Fremantle Dockers have maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable 30-point victory over fierce rivals West Coast Eagles in the 41st Derby, with the game ending Dockers 17.9.111 to Eagles 12.9.81.
Lachie Neale was beast afield for the Dockers, collecting a game high 42 disposals and kicking three majors, while fellow midfielder Stephen Hill was pivotal to the first-half demolition. For the Eagles there were only a few that could hold their head up high, in particular Andrew Gaff’s effective midfield performance.
Fremantle produced a scintillating display, and the best quarter of any team so far this season, with a 9.2 onslaught in the first term to West Coast’s meagre four behinds. It was an incredible opening to the match that shell shocked the partisan Eagles fans.
Five goals in roughly eight minutes of play sent Fremantle on their merry way, with promising young forward Matt Taberner chipping in with these two goals of the term.
When a rampant Fremantle kicked another goal from the boot of gun Neale (see below) it was almost game over before the end of the first quarter.
The Eagles needed to response, and at the very least give their fans something to cheer about. Star Nic Naitanui sparked his team into action with a fine chase and rewarded tackle in the opposition goal square (see below), however, it was a false dawn as Fremantle controlled the game with ease.
This deft touch from ruckman Aaron Sandilands to the influential Neale epitomised the class of the entire Fremantle outfit.
Chris Mayne then echoed that sentiment with a clever piece of skill to evade his opponent and slam through another major for his team. 14 goals to three at half-time and it was simply a matter of how much the Dockers would secure victory by. Much of the talk at half-time centred around whether Fremantle could secure their biggest ever Derby winning margin, whereas for the Eagles it was all about restoring some pride for their fans.
Fremantle threatened to string another run of goals together early in the third term, but the Eagles rallied. This fine diving mark and goal from Naitanui was enough for the Eagles to win the quarter by a goal and head into the final change 10 majors behind.
Michael Walters got in on the act early in the last quarter with this trademark grab and clinical finish.
However, it would be the Eagles who would dominate the end of the game. Mark LeCras kicked four last quarter goals – a tight set shot the pick of the bunch – to end with five for the match and help put some much needed respectability on the scoreboard for the Eagles.
Next week Fremantle host the battle of the two undefeated sides in a Saturday night blockbuster, while for an injury crippled West Coast Eagles they will have to lick their Derby wounds and rouse themselves for a trip to face an out of form Brisbane Lions.