Port Adelaide’s AFLW side took to Thebarton Oval on Saturday for a pre-season hit-out against reigning premiers, the Adelaide Crows.

The game was closed to the public, with the side’s first official practice match to take place next weekend against Essendon in Melbourne.

The game comprised four 20-minute quarters, with all 27 fit players enjoying at least a half of game time.

A key focus for Port was to give the whole squad the opportunity to experience a first-class opposition.

“Half of our squad today, it was their first ever exposure to playing against an AFLW opposition and we saw all of them take some really big steps forward,” head coach Lauren Arnell said.

“We have players who have come from other AFLW clubs, who have had limited game time and they were able to get four quarters against an AFLW opposition, so that was really promising. We’ve also got kids who have come straight out of a national championships win for South Australia who have shown they can certainly mix it with the best.

“We saw some really good progress and steps forward in the way we want to play, and I’m really happy with what I saw today.”

Star forward Gemma Houghton was a scoring standout, snagging two goals, while Indy Tahau took one of the most impressive contested marks of the day.

Gemma Houghton celebrates a goal agains the Crows. Image: Brooke Bowering PAFC.

WAFL recruit Abbey Dowrick faced off against sister McKenzie, who was picked up by the Crows as a replacement player at the back-end of last season.

Ruck Liz McGrath was strong on-field and made her mark as the ultimate hype-woman – her raspy voice projected across the stadium with enthusiastic encouragement for her teammates.

Draftee Amelie Borg was the only casualty of the day, sandwiched between two players early in the first quarter. The tough 18-year-old was winded but returned to the ground in the second half.

Arnell was pleased to see the group applying pressure and playing with high intensity.

“We talk about the Port Adelaide way, which is about winning the contest and we did that for a fair chunk of today,” she said.

“We certainly dominated in the second quarter, which was really pleasing. We’ve got a really calm group of athletes, even when they’re under the pump, and really effective communication. Our group responds so well to what we, as coaches, ask them to do and they respond well to each other.”