NIC Naitanui's return with East Perth might have garnered all the attention in the opening round of the WAFL pre-season fixtures but for eight clubs it was the first chance against real opposition as Round 1 of the 2018 season approaches.
Naitanui returned for his first game since his knee reconstruction late in 2016 when he lined up for East Perth against East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval on Saturday.
It has been hard not to have noticed that with the attention it garnered but there was plenty more happening across the WAFL competition throughout the day as the official pre-season contests got underway.
The results in the league action saw Subiaco beat West Perth 8.13 (61) to 7.9 (51), East Perth beat East Fremantle 13.7 (85) to 9.6 (60), Peel Thunder down Claremont 13.11 (89) to 4.6 (30) and South Fremantle claim a thriller 9.8 (62) to 8.12 (60) against Swan Districts.
The Round 1 pre-season action began on Saturday morning with old foes Subiaco and West Perth locking horns at Leederville Oval.
The Lions were on top throughout the contest with five goals to two in the first half.
Despite the Falcons improving in the second half to kick five goals to three, Subiaco still took out the 10-point victory as they look to embark on a season attempting to reach a fifth successive WAFL grand final.
The return of Naitanui might have been the headline act for East Perth against East Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval, and he had a big say in the Royals' controlling the ruck against the Sharks.
But there was plenty more on show from both clubs both in terms of emerging West Coast players with East Perth and on the new recruits or returnees who lined up for East Fremantle.
In the end given the advanced progression of East Perth's West Coast contingent with the AFL season starting ahead of the WAFL in 2018, the Royals did claim the 25-point victory.
East Perth kicked four goals to two in the first quarter and even though East Fremantle responded to lead by seven points at the half, the Royals kicked nine goals to four in the second for the win.
It was a similar story at Claremont Oval with reigning premiers Peel Thunder fielding a team slightly more advanced at this point of the season with their Fremantle-listed players ready for the AFL season to start ahead of the WAFL.
That saw a strong Peel line-up take the field and the premiers of the past two WAFL seasons performed strongly. They kicked three goals to one in the first quarter, three to one in the second, and then five to nil in the last to come away with the 59-point triumph.
The Round 1 pre-season thriller took place at Fremantle Community Bank Oval between South Fremantle and Swan Districts.
The two teams played off at the same venue in last year's first semi-final too and this was a much tighter contest.
Swans started well in their first proper hit out under new coach Adam Pickering with three goals to one in the first quarter.
They still led by 12 points by half-time and seven at three quarter-time, but South Fremantle booted three goals to one in the final quarter to claim the two-point win.
Round 2 of the pre-season fixtures take place this Saturday with East Perth facing South Fremantle at Lathlain Park, Peel Thunder hosting Subiaco at Bendigo Bank Stadium, Claremont battling Perth at Claremont Oval and West Perth playing East Fremantle at HBF Arena.
WAFL PRE-SEASON RESULTS – ROUND 1
Subiaco 8.13 (61) defeated West Perth 7.9 (51)
East Fremantle 9.6 (60) lost to East Perth 13.7 (85)
Claremont 4.6 (30) lost to Peel Thunder 13.11 (89)
South Fremantle 9.8 (62) defeated Swan Districts 8.12 (60)
Subiaco 14.11 (95) defeated West Perth 8.5 (53)
East Fremantle 7.3 (45) lost to East Perth 11.11 (77)
Claremont 11.8 (74) lost to Peel Thunder 13.9 (87)
South Fremantle 5.13 (43) lost to Swan Districts 11.9 (75)
Subiaco 7.12 (54) defeated West Perth 5.9 (39)
East Fremantle 12.6 (78) defeated East Perth 4.6 (30)
Claremont 9.5 (59) lost to Peel Thunder 14.15 (99)
South Fremantle 6.11 (47) lost to Swan Districts 6.12 (48)