Free agent Xavier Ellis starred on debut as West Coast flexed their muscle by thrashing Fremantle at Arena Joondalup last night in a highly promising start to their 2014 campaign.
The Eagles piled on eight majors, including two super goals, in a first quarter blitz that blew away a sluggish Dockers in coach Adam Simpson’s first game in charge.
Sharrod Wellingham, Chris Masten and Jamie Cripps all booted three goals and Jack Darling shone in a versatile role switching between the centre square and attack as West Coast crushed their derby rivals by 84 points, winning 2.20.10 (148) to 0.10.4 (64).
Ellis, who moved to West Coast during last year’s trade period, started the NAB Challenge match off half back and used the ball with precision.
The Hawthorn premiership player had West Coast’s first shot on goal and a game-high 17 disposals in the first half as his side dominated the inside-50 count a staggering 38-12 to the main break.
Importantly, the 25-year-old emerged unscathed from a heavy collision with Matt de Boer just minutes before quarter time. He was substituted out of the match in the third term.
Ellis’ form was among a host of positives for a club looking to rebound from a horror 2013 season.
Mark LeCras reminded fans of his class after two injury-interrupted seasons, booting 2.2.
Cripps and Wellingham added to the firepower across half forward, while Shannon Hurn slotted seamlessly into the line-up coming off his own injury-ravaged season.
First-round draft pick Dom Sheed worked his way into the match after half-time.
Luke Shuey sent a brief scare through the Eagles camp after coming off the ground limping during the third term, but returned to play out the match and was one of the team’s best performers.
Fremantle conversely looked anything but sharp coming off a shorter pre-season following last year’s grand final.
It took until the 13-minute mark for Michael Walters to kick their first goal after West Coast had scored the game’s first four majors in less than six minutes.
High-profile recruit Colin Sylvia was ineffectual, but fellow incomer Scott Gumbleton finished with two goals.
Veterans Matthew Pavlich and Luke McPharlin were substituted into the contest at half time, but could do little to alter the drubbing.
Youngster Tom Sheridan was a rare shining light for Fremantle, winning plenty of the ball off a wing.
Danyle Pearce came off the ground with concussion after copping a heavy knock midway through the final quarter.