15/08/2022

Will the Eagles make the next jump this season, fielding a new look outfit and wanting to bounce back from last season? (Image: AFL Women's)

Having won just the one game last season, the new look Eagles will be aiming to have a more fruitful campaign in the club’s fourth season in the AFL Women’s competition.

Last season:

14th (one win, nine losses)

Having won just three games in their first two seasons in the AFLW competition, the Eagles’ third season was just as underwhelming, finishing wooden spooners and winning just the one game in the process.

With an average losing margin of 28 points in their nine losses last season, the Eagles were handed comprehensive defeats multiple times throughout the year, with their back end of the season particularly poor.

In their final three games they’d lose to the Brisbane Lions by 74 points, Western Bulldogs by 60 points and North Melbourne by 78 points. They closed out their fixture on the losing end on some of the biggest deficits in AFLW history.

There’d be great individual efforts throughout the season, however. Captain Emma Swanson had a career best season, proving to be a rare highlight for the Eagles in 2022.

Amongst one of the top ball getters in the competition averaging 22 disposals, she’d be rewarded, being named the Eagles best and fairest and making the AFLW All-Australian squad. In addition to leading the Eagles for disposals, she also led for clearances and inside 50s.

Fellow team leader Dana Hooker was also impressive, and after missing the entirety of the 2021 season, she had no issues finding her feet back at the top level before being struck down by injury in the final game of the season.

What to look forward to:

Following the previous seasons of disappointment, there’s a sense of excitement heading into the new season with the Eagles fielding an entirely different side with plenty of fresh faces.

The Eagles were one of the busiest sides in the offseason, freshening up their squad with 15 new players walking through the doors in an attempt to see the club climb up the ladder.

Coming across from the Demons, talented midfielder/forward Krstel Petrevski makes the move back home to Western Australia.

Having struggled to get opportunities at Melbourne before being struck down by injury, the 21-year-old has a major opportunity to live up to her potential and build on the promise she showed at the Demons more consistently.

Former Crow and Saint Jess Sedunary comes across and should add some valuable experience to a side severely needing it.

There is also plenty of optimism surrounding youngster Isabella Lewis, with the young midfielder expected to go up another level in her third season at AFLW level.

Isabella Lewis will look to take her game to the next level in the upcoming season. (Image: West Coast Eagles)

Biggest unanswered question:

The biggest question hanging over the Eagles head coming into the season is whether they have enough quality in the side to make a genuine push out of the bottom four.

Their backline is the biggest area of concern for the Eagles, with the side boasting the worst defence in the competition by some margin last season.

Conceding a total of 517 points last year, no side gave up more points per game than the Eagles, with their aforementioned heavy defeats last season some of the biggest in the competition’s history.

The duo of Belinda Smith and Sophie McDonald are the only remaining two from the defensive ranks of their inaugural AFLW season. While the both of them are gallant down back, they found themselves exposed in an under pressure backline.

With recruit Evangeline Gooch set to miss the season with a wrist injury, Amber Ward, Lauren Gauci and and Ashton Hill all departing the Eagles, the jury is out on whether the Eagles can be more defensively sound this season.

Do the Eagles have enough depth down back to be a better side this season. (Image: West Coast Eagles)
Do the Eagles have enough depth down back to be a better side this season? (Image: West Coast Eagles)

It’s a big year for:

Expected to make an impact in her first season at AFLW level, the Eagles’ first pick in this year’s draft Ella Roberts will be one to watch.

Still yet to turn 18, the youngster has had plenty of experience playing football at senior level. She announced herself in the WAFL Women’s competition at age 15, helping lead the Peel Thunder to the seniors’ flag in 2020 and catching the eye of recruiters with her goal sense and athleticism.

Having been utilised predominantly as a marking forward, Roberts has also proven she can play further afield, having asserted herself for the Thunder in the midfield as well.

Expected to be one of the top contenders for the best first year player in the league, Roberts will be looking to make an immediate impact this season.

Fixture highlights:

The Eagles most anticipated fixture will be their clash against the Fremantle Dockers, taking on their WA rivals in Round 5 under lights at Optus Stadium.

They still haven’t defeated the Dockers yet, but there’s always plenty of fire in the match up.

Two days out from the men’s grand final, the Eagles will have all eyes on them with a prime time Thursday night fixture, setting the stage for one of the side’s biggest games in their short history.

Other exciting fixtures will be their Friday night games against new kids on the block Hawthorn, followed by Richmond. The Eagles make the trip to SkyBus Stadium in Round 6 before hosting the Tigers in Round 7 at Mineral Resources Park.

Full fixture:

R1: vs. Port Adelaide, August 27 (Mineral Resources Park)

R2: vs Gold Coast, September 4 (Metricon Stadium)

R3: vs. Essendon, September 11 (Mineral Resources Park)

R4: vs. GWS Giants, September 17 (Giants Stadium)

R5: vs. Fremantle, September 22 (Optus Stadium)

R6: vs. Hawthorn, September 30 (SkyBus Stadium)

R7: vs. Richmond, October 7 (Mineral Resources Park)

R8: vs. Geelong, October 15 (IKON Park)

R9: vs. Western Bulldogs, October 22 (Mineral Resources Park)

R10: vs. Melbourne, TBC (Casey Fields)

Ins/Outs:

Ins: Kate Bartlett (WAFLW), Jaide Britton (Pick 47), Abbygail Bushby (Pick 24), Emily Elkington (Pick 43), Sasha Goranova (WAFLW), Krstel Petrevski (Melbourne), Ella Roberts (Pick 14), Jess Sedunary (Adelaide), Isabella Simmons (Melbourne), Ella Smith (WAFLW), Lauren Wakfer (Pick 15), Zoe Wakfer (Pick 36), Mikayla Western (Pick 53)

Outs: Ashlee Atkins (delisted), Mikayla Bowen (Geelong), Tayla Bresland (retired), Melissa Caulfield (retired), Maddy Collier (expansion, Sydney), Lauren Gauci (delisted), Andrea Gilmore (retired), Courtney Guard (retired), Grace Kelly (St Kilda), Niamh Kelly (Adelaide), Parris Laurie (retired), Amber Ward (Adelaide)

Predicted Round 1 line-up:

Ladder range:

10th-14th

While the Eagles have bolstered their squad over the offseason, the side will need time to gel and naturally will stumble out of the blocks before they find their synergy.

Additionally the side still lack the quality, with being competitive and being in the hunt to make finals enough to consider the upcoming campaign as a successful season.

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