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AFL West Coast v Fremantle, Round 16, Optus Stadium.
Naitanui vs. Sandilands

In Western Derby Number 50, the West Coast Eagles annihilated the inaccurate Fremantle Dockers to move to second on the AFL ladder and place a huge question mark over the Fremantle Dockers' finals hopes. After a slow start to the season the Eagles have hit their straps in their quest for back-to-back Premierships, with perhaps Geelong as the only team that can stand in their way.

The first quarter had the hallmarks of a tough ‘Derby’. It was a tight struggle, with defenses on top and forwards under pressure and missing "gettable" goals. It took eight minutes for the first goal to be scored. Jamie Cripps slotted a major (goal worth 6 points) for West Coast after marking (catching) a centering kick from Liam Ryan. It took another eight minutes for the next goal, which was a skudding 30-meter soccered goal by the Eagles' forward, Willie Rioli. The warning signs were there for the Dockers in the second half of the quarter.

West Coast dominated around the ball, even though they could not break through the Docker defense. There was a brief ray of light for the Dockers at the 25-minute mark when, against the run of play, Sandilands knocked down to Langdon who handballed to McCarthy, who booted Fremantle’s opening goal.

AFL West Coast v Fremantle, Round 16, Optus Stadium.
Naitanui breaks away

Heavy rain during the first break and into the second quarter made conditions slippery. However, the flood gates really opened for West Coast when an agile Naitanui scooped a ball and hand passed to Jarrod Cameron in the first minute. Cameron, who is the younger brother of Brisbane’s Charlie Cameron, made no mistake with his kick. A controversial slinging free kick to Cameron, gave him his second goal a minute after his first. Then six minutes later Tom Hickey kicked truly, followed by a rare goal from Chris Masten to give the Eagles a convincing lead. The Eagles’ ruck combination of Naitanui and Tom Hickey, had the better of the Dockers’ Aaron Sandilands and Rory Lobb, who were both returning from injury and looked underdone. West Coast dominated clearances as Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed racked up midfield possessions. In defense Brad Sheppard was impassable and Shannon Hurn rebounded Docker attacks to keep the pressure on the Fremantle midfielders.

Halfway through the quarter the Dockers were in serious trouble; and then to make matters worse, Docker defender Ethan Hughes was penalized for stepping backwards and deliberately taking the ball out of play. Cameron took the free kick and goaled from the boundary. A minute later Eagles’ forward, Jack Darling, marked and goaled and then Hickey got his second a minute later. Jamie Cripps compounded the Dockers agony by booting his second goal after receiving a good pass from Jeremy McGovern.

West Coast opened the third term with a free kick and goal from the boundary, after Docker defender Luke Ryan deliberately knocked the ball over the boundary. Fremantle then dominated the ball for a long stretch but could not steer the leather between the big sticks. At the fifteen-minute mark, West Coast gave a lesson in how to play classic wet weather football, when they scrambled the ball forward and finished with Cameron snapping his fourth goal. A free kick against Sandilands for a tackle on Naitanui and then a free kick against Joel Hamling for interfering with Darling gave the Eagles their twelfth goal at the 17-minute mark. The Dockers continued to compete, but without success until Ed Langdon centered a kick to Michael Walters who marked and slotted Freo’s second goal at the 25-minute mark.

AFL West Coast v Fremantle, Round 16, Optus Stadium.
Mitchell Crowden

The final quarter was a procession as the men in purple attacked and missed shots and the Eagles rebounded and added five more goals. Darcy Tucker, Nat Fyfe and David Mundy continued to contribute for the Dockers around the ground, and Joel Hamling took some good marks in defense. Mitchell Crowden was energetic in his first game for the season. Fremantle's giant ruckman, Aaron Sandilands, playing his first game in more than a year, was rested in the final quarter. The wayward Dockers finished the game with 60 forward entries for just two goals. The Eagles were far more efficient and scored 19 goals from their 50 entries. The Eagles’ small forwards were just too good. The Dockers fell into the old trap of booting long and high to their forwards, which allowed the Eagle defenders Tom Barras, McGovern, Sheppard and Hurn to intercept or spoil; and set up rebound attacks.

Next week the Eagles remain at Optus Stadium to meet the undermanned Collingwood Magpies on Friday night. The Dockers travel to the University of Tasmania Stadium, in Launceston, to meet their bogey team, the revitalized Hawthorn Hawks.

Fremantle Dockers: 1.2  1.7  2.14  2.19  (31)
West Coast Eagles: 2.5 10.7 14.7  19.8  (122)

Fremantle Dockers: Tucker, Walters, Fyfe, Hamling, Mundy
West Coast Eagles: Sheppard, Gaff, Shuey, Sheed, Hurn

Article last changed on Saturday, July 06, 2019 - 1:34 PM EDT

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