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IT WASN'T electrifying but it didn't have to be as Tim Kelly was unveiled by West Coast amid thunder, lightning and hail in a dramatic Marsh Community Series clash against Essendon at Mineral Resources Park.
The Eagles' star recruit worked into his first game in blue and gold before motoring home on a night where Josh Kennedy fired a warning shot with six goals, franking his excellent pre-season.
As West Coast ticked boxes, the undermanned Bombers fired a warning shot of their own, playing with spirit and dare to win the clash 14.11 (95) to 13.9 (87) in a match that was interrupted for 20 minutes because of lightning.
Kelly was scratchy in the opening half but finished with 27 possessions (14 contested) and six clearances, icing his performance with a goal from 40m off a step in the final term as the Eagles mounted a late charge.
Rotating between the centre square and half forward, his clean hands were regularly on display after the main break as he roved packs expertly in the slippery and windy conditions.
He was part of an Eagles midfield that won the clearances 46-36 and will welcome back dual All-Australians Elliot Yeo and Andrew Gaff for their final Marsh Community Series match against Fremantle.
While the Eagles ticked boxes, Essendon surprised, with their run-and-gun style putting the Eagles on the back foot for large periods of the match.
Devon Smith (20 and six tackles) returned to the midfield for his first match since round eight last season and gave a large dose of hardness and leadership.
Andrew McGrath (24 and seven clearances), Dylan Shiel (27 and four) and Darcy Parish (29 and five) led the midfield, with Andrew Phillips holding his own in the ruck.
Shiel particularly looks primed to build on his impressive first season with the Bombers, slashing through the midfield and winning the contested ball.
Small forward Irving Mosquito excited the crowd with a left-foot snap in the third quarter, with Will Snelling, Jayden Laverde and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti each kicking two goals.
West Coast: Draftee Anthony Treacy played across half-forward and showed a knack for getting free in space. His disposal let him down at stages and he finished with 11 possessions. Second-year ruckman Bailey Williams was lively in attack and remains in the mix for a round one debut. Hamish Brayshaw, who is hoping to debut in his third season, didn't feature until the final quarter and had six possessions.
Essendon: Ruckman Brynn Teakle was given limited opportunities in a baptism of fire against Nic Naitanui, finishing with two hitouts as he fights for a rookie spot. Draftee Harrison Jones was also rarely sighted across half-forward but slotted a nice late goal. Irishman Cian McBride was the best of the new Bombers, competing hard across half-back, while rookie hopeful Nigel Lockyer had 15 touches and three rebound 50s.
West Coast tall Jarrod Brander (DEF/FWD $217,000) lined up in a new midfield role, starting most centre bounces on the wing. He had some good moments and is a cheap Fantasy option. The third-year Eagle has been given every opportunity to make the role his own, finishing with 11 possession and covering the ground well defensively. Former Richmond forward Jacob Townsend (FWD $266,000) is a popular Fantasy pick and displayed the contested edge Essendon wants from him. He won seven of his 12 possessions the hard way but didn’t have huge numbers after a predicted midfield role (he did leave the ground with a minor injury at one stage). It will be interesting to see if his game is more Fantasy friendly against Geelong.
The Eagles will meet crosstown rival Fremantle at HBF Arena in their final Marsh Community Series match, with a host of stars, including Yeo, Gaff, Brad Sheppard and potentially Jack Darling to return. Essendon travels to Colac where it will tackle Geelong at Central Reserve in its final pre-season hitout.
PRE-SEASON FIXTURE Check out your team's Marsh Community Series games
WEST COAST 2.2 5.6 8.8 13.9 (87)
ESSENDON 5.3 7.5 12.9 14.11 (95)
West Coast: Kennedy 6, Waterman 3, Kelly, Petruccelle, Ah Chee, Williams
Essendon: Snelling 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Laverde 2, Parish, Langford, Smith, Merrett, Phillips, McKernan, Mosquito, Jones
West Coast: Kennedy, Sheed, Shuey, Kelly, Naitanui, Waterman
Essendon: McGrath, Shiel, Parish, Langford, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Merrett, Snelling
West Coast: Nil
Essendon: Hurley (leg)
Umpires: Brown, Dalgleish, Power
Official crowd: 4,302 at Mineral Resources Park