COLLINGWOOD has survived a scare from Geelong to win its third match in a row and extend the Cats' losing streak at home to 10 straight games.
In a fiery clash, both teams piled on the pressure, each laying more than 60 tackles for the game as the Magpies held on to record a 5.5.(35) to 3.6 (24) victory at GMHBA Stadium that sees them move to the top of the ladder.
CATS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
Rachel Kearns' attack at the footy - and her opponents - shone through, adding a much-needed spark to the Cats.
NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee Georgie Prespakis went head to head with Jaimee Lambert for much of the game, both during play and off the ball, and both players had moments of brilliance as they broke away from one another's grasp.
Third-gamer Eliza James was dangerous up forward for the Pies, kicking her first AFLW goal, while her speed into space inside 50 created some headaches for a typically calm and considered Geelong defence.
In the first quarter, Sophie Van De Heuvel put her hand up for this week's highlight packages with a spectacular run through the centre square to get the ball in the hands of Jordan Ivey for the Cats' first goal of the game, and threatened to replicate it on multiple occasions.
Sophie Alexander's workrate in the forward line was vital in the third quarter when Geelong was most threatening. She provided a presence in the air, but also applied pressure at ground level, resulting in a free kick and goal.
At the other end of the ground, Kate Darby picked up where she left off last week, taking strong pack marks and kicking a goal of her own.
But Chloe Molloy had a big say on the contest on her return, kicking two important goals to put the game out of reach for the Cats.
Young Cats learn from their mistakes
Last week the Cats allowed Carlton to exit defence with ease, moving the ball freely into the forward half. This was certainly not the case against Collingwood, applying immense pressure to a typically well-organised Pies backline and often forcing them to turn the ball over on the rebound. Rachel Kearns' attacking run and Kate Darby's presence inside 50 allowed Geelong to dominate territory for long periods of the game.
Pies on a 50m lucky streak
For the third consecutive game, and for the fifth time this season, Collingwood was the beneficiary of a 50m penalty that led to a goal. Late in the game as the Cats worked hard to rebound out of defence, Chloe Molloy took a brilliant intercept mark at half-forward. Unfortunately for the Cats, Julia Crockett-Grills' enthusiasm to defend Molloy resulted in a 50m penalty, landing the noted goalkicker within 20m of goal. While it wasn't the difference in the game, it did take some needed momentum away from the home side.
Run and carry pivotal to Cats' gameplan
Something that has been missing from Geelong's game has been free run and carry out of defence to quickly transition to space up forward. Sophie Van De Heuvel's run from behind to gather the handball and use her speed up the field punctuated this game, none more so than to set up Jordan Ivey's first-quarter goal.
"Geelong's pressure tonight was outstanding. We struggled with it at times, we weren't clean. We were able to work our way through it, we did the right things at the right time. I guess if you're winning games you're always happy. I don't think we're playing our best footy yet and that's what we're all trying to achieve is play perfect football all the time. We're still trying to work out how all the pieces are coming together." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
"We just have to get a win. The group are really positive with the direction we're headed in. We're proud of each other but we still know what we're playing for. We had opportunities … but the difference is we just don't take our moments as consistently as other teams do. But we'll get better." – Geelong coach Dan Lowther
The Cats will head north to take on Brisbane in Maroochydore, while Collingwood will face Fremantle at home.
GEELONG 1.2 2.3 2.4 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 3.3 4.3 5.5 (35)
Geelong: Ivey, Darby, Moloney
Collingwood: Molloy 2, Sheridan, James, Alexander
Geelong: McMahon, Emonson, A.McDonald, Darby
Collingwood: Alexander, Lambert, Bonnici, O'Dea
Crowd: 2,265 at GMHBA Stadium
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