The education of the youthful West Coast Eagles continued at Hickey Park in Brisbane this afternoon when the AFLW’s top team on the table, the Brisbane Lions, endured by 45 points.
After a bold opening half the Eagles could not sustain the effort against the undefeated Lions – eventually going down 10.5 (65) to 2.8 (20).
An unfortunate quirk to the fixtures has seen the Eagles, in just their second season in the competition, confront three strong foundation clubs and despite courageous efforts they have not been able to match it with the best.
They have had moments in every game against Adelaide, Fremantle and now Brisbane, but their seasoned opponents have been able to break the contests open with an irresistible surge.
In this clash it came in the opening minutes of the third term when the Lions rattled on three quick goals after establishing clearance domination – an area in which the Eagles held sway in the opening half.
The match was flipped on its head and the Eagles defence was under duress for most of the quarter, a mirror image of the first half.
The class of Brisbane’s ball movement and three dangerous tall options in attack proved decisive.
The visitors failed to extract reward for effort, particularly in the opening term, when more than 80 percent of the game was played in the Eagles’ forward half. The return was just 1.5 and when Brisbane scored from a fast break with seconds on the clock the advantage was just five points.
McCarthy with an impressive display ?? pic.twitter.com/qt9bXwltzi— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) February 15, 2021
The Eagles – largely due to the efforts of Aisling McCarthy, captain Emma Swanson, ruck Parris Laurie and rookie Bella Lewis – continued to put the pressure on, but eventually the class of the Lions won through.
Despite being tagged in the second half McCarthy’s appetite for the contest did not wane and she tried to drag her teammates with her.
Imahra Cameron and Ashley Atkins also worked hard, while Hayley Bullas also wielded some influence.
Defender Sophie McDonald did some good things, particularly with some strong intercept marks in the second term, but unfortunately Andrea Gilmore, who snapped a brilliant second quarter goal, left the ground with concussion in the third quarter.
The Eagles squad will now return to Perth before travelling to Sydney next week to play GWS at Blacktown Sports Park next Sunday.
Brisbane Lions 1.0 3.1 8.5 10.5 (65)
West Coast Eagles 1.5 2.6 2.6 2.8 (20)
Brisbane: Smith 3; Davidson 2; Arnell, Body, Anderson, Bates, Wardlaw.
West Coast Eagles: McCarthy, Gilmore.
Brisbane: Arnell, Body, Smith, Lutkins, Hickey, Anderson.
West Coast Eagles: McCarthy, Swanson, Cameron, Atkins, Lewis, Laurie.
A Gilmore (West Coast) concussion