In column b Code sport On Saturday, former Eagle Will Schofield wrote that only physicality could revive the Western derby between West Coast and Fremantle.
Well, Scofield got his wish when Saturday’s 55th episode of the competition ignited a frenzy.
“We saw the beef, the brawl, the physicality and I absolutely loved it,” Scofield said on commentary duty. Fox Footy at Optus Stadium.
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It all started when Hugh Dixon lined up for the first goal and Andrew Brayshaw and Jackson Nelson collided in the background to create an all-out play.
When Dixon scored, Caleb Serong and Jack Redden joined in the applause.
In the 16th minute, when he applauded the retired David Mundy, the crowd was in a sad mood as tempers flared between the two sides.
Commentator Adam Papalia described it as “a big spice in Derby 55” where “love is lost” behind its strong rivals.
“West Coast, the dogs, brought a fighting mentality and that’s where it’s at,” he said.
“The referees are trying to control the restart but they can’t,” Breton added.
“Andy Brayshaw was getting harassed when Jackson Nelson went down and he didn’t like it, so he went back at him and blew up,” Matthew Pavlich said.
“You expect the heat to be hot in the derby. You have to absorb that. West Coast is on fire.
It was a tough opening quarter for Saturday’s derby, with Serong conceding 150m penalties for three separate offences.
The first was when he punched Jack Redden with a leaping tackle, the second when he was thrown to the ground and the third when he highjacked Liam Ryan.
“I knew Serong was a great player, but I didn’t realize he had so much venom in him,” Breton said.
“He has something in him, doesn’t he?”
The drama wasn’t over yet, as the Eagles went too far and Redden kicked a 50m free kick against Bryshaw.
Schofield wrote earlier in the morning that the Fremantle-West Coast rivalry was “very good” but it certainly felt different on Saturday night.
“It’s the first game where I really want to be there,” he said.
“The crowd is electric, the Frio fans are going nuts and the West Coast Eagles are taking it to a better Fremantle side. It was a physical game.
“Jackson Nelson went physical on Andrew Bryshaw, the Fremantle players are not happy about it and good for them, they’re standing up for their mates. We’ve seen frustration, arguments, physicality and I absolutely love it.