Tag: Kerryn Harrington

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Dockers come from behind in final quarter showcase

FREMANTLE proved just how good they are with a huge final quarter effort against Carlton on Sunday, downing the Blues by four points credit to a three goal final term. The 6.9 (45) to 6.5 (41) outcome was not a reflection of majority of the match however, with Carlton’s explosive start and continuous pressure well and truly shutting down the Dockers.

In a must-win for Carlton, the side came out firing from all cylinders with three goals to nil in the first as experienced trio Nic StevensDarcy Vescio and Tayla Harris were quick to get on the board, as Charlotte Wilson and Mua Laloifi well and truly shut down the Blues backline and relegated the Dockers to just the one behind. A tighter second quarter was credit to Fremantle’s increased pressure around the footy, lifting in intensity and contesting much better as Kiara BowersHayley Miller and Sabreena Duffy stepped up to win the quarter. The winning end continued in the third as the Blues once again lifted, adding another two majors to their tally, but it was an outstanding final quarter from the Dockers that saw the side really showcase what they are made of and their winning form, booting 3.2 to Carlton’s 1.0 to take their first and only lead of the day at a vital time in the match and coming away with the four point win.

For the winning side, it was a two goal effort from both Jasmin Stewart and Duffy that helped get the side over the line, whilst Gemma Houghton was kept quiet for much of the contest bar a late conversion to seal the win. Bowers was exceptional with 28 disposals and 10 tackles, while Miller (13 touches and 10 tackles), Ebony Antonio and Steph Cain also had an impact. For the Blues, Stevens booted two from 14 touches, whilst Kerryn Harrington was kept busy with 22 touches and Breann Moody collected 19 and six marks, as Maddy Prespakis stepped up once more to create chaos through the middle.

Bar fixture changes due to COVID-19 protocols interstate, Carlton will hope to take on Gold Coast next Friday night in Queensland, while Fremantle will host Melbourne next Sunday night in a do-or-die encounter for the red and blue.

CARLTON 3.4 | 3.5 | 5.5 | 6.5 (41)
FREMANTLE 0.1 | 2.3 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS
Carlton: N. Stevens 2, D. Vescio, T. Harris, S. Gibbs, G. Gee
Fremantle: J. Stewart 2, S. Duffy 2, S. Cain, G. Houghton

BEST
Carlton: M. Prespakis, N. Stevens, B. Moody, D. Vescio, K. Harrington, V. Laloifi
Fremantle: K. Bowers, E. Antonio, S. Duffy, S. Cain, L. Pugh, J. Stewart

Image credit: AAP: James Ross

Image credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

LIONS DISRUPT HOT PIES

A last minute fixture change saw the Brisbane Lions take on the Collingwood Magpies on neutral territory in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon to complete the round, with the Lions taking to Whitten Oval and its lack of crowd like a duck to water, exposing the Magpies in a relatively inaccurate encounter from two of the top sides. The Lions dealt the Pies their first loss of the season, running out three-point victors in the 4.11 (35) to 4.8 (32) matchup in windy conditions.

It was a shocking first quarter from the Lions, booting eight behinds in a huge start that they really did not capitalise upon. The Magpies, to their credit, kept their foot on the accelerator and proved that they could cope defensively but it was realistically Brisbane’s inability to convert off set shots that shot them in the foot, only leading by 13 at the first change despite dominating the inside 50 count. Despite the Magpies applying better pressure for the remainder of the match, their first quarter struggle was too much for the side to come back from even as they kept the Lions to a goal per quarter in the second and third, and put just the one behind on in the last. The Magpies rallied in the final term after losing Jordyn Allen and Lauren Butler before the second half began, mounting their comeback and booting 2.4 in the final term. But it was too little, too late as the Lions held on for the three-point victory, knocking the Magpies out of top spot with huge performances from Ally Anderson (26 disposals and four marks) and Cathy Svarc (10 disposals, five tackles and a goal) topping off a solid day at the office.

Svarc was largely responsible for keeping Bri Davey quiet as Chloe Molloy was also relegated to a quiet performance with just five touches to her name. Sophie Conway (15 touches, three behinds), Nat Grider (13 and six tackles) and Emily Bates (13 and nine) were all impressive for the Lions as Bree Koenen locked down the backline, while for the Pies it was Britt Bonnici (28 touches, five marks and four tackles), Jaimee Lambert (22 touches) and Sharni Norder (Nee Layton, 17 touches, four tackles) who kept the ball rolling.

Next week the Magpies will play yet another match in Victoria as they host St Kilda on Saturday afternoon, while the Lions intend to host North Melbourne during Saturday’s twilight fixture, pending COVID-19 protocols in Queensland.

BRISBANE 2.8 | 3.8 | 4.10 | 4.11 (35)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS
Brisbane: C. Hodder, S. Campbell, J. Wuetschner, C. Svarc
Collingwood: A. Sheridan 2, S. Alexander, J. Lin

BEST
Brisbane: A. Anderson, S. Conway, E. Bates, C. Svarc, K. Lutkins
Collingwood: B. Bonnici, S. Norder, R. Schleicher, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Blues keep touch with top six

CARLTON made an emphatic return to the winners list on Sunday, feasting on a winless Geelong side to salute by 33 points at Princes Park. The Blues were in a scoring mood and proved efficient in front of goal, leading at every break and notching their highest total of the season to run out 10.4 (64) to 4.7 (31) victors. The win also sees Carlton keep touch with the top six.

Geelong booted the first goal of the game through Rebecca Webster, but a quick Darcy Vescio double from deep ensured the Blues would claim the lead and never look back. Along with Vescio, Georgia Gee and Serena Gibbs also finished with two goals as the trio accounted for over half of their side’s score.

Reigning league best and fairest Madison Prespakis shook off an early injury concern to lead all comers on the day, finishing with 28 disposals and a goal on her return from suspension. Both sides have some lingering injury issues coming out of the game though, with Carlton’s Mimi Hill (knee) and Geelong’s Millie Brown (hamstring) having their outings cut short.

Prespakis and Vescio were among Carlton’s best, while skipper Kerryn Harrington proved adventurous from half-back and Grace Egan continued her fine form through midfield. Both collected over 20 disposals. Webster proved Geelong’s best afield with 1.2 from her 22 touches, as Amy and Meghan McDonald again played important roles, and Phoebe McWilliams looked lively for her three minor scores.

