15/04/2024

Geelong defender Meghan McDonald attempts to spoil the ball from the hands of Sophie Abbatangelo. (Image: @aflwomens - Twitter)

In an extremely wet contest, the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos asserted their dominance early in the game and continued to defend strongly throughout, this was not without it’s challenges as Geelong roared back into the game in the second half to lose by 12 points.

Before half-time the Kangaroos were leading by over three goals and looked to be well on top of the Cats. The slippery, back and forth play that we saw early in the game returned at the start of the second half, with the Kangaroos fighting to extend the lead, and the Cats trying to cut the margin back.

Both teams eventually struck, with Wall toe-poking the ball along the ground for her second, and Laura Gardiner following up a minute later with Geelong’s first goal of the game.

This goal spurred the Cats on heading into the final quarter, as they started to see a lot more opportunity in attack. Former Demons player Jackie Parry booted her first Geelong goal early in the quarter, bringing it back to 13 points, and giving her team a chance to complete a brilliant comeback.

The chances did continue to flow for the Cats from there, however the Kangaroos defenders remained steady and held on to a two-goal lead for the remainder of the game.

Speaking exclusively with The Inner Sanctum post-game, North defender Nicole Bresnehan talked about how they had to hold strong as the Cats fought to get back into the game.

“They definitely got on top of us. I think they had 18 more inside-50s in that second half which was obviously a really disappointing result for us after a really strong first half, [but] I think we just held on really,” she said.

One of those Cats that was trying to inspire her team to victory was Geelong’s star midfielder Georgie Prespakis. She continued her run of form with a remarkable showing finishing with 32 disposals, nine tackles, and six clearances.

With the ground staff out on the field sweeping pools of water towards the boundary prior to the first bounce, it was quite clear that the wet conditions were not going to be very ideal for either team.

As such, the game started exactly how you would expect with both groups trying their best to adapt to the conditions. Neither team were able to gain much control of the ball, or string any solid possessions together in the initial stages.

In the second quarter, North ramped up their pressure, making it extremely difficult for the Cats to get the ball out of the defensive 50. One of example was when Sophie Abbatangelo laid a strong tackle on Cats skipper Meg McDonald, earning her a free kick which allowed her to slot the Roos’ second goal.

One highlight for North Melbourne supporters followed when Launceston’s own Brooke Brown, who bolted into space in the forward-50 and launched a bomb through the big sticks, putting her team up by 22 points. It was her first goal from the club, and a moment she will cherish forever given it happened where she grew up.

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When looking at the pressure put on the Cats’ forwards by the North defenders one key to this was personnel. Back into the side for her first game of the season Danielle Hardiman, proved her worth in the contest. Bresnehan explained what her experience brought to the Kangaroos defence.

“We just have so much trust in her as a player on the ground. She’s really influential when it comes to that one-on-one contest,” she said.

“[Danielle] is so important, and she’s a really influential voice back there too.”

The Kangaroos will now look forward to the Bulldogs, who have started the season well, though Bresnehan believes her team can definitely take it up to them.

“I think we’ll match up pretty well against the Doggies. They’ve obviously had a really hot start to the season, but I think in terms of our ball movement, attack on the game, and how we can gain territory, if we do play those four quarters I feel like we’ll feel very confident heading into that round.”

The Kangaroos will take on the Western Bulldogs at the Swinburne Centre next Saturday, while Geelong will look to bounce back as they take on St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday night.

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