This piece was written by Kristy Williams.
An outstanding blue-collar performance from Carlton led to a comprehensive 34-point victory over league newcomers, Richmond, in the AFLW season opener at Ikon Park on Friday night.
With a vocal crowd of 15,337 watching on, last year’s runners-up, the Blues, put on a contested ball clinic despite the Tigers midfield throwing themselves with reckless abandon at the Sherrin.
It took nine inside 50s for the Blues to finally nab their first goal through courageous skipper Katie Loynes, with messy forward entries allowing Phoebe Monahan and Akec Makur Chuot to mop up for the Tigers. They couldn’t hold out forever though, with the Blues unique combination of elite leg speed up forward and blue-collar toughness opening the floodgates in the third quarter, piling on four goals to secure victory.
Richmond coach Tom Hunter wasn’t too disappointed with the effort of his inexperienced side, and strong performances by the experienced trio of Christina Bernardi, Phoebe Monahan and Courtney Wakefield showed the bones of this Richmond side has plenty to build on.
By the numbers
51 – The contested clearance differential between the two sides. The Blues midfield was an inside juggernaut.
5 – contested marks for Blues forward dynamo Tayla Harris.
74 – tackles for a hard-working Tigers side that was constantly chasing their tail.
10 – disposals for Madison Prespakis in the third quarter.
18 minutes, 35 seconds – until the first goal was on the board after a tough early tussle.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the (very loud) Tiger faithful could finally celebrate their first ever AFLW goal when star forward Sabrina Frederick calmly guided the ball home from 40 metres out- much to the delight of her ecstatic teammates.
Last year’s number three draft pick and Rising Star winner Madison Prespakis played almost the perfect game, nabbing 21 disposals, five tackles and a goal. The 19 year old showed poise and toughness beyond her years.
It is clear that Blues coach Daniel Harford prioritises contested footy over all else, and why not when it lead to a Grand Final appearance last year! Prespaskis, Lucy McEvoy, Katie Loynes, Jade Van Dyk, Grace Egan, Sarah Hosking and ruck Breann Moody were embarrassingly dominant against the inexperienced Tigers midfield, and opposition teams will already be clambering to ensure they can contain their clearances and inside ball-winning ability. Imagine if Brianna Davey was still in navy blue!
Richmond: Frederick, Wakefield
Carlton: Loynes, Vescio, Walker, Harris, Prespakis, Downie
Richmond: Monahan (14); Conti (13)
Carlton: Prespakis (21); S. Hosking (17); Gee, Dalton (14)
Ladies Who Leap POTY voting
3- Madison Prespakis
2- Breann Moody
1- Tayla Harris
**The Ladies Who Leap Player of the Year award recognises players who exemplify the courage, leadership and quiet determination associated with the current generation of female athletes that are role models for our next generation of AFLW players.