Both sides face a seven-day turnaround as they again prepare for games on Sunday, with the Blues again hosting at Princes Park as Fremantle rolls into town, while Geelong travels to take on the West Coast Eagles at Mineral Resources Park.

CARLTON 4.0 | 6.1 | 8.3 | 10.4 (64)
GEELONG 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Carlton: S. Gibbs 2, D. Vescio 2, G. Gee 2, N. Stevens, G. Pound, M. Prespakis, N. Plane
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Barber, R. Cranston, D. Higgins

DC BEST

Carlton: M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, G. Egan, K. Harrington, E. O’Dea, A. McKay
Geelong: 
R. Webster, A. McDonald, M.McDonald, P. McWilliams, J. Crockett-Gills

Image Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

MAGPIES’ SECOND HALF SWOOP SINKS BULLDOGS

COLLINGWOOD kept its perfect record intact and snapped the Western Bulldogs’ win streak in one fell swoop on Sunday, defeating the Dogs by 36 points at Victoria Park. Having only managed seven behinds in the first half, the Pies sunk as many goals thereafter to remain top of the tree with a comprehensive 7.9 (51) to 2.3 (15) triumph.

Young pup Elizabeth Georgostathis booted the sole major in a one-goal first half, before the contest began to open up and Collingwood soared ahead. The Magpies’ superior spread and daring ball use began to pay dividends as the inexperienced Bulldogs fell away under pressure, making for a match befitting of the old ‘game of two halves’ cliche.

Pies fans were treated to some nostalgia as father-daughter selection Tarni Brown launched a terrific goal at Collingwood’s spiritual home, before finishing with 15 disposals and four marks. Bri Davey was excellent with 28 touches and a goal, while Brittany Bonnici was Collingwood’s other key ball winner. Chloe Molloy again proved lively inside 50, booting two goals alongside debutant Abbi Moloney.

Hardened Bulldogs Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb shouldered a heap of responsibility in the midfield battle, but could not quite spark the rest of their side going forward. Ashleigh Guest was strong in defence with five marks among her 16 touches, while Isabelle Pritchard was afforded some midfield time on debut and spearhead Isabel Huntington was kept goalless for the first time this season.

The ladder leading Magpies take on Brisbane next time out in what should be a blockbuster on the road, while the Western Bulldogs are set for another tough test when they lock horns with North Melbourne in Tasmania.

COLLINGWOOD 0.5 | 0.7 | 4.8 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)   

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Moloney 2, S. Layton, B. Davey, T. Brown
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, J. Fitzgerald

BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, B. Bonnici, C. Molloy, T. Brown, S. Livingstone
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, A. Guest, B. Lochland, J. Fitzgerald

Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

DOCKERS ROMP RIVALS IN REBOUND WIN

FREMANTLE has rebounded from last week’s loss in style, thumping local rival West Coast by 67 points on Sunday to return to the winners list. A 34-point lead was established by half time and the Dockers never looked back, restricting West Coast to just one goal while piling on the second-highest total in AFLW history to come away 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) victors.

Having been held to just one major of their own last time out, the Dockers regained their spark forward of centre to overwhelm the Eagles and claim a second Western Derby win in 2021. It was also the largest margin managed among these two sides’ three meetings, and an especially far cry from the nine-point thriller in Round 2.

Kiara Bowers claimed another Western Derby medal as best afield, collecting 24 disposals as the leader of her team’s dominant midfield. Gemma Houghton rocketed to equal-top of the goalkicking charts with five goals, supported wonderfully by Sabreena Duffy (three goals) and Roxy Roux (two) in a dynamic forward trio. Ebony Antonio was also prominent with 23 touches.

Aisling McCarthy was West Coast’s best, the only Eagle to tick over 20 touches as young gun Bella Lewis and Niamh Kelly (both 17) also contributed solidly in the loss. Grace Kelly booted her side’s sole goal of the game and was another to stand up despite the lop-sided scoreline.

Fremantle’s next assignment is a trip to Victoria to face Carlton at Princes Park, while West Coast will remain in its home state and host Geelong at Mineral Resources Park, perhaps fancying a second win for the season.

FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 11.9 (75)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 5, S. Duffy 3, R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: G. Kelly

BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, G. Houghton, E. Antonio, S. Duffy, R. Roux, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: A. McCarthy, B. Lewis, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, M. Bowen

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Prespakis, Vescio inspire almighty Blues escape

CARLTON overcame a horror start on Saturday afternoon to ward off a roaring Richmond outfit at Princes Park, escaping five-point victors against its traditional rival. The Tigers got the jump with the first four goals of the game, before reigning league best and fairest Maddy Prespakis sparked the Blues to life with two second term goals to help claim an unlikely half time lead. From there, the Darcy Vescio show took full toll to help Carlton kick a winning score, eventually reading 8.3 (51) to Richmond’s 7.4 (46).

While still winless in the AFL Women’s competition, green shoots are beginning to appear for Richmond after arguably its best performance to date. The Tigers’ poor conversion and attacking penetration have been a lead story thus far, but that was far from the case on Saturday as they surged forward with ruthless pace and efficiency to catch Carlton unawares on multiple occasions.

The Tigers’ pressure and early midfield dominance were other key signs of their upside, before Carlton’s prime movers began to take the game over. Having started the season at 0-2, the Blues’ finals hopes are still kicking as they sit just outside the top six, but a much more consistent run of form will be required from here on out.

Much of the hype coming into this clash surrounded the potential matchup of twins Jess and Sarah Hosking, who would take little time to acquaint themselves as opponents at the first centre bounce. It marked somewhat of another new role for Carlton’s Jess, who has been utilised up either end of the ground, while Richmond’s Sarah was typically reliable in midfield.

The Hosking in navy blue finished with 19 disposals, while her sibling managed 15 touches to go with six marks and seven tackles despite missing a chunk of action through concussion protocols. The Prespakis tackle which put Hosking out of action was deemed dangerous at the time, and could see Carlton’s star midfielder face more scrutiny from the match review officer this season.

Richmond’s Monique Conti was busy as ever, leading all comers with 26 disposals and seven inside 50s. Skipper Katie Brennan looked lively in the front half, notching two goals among her 17 touches and five marks with strong work in the air and across the ground. Others to impress in yellow and black included Ellie McKenzie (14 disposals, four marks) and the forward duo of Courtney Wakefield (three goals) and Tayla Stahl (two), who helped materialise each of their side’s momentum grabs.

