AFLW Round 4 – Geelong v Carlton: Cats scrap past the wasteful Blues


With the echoes of triumphant screams still ringing around BMHBA Stadium from Geelong’s maiden victory over Collingwood, passionate Cats fans steadily filled the seats to bask in Saturday sunshine and cheer on their AFLW team. Following that historic victory, Geelong had hit a minor roadblock – two competitive yet reasonable losses against AFLW heavyweights in Adelaide and the Bulldogs meant that their glorious start had been diminished. Returning to their home against the underperforming yet rebuilding Carlton, the Cats seemed intent on showing what they had learnt from their previous two losses.


The intensity was set early once more by Geelong’s engine room, with Garing having the ball on a string and Orr toiling hard in the midfield. The wily veteran in Phoebe McWilliams headed a dangerous forward line, demanding the presence of Carlton star and captain Brianna Davey. This didn’t nullify her effect – a searing ball from Boyd found her, as the resulting set shot sailed through to give the locals some voice on a glorious afternoon.


The heat rose (both in temperature and aggression) to a level not yet experienced in Geelong’s first three games. This was established early, with Orr being dumped to the ground by Dalton and Hosking being placed on report in the opening exchanges after a brutal bump that floored Ivy. This made McWilliam’s presence and long set shot goal even more important, as she negated a blistering breeze to put the bullish Blues behind on the scoreboard.


O’Connor’s bursting bumping and tackling bonanza that floored three Carlton players in the space of only seconds ensured that the fire was stoked in the contest, as some poor kicking both around the ground and in front of goals threatened to deflate the searing intensity of the game.


Geelong set about the second quarter in similar fashion to how they dominated the first – a heavy presence around the ball allowed them to surge forward and then lock it inside their forward 50. Due to this, Carlton looked helpless and their potent forward line including Harris and Vescio lacked constant supply. For a team that had scored heavily in the opening games of the season, the Blues were disarmed by Geelong’s rabid midfield and swarming play.


In a tactical win for Geelong, Harris vented her frustration by working higher up the field, stamping her presence by dumping many a smaller Cats player. Her attempt to ruffle feathers and scare Geelong’s nimble half-back line didn’t work out, as Hickey and her comrades continued to intercept mark and rebound with ease.


All of this intensity had to result in more scoreboard pressure from the Cats’ end, and they duly converted through a marvellous chase-down tackle and set shot goal from Van De Heuvel – her first in the AFLW. By half-time, Geelong’s defence and playing style posed a headache to Carlton’s aggressive tactics, which had only yielded two points for the entire half.


Like all good teams, Carlton came out firing after half-time, and looked to their experienced forward line to bring them back into the game. With Davey thrown back into the middle, momentum shifted as she single-handedly willed the midfield into winning clearances. In the vital stages of the ‘Premiership quarter’, Vescio was everywhere yet couldn’t capitalise on shots at goal. Luckily, Harris was available. Or so Carlton hoped.


The prized full-forward threatened to break the game open. Unfortunately, her tiring week of challenging a one-week ban and having it overturned appeared to catch up with her. Firstly, her strong goal-line mark from a wayward Vescio set shot looked set to allow Carlton to finally boot their first goal. With a lack of confidence, Harris navigated the 45-degree angle shockingly, taking a half step around and slamming the ball into the post. Carlton’s balloon full of hope and momentum had just let a bit of air out.


If this lowered spirits, then her run into an open goal and frustrated boot through the ball only evaporated them. Despite having no one near her, she inexplicably kicked it as hard as she could from the goal square, only to see it bounce back after colliding with the post. The balloon had been punctured now. She was a typical full forward having a shocker – running past jeering Cats defenders and knocking them over.


Yet Carlton knew they had to lift her up – they were still in the game with a quarter remaining. The adage of it not being your day yet being your moment appeared destined to come true when she took a strong mark in the opening minutes of the last stanza. Epitomising her wayward thinking and lack of confidence, she hurried her shot from distance, only for it to cruelly mock her by going into the goal post once more. Four behinds, and a potential catalyst for an agonizing loss.


While all this transpired, Geelong remained steady, if not shaky. McWilliams and Boyd continued to command the ball in the forward half, allowing the game to be locked down for long periods of time. Garing, Cranston and Keryk all became pillars around the ground who refused to let Carlton march the ball past them into a match-winning goal. Much like their stoic defence against Collingwood, Geelong’s youthful inexperienced counted for nothing, as their solid defensive structure meant that they could easily repel advances forward.


The siren sounded just above the noise of a desperate crowd, with players celebrating another tight victory that put Geelong on second place in conference B. Despite a tough run home, Geelong now have optimism about making the finals in their maiden season – Orr, Garing and McWilliams all seem set to lead their team onwards and upwards.



GEELONG 1.0 2.4 2.4 2.7 (19)
CARLTON 0.0 0.2 1.6 1.8 (14)
Geelong: McWilliams, Van De Heuvel
Carlton: Loynes
Geelong: McWilliams, Garing, Cranston, Keryk, McMahon
Carlton: Davey, Pound, Prespakis, Harrington

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