The West Coast Eagles went down fighting in a 28-point loss to crosstown rival Fremantle in the season-opening AFLW RAC Derby on Saturday night.

Led supremely by captain Emma Swanson, the Eagles came back from a slow start to threaten an upset in an intense battle at Fremantle Oval.

But ultimately it was three goals by Dockers gun Ebony Antonio – who shared the best afield medal with Kiara Bowers - that proved the difference as West Coast fell 6.7 (43) to 2.3 (15) in coach Michael Prior’s first game in charge.

In a clash where players battled a tricky, swirling breeze throughout, West Coast struggled to capitalise on opportunities going forward – aside from a third-quarter burst that threatened a boilover.

After trailing by 17 points at the main break, recruit Aimee Schmidt helped ignite the Eagles, first setting up Swanson with a cleverly crafted kick to the top of the goalsquare, before snapping truly from 20m out.

Trailing by just five points, the Eagles had a sniff of a first victory from four attempts against Fremantle at the final change, but the Dockers made the most of the breeze and couldn’t be caught.

Swanson’s determination and nous was evident from the word go and she led from the front in the midfield with 23 disposals, six clearances and a goal.

She was well-supported by emerging star Mikayla Bowen (13 disposals), while Aisling McCarthy (10) worked into the contest and debutant Charlie Thomas (nine) showed the class that has her marked for a bright future.

The Eagles’ top draft pick last year, Thomas looked right at home and did some nice things driving the ball forward, including a clever kick to space favouring key forward Andrea Gilmore start the second term.

Pleasingly for the Eagles, all three debutants played their roles, with Evie Gooch (11 disposals) rock-solid down back against her former side and Schmidt lighting up the forward line.  

But Prior’s team was left to rue an inefficient opening half, when the Eagles managed just two behinds.

While the final margin blew out in the dying minutes, there were positives to take in the Eagles’ first outing for the 2022 campaign ahead of a clash with Gold Coast next Sunday at the Whitten Oval in Melbourne.


Fremantle 1.1 3.1 3.2 6.7 (43)

West Coast 0.2 0.2 2.3 2.3 (15)


Fremantle E.Antonio 3, Miller 2, O’Sullivan

West Coast Swanson, Schmidt


Fremantle Antonio, Bowers, Miller, O’Sullivan, Stannett, Cain

West Coast Swanson, Smith, Bowen, Schmidt, Collier, Hooker


Fremantle Nil

West Coast Nil

Reports Nil

Attendance 5533