A game between two sides who are yet to score a victory this season might not have seemed like a must watch coming into it. But on Friday night, the Cats and Eagles put on a last minute thriller as the hosts side finally broke their ten match losing streak.
Youngster Darcy Moloney had her finest moment, kicking the sealer after a tense final term.
As the siren sounded to end the third quarter, both sides felt they had an opportunity to grab their first win of the season as the Cats lead by two points.
The Cats pressed hard, and while Nina Morrison could’ve won the game off her own boot on return, she missed two on the run shots at goal.
With two minutes on the clock and as the Eagles pressure continued to mount, it looked like the Cats would rue their mistakes.
A quick snap from a stoppage inside the Eagles attacking 50 lead to a great contested grab from Aimee Schmidt. Schmidt went back and snapped a kick around her body to put the Eagles in front for the first time in the match.
As the ball went back to the centre circle it seemed the Cats had lost their opportunity to break their long losing streak at the Cattery.
The next centre clearance from Rebecca Webster helped drive the ball deep inside the Cats forward 50, as 2020 #10 draft pick Moloney intercepted an Eagles hand pass to stream on through to kick a goal and seal the game.
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With windy conditions blustering around GMHBA Stadium, the start to the game was tough and scrappy, with not being much uncontested ball there to be won.
The physicality on show early in the match was exemplified by a courageous effort from Eagles midfielder Dana Hooker, who went back with the flight deep inside defensive 50 to help prevent a goal.
It didn’t take long before there was a casualty, with Eagles defender Aisling McCarthy going down with a suspected wrist injury from a Georgie Prespakis tackle.
The Cats controlled most of the first quarter, lead by Prepsakis, who helped put the Eagles defence under pressure as she racked up seven disposals for the quarter.
The under-fire Eagles could only hold the Cats off for so long before a sweeping handball from former number one draft pick Morrison set up Webster for the first goal of the match.
And after tall forward Phoebe McWilliams took a strong contested mark and kicked truly, the Cats went into the quarter time huddle up by 13 points.
Captain Emma Swanson (27 touches) helped lead the fight back in the second quarter as it was clear that the Eagles intensity had lifted.
The game became a bit of an arm wrestle as the Eagles weren’t able to capitalise on opportunities, and with the wind favouring the away team, it was critical that they kicked a goal late in the quarter.
These prayers were soon answered in the form of the Irish Kelly sisters. With the eldest Grace, smoothly picking the ball up off the deck before firing off a hand pass to her sister Niamh, who snapped truly to kick their first.
As the Eagles looked set to go into half time with all the momentum, a moment of magic from Prespakis where she spun and twisted out of a tackle, set up a second goal for McWilliams after the siren.
The third quarter started off with a bang as the fiery Mikayla Bowen snapped a goal off the outside of her boot to give the Eagles side a boost.
Although they were quieter in the third quarter, the Cats have found two future stars in Prespakis and Morrison (both finished on 15 touches). The young and ultra talented pair are both tough and already so composed on the ball. They seem destined to find success soon, as long as their bodies stay fit.
For Geelong, it’s jubilation after its first win under Dan Lowther. But for West Coast, facing another winless opponent in St Kilda on Tuesday, it couldn’t have been a worse way to end its Victorian road trip.
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