Refreshed, re-energised and ready for anything – after a gruelling pre-season, the Cats are eager to hit the ground running against North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos in their season-opener at Arden Street on Saturday.
After an off-season of change, with Dan Lowther stepping up as the new head coach, nine new players, and a revamped pre-season program, the Cats are full of determination to make a big impact in season six of the women’s competition.
They face a tough challenge first up against the Roos, but the Cats will be eager to show the fruits of their hard work over the pre-season.
North Melbourne Tasmania Kangaroos v Geelong Cats
Saturday, 8 January 2022 at 5.10pm
Arden Street Oval, North Melbourne
Last Time They Met
Cats 1.3 (9) def. by Kangaroos 11.5 (71)
It wasn’t the note the Cats wanted to start last season on when they took on the red-hot Kangaroos in the opening round of 2021. Roo Emma King kicked three opening-quarter goals to get her team off to a flyer, while the Cats struggled to find scoring opportunities at the other end of the ground.
However, Amy McDonald started her best and fairest season with a solid outing, with 18 disposals and five tackles, while Meghan McDonald was solid down back.
The Cats will be keen to prove how far they’ve come since that encounter when the teams meet again on Saturday.
With nine new players on the list in 2022, the Cats are expected to name a number of debutants to take on the Roos on Saturday.
The Cats brought in a raft of talent over the off-season to bolster its list, with Adelaide premiership player Chloe Scheer and experienced Melbourne player Chantel Emonson joining during the sign and trade period, when Irish Gaelic star Rachel Kearns also made her way onto the list.
Three Cats VFLW stars have also earned a spot on the AFLW list after brilliant seasons in the state league. 2021 VFLW vice-captain Claudia Gunjaca and ruck Liv Fuller were picked up as pre-draft mature-age selections, while Annabel Johnson joined with pick 15 in the draft.
The Cats also secured the NAB league best and fairest Georgie Prespakis with pick 2 (top pick in the Victorian draft pool), as well as her Calder Cannons teammate Zali Friswell and Geelong Falcon’s Gabbi Featherston with picks 7 and 9 respectively.
After encouraging showings over the pre-season, a number of the new Cats could well find themselves in the line-up on Saturday.
Players to Watch
The footy world is eagerly awaiting the return of Nina Morrison, nearly two years after playing her last game for points. After a long and cautious road back from her second ACL injury, Morrison had her first hitout against opposition in the Cats’ practice match against Richmond.
The talented midfielder looked right at home on the footy field again, and is eager to make her return.
Fellow midfielder Amy McDonald has also had a solid pre-season and will be looking to pick up where she left off after winning the Cats’ best and fairest award last season, while key defender Meghan McDonald is fit and firing, ready to back up her second All-Australian season.
The Key Points
1) Scores on the board
There’s no denying scoring was an issue for the Cats last season, but with a new game plan, a new mix of players and a solid pre-season under their belts, the Cats will be eager to quickly put that complaint to rest.
Against the Tigers in the practice match, the Cats had 18 scoring shots that registered in tricky conditions – the most they’ve ever recorded in an AFLW game – and they’ll be eager to see plenty more of that in the season proper.
2) Tying down the Kangaroos
Just as important as making their own impact on the score board, the Cats will be looking to bring the heat defensively and deny the Roos the chance to get away like they did in the 2021 clash.
Leadership group members Meghan McDonald (captain) and Mads Keryk will again hold down the fort, and they’ll have plenty of support from their fellow defenders.
How to Watch
Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster here.
For those wanting to follow along at home, the game will be broadcast live on Foxtel, and can be streamed through Kayo, womens.afl or the AFL Women’s and AFL Live Official Apps.