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2023 NAB AFLW Season 8
Melbourne v Geelong Cats
Semi Finals •
45 6.9
Full Time
50 7.8
Cats Won By 5

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    Players to Watch

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    Dees v Cats SF preview: Will Dees crumble under finals pressure cooker?

    Gemma Bastiani previews Sunday's semi-final between Melbourne and Geelong

    Erin Hoare and Georgie Rankin celebrate Geelong's elimination final win over Essendon, and (R) Lily Mithen celebrates with Maddison Gay after Melbourne's R5 win over Geelong. Pictures: AFL Photos

    AFTER Melbourne and Geelong met for the first time in AFLW history earlier this season, they will now face off for a second time in just eight weeks, this time in a do-or-die semi final.

    The Demons are licking their wounds after being beaten up by North Melbourne last week, while Geelong, despite coming off a strong win over the Bombers, will be missing dangerous forward Chloe Scheer.

    24:56

    Season so far 

    Melbourne 

    The Demons looked absolutely unbeatable over the first five weeks of the season, before Adelaide halted them in their tracks. Since then, they have struggled at times, especially in the face of immense pressure, and were well beaten last week by an inspired Kangaroos outfit. Melbourne does, however, still boast the highest average score in AFLW history – even after kicking just nine points last week – as well as the two competition-leading goalkickers of the season in Kate Hore and Eden Zanker. At their best the Demons are linking up by hand out of stoppage and finding repeat marks inside 50.

    Geelong 

    Geelong has struggled against the top teams this year, beating only one finalist – Sydney – throughout the home and away season. Last week's impressive win over Essendon, however, will give the Cats a mountain of confidence going forward. Their strong midfield unit is now complemented by a multi-pronged attack, which has made them far more dangerous than at this point last year. Finding efficient clearances to move the ball to its outside runners will be Geelong's main priority.

    Dream match-up 

    Tahlia Gillard v Aishling Moloney 

    Gillard and Moloney are two tall, rangy key position players who thrive on their athleticism, which makes them just as dangerous on the deck as they are in the air. Last time they met, Moloney kicked three goals and did plenty of damage as a linking player when pressing higher up the field, while Gillard will be determined to contain the game-breaking Cat.

    02:39

     

    Players to watch 

    Eden Zanker (Melbourne) 

    After kicking at least one goal in each of the first nine rounds of the season, Eden Zanker has failed to hit the scoreboard over the last fortnight. This is a game in which Melbourne really needs Zanker to return to that dominant forward target around which the rest of the forward line can operate. 

    Jackie Parry (Geelong) 

    With Chloe Scheer unavailable due to a collarbone injury, Jackie Parry must pick up some of that slack inside 50, against her old side no less. Third in the competition for contested marks this year, Parry's physicality and strength will be crucial for the likes of Shelley Scott and Kate Surman to work from. 

    Jackie Parry celebrates a goal during round one, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Where it will be won or lost 

    If the last fortnight has taught the footy world anything, it's that a high-pressure game is the way to unsettle Melbourne. Bringing that intense, disruptive style of play around the contest will be how Geelong can limit the Demons' spread from stoppages and, therefore, attacking forays.

    In addition, quelling Melbourne's ability to mark inside 50 will be important for the Cats. Allowing marks 40 to 50m from goal is generally okay, but the Demons will typically then look for a higher percentage option closer in, or on a better angle, and it is here where Geelong can create intercept opportunities.

    02:12

    For Melbourne, stopping the Cats from translating possession at the contest to elite outside ball users like Nina Morrison, Mikayla Bowen, and Chantel Emonson is the way to interrupt Geelong's desired ball movement. Having aggressive rebounders like Sinead Goldrick, and Shelley Heath ready to capitalise on any poor kicks forward generated by that more contested style the Demons are able to force on the Cats, will also be key to quickly turning defence into attack.

    Geelong has been exceptionally strong in first quarters this season, conceding just two goals in opening terms – both to Melbourne in round five – while the Demons have not won an opening quarter since round seven against West Coast. The Cats must capitalise on that first quarter dominance on Sunday if they are to set themselves up to win.

