The Eagles reigned supreme but both teams came off sore as West Coast cruised to a victory over Fremantle in their final hit-out of the JLT Community Series in Mandurah on Sunday evening.
The Dockers lost forward Brennan Cox to a left hamstring injury while Eagle Brad Sheppard suffered a corked right knee, but it was Willie Rioli and Dom Sheed stealing the show to lead their side to an 8.10 (58) to 16.13 (109) win.
What we learned
1. Willie Rioli could have a breakout year in 2019
The gun small forward was electrifying in West Coast's decimation of Fremantle, nailing four goals and collecting 19 touches in a scintillating display, and could be looking to make a huge impact this season. Rioli's 2018 was nothing short of exemplary itself, as he nailed 25 goals from 21 games to cement his spot in the premiership-winning side, but he could be primed for an even better season this time around if his pre-season form is anything to go off.
2. A new forward line is no good without a midfield
New tall forwards Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb impressed in their second JLT games on Sunday, but the lack of delivery to their half of the ground has the potential to cripple Fremantle if they don't get their midfield rolling soon. Clearly hurt by the absence of skipper Nat Fyfe, the Dockers engine room was blown away after half time, with the ball rarely spending time in their forward half as Hogan and Lobb were forced to make an impact further up the ground. Andrew Brayshaw continues to develop into one of the budding stars of the competition, and recruit Reece Conca looked good, but their lack of midfield talent could be a huge problem for Fremantle going forward.
3. Dom Sheed is ready to go above and beyond
Two pre-season hit outs in the books and Dom Sheed has looked unstoppable in both, following up his 39-disposal effort last week with a 40-disposal game on Sunday. Sheed seems to be riding the wave of momentum that comes with kicking the winning goal in a grand final, and appears poised to join the upper-echelon of genuine stars in the league. He tallied eight clearances and a goal to go with his 40 touches, and if the 23-year-old can keep it rolling into the regular season he will be in elite company.
We liked the look of...
Compiling a modest 18 touches, Tucker's numbers won't wow anyone, but his off-season transformation into a tagger is an intriguing one. He laid eight tackles often lining up on star midfielders Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff, and did a relatively good job at keeping the two away from the footy at times. It's going to be an interesting watch as Tucker looks to mold his game around the run-with role.
We'd like to see more of…
I mean, who wouldn't? Ryan's ability to take spectacular marks and turn them into goals makes him one of the AFL's genuine highlight reel players, but it'd be nice to get a bit more from the emerging forward. By no means played a bad game, taking some impressive marks, laying eight tackles and booting a goal, but if he can get more involved and turn his 12 touches into say, 20, then that's all the better for the Eagles.
Both sides now enter a rest week before the start of the regular season. West Coast open their campaign on the road against Brisbane on Saturday, March 23, while Fremantle hosts North Melbourne on the Sunday.