|Venue:||Casey Fields, Cranbourne East VIC.|
|Date:||Saturday 12th March, 2022 (7.10 pm).|
|Result:||Lost by 1 point.|
|Crowd:||1,309 (restricted capacity)|
|Goalkickers:||N. Stevens 3.1, K. Sherar 1.1, J. Good 1.0, D. Vescio 0.1.|
|Reports:||Maddy Guerin was charged with Forceful Front-On Contact against Gabrielle Colvin, she can accept a reprimand with an early plea. Based on the available evidence, the incident was assessed as Careless Conduct, Low Impact, High Contact. The incident was classified as a $400 sanction as a first offence.|
|Umpires:||Sam Bridges, Jordyn Pearson, Michael Pell.|
Match ReviewDees lock in top-two berth after edging Blues in one-point thriller.
Melbourne was given a wake-up call of what to expect in the AFLW finals as it capped the end of the home and away season with a tense one-point win over Carlton. The Demons struggled to get their overlap and free-flowing style operating at anywhere near previous rounds and in the end were lucky to sneak home 5.4 (34) to 5.3 (33) at Casey Fields in Cranbourne. With the Blues trailing by just two points, experienced forward Darcy Vescio had a chance to snatch an upset victory with a free kick deep in the forward pocket with only 35 seconds left on the game clock. But the kick from 25m on a tight angle drifted across the goal and the ball was bundled across the line for a behind.
Such was the threat of Carlton's surge that Melbourne sent experienced forward Daisy Pearce to the backline as an extra to help out when against the breeze in the second and fourth quarters. Pearce's skills and poise, particularly in the frantic final minutes, helped save the game. After contributing two goals in the first half, her work down back was pivotal. She even took the kick-out with only seconds remaining and found a teammate as the final siren blew. "Yes, it wasn't always on our terms, but we found a way to win. Heading into the finals, we're going to play a lot of close games like that, so it was good practice," Pearce said. "We're hungry to keep improving, our goals this year were to master our own roles and game style. "Obviously, the stakes go up (in the finals), but nothing really changes in terms of what we're trying to achieve and we're confident if we nail that, we can compete with the best."
Melbourne was never allowed to settle with Carlton's relentless pressure on the ball carrier and at stoppages given it an impressive and superior tackle count. But the Demons found a way to hold onto a slender lead despite kicking only one goal in the defence-dominated second half. Gun Melbourne forward Tayla Harris had a quiet night in her first game against her former side and was kept goalless. It was left to teenage forward Alyssa Bannan to come to the Demons' rescue with three goals in the first half that ultimately proved enough. The Blues, on a three-game winning streak, were left to ponder what might have been after the late-season rally left them just short of the top six and a finals berth. The committed Blues answered coach Daniel Harford's decree to make the normally free-running Demons earn every possession and it took the home side 11 minutes to finally scrounge a behind to open the scoring. The Blues didn't score in the opening quarter but they absorbed enormous pressure from a lopsided inside 50 count and then grew in confidence with better reward from the midfield contests late in the first half. Two goals from Nicola Stevens and others from Jess Good and Keeley Sherar enabled Carlton to stay in touch with the potent Demons.
Desperate Blues fall short of famous win
Carlton fell by one point at Casey Fields to finish the 2022 AFLW season - Cristian Filippo, Carlton Media.
Carlton has fallen agonisingly short of a famous win at Casey Fields, defeated by one point against Melbourne. In the final game of the season, the Blues went toe to toe with a Demons outfit fresh off one of the most dominant performances in AFLW history last week. When all was said and done, the Game Changers - with 11 players aged 22-and-under - fell just short, but it was a performance to be proud of to round out 2022.
Carlton battled resolutely kicking into the breeze in the opening term, holding Melbourne scoreless in the opening 10 minutes. Melbourne eventually managed to break through in its search for its 14th consecutive win at the home venue, kicking two goals to take a 15-point lead into the first change. It was a sign of the Blues having their backs to the wall that Gab Pound led the team’s disposal count with seven, alongside Mimi Hill.
