Collingwood’s VFLW side has advanced through to the semi-finals after a six-point win over Geelong at the Holden Centre on Saturday.
It was a tight contest all day but somehow the Pies managed to hold on to a 4.2(26) to 2.8 (20) win.
The undefeated Magpies got off to a shaky start, but a goal from Ebony O’Dea midway through the first term helped the Pies settle into the game.
In windy conditions, it was simple skill errors that let the Pies down in the second quarter. The side looked rushed at times and struggled to get the ball out of their defensive 50.
Relief came in a goal from Olivia Meagher who managed to sneak one through to give the Pies a 10-point lead at the major break.
Returning for the third, the ball was locked in the Cats' forward half for most of the term with Rene Caris capitalising on their opportunities up forward, booting a goal early on.
But a response soon came from Chloe Molloy who slotted a major to bring back the Pies’ lead to 10-points. But the side still struggled with its ball movement and transition from the midfield into the forward 50.
The Cats had control of most of the final term and managed to keep the ball locked in their forward half.
It was a nail-biting final three minutes of the match with just a six-point margin, but despite a scoreless final term from the Pies, they managed to hold on and claim the win.
Mikala Cann again led the possessions with 20 having also managed eight clearances and five tackles.
On return, Molloy was outstanding with 18 disposals, 14 kicks and a goal.
The Pies’ had a strong defensive outfit with Amelia Velardo’s aerial ability proving vital (10 kicks and seven marks) alongside the pressure of Lauren Butler (13 disposals) and Alana Porter (four tackles).
Collingwood’s VFLW captain Caitlin Bunker said this win meant a lot to the entire squad.
“It feels unreal. This group has worked so hard all year,” Bunker told collingwoodfc.com.au post-match.
“I spoke to the group at the end of the game and said to them that we won that because of our heart.”
As Saturday’s win marks the Pies’ 15th consecutive victory this season, Bunker put down the team’s success to their ability to rally around one another.
“Our team's ability to back each other in off the field translated on the field today and I'm just so proud of them,” Bunker said.
"Our team's ability to back each other in off the field translated on the field today and I'm just so proud of them."— Collingwood AFLW (@CollingwoodAFLW) July 3, 2021
Our VFLW skipper, @bunker_caitlin reflects on today's qualifying final victory over the Cats. pic.twitter.com/5RU2ctXt2k
Despite a really challenging game, Bunker said she was proud of her side’s ability to keep the belief and remain focused throughout the match.
“It was really scrappy and Geelong really brought the heat.
“Our biggest strength is our contest work. We’ve a tough team, we don’t give up, we’re relentless and I think that’s what got us over the line.”
The Pies now progress through to a semi-final against Essendon next weekend with a date and time yet to be confirmed.
A win will secure their spot in the 2021 Grand Final, while a loss would see them receive one more chance in a preliminary final.
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 3.2 4.2 2.3 (26)
GEELONG 1.0 1.4 2.6 2.8 (20)
Goals: C.Bunker, E.O’Dea, O.Meagher, C.Molloy.