Prespakis dragged her side back into the contest with 19 disposals, five tackles and two goals, aided by the forward 50 presence of Vescio, who clunked six marks and booted 3.2. Grace Egan was excellent as the Blues’ highest ball winner (21 disposals), while skipper Kerryn Harrington formed a wall in defence alongside Charlotte Wilson with seven rebound 50s.

CARLTON 0.2 | 4.2 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
RICHMOND 3.0 | 4.1 | 5.1 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:

Carlton: D. Vescio 3, M. Prespakis 2, N. Stevens, L. McEvoy, T. Harris
Richmond: C. Wakefield 3, K. Brennan 2, T. Stahl 2

DC BEST:

Carlton: D. Vescio, M. Prespakis, G. Egan, K. Harrington, J. Hosking, L. McEvoy
Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, S. Hosking, C. Wakefield, R. Miller, E. McKenzie

credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

Dockers endure slow start to overrun Suns

FREMANTLE added another huge win to its premiership tilt as the Dockers overcame the Gold Coast Suns in convincing fashion in Perth, 7.13 (55) to 1.0 (6). Whilst the Suns got the early jump on the premiership contenders, leading for much of the first and boasting a close margin at half time as the Dockers failed to capitalise on opportunities, it was Fremantle that ran down its foes in an excellent six goal second half to maintain top spot on the ladder. 

In an opening term that was dominated by the underdogs, things began with plenty of excitement as an early goal from Leah Kaslar got the ball rolling with the Dockers seemingly unable to find purchase within a tight contest. But whilst Kaslar’s major was the only score of the quarter, it went on to be the Suns’ only major of the match as, from quarter time onwards, the footy was well within the home side’s grasps with plenty of intent and drive into attack. Whilst the Dockers were ultimately unable to provide the scoreboard danger to rival their offensive pressure, producing a 1.5 (11) to 1.0 (6) scoreline to marginally lead at the main change, a huge second half loomed with much of the momentum going the way of the Dockers with Ebony Antonio and Gabby O’Sullivan unsuccessful but proving dangerous inside 50.

The second half saw the match well and truly open up for Fremantle, as its pressing backline led by Janelle Cuthbertson gained further control and confidence to propel ball forward into its waiting forward line. Back-to-back majors from Antonio and O’Sullivan and a maiden goal from Sarah Verrier created a tough buffer for the Suns to crack as the scoreline extended to 25 points by the time the final change arrived. Despite being tagged for much of the contest, Kiara Bowers shone as the match opened up further, proving unstoppable as Suns’ Jamie Stanton worked up a storm for the opposition but to no avail. 

A huge final term saw the Dockers’ class complete their second half rundown of the opposition, piling on another three goals and six minors as O’Sullivan got her second on the board, whilst Hayley Miller and Ash Sharp piled on the offensive pressure. Another inaccurate term could have seen a huge margin from the premiership contenders – who have now won 11 straight – but the side will surely be content with the 49-point victory as they continue to lead the way atop the tables.

Despite being down in contested ball and clearances in the first quarter, once the Dockers stepped up their game there was no stopping them as the work-rate lifted with a whopping 73 tackles to 46, as Bowers stole the show with 15 tackles to go with her 17 touches (15 kicks). Bowers was only beaten on the possessions count by Stanton, who led her side with 18 and five tackles, while Lucy Single showed some glimpses of what she is capable of with a great tag on Bowers, completing the match with seven tackles as Lauren Bella dominated the ruck contest. O’Sullivan was the lone multiple goalkicker with two from her 16 touches, whilst Miller also showcased her ball-magnet ways with 17 disposals and six tackles to her name. 

FREMANTLE | 0.0 | 1.5 | 4.7 | 7.13 (55)
GOLD COAST | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan 2, R. Roux, H. Miller, A. Sharp, E. Antonio, S.Verrier
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar

DC BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, J. Cuthbertson, G. O’Sullivan, H. Miller, R. Roux, J.Stewart
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, L. Bella, L. Single, K. Surman, K. Howarth

Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Hot Pies down shaky Roos in ladder-leading encounter

It was a showstopper waiting to happen, with a fired up North Melbourne side looking to right the wrongs of their Round 3 loss to Melbourne and put another win on the board, coming in hot favourites against an improved Collingwood outfit. But it seemed that once again, the Kangaroos could not compete with a hardened side bursting through the midfield. The side was unable to contain the hot Pies who sit undefeated on four from four, with a low-scoring contest seeing the Roos rendered goalless for the first time, going down 4-4 (28) to 0.8 (8).

An impressive opening term well and truly set the tone for the match, as the Magpies piled on the pressure around the ground to negate any easy forward 50 forays from the Roos. With so many excellent targets within the Kangaroos’ grasps, an Aishling Sheridan goal was exactly what the Magpies needed to spur the side into action as the contest across the field continued to grow, pressurising the midfield as Chloe Molloy looked the goods with an early major to her name. Whilst the Roos forced a tighter contest in the second quarter, it seemingly was already too little, too late as the Magpies had all the momentum and ran with it. Three minors the way of the Roos did little to worry the Pies as Jordan Membrey kicked truly at the other end, with Bri DaveyJaimee Lambert and Molloy running rampant and well and truly outclassing the Kangaroos.

Inaccuracy and a lack of opportunity were the themes of the second half as neither side was really able to exit the tight contest, with North keeping Collingwood to just 1.2 in the second half after a stellar start but also failing to find the big sticks with five more behinds on the board well and truly putting the nail in their own coffin. Despite huge efforts from Jasmine GarnerKait Ashmore and Jenna Bruton, it was not enough as Molloy sealed the deal with a final goal in the last to propel the Magpies up the ladder with the 20-point victory.

For the Magpies, Davey and Lambert led all-comers, with 31 and 27 disposals respectively, whilst Davey racked up six marks and Lambert piled on the pressure with six tackles. Britt Bonnici and Steph Chiocci rang true with 21 and 20 touches, while Molloy’s goal sense saw her finish with two from her 12 touches, four marks and three tackles. Stacey Livingstone was a moving barricade down back with eight marks and seven rebounds. For the flailing Roos, Garner’s 19 disposals led the pack while Bruton (18 and five tackles), Ashmore (17 and six, one behind) and Emma Kearney (15 and five, one behind) also plied their trade.

