AFLW Round 1 – Geelong v Collingwood: AFLW in the summer – why not!

 

 

AFLW in the summer – why not?

 

The Cattery was up and roaring.

 

Football was back early for Geelong, as a warm February night and a rapturous crowd of just over 18,000 greeted the AFLW’s most recent team (along with North) for their debut in the expanding competition.

 

Used to the sounds of leather on willow and the crash and smash of the Big Bash, the supporters in GMHBA Stadium quickly became accustomed to the high-pressure game of footy that erupted from the early minutes. With innovative rule changes and expanding teams that take on only more talent, the AFLW showcased its entertainment factor through the heavy tackles and intensity that opened Geelong’s Round 1 game against Collingwood.

 

From the outset, both midfields were industrious and gritty, led by Geelong’s Danielle Orr and Collingwood’s Jaimee Lambert. They would be standout players for the match – both belying their smaller frames to constantly find the footy and begin thrusts forward. Despite the pressure being applied by both teams, the Pies controlled the match early, perhaps settling more quickly than their nervous counterparts. With an extra two years of experience in the competition, the likes of Steph Chiocci and Brittany Bonnici were in-and-under to ensure that the footy remained locked in their attacking half. Despite the flooding tactics of Geelong upholding the dam wall, it eventually burst when former VFLW player Sophie Alexander used her commanding height to clunk a strong contested mark. By turning around and coolly slotting the opening goal from nigh-on-50 metres, she exemplified the development and improvement of the women’s game in front of our eyes.

 

Collingwood continued to utilise their experience well, yet couldn’t snatch a dominant lead. In the shades of quarter time, livewire Maddie Boyd duly accepted ex-netball star Sharni Layton’s fifty metre penalty to slot Geelong’s first ever major. And off went the eager crowd. The atmosphere, already electric, had just elevated.

 

The flick was switched after the first break, and Geelong came out with an impressive effort to match the crowd’s loud involvement. Boyd continued to demand additional attention up forward, with her second goal giving the Cats an important lead that they would hold for most of the encounter. If it wasn’t Boyd then Clifford was crumbing her, slipping out the back twice to first snatch a goal and then nearly assist another. The Pies defence, previously not really engaged too much, now looked disorganised and hapless in the face of the Cats’ mobile forward line.

 

After half-time, the Magpies, already two goals in arrears, found themselves in more danger when Layton’s lanky arm managed to knock out the dangerous Alexander. With their main forward target rubbed out for the game, goals looked even more unlikely for the desperate Collingwood outfit. Finally, the momentum swung, with the vocal Geelong crowd simmered by the emerging presence of Sarah D’Arcy, who replicated Alexander’s clean hands to light up the game and swing it back into black and white control. Her goal cut the margin, while half-back Ash Brazill’s wonderful decision-making and dash managed to repel any Geelong attacks. She stepped up in the absence of injured rising star Chloe Molloy.

 

Yet the gods didn’t smile on Collingwood throughout the game, as Lambert appeared to be done with a lower leg injury, halting their run and grunt from the middle. But sensing the importance of this marquee opening round clash, she came back on to kick an inspirational dribbling goal – a highlight of the night given the pressure surrounding her.

 

With the match suddenly tight heading into the last quarter, the AFLW tradition of close finishes looked in no danger. With no goals scored for either team, the arm-wrestle continued for the entire quarter. In what turned out to be the defining moment, number one draft pick Nina Morrison received a free kick next to goal, much to the delight of the roaring crowd. Her kick hit the post. However it will be remembered in Geelong and across the Bellarine as one of the best posters seen, as it put them in front with only minutes left.

 

Of course, Collingwood managed to surge into their attacking half, but were not able to penetrate Geelong’s rock-solid defence. Despite being bombarded by Ruby Schleicher’s constant marks and forward fifty entries, Bec Goring and her defence remained miserly until the final siren, sending Geelong fans into raptures and their bench into an ecstatic bunch running onto the ground to celebrate.

 

Led by Orr, Boyd and Morrison, the Cats kicked off their maiden campaign in exciting style, handing Collingwood their third consecutive Round 1 loss. Despite great efforts from Lambert, Brazill and Bonnici, their stop-start form meant they couldn’t win the game when it counted. But it was even more momentous for AFLW itself, as the introduction of new teams appears to have benefited the competition even more, creating further opportunity for developing players to exhibit their talents, under pressure, in front of increasingly passionate crowds.

 

Footy is back early, and no one appears to be complaining.

 

GEELONG   1.2 3.2 3.4 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD   1.3 1.3 3.5 3.5 (23)

GOALS
Geelong:
 Boyd 2, Clifford
Collingwood: Alexander, D’Arcy, Lambert

BEST 
Geelong:
 Boyd, Morrison, Orr, McDonald, Garing
Collingwood: Lambert, Brazill, Bonnici, Alexander, Darcy

 

Comments

  1. Great article Sean! Thank you for introducing “Layton’s lanky arm” into my vocabulary. ? #GOPIES

  2. Yvette Wroby says:

    Well done Sean … accurate report of events on the night. It was a good start to the season and the round. Thanks for the write up

Leave a Comment

*