|Venue:||Blacktown International Sports Park, Sydney, NSW.|
|Date:||Sunday 28th March, 2021 (4.10pm)|
|Result:||Won by 1 point.|
|Goalkickers:||D. Vescio 2.0, B. Walker 1.1, L. Brazzale 1.0, N. Stevens 0.3, K. Loynes 0.2, E. O'Dea 0.1, Rushed 0.1.|
|Umpires:||Matthew Baigent, Mitchell Harris, Giles Lewis.|
Game ReviewBlues gun wraps up goalkicking title in Blacktown nail-biter. - By Marni Olsson-Young, Carlton Media.
Dynamic forward Darcy Vescio created history as Carlton finished the NAB AFL Women's season by holding off a determined Greater Western Sydney second-half comeback to record a narrow one-point victory at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday. Vescio became the first AFLW player to boot more than 14 goals in a single season and clinched her second goalkicking title in the process with 16 as the Blues ran out thrilling 4.8 (32) to 4.7 (31) winners in an entertaining contest in Sydney's west. While Vescio could manage only two majors on Sunday in an enthralling one-on-one battle with Giants stopper Pepa Randall, the veteran forward saved the day twice during the dying stages with telling marks on the last line of defence as the Giants staged an inspired comeback.
Quarter 1: It was an energetic start at Blacktown International Sportspark, as both the Blues and the Giants sought to close season 2021 on a positive note. It was the Giants who took the home ground advantage an channelled it towards an early first goal before the inside 50s went the Blues' way. After five minutes of arm-wrestling, Carlton would get its payback off the boot of Darcy Vescio. Heading into the clash tied among the league's best on 14 goals for the season, Vescio pipped the competition with a classy major to seal the 2021 AFLW Leading Goal-Kicker title and put the Blues' nose a point in front at the first break.
Quarter 2:Carlton quickly settled into the game in the opening minutes of the second term, feeling at home in enemy territory. Speedy Blue Brooke Walker wasted no time extending the lead, kicking a silky goal from just inside the Blues' forward half for their second of the afternoon. Keen eyes and clever kicking from Elise O'Dea then placed the Sherrin firmly in the hands of Lauren Brazzale whose confident kicking got the Blues their third. A bone-crunching chase down tackle from skipper Katie Loynes threatened Carlton's forth consecutive goal, but a swing to the left kept the half time lead at 13 with the Giants' one goal for the quarter. It looked like Vescio and Maddy Prespakis (27 disposals) were going to be the matchwinners when the Blues led by 13 points at half-time, but the Giants also wanted to finish the season on a high and fought hard during a spirited second half.
Quarter 3: Carlton faced a reinvigorated GWS outfit in the opening minutes of the second half, the home team notably turning up the pressure in the third term. The Giants took their chances on goal, but wayward kicking left the door open for the Blues to notch another major off the boot of Darcy Vescio. After another five minutes marked by strong tackling and defensive pressure, GWS was able to sneak one through for its third goal of the day to narrow the lead to just 11 points. A couple of minor scores left the three-quarter time margin at just nine points.
Quarter 4: It was certainly a nerve-racking opening to the final term of Sunday's clash, with the ball spending the lion's share of the opening five minutes in the Giants' forward 50. Fortunately for Carlton, wayward kicking from GWS retained its Navy Blue lead until the eighth minute of the term. A chaos ball lead the Giants to their fourth goal for the after and cut the margin to just a point. The Blues would have to hold their nerve as the Giants drove repeated entries into the forward line, while Darcy Vescio's two goal-saving marks helped the team escape with a one-point win.
Moment of the match: A perfect finish to an impressive season: Darcy Vescio will leave Blacktown International Sportspark as the 2021 AFLW Leading Goal-Kicker. With the match all tied up in the opening half and a Giants goal threatening a first half lead, a familiar set of hands marked the ball inside 50 and Darcy Vescio kicked away from the pack to notch 15 goals. It wouldn't be her last of the match either, with her two goals for the day seeing her finish 2021 with an AFLW of record 16 goals.
Who's that? It's veteran Carlton forward Darcy Vescio, of course, who seems to be getting better with age based on her efforts this year. Vescio booted 16 goals for the campaign, becoming the first AFLW player to kick more than 14 majors in a season and the only two-time winner of the AFLW goalkicking award. But the 27-year-old is more than just a one-trick pony. Vescio showed her versatility and game awareness against the Giants by dropping back to defence during the closing stages to take a pair of match-saving marks in the defensive goalsquare.
Five minutes of madness It was edge of the seats stuff during the closing stages of this gripping contest as the Giants threatened to produce the miracle comeback. The hosts had all the play and the ball was situated inside their 50m arc for much of the final quarter, but there was no way through for the gallant Giants. Evergreen veteran Cora Staunton and ball magnet Alyce Parker had a chance to win it late, while Rebecca Privitelli fluffed her lines with a gilt-edged opportunity.
Two Blues stalwarts say goodbye It was an emotional end for many of Carlton's players at the final siren as the Blues said farewell to a pair of club greats. Tears were flowing freely as Katie Loynes and Alison Downie were chaired off after the match to end a pair of excellent careers. The duo have given their heart and soul to the Blues over the last five seasons and will be thrilled they got to go out as winners.
Three things from the game:
1. Carlton's forward line synergy has grown in leaps and bounds over season 2021. The return of Brooke Walker and impressive offensive work from Lauren Brazzale meant there were no shortage of forward entries on Sunday afternoon. Combine that with Vescio's goal-kicking ascendence and you have a strong forward line mix.
2. With finals off the table, there was pride to play for in Sydney on Sunday night. The Blues proved themselves to be a team of intensity, no matter where they are. With a positive finish to their 2021 campaign, the Blues will take fresh determination into the year ahead.
3. The Blues might be saying goodbye to two of their inaugural Game Changers with co-captain Katie Loynes and Alison Downie chaired off by their teammates following the siren. True to their style Loynes and Downie left nothing out on the field, with both playing an important role in the win and able to leave the field with their heads held high celebrating a win with the Blues for what might be the last time.
Best; D. Vescio, M. Prespakis, A. McKay, L. Brazzale, K. Loynes, N. Plane, K. Harrington, J. Hosking.
|B:||8 Vaomua Laloifi||23 Daisy Walker||12 Lauren Brazzale|
|HB:||6 Gabriella Pound||30 Alison Downie||9 Kerryn Harrington (c)|
|C:||2 Katie Loynes (c)|
|HF:||19 Georgia Gee||7 Tayla Harris||3 Darcy Vescio|
|F:||11 Jess Hosking||21 Nicola Stevens||46 Elise O'Dea|
|Ruck:||16 Breann Moody||4 Madison Prespakis||13 Lucy McEvoy|
|Interchange:||1 Grace Egan||5 Abbie McKay||20 Charlotte Wilson|
|32 Natalie Plane||8 Brooke Walker|
|Emg:||Jessica Edwards||17 Charlotte Hammans|
In: Charlotte Wilson
Out: Charlotte Hammans (omitted)
MilestonesLast Game: Alison Downie, Katie Loynes
AFLW Leading Goalkicker: Darcy Vescio wrapped up this award after she kicked the first of her two goals.
AFLW Coaches Votes8 - Alyce Parker (GWS)
6 - Cora Staunton (GWS)
5 - Rebecca Beeson (GWS)
4 - Darcy Vescio (CARL)
3 - Kerryn Harrington (CARL)
2 - Madison Prespakis (CARL)
2 - Tanya Hetherington (GWS)