Brea Moody set the tone from the opening bounce in what proved to be a fruitful second quarter for the Game Changers. Continuing her trend of recent weeks, the two goals from Nicola Stevens were of the highest quality, with set shot majors from Jess Good and Keeley Sherar keeping the Blues well and truly in the contest at the main break. Mua Laloifi’s pressure and tenacity across the back half was noticeable, which resonated throughout the playing group: the Game Changers had amassed 42 tackles in the opening two terms.
Sans for a late goal in the closing stages, it was almost the perfect quarter from Daniel Harford’s perspective from the Blues. Needing to restrict the damage on the scoreboard into the breeze, the Game Changers held firm, with Melbourne only having a Daisy Pearce goal to show for its third-quarter efforts. Maddy Guerin was playing inspired football in her first game against the old side, leading all comers with 17 disposals at the final change.
It was a gruelling final quarter to watch at Casey Fields, with both teams putting their bodies on the line in each and every contest. With Melbourne needing a win to cement a week off and Carlton looking to end its campaign on a high, the ball bounced from end to end with both defences holding up well. Nicola Stevens’ third goal following an outstanding Courtney Jones tackle gave the Blues life, but a tough set shot chance in the final minute from Darcy Vescio wasn’t enough as the Game Changers fell by the narrowest of margins.
Three things we learned
1. It may have been a one-point loss on the scoreboard, but it wasn’t through a want of trying. The Game Changers produced their best performance of the season against a Melbourne team with everything to play for, and came up just short at arguably the most difficult place to get a result in the competition.
2. Take a bow, Paige Trudgeon. The second-year Blue did her reputation as arguably Carlton’s most-improved player no shame, blanketing former teammate Tayla Harris who finished goalless from six disposals. Led by Mua Laloifi and Kerryn Harrington in the back half, Trudgeon was a crucial part of a defensive unit that fought like their lives depended on it.
3. In her first game against her former side, Maddy Guerin produced her best performance to date. Come the end of the game, Guerin had the equal-most disposals of any Blue - alongside NAB AFL Women’s Rising Star candidate Mimi Hill - while also contributing 12 tackles. It was a display which had it all from an offensive and defensive standpoint.
Best: M. Guerin, V. Laloifi, N. Stevens, M. Hill, P. Trudgeon, K. Sherar, M. Prespakis, G. Egan.
|B:||8 Vaomua Laloifi||6 Gab Pound|
|HB:||25 Keeley Sherar||26 Paige Trudgeon||23 Daisy Walker|
|C:||10 Mimi Hill||5 Abbie McKay||9 Kerryn Harrington (c)|
|HF:||3 Darcy Vescio||15 Jess Good||22 Courtney Jones|
|F:||21 Nicola Stevens||18 Maddy Guerin|
|Ruck:||16 Breann Moody||4 Madison Prespakis||19 Georgia Gee|
|Interchange:||46 Elise O'Dea||1 Grace Egan||32 Natalie Plane|
|2 Jess Dal Pos||13 Lucy McEvoy|
|Emg:||12 Lauren Brazzale||7 Brooke Walker|
In; Lucy McEvoy
Out; Brooke Walker (omitted)
MilestonesLast Game: Grace Egan, Georgia Gee, Courtney Jones, Madison Prespakis, Nicola Stevens
AFLW Coaches Votes9 - Tyla Hanks (MELB)
6 - Alyssa Bannan (MELB)
6 - Maddy Guerin (CARL)
6 - Shelley Heath (MELB)
2 - Madison Prespakis (CARL)
1 - Keeley Sherar (CARL)
AFLW Team of the WeekForwards: Nicola Stevens
AFLW Best and Fairest Votes3. - Lily Mithen (Melb)
2. - Alyssa Bannan (Melb)
1. - Tyla Hanks (Melb)