NORTH MELBOURNE | 0.0 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 0.8 (8)
COLLINGWOOD | 2.2 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:
North Melbourne: 
Nil
Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Sheridan, J. Membrey

DC BEST:
North Melbourne:
J. Garner, K. Ashmore, A. Riddell, J. Bruton
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, S. Livingstone, C. Molloy

Pies shock Blues on AFLW’s return

THE long awaited return of AFL Women’s for season 2021 arrived on Thursday night, with traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood shaping up at Ikon Park for a huge start to season five. A tribute to Jacinda Barclay opened the match with a moment of silence, before football returned at full throttle with Victorian fans treated to their first live match since mid-2020. While a slow start from both sides kept a full house of fans on the edge of their seats, a stagnant Blues outfit and a huge four-goal second term from the Magpies saw the tides quickly turn as fast-paced footy began, with the Pies running out six-point winners 5.3 (33) to 4.3 (27) to open the season with a bang.

While the match may not have started with the bang many fans were expecting from the two sides, it was a tight battle early with neither side willing to give through the midfield and very little going the way of the scoreboard. Both backlines worked in overdrive limiting movement, with the first score of the game – a behind – going the way of Jaimee Lambert, rendered inaccurate by the continuous efforts of the likes of Mua Laloifi and Charlotte Wilson, who tracked the ball well. But much the same was happening at the other end, with the Blues missing targets and Ruby Schleicher proving a ball magnet and rebounded with ease.

But things quickly switched into gear for the Magpies in the second, with Chloe Molloy moved forward and turned on the foot candy with two goals from right out in front. It saw the Pies pile on the pressure as the Blues remained scoreless in the first half for the first time since 2019. Where the Blues’ defence had held strong in the first, they scrambled in the second term with no answers for the combination of Molloy and Bri Davey out the front, while Aliesha Newman turned on the speed – later reported for a dangerous tackle – and Lambert continued to fire on all cylinders as the Pies went four goals up, looking dangerous as the Blues wasted opportunities. Maddy Prespakis was unafraid of the contest, throwing herself at the footy and at former Blue Davey, while all eyes were on the matchup between Stacey Livingstone and Tayla Harris as the game hit the midway point, with the duo matching in intensity and hunt for the footy.

A talking to from Carlton coach Daniel Harford seemed to do the trick for the Blues, coming out with a renewed sense of intensity and pressure after half-time, hitting back with three straight goals. Nicola StevensDarcy Vescio and Jess Hosking all put majors on the board – with the third coming from a pinpoint precise Prespakis – as a scoring end shaped up. While the Baggers showed a lot more fight, the Pies retained the lead with an excellent running goal from Aishling Sheridan, courtesy of Lambert, seeing the Magpies head into the final change with an 11-point advantage.

After a busy second and third quarter, scoring dried up in the last with neither side able to really break through the fierce defensive buffers down back. While the Pies missed a couple of early chances to extend their lead, Carlton had their own fair share of opportunities too with the footy locked inside their forward 50 for much of the last five minutes. While the last score of the match was a goal to Kerryn Harrington after the siren, it was a sombre celebration as the Magpies started off their 2021 campaign with the solid 33-27 victory and plenty of confidence.

On the stats sheet, Britt Bonnici led all comers with 22 disposals, five marks and four tackles, while Lambert (18 touches, five tackles) and Prespakis (18 and three) were not far behind. Abbie McKay proved she has more in her wheelhouse leading the tackle count with seven to go with her 10 touches, while two players from each side racked up six tackles apiece in the physical battle.

Both teams have just over a week to prepare for their next respective matches, with the Blues heading to VU Whitten Oval next Friday night to take on the Western Bulldogs, while the Pies host the Gold Coast Suns in their first home match of the season next Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park.

CARLTON | 0.0 | 0.0 | 3.1 | 4.3 (27)
COLLINGWOOD | 0.1 | 4.2 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS
Carlton: Stevens, Vescio, Hosking, Harrington.
Collingwood: Molloy 2, Sheridan 2, Davey.

ADC BEST
Carlton: Prespakis, Laloifi, Wilson, Egan, Hosking
Collingwood: Bonnici, Lambert, Davey, Molloy, Schleicher

2021 AFLW Preview: Carlton Blues

CARLTON proved its rise from wooden spooner to grand finalist was no flash in the pan, establishing itself as one of the competition’s powerhouses with another strong campaign in 2020. This year, the Blues are primed for another premiership tilt under much-loved coach Daniel Harford, starting with a season-opening blockbuster against traditional rival, Collingwood at Princes Park.

2020 RECAP

2020 ended as a ‘what if’ season for each preliminary finalist, but the Blues looked like a side daring to dream after their surprise grand final appearance the year before. Having finished second in Conference B at 5-1, Carlton fended off a pesky Brisbane outfit in the first week of finals to cap a five-game win streak at the ideal time.

A first-ever loss to fierce rival, Collingwood in Round 2 came as a shock but only seemed to click the Blues into gear thereafter as they answered every challenge with aplomb. Harford’s Blues became known for their fighting spirit, stringent yet dynamic structures, and the ability to take over games when it mattered.

Madison Prespakis was among those to enjoy stellar individual seasons, taking out the AFLW best and fairest award in just her second campaign. Spearhead Tayla Harris and co-captain Kerryn Harrington earned All Australian honours alongside the star midfielder, showcasing Carlton’s strength through the spine and just why the Blues remain bonafide premiership contenders.

NEW FACES

The acquisition of Elise O’Dea, one of the competition’s premier midfielders, headlined a bumper trade and draft period for the Blues. Their squad depth, particularly through midfield is among the best in the league and O’Dea will work to take a load off Prepakis in the engine room.

Another former Demon in Maddy Guerin looks to be past her injury troubles having come through a preseason hitout unscathed, with her pace something the Blues valued before she landed at Princes Park. Charlotte Hammans, formerly of the Gold Coast was the third in-league signing, again bringing some dash and dare on the outer and up forward. Those kind of traits were clearly ones the Blues targeted heavily at the trade and draft tables.

Carlton welcomed a trio of Victorian guns through the draft too, adding to the already fearsome dynamism and versatility of its midfield group. Mimi Hill is already one of the coach’s favourites credit to her work ethic and adaptability, making her a chance to feature in the senior side early on. Daisy Walker has also taken well to senior level and fellow Sandringham Dragons graduate Winnie Laing is an exciting runner who, like Hill, captained her NAB League team.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Carlton players and staff alike have lauded the condition Abbie McKay has returned in for season 2021, with the league’s maiden father-daughter selection set to take on some added responsibility in her third senior campaign. Expect to see even more of her through the Blues’ star-studded midfield; with her work-rate, conditioning, and hardness at the ball all traits which bode well for dominance at the contest.

