Rising Port can challenge Lions in AFLW: Houghton

Despite only one win in their AFLW existence, Port Adelaide believe they can pick apart last season's grand finalists Brisbane.

Forward Gemma Houghton says the Power are on the rise following a strong showing against three-time premiership winners Adelaide in round one.

Port may have lost last weekend’s Adelaide derby but their performance is a far cry from their debut season, cutting the margin of their inaugural Showdown 60-point loss by half.

They now boast All-Australians Janelle Cuthbertson and Ashleigh Saint, who join skipper and two-time league best-and-fairest Erin Phillips.

“Even though we still have a very young side … we took it to a top team on the weekend and we can do that for the rest of the season,” Houghton said on Tuesday.

“We've got players that are incredible individually but when we work together as a team, we see how powerful we can actually be as a team performance.

“(Starting the season against two recent premiership teams) is quite challenging, but it's probably the best way to start.

“I do believe that this weekend, we'll be able to go another step further.”

Brisbane enter Saturday’s clash at Alberton Oval seeking their first win in 2023, having lost by a goal to Richmond.

The Lions have been forced to reinvent themselves after not only suffering an upset loss in last November's grand final against Melbourne but also losing key players in the trading period.

Former league best-and-fairest Emily Bates and All-Australian forward Greta Bodey defected to Hawthorn while league leading goalkicker Jesse Wardlaw moved on to St Kilda.

Star Brisbane winger Sophie Conway, who marks her 50th game on the weekend, said the team would move on quickly.

“We had 17 players there (against Richmond) that played in the (grand final), so it's not like we have no connection amongst our group,” she said on Wednesday.

“All the players that came in have joined to the party straight away.

“Obviously disappointing to come off the weekend with one-goal loss … but we're going to go out there and bring our game.”

Gold Coast and West Coast face off at Heritage Bank Stadium on Saturday, before two matches hosted by Port Adelaide and Sydney.

Sydney will also be chasing their second-ever AFLW win on Saturday, having clutched their first from a tight contest against city rivals Greater Western Sydney.

The Swans' return to North Sydney Oval to go up against red-hot Geelong and the prolific Georgie Prespakis.

Meanwhile, GWS faces an even tougher challenge, hosting premiership favourites Melbourne at Manuka Oval on Sunday.

The Western Bulldogs kick off Sunday with a game against Hawthorn in Ballarat.

Fremantle make the trip east to meet Collingwood at Victoria Park, followed by a match between North Melbourne and Carlton.

Sunday will also mark the return to Windy Hill, when Essendon - and their faithful - take on St Kilda, more than 32 years since the last VFL/AFL game was played there.

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