The VFLW Bendigo Bank Cats have secured a place in the 2021 rebel VFLW Grand Final after a stunning performance against Essendon on Saturday afternoon.
Scores were level at half-time before Geelong kicked four unanswered goals in the second half in the 6.9 (45) to 2.5 (17) victory at Windy Hill.
Georgia Clarke continued her stellar form, booting three goals, while Renee Tierney kicked her first two goals at VFLW level in the last quarter.
Geelong will meet Collingwood in the Grand Final at ETU Stadium on Sunday at 1.15pm.
Clarke kicked her first goal early in the opening term, giving the Cats the perfect start in blustery conditions. Essendon managed a goal just before the quarter-time siren through Georgie Prespakis (who was drafted by the AFLW Cats with pick 2 during the week), as the Cats held a one-point lead at the break.
The highly-contested game continued in the second quarter, before Clarke again found the goals from a clever snap. The Bombers once again responded however, with scores level at half-time.
Geelong came out firing in the third quarter, as two goals in quick succession to Clarke and Annabel Johnson established an 11-point lead at the final break.
The Cats continued to control much of the play in the fourth quarter with fantastic pressure, as Tierney’s two goals sealed the 28-point victory and Grand Final berth.
VFLW Coach Andrew Bruce was proud of his side’s performance, especially after a two-week break due to lockdown restrictions.
“Super excited and probably the biggest thing is being so proud of the group. We’ve spoken about it before, what a great group they are and they’re really tight,” Bruce said.
“They came back on Thursday night with an amazing attitude and it was probably our best training session for the year, so for them to bring that in today was just so great.”
Bruce praised the resilience the group has shown throughout the season.
“I’m just rapt for the girls because of all their hard work. It’s been a difficult season at times with the breaks but we’ve kept together in relation to making sure the girls are really engaged with each other and with the coaches and the medical staff.
“There’s been challenges within it but they’ve just taken it like champions which is great.”
Becky Webster was at her best, gathering a game-high 28 disposals and nine clearances, while Claudia Gunjaca also impressed.
“Becky was just great, kept on driving out of stoppages,” Bruce said.
“I think the effort that Claudia gave us in her marking contests was outstanding for our group.”
The side will embrace the opportunity to play in the Grand Final, according to Bruce.
“It’s exciting, you’d be crazy if you’re not excited by it. We just spoke about the fact to make sure that they get their recovery right over the next couple of days, and then we get into Tuesday and Thursday and then roll on.”
VFL Women’s Preliminary Final
Geelong Cats 6.9 (45) def Essendon 2.5 (17)
Goals: Clarke 3, Tierney 2, Johnson
Best: Webster, Gunjaca, Johnson, Garing, Fuller, Clarke
At Windy Hill