Darcy Vescio is an established name but could take the competition by storm as she spends more time in the engine room, and livewire Georgia Gee is another who is looking to do the same. Inaugural Blue Jess Hosking will take on a new role as well having trained with the forwards during preseason.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Blues have become renowned for their ability to adjust to different gameplans under Harford, who has such a dynamic squad at his disposal. The versatility of Carlton’s crop makes it a scary proposition for all opposition coaches and players, able to flick a switch on gameday and play to a range of styles. In the midfield mix alone, the ball winning prowess of Prespakis, O’Dea, and Grace Egan will be complimented with the x-factor of Vescio and Gee, with a heap of moving parts able to impact at the coalface. While other teams excel in one style, the Blues can triumph in a range of ways and that is exactly why they can win it.

QUESTION MARK

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? The Blues are so strong through midfield and have a raft of options who can move through there when needed, but it raises the potential problem of overchoice. While versatility and adaptability are key strengths of this Carlton side, it could be a factor which works in the opposite way at the selection table or in crunch moments. Premiership teams are typically steady and know the exact structure which yields a winning formula, so does that leave Carlton with too many makeups? We may find out in 2021, especially with some of the added depth.

FINAL WORD

Carlton is arguably one of the top three premiership contenders in 2021 and will fancy itself to book in another finals appearance, with a postseason win the marker of a successful campaign. Given the lofty standards set, the Blues will hope to go even better than that mark and gun for the ultimate prize, something well within their reach.

Featured Image: Madison Prespakis breaks with ball in hand | Credit: Michael Klein

Strahan takes inspiration from ‘The Bont’

A TALENTED state representative in basketball, Bendigo Pioneers’ Annabel Strahan has a goal of following in the footsteps of the footballer she loves to watch the most – Marcus Bontempelli. Despite being a Blues’ fan, Strahan said she can draw similarities in their journeys and hopes that she can emulate his efforts in the AFL Women’s.

“He also played a bit of basketball when he was younger and I think I see that through similarities in the way that he plays the way that I’ve transitioned too,” Strahan said. “I love how he’s one of the best users of the ball on both sides and I think that makes him really unpredictable and really versatile wherever he plays. “I hope to do that as I get more into my footy journey.”

“In terms of the girls, I think as a local person to use would be Kerryn Harrington who played for Spirit when I played (basketball) at Bendigo,” she said. “I think being able to watch her transition from basketball to footy and how she’s just been so good in both of those has been a good inspiration and good idol to use to see that you can transition and play both sports.”

As Strahan eluded to, she has had quite the journey, beginning in basketball until a couple of years ago where she took the chance on playing footy with the Pioneers.

“I moved to Bendigo two years ago which is when my footy journey started,” Strahan said. “I had been playing basketball. “Did that through the Vic Country program, played up for Bendigo. “Then I wasn’t kind of enjoying things so I wanted to try out footy and see if I would enjoy it and I absolutely loved it. “Loved it from the moment I played local footy. “Then I got invited to Pios the year after and just kind of kept going I guess.”

The attraction to football came from the increased team environment, with 18 players on the field compared to five on the basketball court. Similarly, Strahan said football was good at gradually bringing you into the system and getting the fundamentals right without demanding too much once you got to the elite junior level.

“I think the thing with basketball and the whole program where it was really intense really early on,” she said. “I felt like it was really professional from a young age and it kind of felt like I had nothing left to give for it and wasn’t really enjoying how it wasn’t really a team sport anymore and more focused on sole players. “But footy I found is much more focused on that team mentality and you’ve got to use everyone on the team, there’s not just one star team. “I like how it’s more valuing for each player on the team.”

Predominantly a midfielder in her short career, Strahan had a role change at the start of this year, moving to half-back where she thrived and said she would love to have a go at more positions around the field.

“I really enjoyed that and I think that I’d love to enjoy playing in more positions and obviously haven’t played enough to play most positions, but I think coming off the backline I really enjoyed that and I think being able to shift through multiple positions is really a good aspect for the game and for my versatility,” she said. “I think for the moment I’d say I’m enjoying the backline a lot but I’m open to being switched about wherever.”

Strahan said her clean hands and groundballs were among her best attributes on the footy field, crediting basketball with her skill. She also said she was looking to gain greater strength, adding 10kg since last season in a bid to become more of a “tackling threat”.

“I think I’ve transitioned really well and stands out in my game,” Strahan said. “With that I think my footwork which you spend so much time working on around packs, I’m really good at getting out of that. “I think the biggest attributes that I’m proud of are my decision making and my composure around the footy with the ball which I think comes from playing point guard and those decision making roles with basketball.

“I think that’s (strength) definitely something I want to improve on is just be stronger around the ball and a bit more of a tackling threat,” she said. “Also with my height, being more intercept marking, I’m more of a threat in the air by taking some good marks.”

While the Pioneers midfielder might have grown up playing basketball, her love to football has always been there, as a member of a “rabid” footy following family.

“Yeah my dad and my brother and that side of my family has grown up with rabid followers of footy, all Carlton supporters through and through,” Strahan said. “I used to go to the footy all the time when I was younger, and I still love it now. I think it was always something that I followed, but obviously since I’ve started playing I’ve got a bit more into following it. “It’s definitely been a big part of me growing up.”

Strahan’s favourite memory was winning a flag on her birthday last year with Golden Square which was all the more memorable having lost to their opponents the year before. In terms of her NAB League career, her debut game against Murray Bushrangers was one of her favourites and personal best games she played.

Unfortunately for the top-ager, her season came to an abrupt end just as she was hoping to get going, which made it tough for her to believe the AFL Women’s was still a possibility. She said the announcement the season had been postponed and eventually called off was not a shock, but still a disappointment.

“I think at that stage we were all kind of expecting it I guess,” she said. “Everything was being cancelled but it was still up in the air and we were like ‘hopefully we’ll be able to come back and play’ so that was still in the back of our minds, we’ve just got to keep going on and training. “As it got further and further along it was kind of inevitable that it was going to get cancelled but I think the main thing was just being upset because I hadn’t played much footy so I thought ‘god no, it’s only three games not enough for me to get through with that’ but I guess footy just shows that people are always watching and so I think the biggest thing is just staying focused on that.”

