Blues hold out Sydney in closely fought AFLW affair
Carlton notched their third win of the season in thrilling fashion, outlasting a daring Sydney to close out Friday’s AFLW double-header at Ikon Park with a five-point victory.
The win came despite a career-best four-goal haul from Swan Rebecca Privitelli.
Carlton took a two-goal lead into half-time but back-to-back goals from Sydney’s Bella Smith and Privitelli levelled the scores.
A slew of minor scores gave the Blues a slim three-point lead at the last change, arguably including some attempts that should have been converted.
Each team registered one fourth-quarter goal and in the end, Carlton prevailed 6.8 (44) to 6.3 (39).
Carlton’s Phoebe McWilliams competes for possession.Credit: Getty Images
The Blues needed an independent review of their program in the off-season and the Swans failed to win a game in their first season last year, but both fought gallantly.
Sydney switched up their game style, which worked in patches and caused them problems in others. They tried to open the game up and capitalise on uncontested marking. The Swans were plus 46 in uncontested possessions.
When this worked, they moved the ball with composure and were aided by their accuracy inside their attacking arc. When it didn’t, Carlton’s pressure allowed them to regain possession.
The Swans’ defence stood tall and often won the one-on-one contests, however the Blues’ high press resulted in the ball getting trapped in Carlton’s attacking half after it entered it. The Blues won inside 50s 38-27.
Carlton’s new coach Mathew Buck would be pleased with the cohesion from his side, a vast improvement on recent seasons, and the impact of the younger players, including 19 year olds Mia Austin, who had two goals in the opening half, and Keeley Sherar.
The game featured an interesting match-up between two All-Australian ruck contenders. Sydney’s Ally Morphett finished with 27 hitouts, six clearances and 25 touches, and Carlton’s Breann Moody, who had five contested marks, 16 disposals and 11 hitouts.
Laura Gardiner was also influential for Sydney, with a game-high 33 disposals, a goal, nine tackles and seven clearances. Carlton’s Abby McKay (25 touches) continues to improve her craft, along with Mimi Hill (19 disposals, one goal).
Dockers survive Richmond surge, into AFLW top eight
Fremantle are challenging for a spot in the eight as the season hits its midway mark after surviving a Richmond fightback to claim a seven-point win at Ikon Park on Friday.
The Dockers did their damage early with three unanswered goals to lay the foundations for victory.Richmond’s first goal didn’t come until the 18-minute mark of the second quarter, thanks to Beth Lynch.
The Dockers took a 21-point lead into the main break before the Tigers found their groove in the third quarter. Two goals in quick succession from Tigers skipper Katie Brennan and teammate Courtney Jones reduced the gap to 15-points by three-quarter-time.
However, the gap couldn’t be bridged as the Dockers held firm.
Hot contest: Richmond’s Molly Eastman takes possession of the ball against the Dockers.Credit: Getty Images
Fremantle ruck star Mim Strom she was proud her side held on, knowing its opposition had come back to claim wins in their previous two games against GWS and Carlton.
“They’re a great side and a good contested side, so we knew they were going to come hard but we pride ourselves on our contest and I think we really stepped it up today,” said Strom, who finished with 23 hitouts.
She added it was important to get the win given how disappointed they were with last weekend’s 20-point loss to second-season Essendon at Windy Hill. A sentiment shared by Dockers coach Lisa Webb.
“We showed a lot of fight out there today, so I’m really proud of them,” Webb said. “Four points is really important, but just to find the grit that they showed, that resilience, especially when they [Richmond] came back.”
More impressive was the fact Fremantle were missing stars Kiara Bowers and Ebony Antonio, the latter a late out and replaced by fan favourite Roxy Roux.
For the first half of the game, Fremantle were able to find and create space, were more efficient inside 50 and applied enough forward pressure to get the better of the Tigers. In contrast, Richmond were rushed and frantic with the footy, which led to clumsy mistakes.
Richmond coach Ryan Ferguson was frustrated with the result, his side letting the game slip in the opening quarter.
“I don’t think we’re working nearly hard enough, we were unpredictable to each other, we had a lack of composure. In hindsight, that probably reflects your preparation. The comp is too good to think you can just roll out here and get to quarter-time and be in the game if you’re not willing to do the work,” Ferguson said.
“And then the following three quarters played out what we expected, really tough, hardcore, contested battle.”
Demons defeat Geelong for 14 straight wins
Melbourne have stormed home with a 49-point win over Geelong to kick off their AFLW rivalry and keep their 14-game winning streak alive.
Losing star forward Tayla Harris to a hamstring injury proved no obstacle in the Demons’ maiden clash with the Cats, with the visitors taking out a 11.8 (74) to 4.1 (25) victory at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday as former skipper Daisy Pearce watched on.
Captain Kate Hore led on the scoreboard with a haul of four majors while vice-captain Tyla Hanks (20 disposals, three clearances) and Olivia Purcell (19, eight) worked overtime in the midfield.
Pressure point: Melbourne’s Sinead Goldrick is tackled by her Geelong opponent. Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images
Paxy Paxman (two goals), Eden Zanker (two), Maddi Gay (one) and Lily Mithen (one) were also among Melbourne’s six goalkickers.
But it was Cats star Nina Morrison who took control of the midfield, snatching a major and racking a game-high 30 disposals and eight clearances, along with Amy McDonald (26, seven).
The hosts started strongly in typical Geelong fashion, registering six inside 50s to Melbourne’s one and six forward-half intercepts to none in the opening minutes of the match.
Prolific goalkicker Chloe Scheer threatened to open the account for the Cats with a running open goal but instead gave away a free kick for a push in the back.
Veteran Demon Paxman grabbed the first six points after being awarded a free kick for being held by defender Georgie Rankin, before Hore backed it up with a centre-bounce goal.
The Cats found a response in Irishwoman Aishling Moloney (three goals) to reduce the margin to seven points just before quarter time.
Hore took centre stage in the second term, kicking two majors to put the Demons ahead by 22 points.
It was Moloney’s turn to star in the third quarter, adding two goals to her haul in the span of five minutes to keep the Cats in the contest while captain Meghan McDonald (seven intercept possessions) and Claudia Gunjaca (eight) stood up in defence.
Melbourne kicked four unanswered goals in the closing term to seal the win, with Hore making herself the league’s leading goalkicker with 14 goals to her name.
Heading into the second half of the season with five wins on the trot, Melbourne’s undefeated status will come under threat when they meet three-time premiership side Adelaide next weekend.
Meanwhile, Geelong (3-2) and midfielder Georgie Prespakis make the trip to Warrnambool to meet with Essendon and sister Maddy for round six.