1. Naitanui back with a bang
Few expected Nic Naitanui to return to peak form immediately after spending 581 days on the sidelines with an ACL injury. However we got glimpses of the Eagles star at his bullocking best – albeit intermittently. Naitanui (33 hit-outs, 12 disposals, eight contested possessions and a goal) flew for a few marks, tackled with intent and occasionally roved his own tap-work. And in the third term, with West Coast rallying, the 201cm giant launched himself full bore into a pack, brought the Sherrin to ground and pounced on Swans defender Nick Smith. The resultant free kick and goal brought the Eagles within touching distance. The 27-year-old seemed to have lost none of his finesse at stoppages, feeding Luke Shuey and co. with precision. Adam Simpson said it might be weeks before Naitanui returned to full match fitness. When he does, the Eagles’ competitiveness will skyrocket.
WATCH: Nic Nat brings Optus Stadium to its feet
2. New stadium, same Buddy brilliance
Lance Franklin looks set for an enormous season. The Sydney superstar covered the ground as well as he has in years, tackled ferociously, used his explosiveness in space and had confidence to shoot on goal when he might've otherwise passed. Marking on the arc in the first quarter, Franklin ignored the pleas of Zac Jones – who was leading his opponent by 15m in a race towards the goal-square – and dobbed the set shot from 60m out. In the second term he reeled in a hot handball from Isaac Heeney, darted through traffic and snapped the goal on his left, ending the half with five goals. The party tricks continued after the long break, with a dribble goal from 40m preceding another inch-perfect bomb from well outside 50. Franklin looked unbeatable one-on-one and finished with 21 disposals, nine marks – three contested – eight goals and five tackles.
WATCH: Every Buddy goal in night of wonder
3. The Eagles look right at home
Built to accommodate cricket, Optus Stadium (165m long and 130m wide) has dimensions somewhere in between those of Subiaco Oval (175m x 122m) and the MCG (171m x 146m). As such, questions surrounded West Coast’s ability to replicate the high-pressure, long-kicking and gut running gameplan tailored to its former home. The early signs looked good, as the Eagles successfully restricted Sydney’s space and spread with good effect. There were less boundary throw-ins – due to the wider expanses – and plenty of corridor play. And when West Coast strung together a run of goals through the third and fourth quarters, the noise of the 53,553-strong crowd was ear-splitting.
4. Parker's ridiculous early-season GOTY contender
With five minutes left and just 10 points separating the teams, Luke Parker pulled off the unimaginable. Front and centre of Callum Sinclair and with one arm pinned, Parker roved the marking contest, fumbled and – falling backwards – flung his foot at the ball to nail a ridiculous over-the-head goal. "I just had a go at it. It flicked out in front, I threw a boot at it and hoped for the best," Parker told AFL.com.au. And when asked if he'd ever done anything like it on a football field: "Not at all, mate. I'm probably the worst at soccer at the club, so I don't know where I've pulled it from." The goal capped of a stellar night for the star Swan, who notched 32 disposals, 18 contested possessions, nine tackles and seven clearances in a performance bettered only by Buddy Franklin's eight goals.
WATCH: Parker's incredible goal
5. Sydney banishes last year's demons
The Swans’ disastrous 0-6 start to 2017 came back to haunt them when they ran out of legs against Geelong in last year’s semi-final. John Longmire’s men started this season with intent to avoid the same fate, continuing their strong JLT Series form with a gritty performance against the Eagles. After rebuffing West Coast’s spirited start, Sydney worked the ball cleanly in congestion and found ways to engineer loose runners on the counter-attack. Consequently, Franklin was afforded ample space in attack, while forwards Tom Papley, George Hewett and Dean Towers used their pace to good effect. Sydney will again be hard to beat, and there’s plenty of room for improvement.
WATCH: Hewett soars for impressive grab