a collision left him worse for wear and clutching at his shoulder.
The Dockers had vastly more forward 50 opportunities but were unable to convert, while the Eagles were plucky with their opportunities.
A passage of play that saw the Dockers botch a golden opportunity at goal saw the Eagles respond via a Liam Ryan goal, which came from a bullet pass by Willie Rioli.
A goal to Connor West shortly after put the Eagles in front as they took a three-point lead into the final term.
Shannon Hurn made a rare blunder coming out of defence, putting the ball directly into the hands of Michael Walters, who converted the set shot to put the Dockers back in front.
Both sides exchanged goals from there, with Sean Darcy pulling off a brilliant banana kick before Liam Ryan slotted one from the top of the goalsquare after getting a free kick.
A vintage finish from Michael Walters put the Dockers ahead by 11 points as Justin Longmuir’s side looked to be getting the game on their terms again.
While set shot inaccuracy continued to haunt the Dockers, they managed to keep ahead of the Eagles by the time the final siren sounded.
3) ‘THANK GOD HE’S OUT THERE’
David King put it best when he used the above to sum up Tim Kelly’s performance for the vastly-undermanned Eagles on Sunday night.
Kelly has performed in spurts since arriving at the Eagles at the close of 2019, but now more than ever the 27-year-old’s best footy is needed.
In a midfield decimated by injury, Kelly put together a very encouraging performance ahead of the season proper.
“Three clearances, four score involvements, four inside 50s, he does it all,” King said at half-time.
“He gives you quality as he exits traffic, he gives you territory. He‘s on 385 metres gained today … the next best player on the ground is on 285 metres and that’s Blake Acres. So, he’s giving you 100 metres more with this sort of quality.
“He’s doing it from stoppage and he’s pushing really deep today. I haven’t seen him as far forward or as aggressively inside forward 50 as he has today.
“He’s been everything for the West Coast Eagles and thank god he’s been out there.”
Kelly would finish with 32 disposals, a goal and five score involvements in a fantastic tune-up for the season proper.
2) DOCKERS’ KEY FLAW BITES DESPITE WIN
They won the match, but why oh why can’t the Dockers just kick straight in front of goal!?
By the end of the match, the Dockers’ ledger read 11.13, but set shot goalkicking was far less flattering.
Michael Frederick could’ve had a day out but finished with 1.4, while even the silky smooth David Mundy missed the big sticks on two occasions.
It undermined their forward potency and it was made all the more noticeable by the difference at the other end.
“You have a look at marks inside 50, which is generally a good indicator of your quality in the forward half, 15 to Fremantle and six to West Coast,” King said just before the end of the third quarter.
“Every time they go in they use it so well you just feel like there‘s opportunity for them to score.
“Fremantle have made a meal of their forward 50 opportunities.”
1) NAISH’S NOTEWORTHY BID
It’s been a whirlwind three days for Patrick Naish.
The former Tiger is quite literally in a race against time to revive his AFL career, with the list deadline closing this Wednesday.
Three days after landing in Perth to play for the injury-riddled Eagles, the 23-year-old was let loose against Fremantle.
“He’s done a few clever things since being on the ground,” Dunstall said.
“He’s shown a bit of composure.”
King agreed, adding: “He’s had 14 disposals and a goal. He’s racked them up. He’s worked hard, he’s been charging at both ends of the ground. I think there’s an opportunity for this young man, he’s good enough.”
B: L.Ryan 13 B.Cox 36 A.Pearce 25
HB: H.Young 26 G.Logue 2 J.Clark 6
C: A.Brayshaw 8 W.Brodie 17 L.Henry 23
HF: T.Colyer 33 B.Acres 9 M.Walters 10
F: M.Taberner 20 R.Lobb 37 L.Schultz 5
FOLL: S.Darcy 4 C.Serong 3 S.Switkowski 39
I/C: M.Frederick 32 B.Banfield 41 M.Crowden 12 D.Mundy – C 16 H.Chapman 27 N.Wilson 14 E.Hughes 15 L.Meek 22
EMG: N.O’Driscoll 30 C.Blakely 19 J.Hamling 21 J.Western 34
Notable absentees: Nat Fyfe, Darcy Tucker
B: J.Rotham 35 T.Barrass 37 S.Hurn 25
HB: A.Witherden 23 J.McGovern 20 J.Nelson 30
C: A.Gaff 3 J.Redden 8 L.Foley 29
HF: J.Petruccelle 21 H.Dixon 41 W.Rioli 44
F: L.Ryan 1 J.Kennedy 17 B.Williams 32
FOLL: N.Naitanui – C 9 T.Kelly 11 J.Jones 31
I/C: Z.Langdon 7 S.Petrevski-Seton 10 B.Hough 19 X.O’Neill 24 T.Joyce 26 C.West 36 P.Naish 38 C.Jamieson 40
EMG: I.Winder 22 J.Williams 34 J.Waterman 2 L.Edwards 16
Notable absentees: Dom Sheed, Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling, Oscar Allen, Campbell Chesser, Elliot Yeo, Luke Shuey, Liam Duggan, Tom Cole
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