1. It’s not often that you get to make history, but that’s exactly what the 21 players who took the field against Collingwood at Victoria Park did on Sunday. It was a momentous occasion for the whole squad, but even more special for the 10 girls who made their AFLW debut in front of 6100 fans. The Eagles could have easily been overawed by the occasion, but they hit the ground running and had the Magpies on the ropes with a dominant first quarter. Unfortunately West Coast couldn’t sustain its opening burst for the remainder of the match, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the club’s first foray into the AFLW.
2. With so many fresh faces lining up against the Pies, West Coast needed its leaders to set the standard early – and that’s exactly what they did. Skipper Emma Swanson and vice-captain Dana Hooker were strong from the outset and finished the contest with an equal team-high 18 disposals. Courtney Guard had good impact through the midfield and Maddy Collier was menacing up forward, linking up with the likes of Grace Kelly and Kellie Gibson to give the Magpies plenty of headaches early in the contest.
3. When speaking to the media ahead of the game, senior coach Luke Dwyer said effort would be central to West Coast’s game plan and that was evident from the first bounce. The Eagles attacked the contest early, applying plenty of defensive pressure to Collingwood’s classy midfield. Eighteen-year old debutant Mikayla Bowen led the way, laying 10 tackles through the midfield. In total West Coast stuck 61 tackles for the contest, eight more than their opponents, and effected 49 turnovers to Collingwood’s 42.
4. There were stages throughout the game when West Coast’s back line was under immense pressure, but they managed to stave off Collingwood’s attacking raids thanks to some calm in defence. Chantella Perera (nine disposals, three marks) was a cool head in the Eagles’ back line, working in tandem with experienced campaigner Talia Radan to steer the team’s defensive division around the paddock and cut off several inside 50 entries. Former Brisbane Lion McKenzie Dowrick also had a good day down back, getting her hands on the Sherrin 10 times, while Belinda Smith and Sophie McDonald played their role when the Magpies got rolling.
5. West Coast caught some by surprise when it picked athletic Swan Districts midfielder Imahra Cameron with its first selection in the 2019 AFLW Draft, but the recruiting team would have felt very comfortable with their decision after watching the 23-year-old in action yesterday. Cameron had a fantastic AFLW debut, amassing 13 disposals (10 kicks, three handballs), five marks and seven tackles. She did not hesitate to take the game on and was in the thick of the action during all four quarters.