K rock Football

Loss put finals hopes on edge

Geelong AFLW captain Mel Hickey made a successful return from injury in the Cats’ VFLW loss to Melbourne Uni. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

GEELONG has missed a chance to move back into the VFL Women’s top six after suffering a 15-point loss to Melbourne Uni at Deakin Unversity Elite Sports Precinct on Saturday.

The Cats were held goalless after half time as they suffered a 7.2 (44) to 4.6 (30) defeat.

The win by the Mugars puts them a game and significant percentage clear of Geelong, which faces Williamstown and Carlton to with two rounds to play.

However, Melbourne Uni has the bye next week and will take on the struggling NT Thunder in the final round.

“Looking at finals, we had to win our games to play, and that probably started a couple of weeks ago when we fronted up to play Darebin,” coach Natalie Wood said

“That’s a performance we really regret looking back at it.

“If you don’t win your games – and we had a block of four-straight losses at the start as well, and a couple of those were close, and a couple of those were convincing losses.

“You’ve got to win games of footy to play finals.”

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Kicking with the aid of the breeze to the city end of the ground, the Mugars kicked three goals through Jasmine Garner, Brittany Gibson and Jenna Bruton before Sophie Van De Heuvel pulled one back for Geelong to make the margin 11 points at the first change.

The Cats quickly made the most of the wind advantage when Madi Maguire snapped truly to cut the deficit to five.

Gibson kicked her second on the back of beautiful pass from Emma Kearney to push the margin back to 11.

However, goals from Georgia Clarke and then Maguire after the half-time siren gave Geelong the lead for the first time.

Defending against the wind, the Cats were able to hold up Melbourne Uni for more than half of the third quarter.

But after giving up a 50m penalty from which Katie Angelis converted truly, followed by a nice snap from Gibson and a piece of Kearney brilliance, Geelong found itself in a 17-point hole at three-quarter time.

The Cats dominated much of the play in the final term, keeping the visitors scoreless, but couldn’t find a goal that may have given it some momentum,

Wood says the Mugars experience and class proved the difference.

“They outsmarted and outplayed us in the last quarter,” she said.

“I thought our first 12 minutes after half time was really good. We played the ball in our front half a fair bit against the wind, which is what we were really trying to achieve.

“Then we gave away a 50 (metre penalty), and that really released the shackles for them. Then they got some fast ball movement and kicked a couple of good goals.”

In her return from a fortnight’s break, Kate Darby battled hard in the ruck, while Rocky Cranston was her typical determined self in the midfield and also provided support to Darby as a back-up ruck.

Injuries to Emily Ramsay (knee) and Olivia Purcell (shoulder) added further disappointment for the Cats.

Geelong travels up the highway for clash with Williamstown at Point Gellibrand next Sunday.

Twitter: @tom_king79
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MELBOURNE UNI  3.0, 4.1, 7.2, 7.2 (44)

GEELONG  1.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.6 (30)

Goals; Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, J. Garner, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, K. Angelis

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel

Best; Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk