MELBOURNE has proven to be a step above a plucky Geelong, winning by 49 points at GMHBA Stadium.
In the first official AFLW meeting between the two sides – Geelong having joined Melbourne in the competition in 2019 – the Dees scored at a steady rate throughout, holding the Cats scoreless in the final quarter in the 11.8 (74) to 4.1 (25) victory.
CATS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
Chloe Scheer thought she'd kicked the first goal of the game from point-blank range, but was penalised for a push in the back on the returning Gab Colvin, playing her first game since season six after an ACL injury.
The first quarter was a stalemate until the final few minutes, the Demons producing a training run of a goal for their second when Lauren Pearce marked and gave a handball off to Kate Hore, who was running towards goal.
Both teams usually move the ball beautifully, but the pressure was such that usually steady players sometimes missed their marks, and the tackles were fierce and frequent.
Shelley Heath was moved onto Georgie Prespakis in the second quarter after the gun Cat recorded seven disposals in the first, holding her to four, but the shutdown role was lifted for the second half.
Geelong's biggest issue was coughing up the ball while coming out of defence, with Melbourne far too clean and clever not to capitalise, while ill-discipline was also a concern, conceding three 50m penalties.
Melbourne skipper Hore – with her men's counterpart Max Gawn watching on, much to the delight of the strong travelling group of Demons fans – was simply a class above throughout the game, whether that was in front of goal (4.2) or bursting from stoppages (20 touches).
The Dees comfortably covered the unavailability of Tayla Harris (hamstring), with Pearce and Georgia Campbell simply upping their minutes in the ruck, and Maddi Gay spending some time deep in attack in her 50th game.
Aimee Mackin showed some very exciting signs on the wing in just her second game of football, with some deft kicks and line-breaking pace.
Nina Morrison's rich vein of form continued with 30 disposals, eight clearances and a goal, while Becky Webster provided plenty of dash off half-back.
Can anyone beat Melbourne?
At this point, the Demons are just so-well drilled and talented, it's hard to imagine them losing, but Adelaide awaits next week. The Cats pushed them all the way through the middle of the ground – the home team's greatest strength – but it wasn't enough, with Melbourne's backline rarely making mistakes and the link-up by hand and foot through the middle carving the Cats apart at times.
The rise and rise of Aishling Moloney
Much to the enjoyment of the stadium DJ, who rolled out their best "diddle eye dum" Irish folk music after every goal, Moloney starred in her fifth game of Australian Football. The key forward did overrun the footy at times at ground level, but her marking was all class against a very strong Melbourne defence. She kicked three of the Cats' four goals, after just one in her previous four matches.
A top-of-the-table clash awaits Melbourne, hosting Adelaide at Casey Fields on Saturday, October 7. Geelong has a trip down the coast, facing Essendon at Reid Oval in Warrnambool on Sunday, October 8.
GEELONG 1.0 2.0 4.1 4.1 (25)
MELBOURNE 2.1 5.4 7.5 11.8 (74)
Geelong: A.Moloney 3, Morrison
Melbourne: Hore 4, Zanker 2, Paxman 2, Hanks, Gay, Mithen
Geelong: Morrison, A.Moloney, A.McDonald, Prespakis, Webster
Melbourne: Hore, Purcell, Paxman, West, Gillard, Hanks
Crowd: 4,312 at GMHBA Stadium