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AFLW: Blues fall short in fightback

Bruce Matthews, AFL Media  February 25, 2017 4:58 PM

AFLW Highlights : Melbourne v Carlton The Demons and Blues clash in the Round 4 of AFLW action.

Melbourne has had to withstand a spirited last-quarter challenge from Carlton to win the NAB AFL Women's fourth-round game by six points at Casey Fields.

The Demons improved their win-loss to 3-1 to stay in contention for the Grand Final, but it was a close call.

Carlton booted three goals in nine minutes early in the last quarter to cancel out a 19-point deficit at the final change.

Forward Bella Ayre, with two goals, and another from Bianca Jakobsson locked up the scores as it seemed the late-charging Blues would replicate a practice-match victory when they booted six unanswered goals in the last quarter for a 43-point win at Ikon Park in January.

But the Demons stood firm this time and the breakthrough came when Richelle Cranston slipped away unguarded as they surged forward inside the last four minutes.

Cranston ran onto a loose ball and goaled on the run from close range to seal the heart-thumping victory.

Carlton paid the price for wasted opportunities with a 28-22 inside-50 advantage, but Melbourne controlled play for large periods of the game, finishing with a 386-259 possession lead.

VIDEO: Sarah Hosking speaks post-game

In such a defence-dominated contest, it was critical to grab scoring opportunities, particularly from set shots.

Melbourne's Alyssa Mifsud slewed a shot out of bounds and then Carlton's Nat Exon hit the post from a much more friendly angle.

The Demons broke the deadlock early in the second quarter, predictably set up by Daisy Pearce, who finished with a game-high 28 possessions, released her midfield mate Elise O'Dea with a timely handball to run into goal on the run.

But the Blues hit back hard when a Kate Shierlaw tackle earned a free kick and the rookie made no mistake for the visitors' opening goal.

And they grabbed the lead when the hard-working Darcy Vescio goaled from a free at close range.

Melbourne paid the price with turnovers from the frantic play-on style and Carlton always looked dangerous with its more direct approach down the middle of the big ground.

The Demons edged ahead again when Mifsud conjured an unlikely goal with a quick banana kick under pressure when seemingly hemmed in near the behind post. And when Shelly Scott marked and goaled, they took a five-points lead into the main break.

It seemed Melbourne was coasting to a big win until Carlton launched the last quarter fightback that nearly snatched an unlikely win.

MELBOURNE  0.1  3.2 5.6 6.6 (42)
CARLTON  0.1  2.3 2.5 5.6 (36)

GOALS
Melbourne: Mifsud 2, O'Dea, Berry, Scott, Cranston
Carlton: Ayre 2, Vescio, Shierlaw, Jackobsson

BEST
Melbourne: Pearce, O'Dea, Paxman, Mithen, Mifsud
Carlton: Hosking, Exon, Vescio, Ayre

INJURIES
Melbourne: Nil
Carlton: Nil

Umpires: Patrick Burns, Ben Cheever, Brodie Rayner

Crowd: 3965 at Casey Fields, Cranbourne