It didn't take long to see which way the winds of change have blown for West Coast under new coach Adam Simpson.

The first bouncedown of their season in 34C heat at Arena Joondalup yesterday revealed Jack Darling underneath the ruckmen in the centre square - now part of Simpson's midfield rotation - on a part-time basis at least.

The bustling Darling, relocated from the forward line, might have had only four touches in the first quarter but he made his presence felt.

A couple of crushing tackles, as many clearances and he had made his mark.

But it was another even more significant relocation that had the biggest impact on a first quarter that saw West Coast dominate and Fremantle look rustier than an old farm gate.

Xavier Ellis, shifted from Hawthorn at the end of last season, had nine first-quarter touches to be as influential as any player on the ground.

West Coast have hit the 2014 NAB Challenge running. The eagerness of the players to impress a new coach was exemplified by Ellis, who after kicking a ball to no one in the dying seconds of the second quarter, ran feverishly after it and closed enough on Fremantle's Lachie Neale to get pressure on him before he disposed of it.

West Coast were sharp and they managed a strong wind far better than the Dockers.

The inescapable conclusion as the Eagles went to the main break with a 66-point lead under their arm and a basketful of confidence in their new coach to take forward into the season was that one team had come to play, and the other had come to practise.

West Coast had a stranglehold on every key statistic, eventually winning 2.20.10 (148) to 0.10.4 (64). The dominance reached far beyond the lopsided scoreboard.

The two super goals they had nailed in the opening quarter with the breeze at their backs might have been a quirk of the pre-season, but the Eagles had managed 21 first-half scores to Fremantle's six - the inevitable result of 38 inside 50s to 12, which in turn was the inevitable result of an 85-60 edge in contested possessions, a 232-147 advantage in disposals overall and a 22-18 edge in clearance wins.

Fremantle had their noses in front in precisely one key statistic - the tackle count which they had won 33-32 which, it could be argued, was also the inevitable result of the Eagles having the ball two thirds of the time.

The Dockers could do nothing with the wind in the second quarter and little after injecting Matthew Pavlich and Luke McPharlin into the match in the third term.

They found some traction only after the sting came out of the game, kicking five goals to two to add some respectability.

Scott Gumbleton finished with two goals and wasn't their worst. Colin Sylvia struggled to have an impact.

Fremantle were never likely to surge into round one of the NAB Challenge, but they have work to do after showing up flatter than last week's lemonade.

The West Australian

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