Parochialism is great, but only when there is an alternate view you can use to balance things out. There is no way both sets of supporters ever walk away from a game feeling completely satisfied. There is always a winner and a loser… or two teams that played to a draw and no one is happy.

In order to capture the feelings and thoughts of both teams, irrespective of the outcome, Daniel Jon Kershaw and Matt Passmore went into watching this game as fans with eyes only for one team. DJK was all about his Eagles, and Matthew was all about his Purple Haze.

Below is the dual review from two Mongrels with very different perspectives on the game. It’s the Western Derby. It’s a rivalry unlike any other. It is the biggest game of the season to date, and two mongrels with their hearts on their sleeves have you covered for your review.

 

WHO WAS THE MATCH WINNER?

 

WEST COAST – Josh Kennedy. He’s 32 and people have been questioning his ability for over a month, but on his milestone 250th game, he not only kicked 4.4, but won the Glendenning-Allan medal to boot. He looked like the JK we know and love. Every time the ball came near him, you drew your breath with anticipation. So did the Freo defence, evidently, because they didn’t know what to do, which was obvious from the free kicks they gave away.

It also didn’t help JK’s cause that Fremantle’s backline was stitched together with masking tape! With Pearce, Hamling and Logue out and Cox moved to defend the dual Coleman medallist, it was always going to be a tough ask.

But can I give an honourable mention to Sheppard who ran at 100 percent efficiency from 23 disposals. Is he still underrated? No. And I think he’s making a strong case for an AA jacket this year.

 

FREO – I can’t say there were too many match winners in this game. Most players played well for portions of the game but were just outmatched in most areas. Brayshaw, Bewley, Aish and Ryan and Walters were all solid but not amazing, and despite a pretty good re-enactment of Nick Riewoldt’s grand final mishap and a couple of late misses, Taberner and Lobb both battled all day to provide targets around the ground.

But really, it was a pretty poor performance from the men in Purple tonight. No one stood up for long enough and not enough players took the game on.

 

The Mongrel Rolling All-Australian Team – Round Six

 

WHERE DID WE WIN/LOSE THE GAME?

 

WEST COAST – Freo showed some amazing flair early in the game and in the first quarter I was preparing my congratulations speech to fellow Mongrel, Matthew Passmore. I was starting to understand how fallen Prime Minister’s feel having to call their opponent and concede they are no longer in power. Luckily, I don’t have to experience that until at least next year and hopefully not then either!

But more to the point, what actually netted us the 4 points? Courage under fire. West Coast’s composure against a Docker’s outfit desperate to break their derby losing streak was sublime after the first quarter siren.

I’ve had to sit through some stinkers by the West Coast this year (Gold Coast, Brisbane and Port) and the difference between that team and this one is day and night. West Coast’s kick-mark game was actually working again, emphasised by the damn stat that our boys took 111 marks to Freo’s 68. Our overall efficiency was 77 percent compared to the 73 by the purples who had 47 less touches.

West Coast in 2020 may not be the same team that won a flag two year ago, but they are also not too far off that mark either. West Coast fans can be bolstered in the fact that we played so cleanly, attacked the contest and played as a unit. Also, thanks to Dean Margetts, who apparently has helped us win every game in recent memory.

 

FREO – We lost this game for several reasons:

Firstly, I am completely to blame. After 20 something years of being a member, the club decided to give us all a hat this season. I decided to wear it, leaving my lucky hat at home. I won’t be making that mistake again.

Still, my weird superstitions don’t scratch the surface of what went wrong here. What really went wrong was Fremantle just do not learn.

The Dockers turned back into a Ross Lyon coached team. Recently under Lyon we saw the Dockers enjoy the long kick forward, only for it to cause a turnover. With the pressure heavy on them, they reverted back to this far too often.

The ultimate difference between the teams though was structure and cleanliness. The Eagles are a one touch disposal side who time their runs perfectly and take possession on the first grab. Their structures both defensively and offensively are predictable so even miss kicks find teammates, but good kicks from their opposition are turned into contests or cut off. The Eagles are a very well drilled side who know exactly who should be where at all times. The Dockers are not. A much younger side, they do not nearly have the same discipline in their structure, so there were little issues for the Eagles to get the ball out of defence. Freo were often forced into slow movement and looked for short kicks where longer options were better or paused and waited when there should’ve been run. These things will come with time.

And, once again there was a 5-minute loss of concentration where their opposition was allowed to pile on goals which took the game away. The Eagles kicked 3 goals in the about 2 minutes in the second quarter- albeit Fremantle (and a couple of dodgy umpiring decisions) meant the Eagles only had to actually work for 2 of them. The Dockers need to start putting on 4 quarter performances. But then, I’ve seen maybe 7 in the last 20 years of watching them, so I’m not going to hold my breath.

