Popped in to Mandurah this afternoon for the scratch match against Subiaco. Weather was cool and the wind was blustery, but still a nice enough day and generally everyone handled the conditions well. Subiaco started with the wind and led by a goal at quarter time. Peel seemed to have most of the play, but were only able to score two goals, while Subiaco used the breeze to good effect for a three goal quarter. The second quarter saw Peel start to dominate and at half time they were three goals up. They extended that lead to (I think) five goals at three quarter time and eight goals by the final siren.
Generally Peel just looked a lot more polished, and a lot more organised, while Subiaco seemed to spend an awful lot of time trying to physically intimidate the young guys and quite a few cheap shots were taken. Pretty unsavoury at times, but Peel didn’t seem to really react and concentrated on punishing them on the scoreboard.
Peel went in with a very tall side with Darcy, Meek and Jones and there were a couple of times when that was problematic, with Subiaco easily running away from the ruckman. Fortunately they didn’t often trouble the scorers as the Peel defence was really solid, led by Taylin Duman with able assistance from Ryan Nyhuis and Traye Bennell.
I’ll go through each of the Fremantle players as far as I can recall. I wasn’t taking too much notice of the Peel guys, although as I say Traye Bennell was very good as was Ben Howlett. Special shout out to Zac Clarke who I thought was very close to Subiaco’s best player and certainly wasn’t disgraced against Peel’s three big ruckmen.
Sean Darcy: Starting to get back to the “old” Sean from last year, with lots of aggression at the contest, and shared the honours with Zac Clarke. Took some nice grabs around the ground, but was not great in the forward line, which is disappointing. Will be primed and ready to give Sandi a break if needed, and hopefully gets more time in the forward line for Peel.
Lloyd Meek: Acquitted himself quite well as the second ruck (Jones played mostly forward) and took a few nice marks around the ground. Definitely behind big Sean in the pecking order, and maybe behind Jones as well, but still a promising young ruckman.
Scott Jones: Played predominantly forward and took some nice marks, also kicked a couple of goals from memory. He was very good in getting the ball to the front of the pack when he couldn’t mark, which would have pleased Ross no end.
Hugh Dixon: Flashed in and out and is obviously a long way from AFL fitness, but a couple of the things he did screams “footballer” to me. There was one occasion where he got behind his defender, was running towards goal and paddled the ball until it popped up to him – showed real speed and footy smarts, a bit like a bigger version of Bailey Banfield. Hold high hopes for this kid, but is a way off a debut I think.
Adam Cerra: Didn’t get a heap of it, but what he did showed he has class, poise and skill. Takes good options and executes well. Telling for me was that he was tagged pretty much the whole game, and at one stage I heard a Subiaco guys yell out “Cerra is back of the square” which means they were very conscious of him. Not bad for a guy yet to play a game of AFL.
Tom North: When I started watching the new guys train this season, I thought Tom North and Bailey Banfield looked very similar, but thought North looked the better of them. Then Banfield came into the JLT games and made me change my mind! Well, after today, I’m not sure that my original observation was wrong – this kid gets a lot of the ball on the inside, has quick hands and also good foot skills – one goal on the run from the “wrong” pocket for a left footer was an absolute gem. I think we have another beauty here.
Brady Grey: I am a self-confessed Brady Grey fan, so this will be a biased opinion 😊. Brady was close to best on ground today, he was in everything and his physical attack on the ball made a few Subiaco players look around for him at times. At one stage he was whacked behind the play and was on the ground for a good while, but eventually he just got up and got on with it rather than losing focus. A really good sign for Brady. He is often criticised for his kicking, and he did miss one or two today, but in general his kicking was direct and penetrating.
Mitch Crowden: I heard the players calling him “bull” and that is a really appropriate nickname! He is just so strong and balanced, and either ties the ball up or somehow gets a handball out to advantage. He was in the middle pretty much all day and along with Tom North (and Ben Howlett) provided a lot of the drive that won the game for Peel. I think he will need a bit of time to get used to the pace of the game at AFL level, but when he does he will be a little ripper.
Taylin Duman: First half he was easily Peel’s best, kicking three goals as the loose man in defence, and mopping up pretty much everything that came his way. Was not called on a lot in the second half, but really didn’t put a foot wrong all day. Should get an AFL debut sooner rather than later.
Ryan Nyhuis: A really polished display in defence where he is kind of unobtrusive, but rarely gets beaten. I really rate him and hope to see him play more games for Freo this season.
Sam Switkowski: For me he wasn’t as impressive as I’d hoped, but I guess he has had a really limited preseason. He wasn’t bad, but didn’t scream AFL player to me – hopefully that will come with a few more games under his belt.
Tom Sheridan: Didn’t really notice him, and you would think a guy with his experience would have been a level above the rest. From what I see he will struggle to get games for Freo, so maybe he will become this year’s Nick Suban for Peel.
Ethan Hughes: Has not had much of a preseason and it definitely showed today. He was a bit off the pace, tried to break through tackles and got caught a few times, and some of his decision making and kicking was pretty poor. Just needs a few more games to get him up to speed – we know he can play.
Brennan Cox: I saw him in the first JLT shirk a couple of contests, and he did exactly the same today. He was played in defence, and really played poorly. A couple of times he seemed to completely misjudge the flight of the ball, and as the last line of defence allowed his man easy access to goal. The coach singled him out at the ¾ time huddle and said he was soft in a contest. I thought he was great last year, but maybe he’s having a bit of the second year blues? He is still only 19 which is very young for a bigger player, so I’m sure he will be fine – just not at his best the last couple of games.
Quite a few of the Fremantle guys were down to watch the game which is great to see. Griffin Logue looked to me to be limping a little as he walked out to the ¾ time huddle, but looked happy and in good spirits, so I don’t think he’ll be far off. Young Jason Carter sat through the reserves and league games, so not sure if he is injured, but can’t wait to see him run out for Peel.
Ross was watching on, and I reckon he will be rapt with what he saw from Cerra, North and Crowden in particular, and must be scratching his head wondering how he’s going to fit everyone in the team this year!Trev