Roos defy inside 50 avalanche to advance
NORTH Melbourne has somehow defied the odds to scrape past Geelong in a low-scoring tussle despite having less than half the Cats’ inside 50s during the Roos’ two-point victory at GMHBA Stadium yesterday. The Cats controlled the majority of the contest, but could not get meaningful shots on goal early, then when they did, they missed them late, getting within two points, but suffering a 2.4 (16) to 1.8 (14) defeat.
Incredibly, neither team kicked a goal after quarter time, with just five and three behinds to Geelong and North Melbourne respectively, making it a dour struggle. Full credit to both side’s resilience, mainly the Roos’ defence who weathered the incredible inside 50 storm, while the Cats were able to maintain focused despite not capitalising on such a high amount of inside 50 entries.
Roos survive Cat attack
When looking at the match statistics head-to-head, it is hard to fathom how North Melbourne managed to win the match. The Kangaroos lost the inside 50 court by 23 (41-18) but somehow generated just one less shot than the Cats, with each of their shots registering a score. Though they only had the 33 per cent inside 50 efficiency, the Cats had just seven shots from 41 entries – and a couple of rushed behinds.
Geelong also had a higher disposal efficiency (64 to 56 per cent) and won the uncontested possessions count by 17 (139-122), while the Roos just edged ahead at the coalface. North Melbourne had seven more contested possessions (120-113) and three more clearances (21-18), stemming from an impressive plus-eight in hitouts (27-19).
Roos defensive unit deniy Cats’ running game
North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker praised his back five for its hard running and work rate to ensure the Cats could not put a big score on the board. Nicole Bresnehan led her side with nine intercept possessions, while Sarah Wright, Emma Kearney, Jasmine Ferguson and Brooke Brown all had six. Incredible, all bar four Roos recorded an intercept possession, showing just how well-drilled they were behind the ball.
Geelong wall frustrates Roos ball movement
Similarly to Geelong, the Roos could not get their usual faster running game going, with both sides hell-bent on defending the football. Each time the Roos cleared the defensive 50, the wall of Cats would be set up. Just three Cats did not record an intercept possession, with Annabel Johnson (11) recording a match-high. Skipper Meghan McDonald had nine, with Georgie Rankin and hard-working winger Mikayla Bowen (eight) both prolific.
Injured stars step up
Though both Georgie Prespakis and Kearney came into the match with huge question marks over their heads whether or not they would play, both took to the field in the end. Prespakis had 14 disposals, three tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s, from 80 per cent game time. Kearney was her reliable self, running at an elite 76.5 per cent from the back half, with 17 disposals, five marks, six tackles and 349 metres gained from a whopping 96 per cent on the field.
Cats in the title mix for Season 8
Though Geelong might have ended Season 7 without a finals win, the Cats lost few admirers, taking it right up to the more experienced North Melbourne outfit. Off the back of work from McDonald and Chantel Emonson from the back half, and Amy McDonald, Nina Morrison and Bowen in the middle, the Cats suggested they could be a team to watch in Season 8, with a very young core all developing together, and an even squad across the board.