First observation: West Coast's press is back.

Second observation: Mark LeCras is definitely back with it.

It is easy to explain LeCras' slight dip in form last year on the way back from a knee reconstruction and a broken arm sustained in round one.

He had two goals by three- quarter time last night to go with 17 possessions, seven of them contested, and a couple of clearances.

I'm not sure how you explain how the press, something that is purely effort and intensity based, can disappear for 12 months and then reappear at Patersons Stadium in 36C heat in early March.

But there was no denying it was there for all to see against Fremantle last night as the Eagles carved out a 19-point win.

It was one thing to hunt the Dockers down when they had turned up half-cooked and half-interested at Joondalup last month.

But it was another thing to pressure and harass Fremantle's ball carriers at Patersons Stadium last night.

It might still have been match practice, but the Dockers, just eight days away from a season-opening blockbuster against Collingwood next Friday, were fair dinkum about getting serious match worth from their last pre-season hit-out.

That much was evident by Fremantle's attack on the football which had been nearly non-existent at Joondalup, but which matched the Eagles' ferocity last night.

The Dockers led the contested possession and clearance counts at half-time but still trailed the Eagles on the scoreboard as Adam Simpson's men notched repeat inside 50m entries from intense pressure on Fremantle defenders trying to clear their defensive zone.

So despite Fremantle's edge in clearances, contested possession and overall possession, the Eagles owned territory all night.

They led the half-time inside-50 count 26-17 and they weren't wasting the ball heading inside their attack, with Josh Kennedy booting four first-half goals.

The intensity of the match caught a few off guard, not least umpires Dean Margetts, Jeff Dalgleish and Luke Farmer, who got whistle happy and paid 37 free kicks before the main break.

Several Dockers who thought they could slip tackles and were dragged down, or who thought they had time and space when they didn't and were closed down, also found the intensity level a bit hot for this time of the year.

Simpson's game plan might be in part about precision, but it is also about pressure.

West Coast started fast, were pulled back by the Dockers before quarter time, then won a high- intensity and at times ill- tempered second term before kicking clear in the third.

Nic Naitanui made his entrance just before half-time and later made his presence felt with a hard shepherd on Lachie Neale to give Dom Sheed time to steady for a last-quarter goal.

His chase-down tackle on Michael Johnson also forced the Fremantle defender's kick out of bounds.

The Eagles are on their feet and running and are managing time between now and round one.

Conversely, the Dockers are racing time to be right for their clash with the Magpies.

The West Australian

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