Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 4:22 PM

WE couldn’t have made any better start to the season than our win in the derby on Saturday but we all know that it's just Round 1 and Subiaco this week will be a lot tougher opponent than what we saw especially in the second half against East Perth.

We did a lot of things right and unfortunately early on I thought some of our execution was ordinary with our skills when we kicked the ball away a bit, and we missed some relatively easy handball targets. But it was the first game of the year, hot weather and playing for four points the pressure was on early.

Then after half-time obviously when we got our running game up and going, we thought we had a clear pace advantage over East Perth and we tried to exploit that. It worked. That doesn’t mean we are always going to have a pace advantage or that we will always be able to play like that, but the most pleasing thing was probably the form of our young players.

We've got a good group of young players and what we need to do is keep them focused and make sure they keep trying to improve and don’t rest on their laurels after one decent game.

Once you start controlling the ball and kick goals, you naturally appear fresher anyway and it's really hard to chase when the game is gone. The margin probably blew out a little more than we expected, but it was really pleasing that the hard work over the pre-season paid off. They did things little bit different with our new strength and conditioning coach Craig Soley, but they've been impressive and that showed on Saturday.

You don’t go into games expecting to beat anyone by that amount and especially not East Perth. Traditionally once a side in derbies sneaks behind the crowd and coaches tend to fire up and the players lift to another level, but on Saturday I think it was just our ability to sustain our efforts that didn’t allow East Perth back in and that was pleasing.

Young guys like Shane Nelson and Aaron Black were great again in the midfield and they bring a real vibrancy to our group. They work hard off the track, they are good mates and that includes Rasmussen, Manning and good young fellas like that too. Rodda and Johnson graduated out of the colts last year and we are excited with what they bring, but we also need to keep remembering that it's Round 1 and we have plenty of work to do.

It was Matt Johnson's first taste of senior footy since playing in the Foxtel Cup last year, and for him to take them on and use his pace, and even give it off and keep going again was a fantastic way to start his career. Johnno has worked really hard and we are proud of the way he has embraced everything we've asked him to do, and he's taken on board some of the things that he had never done before in terms of tackling, chasing and second and third efforts. He has been a revelation through the pre-season and he just needs to make sure he stays grounded now.

Our experienced defenders were both fantastic and Pettigrew did a fantastic job on Josh Smith and Dan Hunt was able to float around as the second tall. Whilst we've lost a lot of experience, Luke Tedesco is in our leadership group, Steven Browne was used all over the park last year before settling down back and he has played a lot of state league footy, and 20-odd AFL games. We were able to use Strijky off half-back and Jordan Jones as well. We made an effort once we lost that experience down back to replace them with guys who have been exposed to the top level and that's been a real plus for us. Laine Rasmussen is also doing a fantastic job as a replacement for Dustin Burns.

Two of our recruits Rohan Kerr and Trent Manzone were both more than serviceable as well. It's a tough ask and very different adjusting to WAFL footy and even talking to them after the game knowing that we'd played our practice games at Fremantle and Peel, the two smallest grounds, to get out on Joondalup on a host Saturday afternoon in a derby could potentially expose guys who were playing on smaller grounds or in Trent's case in some ways what is a lesser competition. They did what was asked of them, but we think it could be six, eight or 10 weeks until they are playing their best footy once they get used to me, the playing group, the big grounds and the competition.

It's a derby week so that compounds it a little bit and the Eagles have a few injury concerns, Hutchy missed last week and there's a few rumours floating around that he might be in line to play for the derby, but we probably plan a scenario to have him and not to have him. Kepler Bradley is the other one and with Zac Clarke injuring an ankle probably means he is in the mix. We will pick a side with both of them and if we get them, then it's a bonus but we do have to make at least one change because we are going from 23 down to 22. We have to make one change and potentially up to three.