    Ferocious Cats send Dees packing in epic straight-sets upset

    Geelong held on to secure a thrilling five-point semi-final win over reigning premier Melbourne

    Amy McDonald celebrates a goal during the semi-final between Melbourne and Geelong at Ikon Park on November 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    GEELONG survived a late scare to knock reigning premier Melbourne out of finals in straight sets with a five-point win at Ikon Park on Sunday afternoon.

    Down by 30 points at three-quarter time, the Demons threw absolutely everything at the Cats in the final term, including three goals from Eden Zanker, but ultimately it wasn't enough.

    DEMONS v CATS Full match coverage and stats

    The Cats ran out winners 7.8 (50) to 6.9 (45), with a late Lauren Pearce shot on goal fading late to dash the hopes of Melbourne fans.

    03:18

    Nina Morrison was the star of the show, gathering 29 disposals, eight tackles and 10 clearances, while moving around the contest with ease. It was, in part, thanks to the work of Georgie Prespakis (13 tackles, 19 disposals) who maintained great pressure on Melbourne's midfield.

    02:12

    Geelong came out of the blocks on a mission, knowing Melbourne was in a vulnerable position and where it could get the best of the home side. Disrupting the Demons' ability to chain together possession, forcing poor turnovers and flicking the ball into space of their own is how the Cats got the upper hand.

    05:51

    Despite an array of dangerous forward options for the Cats, it was star midfielder Amy McDonald who kicked the opening two goals of the game, signalling to the Melbourne midfield that they needed to be more accountable to their direct opponents if they were to win the game.

    00:30

    Coming off the half-back line, Becky Webster (19 disposals, 357m gained) was a key playmaker, often finding room to drive the ball into attack.

    Small Demon Shelley Heath, known mostly for her shutdown roles through the midfield this year, was forced into playing as a key defender for large portions of the game, often giving up 20cm or more on her direct opposition.

    Eliza West (28 disposals, eight clearances) made a welcome return, while Maddi Gay (seven intercepts, 18 disposals and a goal) was utilised right across the ground for the Demons.

    00:33

    This continues the most successful season in Geelong's AFLW history, reaching a second ever preliminary final, but the first under the current top eight finals system. The Cats will now face Brisbane on Saturday night.

    Straight-set Demons
    Melbourne has become the second AFLW side to be bundled out of finals in straight sets, after Richmond was also knocked out last season. The Demons will be ruing the poor patch of form, losing three straight games for the first time in their history and losing the chance to become the first AFLW team to win back-to-back premierships.

    Maeve Chaplin and Paxy Paxman look dejected after Melbourne's semi-final loss to Geelong at Ikon Park on November 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Melbourne get busy moving the magnets
    As the game wore on and the Cats were maintaining control, Melbourne coach Mick Stinear wasn't afraid to throw the magnets around. Tyla Hanks, who was having to work hard through a battle with Georgie Prespakis, moved out onto the wing. Tahlia Gillard was thrown into the ruck, Liv Purcell roamed the forward line. Eventually it was enough to unsettle Geelong's stronghold, as the home side slammed home the first three goals of the final quarter to put the game back in the balance.

    00:33

    Up next
    For reigning premier Melbourne, it's end of the line, having been knocked out in straight sets. Geelong, meanwhile, will head to Brighton Homes Arena to face Brisbane on Saturday night for a chance at a maiden Grand Final appearance

    ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS

    MELBOURNE     0.2    1.4    1.7   6.9 (45)
    GEELONG          2.4    4.5    6.7   7.8 (50)

    GOALS
    Melbourne: Zanker 3, Gay, Hanks, A.Mackin
    Geelong: A.McDonald 2, Parry, Darby, Crockett-Grills, Scott, Moloney

    BEST
    Melbourne:
    Hanks, West, Zanker, Pearce, Paxman, Gay
    Geelong: Morrison, Webster, A.McDonald, M.McDonald, Parry, Darby

    INJURIES
    Melbourne:
    Nil
    Geelong: Nil

    Crowd: 5,057 at Ikon Park

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