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Cats and Kangaroos bring different strengths to AFLW clash

Back in 2019, Geelong and North Melbourne became the first expansion teams in the AFLW, added to the inaugural eight clubs in the first sign of a growing competition.

Their trajectories from that first season couldn’t have been more different.

The Cats looked to youth and local talent, drafting the likes of Nina Morrison, Becky Webster, and Olivia Purcell.

Meanwhile, the Kangaroos scoured the existing competition for the best athletes it could find, winning over players like Emma Kearney, Emma King, and Jasmine Garner to make the shift.

Geelong has struggled at times but has finally emerged as a true finals contender, while the Roos have been perennial challengers.

Now, as they prepare to face off once more – and for the first time since North Melbourne knocked Geelong out of last season’s finals by a measly two points – the sides have more in common than just the year they entered the AFLW.

Powerful midfield combinations

Both teams boast impressive midfield groups.

For Geelong it’s Georgie Prespakis, Amy McDonald and Nina Morrison, and for North Melbourne it’s Jasmine Garner, Ash Riddell and Mia King.

Each group is strong at the contest, sitting third and second in the competition for clearances so far this year, but it is their ability to neatly move the ball into space and maintain control that makes them so dangerous.

Clean disposals for Cats

The Cats have developed a brand of toughness at the footy complemented by elite ball movement around the ground.

Using the ball at an average of 71.4 per cent disposal efficiency – the highest in the competition – they are able to neatly transition into a forward line with an impressive array of attacking options.

Importantly, it is some of their biggest ball winners who are most effective with the footy.

Kangaroos and uncontested possessions

North Melbourne has harnessed the outside game in a different way, focusing on uncontested possession with a kick-mark style of play, it is equally adept at controlling the footy.

With an average of 158 uncontested possessions across the opening two rounds – the most in the competition — the Roos win the footy at the source and almost immediately find that control outside the contest. As a result, they also lead the AFLW for average marks this year, with 63.5 per game.

Much of this is led by star duo Garner and Riddell, who despite being impressive clearance winners in the thick of it, are in fact also leading the Kangaroos for uncontested ball this year.

Forward efficiency

In the past, both Geelong and North Melbourne have been guilty of poor transition into attack, letting down otherwise impressive ball movement. This year, each has established a more effective delivery forward and, further to that, conversion once inside 50.

The Cats have done so by establishing a group of powerful mid-sized forwards who are reliable contested marks, but also agile and effective once the ball has hit the ground. Chloe Scheer and Jackie Parry have each had their moment to shine thanks to their hybrid abilities, while Geelong’s midfielders have become increasingly dangerous in attack.

North Melbourne, however, has developed a three-pronged key forward set-up between Tahlia Randall, Kate Shierlaw and Emma King. Each has strong contested marks and are intelligent on the lead, their chemistry alongside one another allowing each to take advantage of the space created by their teammates.

As a result, this is the most enticing battle between Geelong and North Melbourne in their soon-to-be six meetings. Both powerful scorers and known for their strength at the contest, but the reality is that this game will be won, or lost, in the outside space.




Author: Russell White