Dubbed the ‘big sister’ by the media heading into Saturday’s RAC Derby at Fremantle Oval, Fremantle stuck to the narrative with a 28-point win to make it four wins from four clashes against their local rivals.
But with six debutants, it was Fremantle who had the more inexperienced team - about one year younger with fewer games’ experience than West Coast.
A big factor in the win was how first-game players Ann McMahon, Aine Tighe, Airlie Runnalls, Jess Low, Dana East and Makaela Tuhakaraina fit in at AFLW level.
The efforts were highlighted by Runnalls’ 14 disposals, McMahon’s seven tackles and East’s nine disposals and five tackles.
Alongside Mim Strom, Tighe helped Freo match it in the ruck, while Low looked calm and composed down back and Tuhakaraina had some brilliant moments as a small forward.
Ebony Antonio, who was a joint winner of the best on ground medal with Kiara Bowers, joked that she’ll be without a spot in the team in a few years because of this talent.
“To have six debutants, all of them had an impact today, which was awesome,” Antonio said.
“All the young girls coming through have had fantastic skills. We’ve been lucky enough to have a program all the way through from grassroots all the way through to now. Definitely pushing the old girls out the door in a couple of years’ time, I reckon!
“It gives (senior coach) Trent (Cooper) a little bit of the headache with the young girls coming through. We’ve got 29 fit players out of 30 so it’s fantastic and I’d hate to be a coach each week picking the team.”
Antonio said she was especially proud to see McMahon and Tighe make their debuts after horrid runs with injury for more than two years.
“They obviously have different stories about how they’ve managed their injuries and what they’ve been through,” Antonio said.
“It was great to see them pull on the jumper today and run around and have fun.
“I spoke to both of them individually after the game and they absolutely loved it. It’s an absolute reward for the work they’ve put into their bodies and I’m so happy for them.
“With Aine, I think with the more games she has under her belt, she’s going to get even tougher. We saw glimpses of what she’s capable of today and I think with every game we’re going to see the best of Aine and I’m really looking to her taking to the park again next week.”