EAGLEHAWK co-captain Ash Gilmore has praised her young players' competitive spirit after a near-miss against South Bendigo on the weekend.
The Hawks rebounded from a disappointing effort against Kangaroo Flat in round one to finish within two goals of their fellow finals contenders at the QEO on Saturday.
Gilmore, who shares the captaincy with defender Renee Sheridan, revealed the Hawks had gathered earlier in the week for a debrief on their clash against the Roos and that players had genuinely been hurt by their performance.
While they were unable to fully capitalise on a much-improved performance by falling two goals short of the Bloods, after leading for much of the match, the Hawks showed they were on the right track after an off-season marked by heavy player losses.
Gilmore, one of the Hawks best performers against the Bloods, said the playing group taking ownership of their poor round one showing was the first and most important step to improvement.
"We all got together during the week and we weren't happy with how things went, so Saturday was all about being positive and trying to connect on the court with some chemistry and I thought we really did that," she said.
"As much as it hurts to go down by two goals, we did play a really good game and you can see what is starting to build.
"Last week hurt, we've worked pretty hard in the off-season. The girls are young and we are keen to put our hand up and step up to the plate when needed and it showed.
"The young ones really stood up and I thought our defence was really good."
With some players in the Hawks line-up basically only two weeks into their A-grade careers, Gilmore insisted the 2021 season would be a huge learning curve for all.
"Because we are such a young side, we really needed to build the players' confidence up again from the last weekend and I feel like we did that," she said.
"We had that meeting on Tuesday night (after the Kangaroo Flat game) and we came in knowing what we needed to work on.
"We knew we had to put the game in the past and we did, so it's onwards and upwards and I thought we did a really good job against South."
New to the Hawks' line-up in 2021, young centre Arriah Keogh, wing attack Gracie Berryman, Morgan Keating (goal defence) and Jasmine Gallagher (wing defence) all showed encouraging signs.
In attack, indications are that the new goaling combination of Ash and Abby Gilmore is ready to flourish after a solid showing against the Bloods.
"We've never done it before really, I didn't make it past round two the last time we tried to play together (in 2012)," Ash said.
"I'm really enjoying playing together, it's been great in training and on the court as well.
"We'll get to know each other better - we still need to build some chemistry between each other as well.
"I feel we will have a good year."
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