“There’s lots of things to distract you from it but the easiest thing for me was just talking to my other teammates and just focusing on that if it does come back how we will get ready for that.”

Strahan said during the off-season she had tried to continue bulking up on her strength and conditioning by bringing some gym equipment home from her local gym to help with her goals. As for her skills, she said her mum would often head down to the local oval with her, but conceded that it was probably not the standard of teammate she was used to.

“In terms of footy, things were a bit more difficult,” Strahan said. “I had to go down to the local oval with my mum who doesn’t know how to play footy very well so I was getting kicks that were going everywhere but it really worked on my conditioning in a way that I hadn’t done before so that was quite an experience for me. “It’s just been like going down with my family and doing running on your own which is a bit harder than with the team. Just trying to stay focused and driven.”

Strahan thanked all those who had helped her along the way from her coach at Golden Square to her strength and conditioning coach and all her friends and family who had been so supportive of her journey.

“I think looking at those people you realise how important they are along the journey and how you couldn’t have got there without them,” Strahan said. “I think that footy’s just great in giving you all those people to rely on, but also to help you and push you to be the best player you can be.”

Now Strahan is edging towards achieving her goal after receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation earlier in the month, something that she was a little surprised about considering her lack of on-field time.

“Yeah I think, not to sound like I’m not confident in myself, but only having not even finished my full season last season and I didn’t get to do the nationals, I just thought that I didn’t have enough of a resume for footy so to get that call-up was pretty crazy for me,” Strahan said. “I didn’t really think it was in my options but it just happened and things kept on happening which was pretty wicked.”

Now she knows exactly how far she wants to take her football with that chance of making the elite level in her sights.

“I think the whole thing for me is how much I’ve enjoyed footy and just looking ahead, you want to get drafted because you want to keep playing the sport that you absolutely love and that goes into you want to progress as a player and if I get to go into the AFLW, you get to play with the best players and you get to progress your footy that way and get to play with the best players there,” Strahan said. “So I think it would just be that building myself into the best player I can be and learning from all those star players who are in the AFLW.”

As for what it would mean to get drafted, Strahan said it would be “absolutely crazy”.

“I feel like every week in the past month has just been crazy and exploding for me,” Strahan said. “But I think it would just be very rewarding coming from basketball where things weren’t amazing, but footy I’ve just found has been so enjoyable and everyone has been so supportive, it’s just such a good environment.

“I think it would be really rewarding and also really exciting in terms of getting something to look forward to and really work hard on because the opportunity would just be amazing.”

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #15 – Kerryn Harrington

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look number 15 in our count, a reliable defender who earned a place in the highly competitive back six of the AFL Women’s All-Australian side.

#15 Kerryn Harrington

7 GAMES AVE: 13.7 disposals, 4.4 marks, 1.9 tackles, 2.6 rebounds

Reliable has always been a term Carlton has been able to coin for its steady full-back in Kerryn Harrington. The Blues have been able to rely on her for the past three seasons since the international junior basketballer and former Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) player opted to pursue her football career.

Initially signed as a rookie for the Blues at the end of the 2017 season, Harrington immediately had an impact when the 2018 season rolled around with her debut against Collingwood in Round 1. Since then she has been a difficult opponent for any forward, with the 173cm defender able to nullify her opposition forward and allow her teammates to go to work.

In 2020, Harrington was named co-captain of the Blues exemplifying her leadership within the team. The extra role did not faze her as she averaged a career-high 13.7 disposals and 4.4 marks this year, becoming an even greater threat in the air compared to past seasons.

Just last month, Harrington was rewarded for her efforts with her first All-Australian award and if anyone wondered whether she was among the best defenders in the competition, then this was further justification. While there were many memorable games for the defender, her best game was against St Kilda as she earned best on ground honours thanks to 21 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and five rebounds in a strong performance.

Given Harrington’s improvement from former basketballer to AFL Women’s star, the 28-year-old seems like a mainstay in the Blues back six for many years to come.

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Carlton

CARLTON earned an AFL Women’s finals berth for the second year running under Daniel Harford, completing the feat of notching another finals win in the process before the season was cut short. Lauded for their ability to adapt and execute a range of gameplans, the Blues achieved their winningest campaign to date en route to finishing second in Conference B at 5-1. With four All Australian members and three Rising Star nominees littered across a talent-stacked squad, the foundation club is coming into its own and produced some memorable moments to relive in our season review.

RECORD: 2nd (B), 5-1 (1-0 finals), 151.8%

RESULTS:

R1: defeated Richmond by 34 points
R2: lost to Collingwood by 15 points
R3: defeated Western Bulldogs by 21 points
R4:
defeated Adelaide by 8 points
R5:
defeated St Kilda by 21 points 
R6:
defeated Melbourne by 16 points
SF: defeated Brisbane by 29 points

The Blues returned a near-bullet proof record in 2020, dented solely by the old enemy, Collingwood two weeks into the campaign. Dealt a relatively tough draw on the back of its grand final appearance in 2019, Carlton made the ideal start in providing a baptism of fire for the incoming Richmond side. Fast-forward to Round 3 and the young Bulldogs were next to be ticked off the list, with an iconic road win over Adelaide in a grand final rematch arguably the crown on Carlton’s year. Melbourne became the third foundation team to fall victim to the Blues, with Brisbane following come finals time after being outsmarted and outlasted. A team with terrific heart, the Baggers overcame some tricky obstacles along the way.

SEASON HIGH: Redemption in the grand final rematch

An historic 2019 season decider did not go the way of the Blues as they fell 45 points short of Adelaide, but the first meeting between the two sides produced a much different result, and an instant classic. On the road once again, Carlton joined the Crows on a 2-1 record and came in as a slight underdog despite the home side’s crushing injury blows. Behind at half-time, the Blues mustered something special to sneak ahead at the final break, holding on via its rock-solid defence and a game-sealing Darcy Vescio goal. Magic.

