1. Much of the focus leading into this game was around Tim Kelly playing his first game against his former club. He wasted little time reminding the Cats of his skill set when he pumped the ball deep into the goal square in the opening seconds which resulted in Josh Kennedy’s first goal. Kelly continued to be influential throughout with 23 possessions, eight of them contested, five inside 50 entries and five clearances. The team gained 518 metres with the ball in his hands as he was an important aspect of the midfield effort.
2. Debutant Harry Edwards might need to watch the replay to gain a full recollection of his first game after leaving the ground with concussion in the early part of the second quarter. Edwards was collected by teammate Brad Sheppard in a marking contested and for good measure fell into the path of Cats ruckman Esava Ratugolea. He might have played only about 30 minutes, but in that time showed enough that Eagles fans will be seeing a lot more of him for the next decade.
3. Champion forward Josh Kennedy showed that an old dog can indeed learn new tricks with a magnificent piece of play in the clutch moments of the final term. From a stoppage deep in the forward 50, the 196cm Kennedy showed he was able to contribute as a roving target. Nic Naiatuni palmed the ball to space, Kennedy pushed off his opponent – childhood mate Harry Taylor – collected the ball at full tilt and then snapped the ball across his body to narrow the deficit to two points.
4. After a first half when the Eagles struggled to use the ball with their usual level of precision, they were able to kick at only 50 percent efficiency, largely because of the pressure the Cats bought to the contest. But the Eagles persisted, worked hard to find space then improved their execution to the point where at game’s end it stood at 69 percent. Other key statistics saw West Coast lead the inside 50 count 45-39, time inside the forward half 58-42 and forward half stoppages 36-20.
5. Emerging Eagle Jake Waterman demonstrated another string to his bow when he played in defence after Edwards was forced from the ground. Waterman plays a high octane running role as a rule, but was cast in a defensive role and did not look out of place. That versatility can add some options for the coaches box going forward.