Eagles start with a bang
Eagles start with a bang

Coach Adam Simpson says West Coast are capable of causing damage to their rivals this season following his team's 65-point hiding of the Western Bulldogs at Patersons Stadium yesterday.

The Eagles built on their strong pre-season to post the 21.8 (134) to 11.3 (69) win to finish the round behind only Fremantle on the ladder.

It is the first time the WA clubs have occupied the ladder's top two positions in their 20-season involvement together in the competition.

West Coast's only concern is with Sharrod Wellingham, who will likely face scrutiny from the match review panel over an apparent trip midway through the third term that felled Jason Johannisen.

Simpson was delighted to have opened his tenure at the club with an emphatic victory.

"We're really pleased," he said.

"If you get close to your best 22, we're going to do some damage.

"But … there will be some hiccups along the way."

Xavier Ellis, Jamie Bennell and Elliot Yeo made contributions in their first games for West Coast, but two seasoned Eagles reminded pundits of their value.

Mark LeCras was best on ground, while Matt Rosa racked up 34 disposals as his side's most influential midfielder.

Simpson lauded the performance of LeCras, who booted five goals from 27 possessions.

"He's been red-hot all season," Simpson said of LeCras.

"I thought he may have peaked too early to be honest.

"He was looking sharp a month ago … I felt like our forward line functioned pretty well."

West Coast generated 10 majors from their midfielders in an indication they will be less reliant on a wealth of tall forwards to kick a winning score.

"It's always good to have a balance of goal kickers," Simpson said. "That's something I've learnt from the Hawks - you can't rely on one player.

"If you have an even spread, you become very hard to defend."

Nic Naitanui started the match in the ruck and set up the game's opening goal inside the first minute courtesy of a clean tap to Scott Selwood.

Simpson said the team's complement of talls, including Dean Cox and Callum Sinclair, had combined well.

"We understand that Nic's not ready to take on the reins full-time in the middle and in the ruck," he said. "We thought Cal Sinclair and Coxy handled themselves really well."

Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney said the contest had been played on West Coast's terms.

"There were times early last year when they were looking like a team that was just about ready to step right into the top bracket," McCartney said.

"People forgot how many injuries they had in the second half of the year."

"We're really pleased. If you get close to your best 22, we're going to do some damage.""Eagles coach *Adam Simpson *

The West Australian

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