Take the four points and run.
That will be the attitude at West Coast after they were the lesser of two evils in the last derby to be housed at Subiaco Oval.
Neither the Eagles or Dockers were impressive in a scrappy match that failed to hit any heights.
Both teams were poor with disposal, fumbling under pressure and turning the ball over by hand and foot, but the Eagles were the more steady team in front of goal to record a 30 point win.
The Eagles got the early break with a four goal to nil opening quarter, but were mostly outplayed in the final three terms as many of the same problems that have troubled West Coast for season 2017 resurfaced.
The inexperienced Dockers thrashed West Coast in the clearances and inside 50’s but let the Eagles off the hook in front of goal.
Shortly before three quarter time, the Dockers trailed by 29 points having booted 2.13 compared to West Coast’s 8.6. The Dockers had continually pumped the ball forward for the previous two quarters, but the likes of Michael Walters, Stephen and Brad Hill and David Mundy missed golden opportunities.
Fremantle finished with 57 inside-50’s for the match but could manage just five goals from nineteen scoring shots. Conversely, the Eagles booted 11 goals from 46 inside-50’s.
Shannon Hurn marshalled his side, unanimously voted as best on ground and winning his first Ross Glendinning Medal. Hurn chopped off a number of the Dockers forays forward to compile a career high 34 disposals, with 14 marks and 8 rebound 50’s. On a day when most players struggled to find targets, Hurn went by 100% by foot as West Coast were forced to continually build from their half back line.
Hurn had the perfect sidekick in youngster Liam Duggan who produced the best performance of his 38 game career with 31 disposals, 11 marks and four rebound 50’s. Had the Glendinning medal been awarded at half-time, Duggan would have had it in the bag.
The Eagles half-back line were almost impenetrable as Jeremy McGovern, Tom Barrass and Brad Sheppard picked off a barrage of Docker entries.
Early on West Coast controlled the outside ball and implemented a forward press that had the young Fremantle defence scrambling. The Eagles had 70% of the forward play with Fremantle only able to clear as far as a line of Eagles set up through the middle of the ground.
Kennedy, Darling, Petrie and Priddis all goaled before the Dockers started to get control in the midfield. Lachie Neale and Nat Fyfe dragged Fremantle back into the contest as the quarter wound down.
The two Dockers would combine for 19 clearances with Sam Mitchell the best for West Coast with four. Fremantle finished with a plus 12 advantage at the stoppages as they peppered their forward arc.
In an uninspiring second term the Dockers were unable to capitalise until Shane Kersten snapped truly to get Fremantle on the board. Nick Suban, playing his 150th, ran into an open goal to make it two in a row and the Eagles lead was cut to 14 at the main break.
It was more of the same in the third as Fremantle continued to butcher shots on goal.
Michael Walters was well held by Mark Hutchings in a hard tag for much of the afternoon, but broke free to end the Dockers succession of behinds to goal, reducing the Eagles lead to 23 points. However, a brain fade gifted Josh Kennedy a 50 metre penalty and his third goal, restoring the near five-goal buffer on the three quarter time siren
Again the Dockers came in the final term and with the opening two goals, Fremantle were within 16 points and striking distance. The Eagles looked to halt the Dockers momentum slowing the tempo of the game and controlling the ball through uncontested marks.
West Coast weathered everything Fremantle could throw at them with the half-back line continuing to stand tall. Finally, with the Dockers committing players forward, the Eagles got their return on the break as Jack Darling took a strong pack mark running back with the flight of the ball. His second goal for the day as the final quarter ticked into time on sealed the game for West Coast, with Dom Sheed booting truly minutes later to stretch the final margin.
The win was the Eagles fifth derby victory in a row taking the overall record to 26-20. More importantly, the win allowed West Coast to climb back into the top eight, and with six of the current top eight playing each other, and Sydney hosting ninth-placed St.Kilda, Round 18 could become Moving Day for a host of teams, including the Eagles.
Match Details Sunday 16 July 2017
West Coast 4.1 5.4 9.6 11.8 (74)
Fremantle 0.3 2.8 3.13 5.14 (44)
Subiaco Oval Attendance: 38,722
Goals: WC Kennedy 3, Darling, LeCras 2, Petrie, Priddis, Sheed, McGovern.
FRE Walters 2, Ballantyne, Kersten, Suban.
EAGLE EYE VOTES
Round 17 Season Leaderboard
5 Shannon Hurn 29 Luke Shuey
4 Liam Duggan 25 Elliot Yeo
3 Sam Mitchell 22 Andrew Gaff
2 Jeremy McGovern 21 Sam Mitchell
1 Andrew Gaff 19 Jeremy McGovern
ROUND 18 FORECAST
While the Eagles will savour their derby win, the performance was not complete, and there could be several players on the block for next weeks vital game against Collingwood.
Chris Masten was brought back into the senior side with West Coast identifying a lack of run in the loss to Port Adelaide. Masten had 19 possessions, but operated at just 62% disposal efficiency with several turnovers at crucial moments in the match. Another veteran in Mark LeCras had just four disposals to half-time, but picked up a further nine and booted two goals in the second half.
With the Magpies lacking talls in their forward half, the make-up of the backline may become an interesting discussion. Tom Barrass again looked slow at times against the Dockers, and with Collingwood expected to have the likes of Alex Fasolo, Josh Thomas, Jarryd Blair and Jamie Elliott supporting Darcy Moore, it may open the door for Tom Cole to return.
Cole had 25 disposals in the Royals loss to Peel Thunder, bettered only by midfielder Luke Partington who had 28 and a goal. Adam Simpson suggested in the lead up to the derby that youth would be given a chance in the final rounds meaning that Partington must be closing in on an AFL debut and could be seen as a replacement for Masten.
Will Schofield did his role opposed to Hayden Ballantyne, with the goalsneak having just one possession in the first half. Eric Mackenzie is likely to miss a second week with a hamstring problem meaning Schofield will hold his spot.
One big query for the Eagles coaching staff may be the performance of enigmatic half forward Josh Hill. Hill booted just the one goal from 14 touches at East Perth but importantly laid 8 tackles – an area that has long been an area of concern for West Coast. In comparison, 9 Eagles had one tackle or less in the derby. Tom Lamb had 18 disposals in the wet, but will struggle to break into a forward line containing Kennedy, Darling and Petrie, while Francis Watson is starting to find his blitzing early season form having missed a couple of months through the middle of the season with a foot injury.
The Eagles will be hopeful of Elliot Yeo being available after he was a late withdrawal ahead of the derby. His place was taken by Jack Redden who responded with 29 disposals, 11 marks, four tackles and four inside 50’s and would be hard pressed to lose his spot. Malcolm Karpany is another who may be available after missing with a quad injury, but may have to find his way back via the WAFL.
Scott Lycett however seems likely to miss more time after making his first appearance against the Power following knee and shoulder reconstructions. Lycett is believed to have suffered from shoulder soreness during the week with Adam Simpson conceding that his season could be over.
OUT: Masten, Barrass, Nelson
IN: Yeo, Partington, Cole