AFLW senior coach Michael Prior said the West Coast Eagles are taking steps in the right direction following Saturday’s loss to Adelaide.

The team showed more growth and experience than last season’s match against the Crows, but must focus on hitting the scoreboard when the ball is locked inside 50, according to Prior.

West Coast recorded five shots from 23 inside 50s – to an efficiency of 22% - but showed positive signs across the ground, beating the Crows in contested possessions (84 to 82) and contested marks (nine to three).

“We came up against – in my opinion – the best team in the competition,” Prior said.

“So I thought our competitiveness and our want to compete and tackle hard and win hard the hard ball was pretty good.

“We just need to take more advantage when we get the ball in our front half, there were periods in the game where we had it trapped in, we just couldn’t hit the scoreboard.

“It’s something we need to keep looking at, which we are, to try and hit the scoreboard a little bit more and bridge the gap between us and the better teams in the comp.

“We’ll just keep chipping away until we get it right.”

Prior commended Stand-in skipper Dana Hooker (18 disposals, three tackles, four clearances), who was amongst the best for the day, with defender Sophie McDonald (seven disposals, seven intercepts) also impressing when tasked with playing on Crows powerhouse Erin Phillips.

Midfielders Mikayla Bowen (18 disposals, six marks) and Aisling McCarthy (18 disposals, four clearances) also worked tirelessly all day, alongside debutants in Courtney Rowley and Sarah Lakay.

“I think a couple of our midfielders really stood up, I think in the absence of ‘Swanny’ (Emma Swanson),” Prior said.

“‘Hooks’ led the side today and she played a really good game, she was on one leg in the second half, she hurt her ankle at half-time but I thought her performance was outstanding.

“I thought ‘Soph Mac’ coming into the team down back played a pivotal role, she took some intercept marks, she used the ball really well coming out of our back half.

“And then a couple of our mids in Bowen, and ‘Aish Mac’ got a bit of the ball as well, pleasing to see.

“It’s always good to play new players in your team, in Courtney Rowley and Sarah Lakay.

“I think they learned a bit about AFLW today and the standard, and the fitness levels that are required.

“Sarah got her hands on the ball a little bit in the middle, and Courtney’s sort of a player who can play anywhere.

“Through the wing, midfield, forward – and we chose to play her forward today and she learned forward craft.

“She’ll just keep improving.”