23/04/2024

(Photo Credit: AFLW/ Twitter)

The West Coast Eagles shook off a disappointing couple of weeks with a victory over the GWS GIANTS. All aspects of West Coast’s pressure game was crucial to its success including denying space for the hosts and neutralising one of the best forwards in the game in Cora Staunton.

In the last encounter between the two sides, GIANTS’ forward Staunton ran amok, kicking four goals. Sophie McDonald marked Staunton throughout the match, and the 22-year-old did an impressive job, tallying five tackles in the first quarter. Staunton on the other hand went goalless in this game along with only eight disposals.

However, GWS still scored the first major of the match; Zarlie Goldsworthy supplied the assist, and Georgia Garnett provided the finish.

Alyce Parker, the league leader in disposals, collected 10 touches in the first quarter. West Coast had its chances but went into the first change trailing by five points.

West Coast flipped the game on its head in the second quarter, applying pressure and smothering the midfield. The Eagles shadowed Parker, limiting her impact, and played most of the quarter in their forward half.

After sustained pressure, West Coast forced a turnover in the forward 50, and Mikayla Western kicked the Eagles’ first goal.

Emma Swanson put the Eagles further ahead a few minutes later with a goal against her former team.

Swanson was excellent throughout the contest, leading her team in disposals (23) and tackles (nine). Eagles’ Coach Michael Prior mentioned Swanson’s consistency and leadership have been indispensable this season.

“Swanny [Swanson] leads our club really well, not just our team,” Prior said, “so I’m really happy with what she delivers week in, week out. But I thought she had a few mates today, which is really pleasing for us and a lot of girls gave it everything they got.”

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This West Coast team looked completely different to the team thrashed by Essendon last week. Last week’s team had no answers for the opposition.

Once West Coast gained the lead, the team swarmed the football. All 32 players were within 50 metres of the ball for most of the second half.

Although GWS spent swathes of time in the forward 50 in the second half, the team received no reward for their efforts. A scoreless second quarter preceded a three-point final term as the Eagles secured the victory 16 points to nine.

Credit must go to Prior, who was under pressure after last week’s disastrous showing and a series of poor starts by the team. The team looked prepared and confident and quickly adjusted after the first quarter to earn the win.

“We tried a few things with preparation, even when we got to the ground, a few different things because our starts have been an issue”, Prior stated. “I thought we got that right today.

“It ultimately comes down to the players and how they respond, where their minds are at and whether they’re willing to go out and start the game with good intent and I thought they did that today.”

Meanwhile, GIANTS’ coach Cam Bernasconi observed, “When we get challenged, we take a while to respond. There was lots of congestion, and we played into their hands.

“We have a gameplan that everyone knows, and there’s going to be a recipe to stop the run and carry game. We’re well aware of that.”

The answer, according to Bernasconi, is ramping up the pressure during training. That will help the team know how to respond within games.

The challenge doesn’t get easier for the GIANTS; next week the team travels to Unley Oval to battle the Adelaide Crows. Meanwhile, the Eagles face the Dockers in the Western Australian derby.

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