Geelong’s VFLW team has been defeated by an impressive Richmond side at the Swinburne Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The Cats fought hard all day but the undefeated Tigers proved to be too strong, claiming a 5.3 (33) to 8.7 (55) victory.
The opening quarter saw both sides impact the scoreboard, with two goals to Madisen Maguire helping Geelong to a seven point lead at the first break.
But Richmond did all the damage in the second quarter, booting five unanswered goals to open up a 22 point lead at half-time.
Geelong refused to give up however and kicked the only goal of the third term through Rebecca Webster.
Play was paused halfway through the final quarter, as Geelong forward Michelle Fedele was stretchered off the ground after suffering a significant ankle injury following a collision with the opposition.
The Cats were rewarded for the determination that they showed throughout the afternoon with a goal to Olivia Purcell on the final siren, but the Tigers displayed their class in their 22 point win.
Geelong VFLW coach Natalie Wood said that it was Richmond’s five goal second quarter that really separated the two sides.
“Their second quarter was really good, their midfielders got a bit of a jump on us and got a bit of ascendency,” she said.
“We kept fighting hard but it took us until after the break to put a couple of little adjustments in place, and we were able to slow them up a little bit which allowed us to get better structure behind the ball and also in front.
“But when you’ve got quality players like they do and if you give them a little bit too much room they know how to work really well.”
Wood was happy with her sides’ resilience throughout the match however, and the composure that the younger players showed.
“It was a really good start. What we were proud of was for the first seven minutes or so Richmond had the ball and got a couple of scores on the board, so for the girls to wrestle some control back mid-quarter was fantastic.
“That’s what we’re looking to see as well, growth and development each and every week and it’s hard when they’re not getting the results on the board but we can definitely see that as a coaching group.”
Geelong Falcons players Lucy McEvoy, Abbey Chapman and Elise Vella all made their VFLW debuts, highlighting the depth of Geelong’s young talent.
“It’s fantastic to get them in. Obviously they’re really skilful players and they’re having their first experience playing against adults,” Wood said.
“Lucy McEvoy just spoke to me about how the players get around her and make her feel like she’s been playing for 20 games. It’s really inclusive and supportive, so that’s the type of environment we want to create.”
The inclusion of experienced AFLW players Rocky Cranston and Julia Crockett-Grills in their first VFLW games of the season was also important for the Cats.
“Having Jules and Rocky back in, they both showed their leadership at different times in the game which was fantastic,” Wood said.
Michele Fedele’s ankle injury further soured Geelong’s loss, but Wood praised her side’s composure after their teammate was taken from the ground.
“It’s pretty graphic, it was quite sickening for both teams,” Wood said.
“I wouldn’t have blamed our group if they had of gone into their shells, but I think from that moment they actually really rallied together and continued to play with some really good unity and some really good belief.
“To play out that quarter with Michelle going down the way that she did again just goes to show the maturity that this young group has.”
Wood said that the next weekend’s bye will give the Cats a chance to refresh.
“It’s really good timing for the girls to get the bye. We’ll all have a break from the program across next week and then rally back and regroup the week after.”
VFL Women’s Round 5
Geelong Cats 5.3 (33) defeated by Richmond 8.7 (55)
Goals: Maguire 2, Webster, Purcell, Crockett-Grills
Best: Crockett-Grills, Maguire, Purcell, Goring, Webster, Keryk
Injuries: Taylor (Concussion), Fedele (Ankle)
@ Swinburne Centre