AFTER a stormy night in Melbourne, the Casey Demons VFLW side ventured out to Olympic Park Oval on Saturday to take on rival Collingwood for their first hit of the season. 

In what was described as a solid hit-out against the reigning premiers, head coach Peter Mercoulia had nothing but praise for his players.

“We got everything we needed to out of this game, and just tried to navigate our way through finding our best side and the best positions for players,” he told Melbourne Media.

“The reality is that we are eight to ten weeks into a new program, so it will take some time to iron out any of the creases.

“But generally, the playing group as a whole were fantastic, and it was just great to see them back out and playing football again after a year out.”

Mercoulia, who is also an assistant coach for Melbourne’s AFLW team, went on to explain that there are long-term aims as a whole club between the VFLW and AFLW sides.

“We are working on a long-term vision for both clubs, Melbourne and Casey, to get a game style that works at both VFL level as well as AFL level,” he said.

“Certainly, there are areas that we need to get better at – it’s not something that’s not going happen overnight.

“We’re looking for our players to stay involved in the game on all lines, and making sure they’re connected to the game, staying in the play so they can make an impact.”

In a non-scoring game, there were no real standouts but rather a team contribution to the match. Mercoulia was pleased with the physical presence brought to the game by the girls.

“The physicality was a real positive today,” he said.

“We have done a lot of work at training on the technique in contests and tackling which is important, not only for our game style but for the safety of our players as well. It was really impressive.

“Everyone had their moments in the game, so it was really good to see the team working together as one.

“But as a whole, it was just great to see the girls out there and competing again and enjoy themselves.”

Another bright note was AFLW player Sarah Lampard getting through the whole game unscathed after a long rehabilitation of her ACL.

The next practice match is currently scheduled for Saturday 20th February, against Port Melbourne at Casey Fields, with the first round of the VFLW season still yet to be confirmed.