30/05/2024

Chloe Molloy celebrating a goal. (Photo: AFL Women's)

Collingwood has surged into the top four off the back of a game-long focus on territorial dominance on Sunday against GWS.

The Pies had control of the play for most of the match, not allowing the Giants to score in the first half of the match. When the ball did go inside 50 for the opposition, the likes of Stacey Livingstone and Sophie Casey would regain possession for the Magpies.

It saw them keep the Giants to just 14 points, with desperate defence a key factor in victory.

Speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum, Collingwood midfielder Mikala Cann said that the Magpies’ quick start was what set the tone for them for the remainder of the match. 

“I think we’ve been talking about our quick starts and we did that from the first bounce,” Cann told The Inner Sanctum.  

“Just our pressure and tackling around the ball set the tone for us, especially Moy [Chloe Molloy] and Ruby [Schleicher] were so good in those first six minutes. I guess we just continued that throughout the game. 

“We’ve been talking about our contests [being] our bread and butter, and I think that really showed today.” 

The dominance started from the middle, with Alison Downie dominating in the ruck with 37 hit-outs, giving the Magpies’ midfield first use of the football.

Downie was able to make the most of the opportunity with the Giants struggling in the ruck department. First-year draftee Cambridge McCormick was on primary ruck duties, with Brid Stack chopping out. 

“Al Downie, she’s an absolute superstar and when she gives us first use it definitely helps,” Cann said.

“But just her impact around the ball, not only can she get us first use, but she acts as another mid for us which is even more beneficial than just her being a ruck too.”

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The Magpies weren’t able to hold the same dominance on the scoreboard for the first three quarters, only having three goals to their name with inaccuracy proving a killer, scoring eight behinds.

It’s something Cann says they’ll be looking to fix up going into next week and beyond. 

“I think our forward 50 entries [are] always something that we’re looking to improve on and it’s no different next week,” she said.

“There’s areas of our game that we need to continue to work on… our forward 50 entries will be something definitely continue to work on.”

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Cann herself had a strong performance, finishing the game with 14 disposals and a goal to add to her strong season as a whole.

The 21-year-old said she’s happy to contribute on game day and soak up the knowledge from the players around her. 

“For me it’s pretty simple, I just want to play my role for the team and I’m really fortunate to play in a team full of really, really good players,” Cann said.

“With the likes of Bri [Davey], even though she’s not on the ground, the knowledge that she passed on to  me is insane.

“And to have Jamiee Lambert, Ruby Schleicher and [Chloe] Molloy all in the mids is insane. I’m so privileged to be able to play with them and continue to learn off each and every one of them.”

Collingwood captain and AFLW trailblazer Steph Chiocci reached the 50 game milestone in the win.

The 33-year-old has been a part of the competition from the very start, joining Collingwood as the 11th pick in the 2016 draft.

Cann spoke on what she means to the group as both a teammate and leader. 

“She’s so unbelievable, and we’re so lucky to have her on the field and off the field,” she said.

“She plays her role on the field and she’s the most caring individual that I’ve ever met.

“The way she gets around the 31 members of our squad messaging, but then also she’s just so encouraging. We’re so lucky to have her as our captain and as a teammate.” 

Giants looking to get back to their strengths

While it wasn’t the match the Giants would have liked, there was plenty to take away from that last quarter. They showed glimpses of that confident brand of football that fans saw last week against Carlton. 

Speaking exclusively to The Inner Sanctum, Giants young gun Tarni Evans said it’s all about improving each week. 

“I think it’s a bit of a growth season for us,” Evans told The Inner Sanctum. 

“I think the positives were just that last quarter. We cracked in and one of the young girls [Brodee Mowbray] got a goal and that sort of thing.

“So I think [the focus is] just coming back to our strengths and pushing forward with that. Going into next week, just focusing and developing what we did in last quarter and improving from there.”

While Collingwood had control of the possession for most of the game, going into the last quarter the Giants brought a stronger mentality and brought it back to their brand of footy. 

“We had nothing to lose. We needed to put the pressure on and then just play our way and get back to our game,” Evans explained.

“I think we lost it a little bit maybe in the second quarter there, so [we were] just getting back to the way we play… trying to bring everyone into the game with strong communication and just attacking and everybody putting that pressure on.”

Having that positive mindset for most of the game was important, with the Giants brand of football encompassing that confident game style.

At their best in season seven, they’re taking on games with run and carry, utilising the corridor and the pace of their outside runners and midfielders.

Evans said it was something they got back to in the last quarter.

“I think that’s when people start going into their shells when they get out of that positive mindset, so trying to bring everyone back into that playing confident footy is the key for us,” she explained.

“I think we pushed [the mindset] in that last quarter, but it just wasn’t enough today.” 

Evans was among the best for the Giants, having 16 disposals and five tackles as she continues on her great season.

She said having strong support around her at the Giants has allowed her to play some of her best footy. 

“It’s been fresh and new and I think the new game plan, new coach and having some really great people around me in the club has helped me build as a player,” Evans said.

“So I’ve been really enjoying my footy and enjoying the team and the club. I’ve been really loving it so far and can’t wait for the rest of the season.”

Going into next week, the Giants will be looking to do what has made them successful in the past throughout the week before facing the Hawks.

Hawthorn comes into the game on strong form, having now won three games straight.

But the faith is still high in the GWS squad, despite sitting in the bottom four with just two wins, including only one from its past four games.

“I think just going into this week [we’ll be] putting in those one percent efforts like craft, watching vision and getting a really good understanding about what we need to do next week to get the win,” Evans said.

“Just coming off the back of that last quarter, [we’ll be] bringing our strengths to the table next week. So we can focus on that this week at training and then give the Hawks a crack next weekend.” 

Collingwood will head out west to face the Dockers at Fremantle Oval while the Giants will face the red hot Hawks at Henson Park.

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