Franklin kicks eight in win over Eagles

West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui made a successful return from a knee injury, but it was Lance Franklin who stole the show in Sydney's 29-point win in the first AFL match at Perth's Optus Stadium.

Franklin kicks eight in win over Eagles

Franklin kicks eight in win over Eagles

Franklin booted five goals in the first half and finished with eight majors in the 18.7 (115) to 13.8 (86) triumph in front of 53,553 fans on Sunday.

Naitanui, playing his first AFL match since August 2016, showed he had lost none of his ruck magic by producing a series of sublime taps to advantage throughout the match.

West Coast led by one point early in the second quarter on the back of Naitanui's strong performance in the ruck.

But with Franklin dominating in his battles against defenders Tom Barrass and Will Schofield, it seemed just a matter of time before Sydney pulled away.

By the time Franklin kicked his seventh goal midway through the third quarter, Sydney led by 30 points and it looked to be game over.

However, Naitanui helped turn the tide late in the third term as West Coast's midfield started to gain control.

You beauty. Pic: Getty

Naitanui sent the crowd into raptures when he won a holding the ball decision in the forward pocket and then snapped truly from the set shot.

And when Mark LeCras booted a goal after the three-quarter time siren - West Coast's fourth in a row - the margin was just five points.

But once again it was Franklin who stepped up when Sydney needed him most.

With the Swans leading by just 11 points, Franklin outbodied Barrass to take a mark, before running into the open goal to give Sydney some much-needed breathing space.

"You look at the goals he kicked, and you can't deny they were fantastic goals and important goals," Sydney coach John Longmire said of Franklin.

"But also the ability to be able to halve the contests in that last quarter - he was probably outnumbered four or five times and he just halved the contest and kept the ball in our front half.

"Those situations are so critical - almost as important as the eight goals. He just had an all-round game."

Eagles coach Adam Simpson praised the spirit his team showed, and was happy with Naitanui's return.

"I think he's pulled up pretty well. He's all smiles back there in terms of how he recovered," Simpson said.

"We managed his time a little bit. We need to continue to do that. He would have played under 70 I suppose."

LeCras and Jack Darling booted three goals apiece for the Eagles, while Naitanui finished with 33 hit-outs, 12 disposals, and one goal.

Franklin tallied 21 possessions, nine marks, five tackles to go with his 8.1.

For the trivia buffs, Sydney defender Jake Lloyd etched his name into history with the first AFL goal at Perth's new $1.6 billion stadium.

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