Muswellbrook Cats women's side celebrates first win in inaugural Pride round

CLOSE CATS: Natalie Heard said the team spirit was on full show as the Muswellbrook Cats picked up their first win of the year.
CLOSE CATS: Natalie Heard said the team spirit was on full show as the Muswellbrook Cats picked up their first win of the year.

IN a watershed moment for the AFL club, the Muswellbrook Cats hosted their first Pride round and celebrated it with a memorable victory in both grades.

The men's side secured a tough nine-point triumph over The Entrance Bateau Bay to put themselves in third place with a game to go, while the women's squad picked up a highly-emotional victory in the same fixture - their first win of the season.

Having struggled for numbers and a consistent run of games this year, the group lifted for the occasion and won by 55 points, keeping their opposition scoreless.

Bagging four goals in the first quarter, they got off to the ideal start and never looked back as the likes of Emma Knowles, Ellie Adam, Jess Newton and Natalie Heard controlled proceedings.

The latter of those is also the captain, and she has since shared her delight with the result.

"We've really only got to play consecutive games over the past couple of months, and the improvement week-to-week over the last six-to-eight weeks has been really good," she said.

"So, it was really nice to actually get rewarded for all the hard work."

With major sponsors and an above-average crowd in attendance, they put on an impressive attacking show which was led by Jessica Higham and Ashlee Keating with two goals each, with Samantha Rodrigues and the aforementioned Adam and Newton also hitting the scoreboard.

Heard, who leads by example with her voice and endurance running off the wing, said it was an incredible moment to take the points on such a momentous day.

"It was our first-ever Pride round, and even just having girls play a sport that's dominated by men is all about being inclusive," the 36-year-old said.

"And, to extend that inclusiveness to everyone in the community, no matter what background they're from, is really important to us."

Despite having only played the code for three years - which is when the Cats' women's side began - and admitting to have never watched a game of AFL in her life beforehand, she has taken to the physicality and pace of the sport quickly and was this season given the armband.

The former defender has taken the field for the Hunter representative side in the previous two years, and said her background in league tag and netball helped her acclimatise quickly.

She was also confident in stating that the atmosphere around the football club was the best she'd been in, and is hoping the on-field success will come over the next few seasons.

After a stuttering start to 2019, often through no fault of their own, the men's team is in a comfortable position, likely having to win just one more match to lock in third spot.

Their toughly-fought victory came as a result of top performances from Cameron Benkovic, Jordan Solly and multiple goalscorer James Adams.

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