Although West Coast fell to Richmond on Friday night at Mineral Resources Park, there was a lot to like about the Eagles game.
One highlight for the Eagles among many is Charlotte Thomas, who is rising fast in the AFLW, as is her team around her.
In just her second season Thomas is becoming one of the most important players for the side, and was strong all over the ground with the most disposals (23) and equal most marks (seven) of the game.
And though the result on the scoreboard is not a win for the Eagles, there are little wins elsewhere.
“There’s definitely some strong positives to come out of the game,” Thomas told The Inner Sanctum post-match.
“Obviously not the result we wanted, which is pretty unfortunate, we’re here to win but it’s good to see us taking some real positives out of the game and taking it up to a top team like Richmond.”
With Thomas and Bella Lewis in top form and first-round draft pick Ella Roberts taking little time to find her feet at the top level, the future is very bright for West Coast.
But according to Thomas, that is merely scratching the surface.
“It’s great to see the young girls, Ella and stuff doing amazing, and Bella’s taken her footy to such a higher level this year as well,” she said.
“But obviously they are two examples of some great footy being played, but there’s so many other girls just below that, which is awesome to see.”Embed from Getty Images
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And once again leading by example is captain Emma Swanson, who’s been at her brilliant best this season. Thomas was full of praise for her skipper
“Swanny’s so competitive and reliable and you just know what she’s going to give every week, and that’s her absolute all,” she said.
“It’s really good to rely on her, and she’s such an awesome leader, and I think all of us girls really look up to her. She’s a great captain, and yeah [I] love her to bits.”
One of the key elements of the Eagles’ game is to run with the best players in AFLW.
Against the Tigers it was their job to attempt to curb the influence of Monique Conti, who managed 18 touches, lower than her season average.
Thomas spoke about the importance of tagging the best players in their matches.
“Every week we come across some top-quality players, and every week one of us gets the job of keeping them to minimal touches, but I thought Mon had a great game today,” she said.
“Credit to her, she plays an awesome brand of footy. Bella and I think Bulla [Hayley Bullas] followed her around in the last little bit and I thought they played their role as well.
“But yeah, credit to her, she played a great game today.”
As the season of progress starts to wind down, Thomas spoke about what they’re striving for in order to snare another win before the end of the season.
“I think when we use the run and carry that we’ve got, we play a really good brand of footy,” she said.
“Over the next few weeks, we’ll work on holding that consistency throughout the whole quarter.
“Our effort’s there, every single week, and we’re improving so so much, week to week, so, I think [it’s] just focusing on what we’re doing well and making it more of a consistent effort.
In the end, it was Grace Egan who stood up to kick two critical goals to ensure that Richmond stayed in touch with the top four, after its club-record fifth win in a row.
Coach Ryan Ferguson is very happy to be continuing the winning streak, this time away from home.
“The game panned out the way we thought it might,” he said.
“They challenged us at times, which we thought they might, we really respected them, and put a lot of thought into their players, and their style.
“We respect a lot of our opposition in that way, and we were well versed in what we were coming up against and thought we executed pretty well.”
The late burst from Egan, with Courtney Wakefield having limited impact, was crucial to the final result, though her match-winning capabilities were not surprising to Ferguson.
“We know she’s capable like all our mids are,” he said.
“We give our mids license – and we probably learnt this a couple of years ago.
“Melbourne did it to us, and we thought, ‘wow, that’s pretty smart’. They actually get hard, not forward of the ball, but to the contest to get dangerous.
“Sometimes if two go one’s gotta stay, but that balance of when you’ve got a chance to go forward and hit the scoreboard, you’ve gotta do that.
“I thought Court was huge today… she was a big presence but not necessarily hitting the goals.
“So, to get one from [Eilish] Sheerin, two from Grace Egan, one from Mon Conti, Stella Reid, that’s what the best teams do I think, and it was handy that they were able to step up like that.”
With a 5-2 record, is it time to start thinking about finals? Ferguson has another, simpler goal in mind at the moment.
“The fact is that we’ve always been week by week in terms of win,” he said.
“You keep backing up the wins, and good things will happen, and we don’t really have to worry about that.
“Five in a row is a really good effort, lost a couple of tough ones early, but to stay in the moment with that mindset of just trusting our game our work rate and growing it, and being present in the moment.
“Essentially that’s going to bring you good things. That’s where it sits.”
West Coast clash with Geelong next Saturday at Ikon Park, while Richmond and Carlton face off on Friday night, also at Ikon Park.
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