Derby Day Comes Early In The West

Picture: Daniel Wilkins/News Limited
Matt Priddis has been named in the Eagles squad for the NAB Cup first round. Image courtesy of Daniel Wilkins/News Limited
Ross Lyon has a good history in the NAB Cup, after taking St Kilda to the final in 2010 and the semis in 2011. He appears to be experimenting with his Fremantle side in the first round this season, though, with midfield weapons David Mundy and Nat Fyfe left out of the Dockers squad for its first two games of the competition in Perth.

Skipper Matthew Pavlich and tagger Ryan Crowley will also miss the pre-season openers, but Freo will have a huge advantage in the ruck when it takes on West Coast and Geelong on Saturday night. Aaron Sandilands and Jonathon Griffin have both been named, giving the Dockers’ on-ballers a distinct advantage over their Eagles counterparts, given the fact Dean Cox and Nick Naitanui (groin surgery) won’t be around. The Cats’ ruck division is also depleted, with Trent West carrying the load in the absence of recruit Hamish McIntosh (knee), Nathan Vardy and Dawson Simpson (back).

The Eagles will unveil Sharrod Wellingham, Cale Morton and Jamie Cripps, while goalsneak Mark LeCras makes his long-awaited comeback following a knee reconstruction. Former Gold Coast Sun Josh Caddy will don Geelong colours for the first time, as will versatile former Melbourne defender Jared Rivers, while Travis Varcoe makes a welcome return for the Cats. Geelong’s young guns did the job against the Suns in the second round of the NAB Cup last season, but this is much stiffer opposition for the likes of Jordan Murdoch, George Horlin-Smith and Jesse Stringer.

West Coast made last year’s grand final on the back of a fast start in its two round 1 encounters, which included a 30-10 win over Freo . The Dockers won both clashes with Geelong last year; the first victory was a four-point win at Patersons Stadium before they surprised the Cats in Melbourne in the first week of the finals. Geelong has lost three straight in Perth, including their five-point loss to the Eagles in round 20 last season.

Click here to bet on NAB Cup round 1 matches