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AFLW coaches vow to finish 2021 season

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AFLW coaches have backed the league’s flexible fixture after Fremantle were scheduled to face West Coast twice in the nine-round season.

The league has opted to release match-ups week-by-week as it adapts to changing COVID-19 conditions, rather than relocate teams to avoid border issues.

The Dockers, genuine premiership fancies, were announced on Saturday night to take on the developing Eagles team next Sunday in the second Western Australian derby in the opening six rounds.

Victoria is the only state still subject to any WA border restrictions, meaning the two Perth teams are currently unable to play Geelong or any of the seven Melbourne sides.

After Collingwood smashed Melbourne by 35 points on Sunday to sit atop the ladder, Magpies coach Steve Symonds said he had no problem with the double-up in the 14-team competition.

“We just want to keep playing. However that happens, whoever it’s against, we just want to keep playing,” Symonds said.

“It’s not ideal but I don’t think any way or any format moving forward is ideal; there’s no perfect scenario with the situation around the country.

“I’m sure all other teams are in the same boat and we’ll do whatever is provided to make sure we have a full competition and hopefully at the end of it have a premier.

“Yes, we would love not to play twice against teams, but if we have to, we’ll do it.”

Demons coach Mick Stinear also thought it is a “great move”.

“The AFL has handled it really well. Obviously it’s not ideal to have to shift teams and relocate with staff and players involved,” he said.

“By the end of the home and away season, the best teams will position themselves in the top-six.

“If they had to play a team twice then so be it. I think it’s a good move to keep the competition going.”

The 2020 season ended without a premiership winner due to the season being cancelled a week into the finals as the coronavirus pandemic first changed the way of life in Australia.

Collingwood will go into a blockbuster round-six clash with the Western Bulldogs next Sunday as the only undefeated team after Fremantle were upset by the Brisbane Lions on Saturday – the Dockers’ first loss since 2019.

Meanwhile, Adelaide crushed St Kilda to strengthen their premiership credentials, while the Eagles secured their first win of the season with a thrilling one-point triumph over Gold Coast on Sunday.

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