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West Coast Eagles

WAFL: Eagles eager for redemption

The WAFL Report - Round 1 A brand new online show from the West Coast Eagles, keeping fans up to date with the latest news and result from the WAFL

Two of West Coast’s emerging onball talents say the club’s WAFL team will better prepared for the intensity of the battle against Peel on Saturday.

The WAFL Eagles experienced a baptism of fire against Perth last Saturday, losing their debut state league appearance by 46 points at Mineral Resources Park despite trailing the Demons by less than a straight kick at half-time.

As new kids on the block, the team knew they would be targeted from the first bounce.

But second-year Eagle Brayden Ainsworth and recent draftee Xavier O’Neill admitted they didn’t handle the heat as well as they would have liked against Perth.

“Being a new club we’re going to get hunted, so we’ve got to prepare for that going forward and match the intensity our opposition brings,” Ainsworth said.

“After the first three wins people might have thought we’d roll into this game and do the same, but the intensity goes up another level in round one. We faced a good team in Perth; they were hard at it.

“It’s just going to take a bit of time for everyone to get on the same page, but in the grand scheme of things it’s one loss out of the four games we’ve played together.

“There’s positives to come out of that, but we will certainly look into this performance.

O’Neill said the contest as an eye opener for the eight Eagles who had never played senior football before.

“We knew they were going to come at us,” O’Neill said.

“It’s pretty well known that as a new team in the comp we were going to be hunted. We knew it was going to be pretty hot and at times we were up to it, but they were tougher for longer.”

Fortunately the team has an opportunity to bounce back this weekend on Western Australia's biggest stage when it goes to war with Peel Thunder at Optus Stadium ahead of the first RAC Derby of 2019.

O’Neill said he was looking to produce a better performance after gathering 10 disposals, eight contested possessions and four score involvements against Perth.

“I’m probably still adjusting to the speed of the game and the level,” he admitted.

“Playing against bigger bodies was probably the biggest thing. You’re obviously playing again men who have been playing WAFL for quite a while. It’s a bit different playing against guys who are not the same age as you, but I felt well supported by our leaders out on the field.

“It should be pretty cool playing at Optus Stadium. We have trained there but it will be different playing a proper game there before the derby. My family will be over, so they’ll get to see me on the big stage. Hopefully we get the chocolates.”

Ainsworth – who racked up a team-high 24 disposals and 16 contested possessions – said he wanted to elevate his game against the Thunder.

“I didn’t use it as well as I would have liked to personally; I wasn’t as composed as usual and as a result didn’t use the footy too well,” he conceded.

“Hopefully I can review it throughout the week and get back on track.

“As a team, I hope we come with the right mindset.

“I’m sure everyone will be up and about playing on the big stage in front of a good crowd.”

Saturday's WAFL game at Optus Stadium begins at 2pm and Gates A and D will open at 1.55pm for fans who want to watch the contest.

You must have an AFL ticket to RAC Derby to enter the ground.