Eagles dominate derby 52
West Coast has continued their dominance over cross town rivals Fremantle, producing a dominant second half to run away with a 59 point triumph in Western Derby 52 on Sunday.
Optus Stadium was empty for the most anticipated game of the season due to Mark McGowan's morning announcement that fans would be barred from the venue after a recent coronavirus scare, the Eagles powering away from the Dockers with an nine goal to two second half to win 20.12 (132) to 11.7 (73).
Both teams headed in to the Derby undermanned, West Coast without key pillars Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass in defence while Fremantle were without All-Australian backman Luke Ryan, ruled out with a calf injury.
Youngster Heath Chapman went down in the opening minutes with a shoulder injury to further stretch their backline stocks, the young gun bravely battling on after receiving medical treatment.
The Dockers made the fast start with the opening two goals of the game before the Eagles lifted their work rate to kick the next four, key forwards Josh Kennedy (two goals) and Jack Darling (one) starting to cause problems for Freo's undersized back six.
Fremantle were making the most of the Eagles under strength back line themselves, Matt Taberner kicking three consecutive goals either side of quarter time as the Dockers grabbed back the ascendency.
It was quickly becoming a shootout on a perfect afternoon for football as teams traded goals and momentum, West Coast beginning to win the clearance battle with midfielders Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff, Dom Sheed and Jack Redden all having an impact.
The Eagles took a 13 point lead in to half time, a collective 20 goals in the opening hour of football making it the highest scoring opening half in Western Derby history.
Jamie Cripps capitalised on some Josh Kennedy physicality to give the Eagles the opening goal of the third term inside 30 seconds, Adam Simpson's side largely dominant from there on in as the Dockers dropped away, unable to match their opponents on the inside or outside of the contest.
It was their depth and fringe players who stood up at critical times, with Jamaine Jones, Nathan Vardy, Jarrod Brander and Jake Waterman all hitting the scoreboard during the third-quarter run.
Forward targets Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Waterman capitalised and kicked three goals each, with young star Oscar Allen playing in defence to cover the loss of Jeremy McGovern.
Under fire after his poor showing against his former side Geelong, Tim Kelly lifted sensationally to win the Glendinning-Allan Medal as best afield, leading the Eagles with a career-high 42 disposals (23 contested) and 14 clearances, also a career best.
He was supported in the midfield by Gaff (35), Sheed (30 and six clearances) and Redden (29 and six) with the weight of midfield contributions too much for the Dockers to contain.
Fremantle failed to kick a goal in the final term as their young charges failed another Derby test, Ethan Hughes the latest Docker casualty as he failed to finish the match with a shoulder injury.
The teams swap places after the result, the Eagles now inside the eight and Fremantle pushed out on percentage ahead of round eight, West Coast hoping to break their road duck against Hawthorn at the MCG and the Dockers remaining at home to face Brisbane in a Sunday twilight blockbuster.
IMAGE: Early News