It was an all-round impressive performance as Fremantle rolled West Coast by 47-points in a scratch match at Lathlain Park on Saturday.
Here are some of the talking points following the match that Freo won 16.11 (107) to West Coast's 9.6 (60).
Is it worth reading into this win?
Probably not. West Coast had some big outs in Nic Naitanui, Tim Kelly, Elliot Yeo and Josh Kennedy. Freo also went into the clash without star forward Matt Taberner and primary ruck Sean Darcy, while All Australian Luke Ryan and two-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe sat out the second half. Both teams could have vastly different line-ups next week in the AAMI Community Series and in round one.
How much time will Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters spend forward?
Both players are set to juggle time between the midfield and the forward line in 2021, but based on today, Walters is set to play more forward than mid, and Fyfe will play more mid than forward.
Both players delivered in their respective roles, with Walters kicking 4.2 and Fyfe the clear best on ground in the midfield before resting after half time.
Were there any injuries?
Luke Ryan was sent for scans after a knock to the back and was cleared of any serious injury. Adam Cerra (tight calf) sat out the second half as a precaution. Senior coach Justin Longmuir said both players were expected to play next Sunday’s AAMI Community Series game against West Coast at Optus Stadium.
“(Ryan) just had (his back) scanned and he’s all clear, so he will be a bit sore and sorry for a few days but it’s a good sign,” Longmuir said.
“(Cerra) had a tight calf at half time, which has probably been hanging around for a little bit so we didn’t want to risk it. We’ve still got a couple of weeks to round one so it was more precautionary.
“The aim is (for them) to play again next week.”
Could Josh Treacy go from rookie draftee to round one debutant?
There is plenty of hype around Fremantle’s rookie forward Josh Treacy. The 18-year-old impacted around the ground with his contested marking. He kicked two goals and at one point won a hitout on the 50m arc that led to a Mitch Crowden goal.
It’s worth noting that Treacy’s biggest impact came when he was playing on West Coast’s younger defenders later in the game, and while Longmuir didn’t rule out a round one debut, he was quick to state that Taberner and Rory Lobb remain Freo’s primary key forwards.
“We’re trying not to put too much expectation on our first-year players,” Longmuir said.
“We’re starting to build some depth with our small forwards and Josh is putting pressure on ‘Tabs’ (Matt Taberner) and ‘Lobby’ (Rory Lobb) to perform well each week.
“I was impressed with what he’s done over the pre-season, impressed with his game today and he’ll likely get another opportunity next week and put his name in contention for round one.”
Who impressed the most from Freo’s young brigade?
There was a lot of young talent on show for Fremantle, including top-10 picks Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Caleb Serong, Hayden Young and Liam Henry. While the impressive return from injury for Young at half back was arguably the most important, Andrew Brayshaw was the standout, winning plenty of the ball and impressing with his work-rate.
Is Lloyd Meek ready?
The fourth-year ruckman is still chasing his AFL debut and the 22-year-old was important in helping Freo’s mids get first use.
Up against Nathan Vardy, Meek did everything he could to impress Longmuir but the senior coach expects the real test to come next week against Nic Naitanui.
“I thought he (Meek) was really predictable to our mids. I was really pleased with his game. He’s done a lot of work over the pre-season so he deserves his opportunity and I thought he played really well,” Longmuir said.
“They’ll (West Coast) get Nic Naitanui back, who is probably the best ruck in the competition. I’m confident in the work that he’s done, the progression he’s made over the last year and a bit to get to AFL standard.
“Having a genuine ruck in the team allows us to have two talls down forward and structure up better down there. We’ll see how he goes next week.”
How will Justin Longmuir fit everyone into the backline?
In encouraging signs for everyone except the ‘headaches’ it will cause the coaches, Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling got through their full minutes unscathed. Young took his game to another level, Brennan Cox continued his 2020 form while first year defender Heath Chapman had some good moments after coming on after half time.
There are even some defenders outside the extended 27-man squad who could come into round one consideration, including Griffin Logue (hamstring) and 2020 regulars Nathan Wilson and Taylin Duman.
Did JL get his five extra goals?
He did, and then some. Fremantle kicked 16 majors via Walters (4), Treacy (2), Lobb (2), Brayshaw, Crowden, Lachie Schultz, Bailey Banfield, Serong, Fyfe, Henry and Michael Frederick.
In 2020, Fremantle averaged 51 points per game. Longmuir has said he’s looking for at least five more goals per game, taking longer quarters into account, as well as what he hopes to be an improved connection between the midfield and forward line. While it was just a scratch match, the early signs are there that Freo has found more avenues to goal.