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Five things we learned against the Dockers

Gary Stocks  July 17, 2017 10:15 AM

AFL 2017 Round 17 - Fremantle v West Coast

Jack Redden amassed 29 disposals, 11 marks and four effective tackles against the Dockers

1. Adam Simpson expects his elder statesmen to lead by example. When big games loom, he puts the onus on his senior players to shine the light for the younger members of the team. He would have been delighted with the output of his senior players yesterday, with captain Shannon Hurn simply outstanding and others, like returning vice-captain Josh Kennedy, Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern, Matt Priddis, Andrew Gaff and Sam Mitchell, all wielding a strong influence.

2. While the coach was chuffed with the influence of his senior players, he was also content with the work of some of the young guns, particularly in defence. Liam Duggan had 31 touches in his most influential game in senior football, Jackson Nelson and Tom Barrass were key contributors. These days players swap and change opponents regularly, largely because of rotations, but Nelson spent a fair chunk of the game on Hayden Ballantyne and did a great job.

3. In the absence of dual Coleman medallist Josh Kennedy, much was asked of Jack Darling. He handled the extra responsibility with aplomb and when Kennedy resumed in the derby, they were both dangerous. The spearhead pair kicked five goals between them and also dragged down eight marks inside the attacking 50 – a couple of them exceptional contested grabs – to consistently pressurise the Dockers’ defence.

4. Unobtrusive midfielder Mark Hutchings continues to get the job done. In recent weeks, Hutchings has been assigned tasks against key opposition play-makers and yesterday he had the challenge of running with Fremantle’s Michael Walters. Hutchings again stymied the impact of the potential game-breaker, holding the explosive Walters to just 14 possessions. He also had 15 touches himself to play an offensive role for the Eagles.

5. Opportunities come at unexpected times and players need to be ready to take them when they come. When versatile and athletic utility player Elliot Yeo was a late withdrawal, Jack Redden was elevated into the game and enjoyed a strong influence. He had 29 possessions and took 11 marks to be a key element in the West Coast midfield. Not only that, he held Fremantle star Nathan Fyfe accountable for periods and performed his role well.