North Melbourne's hopes of reaching its first VFLW finals series took a serious dent on the weekend, with the Kangaroos falling to a strong Geelong side by 27 points at Arden Street on Sunday.

Boasting the likes of AFLW mainstays Chloe Scheer, Georgie Rankin and Laura Gardiner, the Cats got out to a fast start and had kicked five goals by the three-minute mark of the second term. The Kangaroos managed to stop the barrage and steady themselves for a fightback, but unfortunately were unable to trim the margin.

North managed to hold Geelong scoreless in the third term, however the second half of the clash turned into a highly competitive arm-wrestle that suited the opposition.


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VFLW senior coach says it was more than just inaccuracy in front of goal that cost her side.

"Of course our accuracy in front of goal didn't help but I don't think our ball movement going into our forward 50 provided us with the best opportunities," Binder told North Media.

"We're at our most dangerous when we're moving the ball fast into our forward 50 but too often we just held it up and let Geelong flood back which really killed our momentum.

"There were plenty of times where we could have taken a lateral kick to the open side and moved really quickly and that's when we look the best and for whatever reason we just weren't willing to take that lateral kick.

"Geelong were really good and I think we're probably a bit disappointed in our efforts. We just weren't playing with the confidence we've been playing with in the last three weeks."

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The Kangaroos needed a catalyst to stem the defensive bleeding in the first half, and that catalyst emerged in the form of Britt Gibson.

While she's played in the forward line all season, Gibson's reputation as a versatile, intense and by-example leader precedes her. Her capabilities to put in the hard yards and change the game from an unfamiliar position was crucial in preventing a blowout.

After the Cats' hot start, Gibson's move to defence coincided with the opposition kicking just one goal in almost three quarters of football.

"'Gibbo' has so much experience and knowledge and energy," Binder said.

"We sent the message out that we wanted her as a plus one behind the ball and she just knew exactly what she needed to do. She went down there and had a massive presence.

"It's so good to have that full faith she's going to have an impact wherever she plays. She laid some big tackles, got some huge spoils and really lifted the team."

Amy Smith continued her strong form on the wing and was one of the team's best performers on what was a difficult day in the attacking half of the ground.

Finishing the game with 23 disposals and eight tackles, Smith's ability to effectively utilise the ball when moving forward is matched only by her aerobic capacity to supplement the defence. 

Binder says Smith's consistency is a massive asset to the side.

"Amy's just a workhorse. She brings a lot of pressure and then when she gets the ball on the outside she uses it really well," Binder said.

"We can always trust she's going to be there holding her width so she's a really disciplined player who we can always look to in attack, but when there's a turnover she's sliding back in defence as well.

"She's been huge the last couple of weeks."

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Young gun Tess Craven has continued her recent improvement in form. After starting the season in the forward line an increase in time on the ball has seen the 18-year-old take her game to a new level in recent weeks.

Binder puts Craven's performances down to far more than just a positional alteration.

"The fact she's been able to train with us and form a really good connection with the girls and really feel part of the team is always going to help," Binder said 

"Now she's getting a few more games under her belt she knows the type of pressure she's coming under and she knows how quick she has to be. She's just adapted and she's so clean with it.

"I think it's a combination of gelling with the team and learning what to expect from the VFLW competition on a game-to-game basis."

Kangaroos fans should continue to enjoy the performances of captain Molly Eastman while they can. Come season's end the VFLW stalwart will be off to Sydney to chase her AFLW dream.

Eastman displayed all the characteristics that led to her being signed by the Swans. Her ability to create chances out of the backline but still attend to her defensive responsibilities is a testament to her work ethic.

Binder says Eastman's performance displays exactly why she's captaining the side.

"As our captain Molly such an important part of the team. In this game against Geelong she positioned herself well to take a few good intercept marks but she also helped launch us into attack," she said.

"She really helps provide some good run and carry to help us push up the field. She'll be sorely missed when she heads up to Sydney but I have no doubt her performances aren't going to drop off as we head into the last few games of the season."

With three games to go in this campaign, North is somewhat precariously placed as the season approaches the business end.

Currently sitting in eighth, the Kangaroos are one win and percentage outside the finals spots. Suddenly this weekend's clash with Williamstown is a must-win fixture.

Binder backs her team to respond to this weekend's loss and do the jumper proud.

"Every single game from now is a must win to keep our finals hopes alive. It's hard because of course we want to go in confident, but we can't underestimate Williamstown," she said.

"They're a really good surging, attacking team. We need to make sure we're switched on otherwise they'll be able to burn us on the turnover.

"We've still got three games left and the girls really want to make sure they're leaving the jumper in a better place and they'll keep fighting regardless of what the ladder looks like. 

NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2  1.3  1.5  1.8 (14)
GEELONG CATS 3.1  5.3  5.3  6.5 (41)


Tess Craven: 16 disposals, five tackles
Britt Gibson: 12 disposals, three tackles
Perri King: Five disposals, three tackles
Ella Maurer: Nine disposals, four tackles, four clearances
Amy Smith: 23 disposals, eight tackles

Best of VFLW-listed

Molly Eastman: 30 disposals, five marks, three tackles
Reni Hicks: 15 disposals, 10 tackles
Liz McGrath: 10 disposals, five tackles, 36 hitouts, five clearances
Annabel Scott: 21 disposals, seven clearances, four tackles


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