West Coast double-winners in NAB Cup Opener

West Coast, Fremantle and Essendon in their round-one pre-season openers.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

The NAB Cup was in full swing over the weekend and the Fremantle Dockers, West Coast Eagles and Essendon Bombers faced off in a three-way round-one showdown.

West Coast thrashed Essendon by 21 points in the first match of the watered down NAB format, winning 9.3 (57) 5.6 (36). Neither team kicked a pre-season only, crowd pleasing nine pointer and the game panned out as just about expected with a lot of rust and poor skill errors.

Gerrick Weedon was good for West Coast and may play a vital role in 2012. Star small forward Mark LeCras went down with a season ending injury last week which has created a bit of space in the Eagles forward line, an opportunity Weedon and counterpart Ashton Hams appear to be right on top of. Weedon presented well and kicked two majors, including one from a tight angle in the pocket.

Mark Nicoski and Hams also played solid games. Hams kicked two goals while Nicoski kicked a single and was good leading a forward line that put on some pretty effective inside-50 pressure.

Cory Dell’Olio showed some great flashes for the Bombers, kicking a late goal and having another earlier attempt denied when the goal umpire made an incorrect decision on a ball the ricoshade off his shin and not his knee.

The likes of Nic Naitanui, Dean Cox, Daniel Kerr, Andrew Embley, Luke Shuey, and Matt De Rosa all sat out for West Coast.

After the break Fremantle came in and destroyed Essendon by an even bigger margin, 1.7.5 (56) 3.2 (20).

In a complete contrast to the earlier game, Fremantle came out with a heap of intensity and used it in their favour, but also wasted many opportunities against what can only be described as a fairly weak and fatigued Bombers side.

Nick Suban kicked a nine pointer on the half-time siren and Freo received a great performance from No. 58 draft pick Lachie Neale who gathered an impressive 31 disposals, kicked two goals and showed some beautiful ball skills.

Hayden Ballantyne was decent in the midfield but his kicking was at times atrocious.

For Essendon the aging David Hille and athletic wonder Patty Rider weren’t much chop in the ruck, but Michael Hibbard showed he may have gotten his career back on track and was about the only plus in an average midfield performance that was missing regular contributors Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton, Heath Hocking and David Zaharakis among others.

In the final match West Coast got the better of a disgusting Fremantle attack, winning 4.6 (30) 1.4 (10).

In what was supposed to be the major attraction for the Western Australian crowd, both teams weren’t great and kicked a combined one first-half goal courtesy of the aforementioned Weeden.

Each of the three teams rested big names and essentially trotted out their B teams and the fans were forced to watch some average footy as a result.