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West Coast Eagles

Five things we learned against the Dockers

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 06: Nic Naitanui of the Eagles contests a ruck with Rory Lobb of the Dockers during the 2019 AFL round 16 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles at the Optus Stadium on July 06, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos)
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 06: Nic Naitanui of the Eagles contests a ruck with Rory Lobb of the Dockers during the 2019 AFL round 16 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles at the Optus Stadium on July 06, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos)

1. There has rarely been a better example of what Nic Naitanui brings to the Eagles than this game. Aside from his work around stoppages – and he was central to the game breaking burst in the second quarter – it was his follow-up effort that was so captivating. He set up young forward Jarrod Cameron for his fourth goal when he twice got down to ground level, belting the ball forward to surge it forward, deep inside 50.

2. That second term surge, when the Eagles kicked eight goals, was remarkable. It seemed like the ball would start in the centre, Naitanui would direct the ball into the path of one of midfielders and it would result in a goal. At one stage they had seven goals from eight entries, with Cameron kicking three goals for the term and Naitanui’s ruck partner Tom Hickey adding a couple.

3. Brendon Ah Chee has waited all season for his opportunity and he made the most of it. In good form for the WAFL Eagles all season he had been on the emergency list a number of times and when Josh Kennedy withdrew through illness he finally received the call-up. Ah Chee was lively across half-forward, was threatening in the air and will give the match committee much to contemplate in the lead-up to this Friday’s night clash with Collingwood.

4. Some of the key statistics didn’t quite equate to a 91-point victory, particularly the inside 50 count that saw the Dockers lead it 60 to 50. But the Eagles were far more efficient with their ball use, won the contested possession battle by 10 and contested marks by six. They also led time in possession by 44 to 37 percent and in that situation the Eagles were always in control.

5. So often Elliot Yeo find an opposition minder going to him with the aim of closing him down. In this game he had the challenge of essentially going head to head with Fremantle captain Nathan Fyfe. It has been a common match-up in recent years and Yeo again relished the assignment to be an important factor in the fin. He quelled Fyfe, while the likes of Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, Dom Sheed, Jack Redden and Chris Masten combined to win the midfield war.