COLLINGWOOD has landed an important blow in its hunt for a fifth consecutive finals series, beating Geelong by six points in tough conditions on Sunday afternoon.
A late attacking surge from Geelong proved to be too little, too late, as the Pies recorded an important 4.6 (30) to 3.6 (24) win at Victoria Park.
The only blemish for Collingwood, who has now won its last four games, was a hamstring concern for important defender Lauren Butler, who was ruled out midway through the second quarter with precautionary hamstring awareness.
On a blustery Melbourne day, where rain fell in fits and starts, it came down to which side could better adapt to the conditions. The Pies worked hard to gain and control territory, keeping the Cats' defence under immense pressure.
Throughout the first quarter Geelong's backline stood up well, conceding just two points from 13 inside 50s, but that started to collapse after the first break. Collingwood conceded that it wasn't going to be able to play pretty football, instead looking to gain ground with every disposal and generate an outnumber at the fall of the ball.
Mikala Cann (24 disposals, 17 contested possessions and a goal) was immense for the home side, dominating at the contest, really setting a standard for her team. Meanwhile captain Brianna Davey (19 disposals, eight tackles) was strong once again, generally starting in the forward line and pushing up to the contest.
In conditions that didn't lend themselves to tall players excelling, Sabrina Frederick was outstanding for the Pies. Working confidently in her new position through the ruck, she finished the game with 39 hitouts, 10 disposals and five tackles, and seemingly played with a dry ball.
Nina Morrison attempted to rally the Cats, kicking her side's first goal late in the third quarter and working cleanly through the final quarter to create goals for Zali Friswell and Jackie Parry, only for them to fall agonisingly short.
Georgie Prespakis worked hard for Geelong with 26 disposals, eight tackles and eight clearances, as did Amy McDonald with 14 tackles and 18 disposals.
Finals now becomes fight for a place at the bottom of the eight for Geelong who is yet to beat a side in the top eight this season, and hangs onto eighth place by percentage alone.
MAGPIES v CATS Full match coverage and stats
More bad news for the Pies defence
In Ruby Schleicher's first game of the season due to ongoing foot issues, it felt like the Pies were finally getting their best side together charging toward finals. Unfortunately, it lasted just over a quarter, with Lauren Butler ruled out of the game before half time with precautionary hamstring awareness. Butler, who has only been in the side since round five due to her own foot issues, is a crucial member of a Pies defence that concedes nearly 10 points fewer with her in the side. If the Magpies are to challenge in finals, they need both Schleicher and Butler fit and firing.
Frederick's new lease on life
Moving into the ruck this season, Sabrina Frederick has found a new lease on her footy life. Playing with real confidence around the footy, she adapted well in unforgiving conditions – particularly for taller players. Against the less experienced Liv Fuller for much of the day, Frederick saw the opportunity to dominate the air and took it, in a commanding performance.
Geelong will return to Melbourne for an important clash with Richmond which will have significant implications on who progresses to finals and who narrowly misses a second straight finals series, while Collingwood will travel to Sydney to face former player Chloe Molloy's new side.
COLLINGWOOD 0.2 2.2 4.5 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 0.1 0.2 1.3 3.6 (24)
Collingwood: Cann, Morris, Fowler, Morris-Dalton
Geelong: Morrison, Friswell, Parry
Collingwood: Cann, Davey, Frederick, Rowe, Schleicher, Sheridan
Geelong: Crockett-Grills, Prespakis, Morrison, Am.McDonald
Collingwood: Lauren Butler (hamstring awareness)
Geelong: Melissa Bragg replaced Georgie Rankin (illness) in the selected side
Crowd: 2,527 at Victoria Park