Swans were competitive for almost three quarters before being run over in the last stanza by a hardened Claremont outfit, who triumphed 16.11 (107) to 8.9 (57).
Harding said he was ‘really positive’ with the performance because of the emergence of a bevy of talented young players.
‘We were missing four of five of our experienced players, including Tony Notte who is an important player for us,’ he said.
‘We had a slow start but had a really strong second quarter and played well for most of the third term. Some of our young players showed some really good signs against a strong Claremont team, who have been a competition powerhouse for a long time.’
Harding said the exuberance of the team’s young players, including talented duo Ricky Cary and Brandon Jetta, ensured an exciting season ahead.
‘The aim is to play finals football and I think we can develop the squad with the exciting youngsters we have,’ he said.
‘A lot of the youngsters should be in the mix to play regularly at the senior level.’
Harding was hopeful of a strong performance by Swans in their WAFL home and away season opener against East Perth at Medibank Stadium on March 29.
‘East Perth will be a good test because they will have lots of West Coast Eagles players in their team,’ he said.
‘We will train really hard this week and then give the players the weekend off because we have a block of eight games to start our season,’ he said.