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West Coast Eagles

Last time we met the Dockers

Last time we met the Dockers The Eagles held off a defiant Dockers outfit to record their eighth-straight RAC derby win

Another week, another seven days where the spotlight fell on champion West Coast Eagles midfielder Andrew Gaff.

After returning to senior football in round three against Collingwood, this game against Fremantle marked his first game at Optus Stadium in front of his adoring fans, the first RAC Derby being a West Coast home fixture.

Gaff was cheered every time he touched the ball, which was often, particularly in the first half when the Eagles dominated and probably should have put the game to bed early. In all, Gaff had 35 touches in a classic display of gut running that saw him aid the transition from defence to attack.

In addition to Gaff, other grunt work in the midfield came from the likes of Jack Redden and Elliot Yeo while Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy were ubiquitous in attack.

While the Dockers had opportunities in the first half, they turned at the break with just 1.9 and were trailing by four goals.

Fremantle did surge in the second half, and looked capable of snatching the game from the fire, but the Eagles went on to endure by 13 points in what was a business-like, if not classical display of football.

Skipper Shannon Hurn was again outstanding in defence, along with Brad Sheppard, Tom Barrass and Liam Duggan. Hurn had 32 possessions and won his third Glendinning-Allan Medal as best afield after a commanding display.

Sheppard (14) and Barrass (11) took 25 marks between them while Hurn took eight. Some of those were accumulated as the Eagles chipped the ball around half-back, searching for a way out of their defensive zone as Fremantle swarmed to make that transition a challenge.

Up forward, Kennedy and Darling were a constant threat in the air and when the ball hit the deck, Jack Petruccelle and Liam Ryan loomed menacingly. Petruccelle kicked a couple of early goals, with his explosive pace a feature in both.

Coming off a stand-out victory against Collingwood at the MCG, it was important to consolidate the club’s position and the Eagles won the battle in the most important categories, ticking off their key performance indicators against their brand of football.

They won clearances, the inside 50 count and total disposals, while dominating marks (135 to 81) which allowed the Eagles to play their way.

Coach Adam Simpson might have preferred a more complete performance, but the end result was an eighth straight RAC derby victory against the cross-town rival.

Round 4 v Fremantle
Optus Stadium

West Coast Eagles           5.1         6.3         8.5         10.9       69
Fremantle                         0.5         1.9         4.12       7.14       56
Goals – West Coast Eagles: Darling, Kennedy 3; Petruccelle 2; Ryan, O Allan.
Fremantle: McCarthy, Taberner, Walters 2; Hogan.