It might have been just a pre-season AFLW practice match, but nothing about the way the match was played indicated that when Gold Coast hosted St Kilda on Saturday at Southport.

From the first bounce players from both sides were attacking the football and whoever was holding it with menace and intent typically seen in a regular season match.

The scoreboard showed it as well, with both teams scrapping for the lead in the first half before the Saints were able to pull away in the second.

Experienced defender Sam Virgo said post-match the SUNS ladies were just eager to get their 2020 campaigns started as competition for a spot in the team for Round 1 intensifies. 

“It was a pretty anxious changeroom before the game,” Virgo said.

“(It was) our first hit-out and everyone just wants to put their best foot forward for not only this game but also for Round 1.

“There’s that selection pressure and everyone’s feeling that so I think that was probably the reason you saw everyone going all-out. 

“That’s what we want to see.”

With 15 AFLW games to her name, Virgo is one of those on the SUNS list who knows the standard required at the highest level. 

But of the 24 players representing the SUNS on Saturday, half are yet to play an AFLW match.

Virgo said it was the perfect introduction for those players to get a taste against the elite. 

“They’re all talking about how fast the game was and how physical it was,” she said. 

“It’s just great that they were able to feel that for themselves.

“We’ve been trying to tell them that all happens but they’re happy and they’re excited that they got one under their belt.

“We’ve got so many players that are new to this environment so I thought they held themselves really well and they’ll be much better for the experience.”

Of those untried players, Kate Surman and Molly Ritson were among some of the best afield for Gold Coast.

Virgo, who was stand-in skipper on the day, said it was up to herself and the other experienced players at the club to help guide the way for their younger teammates.

“We’ve got some great leadership throughout our group,” she said. 

“We’ve got plenty of girls that have played AFLW before who are helping wherever they can with the girls who are new to it.

“It was great that I got to toss the coin today but nothing changes for any of us – we just try to help each other the best that we can.” 

The SUNS will have two more weeks of preparation before Round 1 against GWS in Blacktown on February 8.