One vs Two on Friday Night Football; broadcast rights sold to the highest bidder, Kelli Underwood wrapping up the pre-show interviews and Caroline Wilson taking notes. Wednesday’s training had been conducted in Spartan conditions, howling winds and freezing rain – a portent of things to come. A BWS across the road. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Great footy weather, cold but still. The feline adversaries lined up, 14-a-piece, under the lights on Lionel Watts oval. A few more watts would have been useful on this vast arena, such that events that occurred on the far wing might have been recorded in these chronicles.
The first quarter bounce signaled an arm wrestle that would last four quarters. The ball moved fluently to be trapped in one forward line, only to returned to be trapped in the other, like Barty and Williams on clay. Helena to Tipsy is establishing itself as a nice combination to spring the ball free from the ruck and the Cats found go-forward in LilyS and Lucy, who whether by foot or hand, found space on the near wing.
The Cats knew this would be a tough game. They knew the opposition would be fast and skillful, but previous games hadn’t prepared them for the intense physicality. Every ball was contested, every tackle followed through, no easy possessions, no beg pardons. A proper test for the Cats. Q1 LCC 0.1.1 FoL 0.2.2
Helena was having a monster of a game. A four quarter ruck is a coach’s dream, but Helena was far more, creating a presence in the middle that demanded the ball at ground level as often as in the air. She repeatedly arrested the Lion’s attack and propelled the Cats forward.
Jaimie was working her way in to the game, with just a hint of the berserker lurking beneath. The Lucy+Lily combination was collecting possessions at the rate of a hungry hippo. LilyS simply dug in; every contact feeding her to go harder at the next contest. Lucy didn’t stop running and one of those speccies is sure to come off one day. The Cats were hanging on, but only just. Q2 LCC 0.3.3 FoL 1.3.9
The team manager had thrown the clipboard away to strap ankles and bandage knees. Midnight was running to the canteen to get ice more often than she was delivering messages on the fields. The knocks were coming hard and fast, but these Cats don’t lie down.
Laces is many things, but strong of build isn’t one of them. Any number of times she bounced out of contests or was womanhandled in tackles; each time she rose and ran again, a terrier getting under the noses of the big dogs. Chops’ footy brain just gets her to the ball first and she relentlessly chased down every attack from the opposition. Not doing the spectacular tonight, just constantly getting in amongst it and contributing. Elin was starved of good ball and battered when she got near it, but kept running into space and providing options. The Lions were gaining the ascendancy, but Armo was making sure the Cats stayed in the game. Armo doesn’t get the praise she deserves, like a Daisy Pearce she’s just expected to be among the best on ground, but against quality opposition she had an extraordinary quarter, relentlessly attacking the ball or whoever had it.
Its games like this that show whether the new girls can play footy. Gracieeee and Ash are still running the long way to the ball, but when they did get their hands on it they were using it well. Gracieeee’s tap to herself and disposal in traffic was all class and anyone who had the ball soon learnt to avoid the cr+Ash tackle. What a banger of a game for Caitlyn’s second, with not a lot of opportunity, she still managed to get her hands on the ball when it came her way. But for all the effort, in a low scoring game, the Lions gained the upper hand in the championship quarter with two well fashioned goals. Q3 LCC 0.4.4 FoL 3.3.21.
The Cats like to think of themselves as a good 4 th quarter team, so here was a chance to test that theory. Charli was strong throughout the entire game with a “they shall not pass” attitude interrupting a number of attacking raids. Jaimie kept running and kicking, Tipsy was getting hands on ball again and the Cats kept coming. After another launch from Helena in the middle, Lexi took what seemed like the first clean mark in the forward line all night. Still a long way out, she bravely took the shot at goal, and though it didn’t make the distance, it fell to LilyS in front of the big post, who took the mark and calmly slotted the goal. Q4 LCC 1.5.11 FoL 5.4.34
What do we learn from this game against a team we are sure to see again in the finals, St Gladys of Willoughby willing?
Under sustained pressure from a quality opposition, the Cats didn’t once drop their heads nor allowed the Lions to build momentum and break free on the scoreboard, of which they are clearly very capable. While the Cats weren’t as strong in the physical contests, they never backed down. The defensive lines held strong and we know that the Cats can hold this team to a score.
However, the continuity of attack broke down too often. Chest marks went to ground and inaccurate passing kicks put unnecessary pressure on the intended recipients. 50/50 balls were running 70/30 to the opposition. As Kamala Harris recently said, against a hard nut its going to hurt whether you catch it or drop it, so you may as well catch it.
Plenty for the team to work with here. Can’t wait for the rematch.
Battered. Bruised. Proud. Cats.
Final Score: Forest Lions 5.4.34 d Lane Cove Cats 1.5.11
Goals: L. Sullivan
Players’ Player: L. Sullivan
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