It proved elusive, but the Tigers have snared their first win in the AFL Women’s competition.
The inaugural AFLW Indigenous Round kicked off at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night, when the Cats hosted the Tigers. Both sides were desperate for four premiership points, with Geelong winless in 2021 and Richmond still winless in its AFLW existence. Such was Geelong’s feebleness in recent weeks, the betting markets strongly favoured the Tigers to record their first-ever victory, despite Geelong’s thumping win over Richmond in their previous encounter a year earlier.
A fifty-metre penalty early in the first quarter gifted Richmond’s Gabrielle Seymour an easy opportunity to kick the first goal of the match, and the first goal of her AFLW career. Seymour slammed it through – an ominous sign for the Cats, who average just two goals per game in 2021. Richmond continued to dominate play, locking the ball in its forward half for the remainder of the quarter. Geelong defended desperately, but eventually conceded again in the fifteenth minute, when Courtney Wakefield marked in the goal square and kicked truly. At the first break, the Tigers led by 13 points.
Richmond’s domination continued in the second term, leading to a third consecutive goal, increasing the margin to 19 points. The Tigers, however, were well aware that such a lead could easily be undone, after blowing a 22-point lead over Carlton in the previous round. The avalanche of Richmond goals continued, but the Cats had more significant troubles. Geelong star Olivia Purcell, who had excelled in the early stages of the game, left the field due to an injury in the second quarter and would not return. At the end of the half, the scoreless Cats trailed by a virtually unassailable margin of 39 points.
The second half, however, was less bleak for Geelong. A moment of brilliance from Richelle Cranston gave the Cats their first goal, before Amy McDonald slotted another in the final quarter. Richmond, curtailed yet still superior, cruised to a 60-13 victory. It marked the club’s first victory in the competition, after starting its AFLW journey with ten consecutive losses.
For Geelong, the loss represented its most embarrassing result yet, after a string of disappointing performances against the Kangaroos, Magpies, Bulldogs and Saints. The stats sheet told an ugly story; Geelong recorded deficits of 62 disposals, 22 marks and eight tackles to the Tigers, who won almost every metric recorded. Monique Conti (27 disposals) and Katie Brennan (three goals and 17 disposals) starred for Richmond – a fatal failure for the Cats, considering how reliant the Tigers have been on their top players. Meanwhile, the ball spent so much time in Richmond’s forward half that Geelong’s exciting forwards were allowed only a few possessions each.
The result applied further pressure to Geelong coach Paul Hood, whose game plan continues to disappoint. It would be unfair, however, to simply blame strategy for a loss to a side that was faster, more confident and more skilled than the struggling Cats, who lack the pace and finesse to challenge the top sides.