The West Coast Eagles fell just short of securing a historic first road victory against Richmond on Sunday, but coach Daniel Pratt couldn’t have been prouder of his team’s fight and resilience.
Entering the half-time break with a 22-point deficit, the side shook off their sluggishness after a chat from Pratt, and narrowed the margin to one straight kick during the final quarter.
“I’m really really proud of their fight and their resilience, the fight back particularly after half time,” Pratt said.
“It’s been one of our issues this year, making sure we maintain our standard, but I thought they actually elevated after half time.
“I think that we had one fresh player on the bench in the last quarter, so their ability to keep fighting, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Mikayla Bowen was the best Eagle afield, snapping a goal from the boundary line in torrential rain, then nabbing another goal in the fourth quarter which narrowed the margin to just six points.
She also racked up 21 disposals, six marks and six turnovers.
“I’ve personally been riding her (Bowen) really hard about her leadership and the way she goes about her football. The way she played today is how leaders should play, and the way she goes about it every week is first class,” Pratt said.
“Her along with Bella Lewis, our two youngest players led the charge, which was great.”
Niamh Kelly also had another thriller of a game, with 16 disposals, four marks and two tackles, while sister Grace snapped the Eagles’ first goal of the game, alongside three tackles.
Pratt was proud of the development shown by both Irish sisters.
“We got her on ball today and she really took that opportunity, along with her sister, the consistency of their performances has probably kept us in games,” he said.
“Their ability to fight back and some of their contests later on we were really pleased with.”
South Australian products Lauren Gauci, Amber Ward and Kate Pope were also standouts in the match, particularly with their third quarter defensive work.
Pope had just re-entered the side after winning the Coach’s Award in the WAFLW, and Pratt was more than impressed with her playing style.
“It was good to see Pope get some reward for effort, she’s been working really hard. She came into our system round one because of our injuries so she got thrown in the deep end. It was good to see her little crafty goal and set up Bowen as well,” Pratt said.
“Our coaches and our staff are really, really proud of our girls.”