Cats score first win in AFLW by Richard Jones

Geelong opened its 2020 account in the AFLW with a 22-point  victory over winless Richmond at Bendigo’s Queen Elizabeth Oval on Saturday. In front of a bumper crowd officially listed as 4,900 the Cats set up the win with a scintillating six-goal second term.

And even though the Tigers staged a four-goal third quarter mini-rally, the Cats always looked in control and held Richmond goalless in the final term.

For me, the visit to the QEO was one I could enjoy as an actual barracker. I’m not sure how many hundreds of games I’ve attended there as a reporter or radio caller since 1977 – it would be quite a few hundred – but this time I could don my 2011 Geelong AFL premiership cap and applaud each Cats’ goal and special passage of play.

Not since Stevie J, Little Gazza and ‘Boris’ Enright ran out onto Bendigo’s hallowed turf for a pre-season practice match have I been able, at home, to roar appreciation of my beloved Cats. And on just shy of 5,000 people the crowd was the equivalent of a Bendigo footy league semi-final or preliminary final attendance.

There were links to Bendigo from both clubs. The Tigers’ Grace Campbell and Kodi Jacques were once teammates for the local Bendigo Thunder side. Campbell started off as a junior with Huntly while Jacques hails from a little further down the alternate highway at Heathcote. Jacques kicked her first goal for Richmond during her side’s third term rally.

On the other side of proceedings Jordan Ivey pulled on the Cats’ guernsey. She’s the daughter of South Bendigo great David Ivey, a three-time BFL premiership player, who could play in a key position at either end of the field. Unfortunately for Ivey she could be cited by the AFL’s match review officer. Just before three-quarter time she appeared to bump Tiger skipper Katie Brennan high on the head as she turned her body side-on, with the Richmond captain bent low to collect the rolling ball. After lying prostrate on the deck from the collision, Brennan sat out the rest of the match on the Tiger bench. She was walking around post-match.

Geelong      1.3     7.4      9.7      10.7 (67)

Richmond   1.1     3.1      7.1        7.3 (45)

Goals – Geelong: Clarke 2, Cranston 2, Darby, Teague, Higgins, Goring, Purcell, Crockett-Grills.

Richmond: Wakefield 3, McClelland, Bernardi, Jacques, Frederick. 

Among the best for the Cats were Rocky Cranston up forward with two goals, 15 possessions and key defender Meg McDonald (6 marks, 16 possessions). Also prominent were midfielder Olivia Purcell (20 possessions), Meghan McDonald and high marking forward Phoebe McWilliams.

For the Tigers midfielder Monique Conti (28 possessions, five tackles) was clearly their best with Courtney Wakefield notching a career-high three goals, rebounding defender Renae Monahan collected 20 possessions, Sophie Molan was solid while Akec Makur Chuot showed plenty of dash off half-back.

The Cats went inside forward-50 33 times compared with Richmond’s 18.

Next up: Geelong vs. Gold Coast (Friday night) and Richmond vs. GWS Giants (Saturday).

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