FREMANTLE faces a scramble to settle its forward line ahead of round one after key pair Michael Walters and Rory Lobb suffered injuries in Sunday's AAMI Community Series loss to West Coast at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles were also left with injury concerns after an impressive performance, with ex-GWS recruit Zac Langdon taken from the ground in a medical cart after a heavy head knock. Captain Luke Shuey also ended the match early but his ankle complaint did not appear to be serious.
EAGLES v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
It was a much-improved performance from West Coast, which rebounded from a lacklustre scratch match against the Dockers last week to win 9.13 (67) to 8.9 (57) on the back of three goals from star forward Liam Ryan.
Club champion Nic Naitanui made a successful return from a hamstring injury and played just over two quarters, while midfielders Dom Sheed (29 disposals and six inside 50s) and Andrew Gaff (31) were excellent across all four quarters.
Dockers superstar Nat Fyfe was the Dockers' best, moving between the midfield and forward line and finishing with 27 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal.
Tall defender Brennan Cox was also superb with his marking, intercepting and powerful spoiling ahead of a season in which he is tipped to be the Dockers' most important defender.
The positives for the rising Dockers were outweighed by the injury concerns, however, just 14 days out from their round one clash against Melbourne at the MCG.
Lobb will be sent for scans on his left knee after he was caught in a tackle from Eagles defender Tom Cole in the opening minutes, leaving the field slowly with the help of trainers and not returning.
Walters (hamstring) limped from the field in the third quarter after pushing off at a stoppage.
In the fourth quarter, West Coast defender Brad Sheppard dived into the legs of Bailey Banfield, with the Docker limping from the ground with a lower leg injury and Sheppard suffering a cut head.
The role of West Coast tall forward Oscar Allen was intriguing, with the young star spending long periods in defence again after rotating back in last week's scratch match. He impressed with two goals when forward and eight marks.
Fremantle ruckman Lloyd Meek held his own at stoppages after losing the support of Lobb. He was beaten when Naitanui was on the ground but finished with 18 hitouts and six clearances. Dockers rookie Josh Treacy was quiet in the first half and finished goalless. Draftee Heath Chapman didn't feature in the first half and finished with five possessions from limited opportunities. Former Lion Alex Witherden had an improved performance for West Coast after a scratchy hitout last week. Isiah Winder, Zane Trew and Harry Edwards were all held back until late in the game.
Round one chance
Treacy was quiet but could be required in the Fremantle forward line regardless after the injury to Lobb. The 193cm rookie could also be asked to provide ruck support against Melbourne as he did at times on Sunday. Meek did enough to suggest he can cover for No.1 big man Sean Darcy, who is racing the clock as he recovers from a knee injury. Wingman Michael Frederick gave the Dockers speed outside and got out the back to kick two goals from his 17 disposals, with six inside 50s. The small forward role is up for grabs at West Coast and Jack Petruccelle and Jamaine Jones eached kicked one goal, with one likely to play. Young midfielder Xavier O'Neill showed he is progressing.?
West Coast forward Zac Langdon required a medical cart to leave the ground after a collision with Fyfe when the pair attacked a ground ball at speed. Langdon was conscious when he left the field but will almost certainly need to serve at least the mandatory 12-day period on the sidelines under new concussion protocols. The Eagles face Gold Coast in 14 days, with Josh Kennedy (calf) and Tim Kelly (thumb) set to return. Lobb will undergo scans for his leg injury, Walters' hamstring could keep him out of round one and there was concern for key defender Alex Pearce in the third quarter when he had an ankle complaint before he shook off the issue and returned to the field. The Dockers will get back Luke Ryan, Caleb Serong and Adam Cerra (calf strain) in round one.
A midfield role for Liam Duggan (DEF, $661,000) has been flagged for this season after a stint further up the ground than his usual defensive home last year. Duggan averaged 97 in the last five rounds and his score of 88 looks promising for the Eagle to be one of the top 10 Fantasy defenders this year. Hayden Young (DEF, $337,000) showed off his elite kicking skills when used as the designated kicker from kick-ins in the absence of Luke Ryan. Young scored 72 but there is some room for improvement as he failed to register a mark.
31 disposals and 479 metres gained for Ethan Hughes ??— AFL (@AFL) March 7, 2021
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FREMANTLE 3.3 5.4 5.5 8.9 (57)
WEST COAST 3.3 6.6 7.11 9.13 (67)
Fremantle: Schultz 2, Frederick 2, Fyfe, Aish, Banfield, Crowden
West Coast: Ryan 3, Allen 2, Darling 2, Jones, Petruccelle
Fremantle: Fyfe, Cox, Brayshaw, Hughes, Mundy, Young
West Coast: Sheed, Gaff, Ryan, Hurn, Shuey, Barrass, Duggan
Fremantle: Lobb (knee), Walters (hamstring), Banfield (leg)
West Coast: Langdon (concussion), Sheppard (head), Shuey (ankle)
Crowd: 20,116 at Optus Stadium