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JLT2: Five things we learned

Gary Stocks  March 12, 2018 8:30 AM

Tom Cole amassed 18 disposals against the Dockers

Tom Cole amassed 18 disposals against the Dockers

1. There is no substitute for mental preparation and it seemed that as a collective the Eagles were off their game in this respect. It takes only a couple of per cent short of being sharp for an opposition to take advantage and Fremantle, as a unit, was much slicker and ready to play. Too many senior Eagles made errors that could be attributed to a mental lapse rather than skill execution.

2. The pre-season series is about players pushing up for early opportunities. Both Liam Duggan and Tom Cole are young players who have excelled through practice matches, going right back to AFLX. Duggan established his position in the senior team last year, but has ensured he plays in the opening round in a fortnight through his solid run of form. Cole was on the fringe, but has pushed his name forward for a spot against the Swans with his good touch.

3. Much of the pre-season focus up forward has been around new inclusions Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli. They will also be short-listed for round one, but senior players Jamie Cripps and Mark LeCras worked hard against the Dockers despite limited opportunities. Cripps, in particular, was enthusiastic throughout and had 16 possessions and nine marks, the result of a propensity to push hard both ways.

4. The West Coast midfield was well down and will need greater output against Sydney in a fortnight. Fremantle won the engine room battle comprehensively, had a strong and consistent advantage with numbers at the coalface and they reaped the benefits.

5. The absence of some senior players, who have retired or are unavailable for the opening game, means that opportunity will knock for several players to debut against the Swans. Midfielder Daniel Venables, forwards Jarrod Brander, Jake Waterman, Willie Rioli and Liam Ryan, defender Francis Watson (who did not play against Fremantle) and wingman Brayden Ainsworth will all be considered. Others like Matt Allen, Malcolm Karpany, Kurt Mutimer and Jackson Nelson will search for a strong effort with East Perth on Saturday to enhance their claims.