The VFLW Bendigo Bank Cats have fallen to Collingwood by two points in a thrilling season opener at Deakin University on Saturday afternoon.

Geelong kicked three final quarter goals to come close to clinching victory, but Collingwood held on in the 7.2 (44) to 6.6 (42) defeat.

AFLW-listed players Olivia Barber and Georgia Clarke were dominant in the forward line, kicking three and two goals respectively, while Rene Caris was named best on ground for the Cats.

Barber kicked her first goal in the opening minutes of the evenly contested first quarter, as Collingwood led by one-point at the break.

The Pies proved to be accurate in their forward line in the second quarter, booting three goals to Geelong’s one courtesy of Barber, to establish a 12-point lead at half-time.

The Cats controlled much of the play to start the third quarter, but couldn’t impact the scoreboard. Collingwood kicked two consecutive goals to extend their lead before Georgia Clarke kicked her first major of the afternoon. Rene Caris showed her athleticism as she competed well across the ground in the ruck, as Geelong went into the final break with momentum despite trailing by 16 points.

A Collingwood goal in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter looked to all but seal the result, however the Cats never gave up belief as talented 2020 AFLW draftee Darcy Moloney showed her composure and kicked a classy goal in quick response. Consecutive goals to Clarke and Barber narrowed the margin to two points with just minutes left, but it was Collingwood who managed to claim victory in the thrilling affair.

Geelong VFLW coach Andrew Bruce was pleased with his side’s effort despite the defeat.

“I’m really happy with the way the girls played it out. It’s quite easy sometimes to get four or so goals down and think it’s all going against you, but the belief in their system and each other and their hard work gave them opportunities to score,” Bruce said.

“I’m really pleased with particularly the second half of the game.”

Rene Caris had a standout game for the Cats, playing a dynamic role in the ruck.

“I thought Rene Caris was outstanding all day in the ruck. Not only her tap work, but also her second and third efforts at ground level were fantastic and she just ran the game out really well,” Bruce said.

Breanna Pratt impressed in defence, while Olivia Barber was difficult to compete against in the forward line.

“Breanna Pratt down back particularly in the first half was really strong, and when the backs were under a lot of pressure she was intercepting marks and used the footy pretty well,” Bruce said.

“Liv (Barber) gives you a contest in everything that she does, she’s a fantastic player to have in your side and it’s hopefully great for her confidence that she scored some goals and got a bit of reward for her hard work. 

“I thought her contests in the air were good and even when she went into the ruck at different times she certainly got over the top of the Collingwood rucks and played the game out really strong.

“We know we’re on the right track and we’ll just keep on looking to improve. Collingwood are a very good side, we’re heading in the right direction.”

Geelong’s round two opponent will be confirmed in the coming week.

VFL Women’s Round One

Geelong Cats 6.6 (42) def by Collingwood 7.2 (44)

Goals: Barber 3, Clarke 2, Moloney

Best: Caris, Sheppard, Pratt, Barber, Meissner, Gardiner

Injuries: Nil

@ Deakin University