K rock Football

Plenty of positives for Cats

Geelong’s Irish recruit Rachel Kearns in action against North Melbourne. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

THE scoreboard might not have been in his team’s favour, but rookie coach Daniel Lowther will have driven home from Arden Street knowing Geelong’s AFLW program is tracking in the right direction.

After a 2021 campaign to forget in which the Cats posted just one win and suffered eight losses by an average of 33 points, the Cats were handed a tough start to the new season with a trip to North Melbourne.

The Kangaroos – who played finals in 2021 – were Geelong’s opponent in the opening round of last year, waltzing to a 62-point victory at GMHBA Stadium.

This time around, the Cats were able to snatch an eight-point lead midway through the third quarter before North Melbourne’s experience came to the fore – with goals on either side of three-quarter time – to claim an eight-point win.

For Lowther, there was disappointment at the final result, but a realisation the positives far outweighed the negatives, as Geelong unveiled eight new faces.

“It’s pleasing to have so much change occur in such a short period of time and be able to be consistent as a group,” he said.

“We’ve focused a lot in the last five months on playing a certain way, and the expectation is that our players play that method and style.

“I think after half-time, we kind of found our groove and played that way.

“The Kangaroo’s defensive game is quite strong, so we made a few adjustments after half-time, which kind of equalised that for us.”

Geelong was able to generate eight shots on goal – a feat they achieved just twice in nine matches in 2021.

Madisen Maguire also badly missed an attempt from around 35m out that could have put the Cats more than two goals in front late in the third quarter.

“We had some opportunities to score, which we didn’t get last year,” Lowther said.

“So, to have some shots on goal today that were gettable, and not to take, is a little bit disappointing.

“But, still, better signs.”

No.2 draft pick Georgie Prespakis lived up to the hype with an equal-team-high 20-disposal performance that should earn her a Rising Star nomination.

Vice-captain Nina Morrison’s first AFLW match in 22 months netted 14 disposals.

“To her smiling after the game, pre-game and during the game is good for her,” Lowther said.

“It’s her first game in two years, so she looked spent a couple of times there.

“But, she finds a way. She’s a gun.”

Adelaide recruit Chloe Scheer suffered a head knock in an accidental collision with teammate Claudia Gunjaca during the third quarter but was cleared of a concussion and returned to the field.

A leg issue that forced captain Meg McDonald from the ground in the last quarter was only a cramp, and she is expected to take on the Western Bulldogs next Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium.

K rock Football is live from 6pm Saturday for Geelong’s clash with the Western Bulldogs.

Twitter: @tom_king79