AFLW coach Daniel Pratt has been increasingly impressed by the Eagles’ game-day performances, despite not notching a win on the board.
Every week has been a steady improvement, with the side competing against the league’s top-tier teams.
This includes match-ups against the Brisbane Lions at the top of the ladder; the Fremantle Dockers in second; and the season-opener against the sixth-placed Adelaide Crows.
“It’s going to be another difficult task, but the girls are excited for it … we’re keen to challenge ourselves again with a team that’s just come off a win,” Pratt said.
After a highly-promising first-half performance against the Brisbane Lions at Hickey Park on Sunday, Pratt is quietly confident squad will learn from the experience ahead of the match-up against GWS.
The West Coast outfit came into the half-time break down by one, but with injury clouds looming early in the third, and the Lions’ class act, they were unable to hold on.
“We had a really good start on the weekend, girls competed really well through that first half, and we just lost our way through a little period in the third.” Pratt said
“So, as for our performance on the road so far, I’ve been happy with that, but everything’s new for some of these girls.
“But we’ll just get them focused to compete again this weekend.”
Despite the loss, Irish import Aisling McCarthy was an unstoppable force in midfield as she continued her excellent form.
McCarthy gathered 18 disposals, laid our tackles and kicked a goal, making Pratt all the more keen to see her in action again this weekend.
“I’ve been really happy with ‘Ash’s’ efforts so far. Her contests around the ball and work rate is just excellent – really impressive," he said.
“I’m excited to see what she can do against GWS.”
Former Docker Alicia Janz could also be in the mix this weekend after more than a year on the bench.
The 177cm ruck was recruited in 2020, but missed the campaign due to a tear in her meniscus.
She’s hoping to make her debut for the blue and gold on Sunday after finally recovering from her knee injury.
“She’ll be a chance to play this week, she’s a real competitor.” Pratt said.
“If anything goes from her training, when she was available earlier in the pre-season, I’m sure we’ll get some real competitiveness around the ball.”
Pratt will also look to key defender Tayla Bresland and young onballer Bella Lewis to put in the hard yards this coming Sunday.
Lewis currently ranks in the team's top five disposals at 35, alongside 21 contested possessions, 10 clearances, and 13 intercept possessions.
Bresland is also dominating the back half with 28 disposals at 78.6% efficiency.
“Bella is continuing to develop every week, we’ve thrown her in the deep end and she’s responding really well – we’ll keep pushing her and keep challenging her.” Pratt said.
“I’ve also been really impressed and really happy with a couple of our girls down back for the season, Tayla Bresland’s been really good for us.
“If we can start taking our opportunities the pressure of the game builds on the opposition more and more, so I’ve been happy with the overall players.
“But, obviously ‘Ash’ and Bella have been real standouts for us, so we expect them to play well for us this week.”
The fresh-look squad will now go back to basics at training this week – focusing mainly on fitness and fast-paced drills.
“I feel like we’re really in a learning phase about football, and about how to increase momentum, and how to get momentum during games." Pratt said.
“I just want the girls to keep implementing our game style we’ve been building, and working on our brand, and sustaining it for four quarters - if we can sustain it for four quarters, we’ll be a chance to win the game.
“There’s so much to work on, which is exciting, and the girls are just keen to keep getting better, which makes it easier on me as a coach.
“What people see in the first half on the weekend is what we’re working really hard on, and that gives me confidence.
“If you’re not confident as a coach that you’re going to win, then you shouldn’t be doing the job.”