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Royals fall to electric Thunder

Rhys Dickinson  March 20, 2017 9:45 AM

Francis Watson finished with 28 disposals after a red hot first half at Medibank Stadium

Francis Watson finished with 28 disposals after a red hot first half at Medibank Stadium

West Coast’s match committee will have to make several tough calls following solid performances from some experienced Eagles in the WAFL on Saturday.

Sam Butler, Will Schofield and Tom Barrass made the selection panel’s job of picking West Coast’s round one defensive unit harder by being among the Royals' best during its disappointing 4.12 (36) v 7.11 (53) defeat to Peel Thunder.

Butler showed no signs of rust after missing West Coast’s final JLT Community Series fixture as he gathered 35 possessions off half-back, while Schofield controlled the structure of East Perth’s back line set up in addition to winning the ball 21 times.

Tom Barrass was solid in both attack and defence.

The 2016 Eagles Rookie of the Year also collected the ball 21 times, booted two vital goals in the fourth quarter and was the Royals’ second most efficient kick (83%) in a mostly scrappy, congested contest.

In spite of his relative inexperience, Category B Rookie Francis Watson threw up another possible question mark for the committee with an outstanding first-half display against the reigning WAFL premiers.

Watson was electrifying from the first bounce and amassed a staggering 24 disposals before the half-time siren sounded.

Jack Redden gave his first round selection claims another boost with a consummate 26-disposal, 14-tackle outing at Medibank Stadium.

Round one ruck contender Jonathan Giles effected 16 hit outs and accumulated 12 disposals and budding on ballers Kurt Mutimer and Luke Partington amassed 29 and 25 possessions respectively.

Third-year midfielder Liam Duggan also showed flashes of brilliance during his 23-touch, three-tackle effort against the Thunder.

Duggan felt his game was starting to come together after spending most of the pre-season in the Eagles' rehabilitation group overcoming a minor hamstring injury.

“I’m still on the build,” he said post-match.

“I got a bit more game time this week, which is nice. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward and trying to help East Perth.

“I want to build up my form and play my best footy.”