FREMANTLE has tough decisions to make in defence after the drama-free returns of key pair Joel Hamling and Alex Pearce in Saturday's impressive win against West Coast in a scratch match at Mineral Resources Park.
The Eagles, meanwhile, admit they have work to do before their season opener against Gold Coast after being outplayed by the young Dockers in the 47-point defeat, losing 16.11 (107) to 9.6 (60).
AAMI COMMUNITY SERIES Check out the pre-season fixture
Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe was the star in the first half, playing midfield and kicking a brilliant running goal before being taken out of the game at the main break and completing a solo running session.
Young onballer Andrew Brayshaw was the standout four-quarter performer in the midfield, while Michael Walters played almost exclusively forward and booted 4.2 to be the game's most dangerous forward.
Pearce and Hamling played managed minutes and got through the practice match unscathed after long and frustrating returns from serious ankle injuries.
The pair played alongside impressive tall Brennan Cox in the backline, while Luke Ryan also started in defence before copping a knee to the back from Eagles opponent Jarrod Brander.
Coach Justin Longmuir conceded he was no clearer on what his best backline would be for the season opener against Melbourne on March 20.
"Not really. I thought we had some really good performers down there," the coach said. "We've got some good discussions coming up as a coaching group."
Luke Shuey was the standout for West Coast before finishing at half-time, showing his trademark burst from stoppages after returning from a calf complaint.
Ball-winning midfielders Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed were impressive, while Liam Duggan brought a defensive focus to the midfield after shifting from half-back.
The Eagles managed key defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass, while a minor ankle tweak to recruit Zac Langdon was their only issue out of the match.
Assistant coach Jaymie Graham said several young Eagles would view the match as a missed opportunity to impress with key senior players sidelined.
"We've got a bit of work to do," Graham said. "We weren't happy with the way we went and Freo were pretty good.
"It’s good to have healthy competition and some guys will reflect on their game and maybe they didn’t take that opportunity like they would have liked to."
Fremantle key forward Josh Treacy took time to impose himself, but it was worth the wait, with the bullocking youngster taking two strong marks on the lead and kicking accurately from 45m.
Versatile Fremantle defender Heath Chapman emerged after half-time and played as a key defender for long periods, but expect the Dockers to be conservative with the timing of his debut.
Former Brisbane defender Alex Witherden was used off half-back and found the ball but also turned it over several times.
Brayshaw was the most prominent of the young Dockers in the centre square, winning plenty of possessions and snapping a goal in the first half. Adam Cerra was also a regular in the middle before being rested in the second half with calf tightness, allowing Caleb Serong to rotate through the middle more and impress with his ability to create space and time. Fremantle defender Hayden Young showed nice signs coming off half-back and got better through the match.
West Coast tall Oscar Allen was used at both ends of the ground and took some strong marks, with Brander playing as a key forward for long periods. Harry Edwards played both in the ruck and as a key defender, with Josh Rotham continuing to impress off half-back.
Round one bolters
Fremantle ruckman Lloyd Meek has an opportunity to debut if No.1 big man Sean Darcy (knee) is not available, impressing in the ruck and getting the edge over premiership Eagle Nathan Vardy. He was strong in aerial contests and often gave his midfielders first use. Eagle Jamaine Jones rotated between the wing, centre square and half-forward and is clearly in the mix after an excellent summer.
West Coast premiership defender Liam Duggan was straight into the midfield and often stood alongside Nat Fyfe at stoppages, bringing a defensive focus to the midfield while others got on the move. It was interesting to see Fyfe play such long periods midfield, attending eight of the nine centre bounces in the first half. He still hit the scoreboard, brilliantly following up a smother and converting on the run.
Blake Acres had one wing locked down for the Dockers all day and looks a likely starter against the Demons in round one. He was prolific early and also drifted into the backline at times. A midfield role for Duggan means the former defender will be under-priced and expect a lot of tackles from the hard nut.
Luke Ryan left the match in the second quarter after a knee in the back from Brander, with the Dockers sending the club champion for scans immediately, which cleared him of serious injury. The Dockers expect Cerra (calf tightness) to be available next week, while there was no issue with Pearce ending the game with ice on his ankle and shoulder.
West Coast was without key players Nic Naitanui (hamstring), Tim Kelly (thumb), Josh Kennedy (calf) and Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis). All except Yeo should be in the mix to face the Dockers in the AAMI Community Series clash on Sunday week at Optus Stadium.