 

IF YOU WERE COACH, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY?

 

WEST COAST – My biggest gripe with this game was allowing the Freo midfield to get on top of us early on. On paper, West Coast are a much stronger midfield side, but Freo’s engine room were giving them an absolute bath. To Adam Simpson’s credit, he tweaked a few things and West Coast soon got on top again.

However, if you point a gun to my head and make me actually answered the question, I will have to say that West Coast have to have a rethink Ah Chee’s inclusion in the side. He hasn’t been awful, but he also hasn’t set the world of fire either. When Jones has recovered from his hamstring, I think he makes his way in the side. I really want to bring Jetta back in as well, but Cole and Nelson have been playing some great footy and should hold they spot.

 

FREO – Sean Darcy is a rookie ruckman who, while being OK around the ground, cannot beat or even match it with the best rucks in the competition in a ruck contest. This of course is to be expected, but I do not know how Fremantle could not plan for this- especially when their coach is a former ruckman who played alongside the great Aaron Sandilands. For 271 games, Aaron Sandilands dominated the ruck so much that opposing midfields regularly didn’t bother setting up for their own ruck to win the tap- they’d just set up a little more defensively and try (often succeeding) to shark Sandilands. As good as Sandilands was, his dominance could also be a hindrance. The Freo midfield should have given Nic Nat the same respect. Sure, Darcy won a few hit outs here and there, but the midfield should have expected Naitanui to win the majority of them and set up accordingly. Too often were players like Tim Kelly able to waltz the ball out of the middle because he was given space, offered by his opponent hoping to win the ball the other way.

Freo need to find a good outlet kick. Someone in space about 20 metres away who can be an easy target when they’re under pressure. Relieve some pressure around the ball and then learn when to run and carry or when to hold the game up. Too often did they run and get caught and too often did they wait when they could’ve run.

 

The Mongrel 50 – Volume Two

 

MOST UNDERRATED PERFORMANCE

 

WEST COAST – Much maligned Jackson Nelson. This kid has been the whipping boy at West Coast for years. Even this week, fans were complaining about his inclusion over Jetta. But little did they see that he quietly racked up 23 possessions and 15 kicks of the footy.

I like him. He’s a component defender, who can also double as a lock down player. He also, according to the West Coast podcast, BackChat (RIP), is absolutely annoying to play against as he can get quite physical and give his man a bit of lip. I like the cut of your jib, Jackson!

 

FREO – It’s not going to be an underrated performance as such, but this is the best place to talk about my new favourite player. When Freo called Pick 61, Minairo Frederick, I knew they’d found a beauty. With a name like that how could you not? Shortly after Googling who or what a Minairo Frederick was, I saw some footage and was very impressed. It doesn’t take a huge amount for a new player to impress me, really. I don’t expect the world on debut, I just want to see something- an elite kick, or a great mark, some good pace… Frederick had all of this in spades. I heard a rumour that Frederick name badges at the ground were sold out by three-quarter time and no one will ever convince me otherwise. I don’t like to get too ahead of myself, after all, it was one game and really only 3 or 4 great moments, but Freo have found a triple-Brownlow, Norm Smith, premiership captain in this guy.

 

THE MOMENT THAT MATTERED MOST?

 

WEST COAST – 90 seconds at the end of the second quarter. The ball comes to ground in the Eagles inside 50. It gets passed to Kennedy who dribbles it through. Ball is bounced. Eagles clearance. Cameron goal. Ball is bounced again. Eagles clearance again. Waterman kicks a goal. Three majors in 90 seconds. That sealed the game right there.

 

FREO – For the sake of not being repetitive, I’ll talk about a moment in the fourth quarter. The game was probably already over, but I ruined it completely when I said “Lobb rarely misses” in the fourth quarter. He missed from 15m and then Taberner backed that up with a dreadful miss. Any chance of another comeback here was dashed and the ball went up the other end and the Eagles snuffed out the flame.

 

 

 

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WHICH PLAYERS LET US DOWN THE MOST?

 

WEST COAST – As much as I hate to say it, Tom Barrass let us down, particularly in the first quarter, when he let Taberner take two amazing contested marks in their inside 50 and then slot a couple through. I was told off at home by the other half because I was screaming “why the [censored] is his on his own.”

However, he did redeem himself later in the game with some spoils. I hate saying negative things about TB.  I love you mate. Don’t take it personally.

 

FREO – Can I say Freo’s High Perfomance manager, Jason Weber? Probably not, but put Pearce, Hamling, Logue, Fyfe and whoever else is out and this Fremantle side is significantly stronger. On field though, Darcy Tucker had an absolute ‘mare by anyone’s standards. This year Tucker has lifted his game to become a more than serviceable midfielder, showing glimpses perhaps that he could push into the bracket of elite in a few more years, but he was nowhere tonight. I try to look past stats, but as a mid, 7 touches at 42% efficiency is dreadful and well below his standards.

