With a round one clash against Brisbane on 28 August firmly in their sights, Fremantle have stepped up their Season 7 preparations with a match sim on Saturday at Victor George Kailis Oval.
It was the first chance for a handful of new faces to test themselves with their new teammates, with Crows recruit Nikki Gore running through the midfield and draftees Madi Scanlon, Megan Kauffman, Tara Stribley and Tahlia Read playing against AFLW opponents for the first time.
While the rain and wind provided a new test for a group mostly used to hot summer days at Fremantle Oval, it didn’t put a dampener on the scoreboard with Aine Tighe (three goals) and Ebony Antonio (two goals) having the biggest impact.
With round one four weeks away, Senior Coach Trent Cooper said it was an important first hitout.
“It was tough conditions and the main thing was to get through unscathed with injury, so we’re really pleased,” Cooper said.
“There’s different things we’re working on with our ball movement, and although the conditions didn’t make that easy, I think they did that part well.
“Chances are, we’ll be playing games in the wet this season, so it’s good to have this experience so we can have confidence that we can perform well in these conditions.”
After an impressive debut season earlier this year, Tighe looked to be taking her game to another level as a forward / ruck.
“Aine really gives us a target, through her debut season we had to use her down back for half of the year,” Cooper said.
“We’re hoping she can be that focal point and give the girls confidence of someone to kick to and the rest of the forwards something to work around and getting the crumbs.”
The match sim showed that Fremantle have successfully added to their midfield depth, with Gore – an Adelaide premiership player – and Kauffman both having an impact.
Kauffman was particularly impressive as she made the transition from playing for Wembley Amateurs to the AFLW.
“Nikki Gore was in and under, the conditions suited her and she was good through that area,” Cooper said.
“Megan was good both forward and through the midfield as well, she’s showing a lot and has only played nine games of footy in her life at amateur level.
“It was a big learning curve for her but she showed a fair bit.
“Madi Scanlon down back showed some good signs as well at different stages and the younger ones like Tara Stribley and Tahlia Read, they’re both really light and the conditions didn’t suit them, but they competed hard and had some nice moments.”
Fremantle’s preparations continue next Saturday when they take on Richmond in a practice match at Lane Group Stadium in Mandurah.
Bounce down is at 12pm and the game will be open to the public.
“The girls are really excited for the next two weeks starting with Richmond at Peel’s home ground,” Cooper said.
“We’re looking forward to that challenge as Richmond pushed us last year.”