It wasn’t the fairytale AFLW debut that West Coast fans were hoping for, but the Eagles were gallant in defeat against an experienced Collingwood outfit at Victoria Park today.
West Coast was strong from the outset, dominating the play for much of the opening quarter at the Magpies’ traditional home ground.
But the match-hardened Pies seized control of the contest in the second term and never looked back, running away to a 27-point win in front of a vocal crowd of 6100.
The Eagles’ 10 AFLW debutants were hardly overawed by the occasion as they ripped in against their more experienced opponents following the opening bounce.
Collingwood tried to weather West Coast’s first quarter storm, but the dam wall finally broke and Dana Hooker capitalised, swooping on a loose ball and snapping truly to kick the club’s first official AFLW goal.
At the sound of the first siren, the Eagles had recorded nine unanswered inside 50s.
Unfortunately they only had one goal to show for their hard work and in many ways it was the difference at game's end.
When they changed ends it was Collingwood's turn to run riot and after successive behinds from Jordy Allen the home side finally gave their fans dual celebrations via goals to star Chloe Molloy in her first AFLW game in almost two years, and the brilliant Jaimee Lambert.
That duo was a constant threat throughout the game and the Pies were never headed thereafter.
West Coast was ably led by captain Emma Swanson (18 disposals) and Hooker (18), while forward Grace Kelly was lively.
Midfielder Imahra Cameron (13) had several good moments, as did defensive pair McKenzie Dowrick (10) and Chantella Perera (9), who worked in tandem to quell several Magpie incursions.
The club’s first official recruit, Mikayla Bowen, was a defensive bull throughout the game, sticking 10 tackles in her AFLW debut.
The Eagles were left one short on the bench after defender Ashton Hill suffered a knee injury during second quarter.
An early milestone
The Eagles ran onto an AFLW field for the first time backed by their reworked theme song, and it took them only four minutes of play to nail their first goal. After a stoppage deep in attack, gun recruit Dana Hooker snapped truly and was swamped by her teammates. It was a special moment.
Scoring issues have plagued the Pies since their inception, and even in the pre-season it seemed they might encounter more problems forward of centre. Coach Symonds' deployment of both the returning Molloy and reigning club champion Jaimee Lambert in forward roles bore fruit with the duo's creativity and hardness providing greater opportunities.
"It was out third ever game together. There was a lot to like … but we probably fell a little bit short in some of the contests." – West Coast coach Luke Dwyer
"It's nice to have a good start. The first quarter we looked a bit nervous and didn't really think our way through a few situations but (from) quarter-time onwards we started to get our game going. We were really pleased with the result in the end." - Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
The victorious Magpies confront arch enemy Carlton at Ikon Park at 3.10pm on Sunday, while the Eagles face a six-day turnaround before hosting their first derby against crosstown rival Fremantle at Optus Stadium at 4.10pm on Saturday.
COLLINGWOOD 0.0 2.2 3.4 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST 1.2 1.2 1.4 1.5 (11)
Collingwood: Molloy, Lambert, Chiocci, Layton, Darcy
West Coast: Hooker
Collingwood: Chiocci, Lambert, Livingstone, Molloy, Layton, Butler
West Coast: Hooker, Swanson, Kelly, Cameron
Collingwood: Davey (lower leg)
West Coast: Hill (knee)
Crowd: 6100 at Victoria Park