SEASON LOW: Going down to the old enemy for the first time

A fortnight before the Blues claimed their first-ever win over Adelaide, they suffered their maiden loss in arguably the most important fixture – against old enemy, Collingwood. Having accounted for the Pies in their previous three meetings, the Blues simply had no answers for Collingwood’s swift transition play and sturdy defence – who could forget Stacey Livingstone‘s job on Tayla Harris? In a bizarre twist, the Magpies pulled off the win even without ace recruit, Bri Davey, who went down with an injury scare in Round 1 after switching allegiances in the off-season.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Madison Prespakis (21.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, 3 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 282 metres gained, 3 goals)

Last year’s Rising Star winner picked up right from where she left off, putting in a scintillating third term of the season opener to set up another outstanding season. The nuggety midfielder is Carlton’s prime mover, winning the ball at will despite heavy opposition attention and standing up in the clutch moments. A game changer among the game changers, and potential league MVP this year having already gained All Australian squad recognition.

Kerryn Harrington (13.7 disposals, 81% efficiency, 4.4 marks, 1.9 tackles, 2.6 rebound 50s)

The co-captain and leader of a solid defensive unit, Harrington’s outstanding reading of the play and sound use on the rebound was again a key feature in her side’s success across 2020. Her astonishing 13-mark effort against the Crows was crucial to the Blues holding on for the win on that day, and exemplary of how Harrington led the club for marks, intercept possessions, rebound 50s, and disposal efficiency in 2020.

Sarah Hosking (11.7 disposals, 70% efficiency, 2.6 marks, 3.1 tackles, 1.4 inside 50s, 2 goals)

Akin to the Energizer bunny in the way she can run all day and get to a wealth of contests, Hosking continued to prove she is all heart in 2020 with phenomenal attack on the ball and a fearless approach. A foundation member of the Blues’ squad alongside twin sister, Jess, the 24-year-old has become a leader in her actions on-field and is a much-loved figure around the club. Doesn’t miss a beat.

Katie Loynes (9.6 disposals, 1.9 marks, 4.6 tackles, 2.9 clearances, 2.7 inside 50s)

Pure numbers may not always stack up in terms of conveying a players’ impact, and Loynes is a competitor whose value is better felt in the immesuarables. A fierce leader who gives it her all each week, the 34-year-old co-captain led her club for tackles in 2020, while also featuring highly in the clearance and contested ball stakes on the back of her tireless work as an inside midfielder. Leading from the front, Loynes was a key part of Carlton’s tough midfield group.

Tayla Harris (10.4 disposals, 3.7 marks, 2.4 tackles, 2.6 inside 50s, 4.4 score involvements, 8 goals)

The spearhead of Carlton’s attack, Harris retuned another solid year from centre half-forward as one of four Blues to earn All Australian squad recognition. In addition to finishing as her side’s equal leading goalkicker, the athletic and aggressive 179cm forward also led the club for score involvements overall. Her work in bringing the ball to ground when unable to mark brought others into the game, and Harris looked as if she had a point to prove post Livingstone’s “useless” jibe.

THE RISING STARS:

Rd 1 – Lucy McEvoy (13 disposals, 1.9 marks, 4.1 tackles, 2.1 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 3 goals)
Rd 4 – Grace Egan (14.3 disposals, 2 marks, 4.6 tackles, 2.9 clearances, 1.1 inside 50s, 2 goals)
Rd 5 – Charlotte Wilson (10.8 disposals, 6 intercept possessions, 4.5 marks, 1.7 tackles, 2 rebound 50s)

Arguably the most fearsome aspect of Carlton’s squad this season was the performance of their Under-21 talents, with McEvoy, Egan, and Wilson joining Prespakis as young guns in the elite category. McEvoy’s debut was one to savour, and the youngster continued to show flashes of her best throughout a season where she seemed unfazed by the step-up in competition. ‘Greg’ Egan also became an instant hit, thrown into the engine room and quickly becoming an asset with her physicality and ability to find the ball. Last, but not least is Wilson, who improved out of sight this season, particularly after her Round 4 return to the side. A strong key defender who marks confidently, Wilson was often the Blues’ last line of defence and made it a hat-trick of Rising Star nominees in Round 5.

THE CROSS-CODER:

Chloe Dalton (14 disposals, 1.6 marks, 3.3 tackles, 2.4 clearances, 1 rebound 50, 2.7 inside 50s)

After impressing in her debut season last year with her ability to find the goals, Dalton made another significant step with her run-and-carry from midfield in 2020. The former Rugby Sevens player has transitioned seamlessly into life at Princes Park, improving each week and having a real impact on games. While she is still somewhat raw, Dalton’s rate of development has been exceptional thus far.

THE GOALSNEAK:

Georgia Gee (10.1 disposals, 1.1 marks, 3.6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3.1 score involvements, 8 goals)

Another Under-21 prospect who continues to excel at the highest level, Gee came up clutch for Carlton a number of times in 2020 – most notably in its semi final win against Brisbane where she booted three second half majors. That haul helped the 20-year-old finish equal with Harris as the Blues’ leading goalkicker, and the energy Gee brought to the side just when they needed it helped her earn All Australian squad honours.

VERDICT:

There is a lot to like about this Carlton side going forward, with its experienced foundation members aiding the development of some of the league’s most exciting young talents. The three-pronged tall attack up forward was exceptional, with the inside midfield grunt protecting a more-than-capable defensive unit. The flexibility of the side will hold it in good stead, with more finals victories surely again the goal going forward.

All Gee for Carlton in another finals triumph

CARLTON won through to a would-be AFL Women’s preliminary final after toughing out a 29-point win against Brisbane on Sunday afternoon, but will have to settle for a second-consecutive top four berth on the back of its 6.8 (44) to 2.3 (15) triumph. Renowned for their ability to adjust gameplans mid-match, the Blues eventually got their running game going in the face of Brisbane’s early pressure to coast home on the turf of their Princes Park fortress.

The hosts did not have it all their own way throughout the contest, as the Lions dominated much of the early proceedings on the back of some fierce tackling and a sound set-up behind the ball. The footy was red hot, meaning Carlton could only turn the ball back over from its defensive half, while Brisbane was seldom afforded a straightforward avenue to goal. Despite the Lions’ control of the territory, they were unable to translate it to scoreboard pressure, with Jess Wuetschner’s snap coming only after her side boasted nine of the first 10 inside 50 entries. But her six-pointer was cancelled out at the other end by ex-Lion Tayla Harris, who was also attacking aerial balls with intent and gave the Blues a target to kick to on the rebound. Carlton’s overuse made it difficult to fully utilise her though, even if the Blues were hanging in the contest.

