Eagles all over Fremantle

WEST COAST 2.6.5 2.11.8 2.18.10 2.20.10 (148)FREMANTLE 0.2.1 0.4.2 0.5.2 0.10.4 (64)
Nine pointers: West Coast: M Brown S Hurn. Fremantle: Nil.
Goals: West Coast: C Masten 3 J Cripps 3 S Wellingham 3 L Shuey 2 M LeCras 2 C Sinclair E Yeo J Darling J Hill J Kennedy M Hutchings M Newman. Fremantle: S Gumbleton 2 J Hannath L Neale M Barlow M Duffy M Walters N Fyfe.
Best: West Coast: X Ellis, C Masten, M Le Cras, M Priddis, J Cripps, M Hutchings. Fremantle: L Neale, D Mundy, T Sheridan, T Mzungu, M Walters, S Hill.Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Dean Margetts, Tristan Burgess.
Venue: Arena Joondalup.

West Coast was always going to have a hint of Hawthorn about it with former Hawks assistant coach Adam Simpson at the helm.

But it was the Eagles other recruit from the AFL premier, Xavier Ellis, who set the tone in his news club's 84-point NAB Challenge win over Fremantle at Arena Joondalup last night.

The Eagles dominated play, with 89 more possessions than their opponents and 14 goal scorers in their 2.20.10 (148) to 0.10.4 (64) victory.

The Dockers will also have concerns with small forward Hayden Ballantyne who limped from the ground in the final term with a suspected calf injury.

But Ellis looks to have put any injury concerns that had hampered him for the previous three season at the Hawks behind him to provide plenty of run off half-back for West Coast.

He narrowly missed kicking a goal with his first snap in his new colours and then amassed nine touches in the first term as the Eagles opened up a 46-point lead. Only Matt Priddis (11) had more.

Ellis had 17 possessions by half-time and finished with 21 when he was subbed out of the game half-way through the third term.

That run off half-back was sadly missed by West Coast last season, with Shannon Hurn sidelined, but it was on show last night.

That half-back line of Ellis, Hurn and Mitch Brown provided the first three scoring shots for the Eagles, including two super goals.

Simpson experimented with Jack Darling in midfield early and he did add some aggression to the centre bounces, but he looked a lot better when he moved to his regular spot in attack.

That Eagles attack enjoyed 61 inside 50s to the Dockers 31.

The Dockers were well shy of being at full strength with Luke McPharlin and Matthew Pavlich starting on the subs bench. Chris Mayne, Ryan Crowley, Zac Clarke, Clancee Pearce, Jon Griffin, Garrick Ibbotson and Nick Suban were all watching from the stands. They still had 17 of their Grand Final side on the paddock.

Andrew Gaff, Nic Naitanui, Beau Waters and Will Schofield were missing from the Eagles best line-up.

But coach Ross Lyon would have been disappointed with the lack of intensity shown by his charges and the number of turnovers.

And having their skipper in attack would have made little difference as the Dockers managed to go inside their attacking 50 only 12 times in the opening half for six scoring shots.

He did kick two goals in the second half.

Recruit Scott Gumbleton had touched the ball only twice by the main break playing mainly in attack, his one kick resulting in a goal late in the first term. He was used as a pinch-hitter in the ruck but still finished with just four possessions and two goals and has hardly cemented his place in the Dockers round one team.

Nor has Colin Sylvia, who also struggled and was hardly sighted in midfield with just five possessions.

The Dockers will have a nervous weight to see if David Mundy, one of their best, will have anything to answer for after a contest with Brown just before half-time left the Eagle on the ground holding his head.

The margin was already 65 points by the eight-minute mark of the second term.

There weren't too many hands put up to snatch positions in the side that lost last year's grand final to Hawthorn by 15 points, with the exception of youngster Lachie Neale who led all-comers for contested possessions.

The game was all summed up at the 13 minute mark of the final term when Ballantyne missed a set shot at goal from 15m out, five minutes before limping from the ground.

The story Eagles all over Fremantle first appeared on WA Today.

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