The West Coast Eagles’ AFLW team produced an encouraging display in Saturday’s practice match against Fremantle and will now turn their attention to round one.
The Eagles started brightly on their home deck at Mineral Resources Park and were right in the contest throughout before falling short 5.7 (37) to 4.3 (27).
It was a promising sign under new coach Daniel Pratt against one of the AFLW competition’s pacesetters from last year, with fresh faces Aisling McCarthy, Bella Lewis and Tayla Bresland among those who impressed.
A howling wind going almost directly across the oval towards the grandstand wing posed a challenge but the players negotiated the conditions well, linking up chains of possession with tidy foot and hand skills.
It was a fast opening by the Eagles, and ex-Western Bulldogs mid-forward McCarthy made an immediate impression in blue and gold, nailing three first-quarter majors in an explosive beginning to her career in the west.
The Irish recruit started in the centre square and pushed forward to get dangerous, with her third goal – a quick-thinking snap after collecting a ground ball – showing her class.
Against her former team, Parris Laurie was a commanding presence in the ruck and with skipper Emma Swanson, star Dana Hooker and top draft pick Bella Lewis getting their hands on the footy the Eagles efficiently moved the ball forward via the most direct route.
The second term was a battle for every inch of territory as the match tightened up, and West Coast’s resolute defence was superbly led by the towering presence of ex-Dockers defender Tayla Bresland and Maddy Collier.
Kellie Gibson converted a long set shot for the hosts before the Dockers hit back, with Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy kicking three quick goals to take momentum into half-time.
Fremantle picked up where they left off in the second half, lifting another notch around the contest, however West Coast worked its way back into the game and matched their intensity.
Young gun Mikayla Bowen and talented tall Sophie McDonald once again showed they have bright futures, exerting significant impact on the match in the second half.
Importantly, the Eagles got through the match unscathed and were able to manage several key players’ minutes in the second half as they build towards their opening game of their second AFLW campaign against Gold Coast on January 30.