With the wind favouring one end of the ground, the second term saw a complete role-reversal as Carlton shifted the tide in its favour – only, the Blues were also able to keep the Lions scoreless in snatching a one-goal lead at the main break. Harris’ ability to bring the ball to ground worked wonders for the Blues’ smalls, as they got to work in mopping up the spillages to prove more effective inside forward 50. Darcy Vescio’s early goal to edge the Blues ahead looked to be a catalyst for her side, but the Lions’ defence held up well. Brisbane was largely a non-threat going the other way though, with the majority of its numbers occupying the defensive half in what seemed to be a damage-limitation tactic while Carlton owned the scoring end.

A bruising first half looked to have produced casualties for either side, but defenders Vaomua Laloifi (Carlton) and Shannon Campbell (Brisbane) both took the field in the third term after coming off worse for wear in heavy collisions. Key moments came early in the third stanza with the first goal key in deciding which way the momentum would shift. A 50-metre penalty helped Carlton dissipate the wind disadvantage, and it should have yielded the Blues a goal as Maddy Prespakis’ snap sailed through the big sticks – only to be wrongly adjudged as being touched off the boot. But it mattered little after another 50-metre penalty gifted Georgia Gee her first major after the running machine laid a big tackle on Campbell just outside of the arc. Gee was in the action again as the Blues began to take over on the outside with pace, and a long Harris bomb saw Gee covert a second major over the back to put the Blues three goals to the good. The frustrated Lions looked out of the hunt, only to be buoyed in the final minute as Jesse Wardlaw was infringed despite being outnumbered three-to-one, allowing the youngster to cut the margin to 15 points heading into the final break.

After some tense tussling in the early goings-on, Gee’s third goal from another snare close to goal sealed the deal with over eight minutes left on the clock. That left the ultra-impressive Lucy McEvoy to put the cherry on top of the Blues’ sweet win, snapping home in the final minute as Carlton again kept the Lions scoreless for the entire term. The toll continued to tell on the players with Prespakis recovering from an ankle knock, while Sophie Conway’s troublesome shoulder gave her some grief amid the gruelling contest. It would have mattered little as the Lions were set to bow out, but Prespakis’ recovery would have been a sticking point should the Blues’ meeting with North Melbourne have been scheduled to go ahead. Harris’ impending report could also have spawned a talking point, but the key forward’s sling tackle on Emily Bates looked to have been safe enough.

While a typically even team performance gave Carlton the edge, individuals took hold of certain periods to help the Blues gain the ascendancy. Arguably the most important of the lot was Gee’s three-goal contribution, with the pacy forward’s electric second half at the forefront of Carlton’s greater fortunes. Prespakis was at her usual best, covering the ground well for a game-high 18 disposals, while Grace Egan capped off a memorable debut season with 15 touches. The sweeping defensive trio of Kerryn Harrington (16 disposals, three marks), Jess Hosking (15 disposals, seven marks), and Laloifi (10 disposals, two marks) was outstanding, with the leading options of Harris (eight disposals, one goal), Vescio (12 disposals, one goal), and Nicola Stevens (six disposals) all playing roles which exceeded their statlines.

In a losing effort, it was most of Brisbane’s ‘foundation eight’ which stood up to keep their side in with a fighting chance. Kate Lutkins headed the effort in defence with 16 disposals, three marks, and three tackles, while the engine room workers in Ally Anderson (17 disposals, four marks), Bates (15 disposals, five tackles), Conway (13 disposals, four marks, five tackles) and Catherine Svarc (12 disposals) all gave it everything. Wuetschner (11 disposals, one goal) and ex-Blue Lauren Arnell (10 disposals, four tackles) both put in shifts from half forward with admirable running both ways, unfortunately to no avail.

CARLTON 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.6 | 6.8 (44)
BRISBANE 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:

Carlton: G. Gee 3, T. Harris, D. Vescio, L. McEvoy.
Brisbane: J. Wuetschner, J. Wardlaw.

ADC BEST:

Carlton: K. Harrington, M. Prespakis, G. Egan, G. Gee, T. Harris, J. Hosking
Brisbane: K. Lutkins, E. Bates, A. Anderson, S. Conway, C. Svarc, E. Zielke

Blues and Lions to draw from experience in AFL Women’s semi-final

CARLTON is in a great position to follow up from a fantastic win over Melbourne last week to well and truly show Brisbane who’s boss in the standalone AFL Women’s semi final on Sunday. Taking on the Lions for the first time in 2020, the Blues are sure to make the most of their home ground advantage – despite not having any spectators at the venue – and put their best foot forward for a chance at a fifth straight win. No strangers to finals footy with both teams having played in grand finals, this match could go either way.

Carlton v. Brisbane
Sunday, 22 March, 1.10pm AEDT
IKON Park

Two sides that have plenty of firepower, this matchup between Carlton and Brisbane will be a real test for both teams with young talent taking centre stage this season backed up by veterans of the game. The likes of Kerryn Harrington and Tayla Harris have helped to guide the Blues in 2020, letting young guns Maddy Prespakis, Lucy McEvoy and Grace Egan do what they do best around the footy with all three excelling under the big lights. Prespakis is among the best of the best across the competition, averaging 21.8 touches in her second year while Egan and McEvoy have impressed off the footy, with 5.3 and 4.3 tackles per match in their respective inaugural seasons. Down back with Harrington is first year Vaomua Laloifi who has been stellar off the half back with her tenacity and confidence proven in her rebounding efforts – averaging 2.5 to Harrington’s 2.7 – while Nat Plane had a fantastic game last week so will hope to build on some of that momentum.

Brisbane has had a bit of a topsy-turvy season, with a strong start to the season failing them in recent weeks and two tough losses on the trot rounding out their home and away season. But while they may not have gotten the wins in the past few rounds, they have retained their intensity in and around the footy and will do what they can to make it hard for Carlton to clear the footy and push forward. Emily Bates and Alexandra Anderson have been consistent as ever collecting plenty of the footy while Catherine Svarc has been influential off the half back, averaging 9.8 contested possessions and 6.2 intercepts, while fellow backliner Kate Lutkins leads the rebound tally with 3.0 and 4.7 marks. Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw continues to lead the team’s goal count with eight despite only finding the behind post last round while Jessy Keeffe could be challenged in the ruck, averaging 17.0 hitouts to Carlton ruck, Breann Moody‘s 16.8.