And now the excuses start from West Coast supporters.

We had too many players out injured. Mark LeCras and Eric Mackenzie hurt themselves during the game. It’s only round one so it doesn’t really count for anything.

Funny how Eagles fans weren’t talking about any of those things when they were so keen to tip their side in the week before Saturday’s western derby loss to Freo.

Some West Coast observations from the game:

  1. A Cox-up: West Coast’s once-in-a-generation ruckman Dean Cox took on Fremantle’s third choice Jon Griffin and got beaten. That’s certainly not an indictment on Cox and it may never happen again but it shows an Eagles vulnerability while Nic Naitanui is unavailable.
  2. Switch-hitting: Fremantle did exactly what Collingwood did to West Coast in the NAB Cup. It played on the Eagles’ tactic of trying to push a side towards the boundary line by switching the ball quickly to the other side of the ground and attacking from there. West Coast’s pressure worked in the first half but after half-time it was non-existent.
  3. Time to step it up: The knock continues on the Eagles’ rising stars – notably Luke Shuey, Scott Selwood and Chris Masten – whether they can do it on the big stage. Daniel Kerr, Darren Glass, Cox and Matt Priddis have all proven they can get it done when it matters; the likes of Shuey and the younger Selwood still have to do it. Both of them, especially, carry big wraps, now they have to live up to them.
  4. Ashley Smith: The decision to play him in defence was a disaster. He didn’t get the ball, he couldn’t cover anyone. He’s just not up to it.
  5. Injuries and more injuries: I said this a couple of week ago - a side is always on shaky ground when it enters a season with injuries because it’s bound to pick up more. It might not be the same players getting injured again but now West Coast has LeCras and McKenzie to worry about.

West Coast will still be OK. The Eagles have enough of a home ground advantage and will beat enough of the lesser sides on the road to play finals.

But if they are going to do what many AFL captains suggested and play in a grand final they are going to have to do more than that and beat quality sides – on the road.

Eagles fans said after the Collingwood loss in the pre-season that it was only one game and not a guide to the season. Well now it’s two and I’d suggest John Worsfold has some things to be worried about.

While West Coast is certainly going to have to improve to be a factor at the business end of the season, Freo looked sharp on the weekend.

Certainly there was no sign of the disinterested looking Dockers who got flogged by Carlton in the pre-season.

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