The Western Derby number 2 of the pre-season. Being a West Coast supporter I wasn't expecting much to be completely honest and thought we would walk out of this contest with another loss. To my surprise this wasn't the case but the game did seem to be played a little different to other games I'd seen over the weekend. Despite the new man on the mark rule West Coast looked to play a similar brand to recent years with their chip mark style. They didn't look to overly take the game on and I didn't think we looked to move the ball any faster or more direct than usual. Freo on the other hand were super daring early with their ball movement looking for short kicks inside the corridor and looked the better side early. Over the course of the game this disappeared and they lost their flare. I think this is the main reason why we were able to win the game.
West Coast Takeaways
Andrew Gaff: Not much to really say here other than Gaff was his normal self. Racked up his 30+ like usual and will be a safe bet to average strong again in 2021. I was interested in Gaff slightly after seeing how open the games this weekend had been I thought Gaff could potentially be one to increase his output but it looks like West Coast are looking to play a similar brand. He'll be a mix of inside and outside again this year with the injuries we have to our list and we should see an output somewhere in the 110 region again. Not a starter but an upgrade target who potentially finishes a top 8 midfielder.
Liam Duggan: Rumours of him playing midfield were partly true. He certainly looks to be playing more up the field and found himself positioned on a wing for a lot of the match but did spend some time inside also. West Coast obviously value Duggan as a defender as so while he was playing on a wing he did have that defensive mindset to push back and therefore was seen helping out in defence a bit and collecting a few +6's while down there. With midfielders set to come back into the side Duggan's role is temporary and regardless of the him having a role more up the field he doesn't provide enough value to select him priced at 87 anyway.
Alex Witherden: Looks to have slotted in nicely in defence and along with Hurn looks to be designated kick in taker. Will get plenty of cheap marks and kicks back there are should put together a decent average this year. He looks to be best 22 after early rumours suggest he may not be. The issue is he's priced at $654k which I just can't justify paying for when there are guys like Docherty who has averaged over 115 before priced 30k more.
Xavier O'Neill: One of our best I thought. Got a genuine crack in the guts for us and seemed to really build as the game went on. We must seem to hold him in high regard and with our side being quite old he looks to be one of the younger guys who should get more opportunity to grow this year. He managed 82 from 80% game time which is encouraging. West Coast do have a few names to come back but with Yeo looking to be out for a while we could see O'Neill get a decent crack at it early. Priced at $310k with the flexibility of MID/FWD he could be one to watch for improvement this year.
Nic Naitanui: Can't touch him. West Coast have made it clear that Nic won't be spending more time on ground this year which is fucking dumb to be honest. The bloke is nearing the end of his career, the team's premiership window is coming to a close and he's just come off a full season with no issues. They say he isn't fit enough to play more minutes but surely he just puts in some extra effort to get more fit. Makes no sense to me but what would I know. Anyway because of this he won't be any better in 2021 and therefore he's not an option.
Nat Fyfe: Having been spoken about playing forward a lot of the pre-season both his scratch match and AAMI series match didn't show that this was the case. He did play more forward in the last quarter but for majority of both matches he was situated in the middle and was Fyfe's dominant best. He's not one to start with as he's priced at 95 and from previous years we've come to the conclusion that Fyfe is just around this mark and at best goes 105. It's more a bummer that we may not see Fyfe get the DPP this year that I was so certain he would get earlier this pre-season.
Andrew Brayshaw: Brayshaw ticks a lot of boxes for mine. A switch to the middle last year saw him increase his average by 26 points while attending 42% centre bounces on average. This had Brayshaw down at the 6th most used mid at Freo (This includes Blakely and Tucker who missed a fair chunk). He comes into his 4th season and having recently added to the leadership group it really shows where Brayshaw is at in his career. Still has scope to improve and I suspect Brayshaw will be Freo's number 1 or 2 mid this year. He attended on average 88% of CBA's in the first game between the two sides and that included a squad with Serong, Cerra, Mundy and Fyfe. Brayshaw has a good combination of inside and outside game and I can see him being one of the finds this season. I started this page to give valuable, honest, no bullshit opinions on players and at 2% ownership Brayshaw sits in my side going into round 1.
Michael Frederick: Where did that come from! Looked like a totally different player and has obviously taken a lot of improvement from his first season. Played a high half forward role and looked fantastic. His speed allowed him to spread and utilise space which saw his team mate pick him out on the wing on numerous occasions. Inside 50 he looked dangerous and a genuine goal threat. His TOG at 94% is out of this world and maximises his chances of being able to put up a respectable score. We saw last year Darcy Macpherson put up two big 100+ scores in the pre-season and then go on to average 60 for the year playing a very similar type of role. The difference here is that Frederick is priced at 38 so a 60 average is somewhat acceptable. With Cerra and Serong to come into the side we potentially see Frederick situated deeper forward which could hinder his scoring. I think I need to see him again in a full strength side to get a clearer understanding of his true output potential. Could be a legit option at the price though.
Brennan Cox: Probably one of the most improved players in the competition since going down and holding down a key post in the defensive 50 for Freo. It's hard to pick a player who will take one of the best opposition forwards every week but he's an elite intercept mark and demonstrated he can still rack up the pill with 23 disposals. Reminds me very much of a Steven May type and from all things this weekend intercept markers consistently scored well across all games. He's priced at 54 so there could be something there to work with but it's something that's probably a bit to risky.
Ethan Hughes: These half back flankers are getting out of control when you see a player of Ethan Hughes calibre racking up 133 fantasy points in a game. This was a sign that I'm going all in on defenders this year. Anyone that scores this big needs to be watched going forward but it's Ethan Hughes has always been a fringe player for Freo so I can't possibly recommend him with any conviction.
Hayden Young: Lock him in your side. Personally Young sits at D6 for me but it's up to you where you have him as long as you do. Should average 65+ comfortably this year and looks to play a great role in the side. Took almost every kick in which is a very nice bonus and Freo look to use him for the hand ball receive. 23 disposals with 0 marks are great signs as he should be able to rack a few marks each game, he just got a bit unlucky at times which saw him overlooked at times but it was more a bad luck thing. Played 82% TOG which is great for a player of his price. I don't know what else I can say to make you pick him.
Lloyd Meek: Held is own in the ruck early against arguably the best tap ruck in the game. Freo won the clearances for the game which goes a long way to show how good Meek was. With Lobb now out for a little bit by the looks of things and Sean Darcy coming back from injury I think Meek is a safe bet for round 1. Providing that Flynn plays for GWS I will be rolling with both these guys at R2 and R3. Due to Meek matching up against Gawn in round 1 he'll likely take a spot on my bench.
Michael Walters: He wasn't an option regardless due to his extended minutes forward this season but Walters has done a hamstring so it looks like he'll likely be unavailable for a few weeks putting a line through him.
Josh Treacy: Came onto the field after the Lobb injury. Didn't show enough to suggest he'll be worthy of selection even with the dual RUC/FWD status. Forward ruck contests looked like Taberner would take and his ability as a forward wasn't nothing special so even if he gets a game there will be better options.
In summary there aren't to many players who spike my interest from West Coast and the likelihood that I'll start with no West Coast players is very high. Freo on the other hand look to be a very interesting side and have multiple players I'm interested in. Brayshaw for mine looks to go another gear this year and is probably the one for me who will be in my side come round 1. Watch out for Caleb Serong as I think he is one who is bound to have a huge year but having missed this game with soreness I'm not game enough to jump straight on board. Thanks for reading guys! If this article has brought you any value of sorts It would be much appreciated if you could share it via the links below and if you need any help with your team advice be sure to email me, contact me on social or drop a comment below!