First-time clash for Cats

Jeremy Cameron at training in mid-January. (Louisa Jones) 225495_46

The Cats will take on the Saints for the first time in AFLW history tonight as they strive for their first victory of the season.

St Kilda was one of four new teams to join the competition in 2020, but COVID-19 cut the season short before they could face Geelong for the first time.

Last Friday the Cats were just a point behind the Western Bulldogs at the final break at GMHBA stadium.

But the Dogs kicked another two goals in the fourth to hand the Cats their third loss.

“I thought the effort was fantastic, we can’t find any fault with that,” Geelong AFLW coach Paul Hood said after the game.

“It was the most complete four-quarter performance from an intensity perspective we’ve given.

“But we’re not content with the result and want to keep working on our ability to score and find each other inside 50.”

Cats captain Meg McDonald led by example in the defensive half with 16 disposals and three marks.

The defender put in a whole-hearted performance against her former team, making an effort to intercept or spoil whenever possible.

Midfielder Amy McDonald has had a breakout season, averaging 18.3 disposals and 5.3 tackles a match.

The 23-year-old continued her form against the Dogs with 23 disposals and eight clearances, and laid six tackles for a best-on-field performance for the Cats.

About 1000 spectators watched the game despite state government announcing the snap lockdown earlier that day, and the AFL freezing ticket sales before the lockdown came into effect.

State government’s easing of the lockdown on Wednesday allowed the AFLW to continue into round four this weekend.

The Cats will need to improve their efficiency inside 50 against the Saints at Moorabbin tonight, while maintaining their intense pressure around the ball.

The side’s tackling, smothering and spoiling have been solid throughout the year.

Apart from that, like their coach hinted, the Cats will need to work at that age-old cliché of putting together a full four quarters of footy.

Meanwhile, in the men’s side, gun midfielder Mitch Duncan is in doubt for the Cats’ season-opener after back-to-back calf setbacks this summer.

Duncan is expected to miss both the Cats’ practice match against Collingwood and their pre-season game against Essendon.

Patrick Dangerfield is working on his fitness amid a persistent groin injury, while All-Australian defender Tom Stewart appears to have overcome quad soreness.

Jeremy Cameron suffered a minor hamstring strain after Christmas but has since returned to training.

The star recruit spoke to SEN Breakfast recently about moving into his own local house last week and settling in at the Cats.

“The guys have been really welcoming and the club’s been great,” he told the station.

“I’m still amazed that you can be 15 minutes outside of Geelong and feel like you’re in Dartmoor [Cameron’s hometown].

“For me that’s been great; the ocean’s really close, the family’s a lot closer, but just the general nature of living has been awesome and that’s something I really wanted to do.”

The Cats will face Collingwood in a closed practice match next Friday at GMHBA Stadium before taking on Essendon in their Community Series game on March 6, also at home.

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