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Eagles lose pre-season opener



West Coast has suffered an eight point defeat to Essendon in it's Marsh Community Series opener at Mineral Resources Park on Thursday night.


In a match where neither team was at full strength it was the Bombers who looked the more skilful side from the outset, seeing off a fast finishing Eagles side to win 14.11 (95) to 13.9 (87).


It was a game played in remarkable weather conditions, with thunder and lightning causing a 20 minute delay in the second quarter and rain and strong winds wreaking havoc throughout the night.


Essendon kicked four of the first five goals as West Coast were made to pay for costly turnovers in the back half.


The Dons had an answer every time the Eagles mounted a charge during the match, despite six goals from West Coat spearhead Josh Kennedy.


The Bombers pushed their lead out to four goals late in the third term before the home side made a run in the last kicking five goals to two, falling short of a victory in front of more than 4,000 fans.


Darcy Parish (29 disposals), Dylan Shiel (27) and Andrew McGrath (24) all had an impact in midfield for the visitors, while 2018 best and fairest Devon Smith made an encouraging return from a knee injury that derailed his 2019 campaign, finishing with 20 disposals and 6 tackles.


Star Eagles recruit Tim Kelly showed his class on debut in the blue and gold, finishing with 27 disposals while new skipper Luke Shuey led all comers with 31 touches of his own.


Nic Naitanui played limited minutes after an injury free pre-season but got through unscathed, the Eagles without Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff and Brad Sheppard who will play in the bushfire appeal state of origin match on Friday night.


The Bombers were without skipper Dyson Heppell, veteran utility Cale Hooker, midfielder David Zaharakis and ruckman Tom Bellchambers.


West Coast coach Adam Simpson revealed after the match that 2018 premiership player Daniel Venables will sit out the 2020 season as he continues to battle a heavy concussion suffered against Melbourne in round nine of last year.


The Eagles wrap up their pre-season campaign Saturday week against Fremantle at Arena Joondalup, while Essendon plays Geelong in Colac on March 9th.


IMAGE: AFL website.

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