After what’s felt like the longest pre-season in history, the 2021 NAB AFL Women’s competition is finally upon us.
The Cats are preparing to take on the always-dangerous North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos, in what is shaping as a cracking season-opener at GMHBA Stadium this Sunday.
Geelong v North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos
Sunday, January 31 at 12.10pm AEDT
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong
Tickets: Get them through Ticketmaster.
It begins how it ended
There is a poetic element to this weekend’s match-up. The Kangaroos were the last team the Cats faced in their 2020 campaign, as the season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. The round six clash on a Friday night in Geelong was the last AFL/AFLW game in Victoria to have a crowd, as the very next day matches switched to spectator-less at grounds across the country.
The Cats are keen to show how far they’ve come since that clash – which went the Kangaroos way – and there’s plenty to like about the Geelong of 2021.
The young brigade of Cats now have three full pre-seasons under their belts, and an impressive summer has seen the physicality and intensity amplify at the Cattery.
With a good challenge to kick off the season, the Cats will be raring to show what they’re all about in 2021.
Cats to Keep Your Eye On
How do you pick out just a few players to highlight after what has been an impressive pre-season across the board?
There’s been plenty to like about what the Cats have brought this summer, and we saw some of it on display in their practice match against Melbourne a fortnight ago. But now we’re into the serious business, and it will be interesting to see who steps it up again.
New vice-captain Jordi Ivey continues to add to her roles collection, honing her defensive skills this summer as she looks to add a backline rotation to her repertoire.
Becky Webster thrived on more midfield time against the Demons, and made some impactful plays, from great contested marks, to unbreakable tackles, and sending the Cats forward with a purpose.
Maddie Boyd looked strong up forward as she kicked a couple of goals against the Demons, while Amy McDonald also produced a pearler and looks set for a big 2021.
The Key Points
A year is a long time in footy, but the 325 days since the Cats last played the Kangaroos feels like at least a decade ago. So, that being said, take these stats with a grain of salt.
1) The ratio: The Kangaroos posted the highest number of kicks last season, averaging 142.7 each game – nearly double their handball average of 79.7. The differential was much narrower for the Cats, who averaged 124.3 kicks and 89 handball per game.
2) The battle of the rucks: The ledger is a lot closer when it comes to ruck hitouts won. The Cats had the edge over the 2020 season, averaging 21.3 hitouts a game to the Roos’ 19.4. Veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor is ready and raring for a big season in the hoops, and will be looking to start on a strong note against the Roos.
3) The class of ’19: The Cats and Kangaroos were the two newbies of the competition in 2019, and both took markedly different approaches to their list builds. With two seasons now in the books, it will be intriguing to see how the now-established sides fare in 2021.
Both teams have made a finals appearance – the Cats in 2019, the Roos’ in last year’s ill-fated finals series, which was cut off after the semi-finals.
Both sides will be keen to start the year with a win to get ahead in their quest for a follow-up finals showing.
4) Squaring the ledger: With the scheduling of the AFLW season meaning not every team gets to play each other during the season, the Cats and Roos have met just once across their first two seasons in the competition. That was the Cats’ last clash of 2020, a round six loss to the finals-bound Roos, but the Cats will be keen to square the ledger when they return to their home turf on Sunday.
How to Watch
If you wish to attend the game, you must pre-purchase a ticket. Tickets are just $10 for adults/concession, while anyone under 18 years of age can enter free (but still must redeem a ticket). Tickets are available through Ticketmaster here.
In 2021, Geelong Cats AFLW Members get free admission to home games at GMHBA Stadium. Members can redeem their free ticket here.
The match will be broadcast live on Fox Footy, and you can follow along on @catswomens on Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the game.