I also want a lot more out of Nathan Wilson. He’s a beautiful kick of the footy and a great player off half back, but when you’re part of a B grade defence you need to think defence first. He got caught out of position extremely poorly in the first quarter, which resulted in an easy Kennedy goal. What makes it worse is we haven’t seen the best of his attacking game since coming to Fremantle. A move to the wing might be in order.

 

PLAYER FROM THE OPPOSITION I ADMIRED MOST IN THIS GAME?

 

WEST COAST – I really, really want to say Taberner, but after his Nick Riewoldt impersonation in front of goals where he played on and got ran down by Cole, I just can’t do it.

Minairo Fredrick is the guy for me. If that guy is the future of Fremantle, then I am legitimately concerned. That kid was electric. He was fast. He was just where he needed to be. He ran at 80% disposal efficiency and he kicked a goal. Jesus, that kid can play.

 

FREO – Contrary to what I am supposed to believe, there’s a lot of Eagles players I admire and one of them is definitely Josh Kennedy. I’ve been a little critical of him this year. Not because I think he’s lost form but more so because teams are working out that if you take away his space you take away his game. Well, today he had plenty of space. I’ve spoken a few times about Freo’s depleted defence but give him that much room and Alex Pearce couldn’t have stopped him. In full flight, there’s none better than JK.

 

WRAP  UP

 

WEST COAST – I was very nervous about this game all week and thought we were finally going to lose the derby. However, it played out about as much as you would expect – Freo giving it their best, but falling away later in the game. JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER DERBY FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS. Come on, Freo. Get your act together. Or better yet, how about you don’t and let us enjoy another few year in the sun before you give us a beating!

Freo are much better than their 2-5 record indicates. If they can keep some boys on the park, as much as it pains me to say it, they will be contenders in the years to come.

West Coast have a big few weeks ahead of them. Collingwood, Geelong, Carlton and Hawthorn. I’ve been a bit down on our team’s performance, but they’ve been building nicely over the last few weeks and I think we’ll return to our contender’s mantle shortly enough.

I was very bullish about our flag chances going into 2020. It felt like we were heading in the right direction with the inclusion of Tim Kelly to help cover our most glaring weakness – contested ball – and give us the boys some space to do some damage on the scoreboard.

After the restart, it was, to put it mildly, an unmitigated disaster. We were no good. And it took a month for us to even start looking good. But now we are starting to look like a team that can challenge any team in the competition. I am not sure if we’re capable of going all the way this year, but we have a great list, healthy bodies and a little bit of the spirit that saw us climb in 2018. My excitement and stress levels are about to rise!

Collingwood are going to be our biggest test to date, I reckon. I am not overly confident we can beat them, but if we do … then I will start to believe anything is possible.

 

FREO – Well I knew I should’ve gone home when my ticket didn’t let me through the door. After a lot of fluffing around with the Ticketmaster site we managed to make it work and I’m not sure it was worth the effort to be honest. This year has all been about small victories for Fremantle. It’s another year without the finals, which is never great, but with a young side and a young coach, it’s a season to build trust in the game plan and getting games into the players. I feel Fremantle took a backward step tonight. It’s the first game where they haven’t won a quarter, and I think it’s even the first game where they’ve lost more than one quarter. They’ve been more than competitive all season and it was very disappointing to see them revert to their old kick and hope out of the backline, though that’s not to discredit the Eagles who had a game which forced Fremantle into rushing.

You learn a lot more from a loss than you do from a win, and Fremantle have plenty to take from this game. I’d be disappointed if we’re seeing the same mistakes next year.

The Eagles are back to premiership contenders, in my book. As I said before, it doesn’t take a lot to impress me. This performance was not as polished as we’ve seen from the Eagles in the past, but it was damned closer than what they demonstrated in Queensland. With a lot of home games coming up, the Eagles have time to build on this and polish out the little kinks that are still there. But for much of the game tonight, I was seeing the Eagles of 2018 and that scares me a little. There 2,4,6,8 record of Premierships suggests 2020 is the year for them, and they’ve got a dream run of home games to come.

I should just say that the Dockers were outplayed in every aspect of the game, but that makes me sad. I Could also blame umpiring, but I don’t do that. Even when it is terrible.  So let’s just go with this: The Fremantle Football club are avid supporters of us at The Mongrel Punt, and knowing that Eagles fans make up a large proportion of the Mongrel’s readership, were more than happy to help out by giving the Eagles a win and plenty of good for their fans to read about. That makes me feel better.

 

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