Westies coach “rapt” with comeback win

WEST Adelaide waited until “after the last second of the day” but the Bloods were still able to take the four points home to Richmond and break a 370-day winless drought in the process. Having not won since Round 2 last year, West Adelaide fought back from as much as 10 points down eight minutes into the final term to defeat South Adelaide by three points, 7.7 (49) to 7.4 (46).

“Obviously you’re going to take every win aren’t you? South are a team that are going to be around the mark so it is a bit of a encouragement booster for the girls,” West Adelaide coach Bruce Dawes said.

“We’ve certainly left it to the last second of the day or even after the last second of the day to get the win. But I thought it was a really good effort to come back in that last quarter when we were over 10 points down at one stage, so to get the win I was really rapt with their effort.”

West Adelaide finished the game with a plus-14 inside 50 count (37-23) and a plus-five clearance count (30-25). Both were Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the club, which pleased Dawes and the coaching staff.

“They’re probably our two KPIs that we really take notice of in clearances and inside 50s,” Dawes said. “So to win those, even though I think the rest of the stats we actually got beaten in, I think it still proved that we can win the game if we win those two key areas. South are a very contested team and that’s how they’ve played the last couple of years so to be able to match them in that clearance area, that was a real plus for us.”

It took Emma Kilpatrick‘s first ever goal to seal the win, with the former defender turned hybrid winger kicking truly after the siren from inside 50. Though others might have been nervous with a player who had never kicked a goal lining up, Dawes said he was more confident than most in the teenager.

“I have to admit I was actually very confident,” he said. “Emma is a very skilled player and I know yes she hasn’t kicked a goal in SANFLW before, and that’s because we’ve played her as a defender.

“Even when we were at training and she’ll have shots at goals or be mucking around and we might put her forward every now and again. She’s always been able to adapt and her skill level’s at that stage where I was very confident that she’d kick it.”

The game also featured double bottom-ager Emily Mableson for the first time, with Dawes pleased by what the debutant defender showed when called upon to step up.

“When she had her moments, I thought she handled herself really well,” he said. “Her groundball skills and contested footy is always been really good, and she was able to maintain that. For her it’s just that constant learning with her decision making and adapting to the speed of a SANFLW game and I actually thought she did that really well, so I was really pleased with her first-up game.”

Likewise, former Panther Jemma Ellis was able to make her debut, and though recruited to step up in the ruck, Ellis found herself resting forward and converted two majors during that time.

“She’s got great leg speed and she’s very competitive and very athletic,” Dawes said. “To have a person like that up forward who’s so called resting, gave us a couple of options to kick goals. We’re really rapt with her games. She missed a bit of preseason with injury so to get herself ready and to perform like that was really pleasing.”

Unfortunately the Bloods will be minus Olivia Smith for the clash, after the 20-year-old injured her shoulder in Round 1. While Dawes conceded she was “very close to playing” and likely would have had it been a final, the club opted to “err on the side of caution” and Smith would miss Round 2. Youngster Grace McNicol – who was best-on in the Development League – was named as her replacement.

West Adelaide will return home to Hisense Stadium to take on North Adelaide in Round 2. The Roosters are coming off a first round defeat at the hands of Glenelg, and Dawes knows the red and white will be keen to bounce back from that loss. The match has been moved to the earlier timeslot of 11am to allow for the predicted hot conditions.

“As we’ve spoken about all Summer for preseason, we’ve always said to the girls on a warm night you’ve just got to get through it because there’s a very good chance we’re going to play in warm conditions and here it is,” Dawes said. “I think mentally the girls are really ready for it which is great. No doubt North will want to come back after losing last week to the Bays, so they’re going to be a really tough opponent this week for sure.”

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