K rock Football

Cats’ form no shock to Phoebe

Geelong players celebrate Phoebe McWilliams’ goal in the loss to North Melbourne. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

GEELONG’S opening round AFLW performance may have surprised many but not experienced forward Phoebe McWilliams.

The Cats, who narrowly avoided last year’s wooden spoon, held an eight-point lead over 2021 finalist North Melbourne midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s clash at Arden Street before fading to lose by eight points.

While the result wasn’t four points in the bank, McWilliams said the work put in during pre-season was on display.

“I got a bit of a glimpse of what the girls were capable of in the Richmond practice game,” she said.

“So, I wasn’t surprised yesterday when they came out, and the midfield had that intensity and Maddy McMahon in defence.

“I knew we were going to be improved, but I didn’t realise we’d be able to match it with a team of that standard for nearly four quarters.

“I was really proud of the girls.”

AFLW: PLENTY OF POSITIVE FOR CATS

McWilliams, who kicked a goal to move one clear of former teammate Richelle Cranston as the leading goalkicker in the club’s short history, welcomed the cleaner ball movement inside forward 50.

“Becky (Webster), Amy (McDonald) and ‘Pres’ (Georgie Prespakis), they’re really working well together, and they’re really reading where each other’s playing,” McWilliams said.

“Those girls in the middle, they did a lot of work for us, and they kept up with some of the best midfielders in the competition.

“It’s always nice when they get it forward, and Nina (Morrison) played a role in that, too.”

“It gives us a few more opportunities to do what we can do up in the forward line.”

However, the Cats were able to take just two marks from the 21 entries inside the arc, while their conversion in front of goal (2.6) proved costly.

“That’s definitely something that’s important,” McWilliams said. “You see Richmond (10.1) on Friday night, and it does put scoreboard pressure on.

“We could have extended our lead yesterday if we had kicked straight.

“But, nobody goes in having a shot on goal thinking that they want to miss it.

“We just need to practise those, and get easier shots on goal.”

Twitter: @tom_king79