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Old rivals set to do battle again

Jacob Doole, Carlton Media  February 1, 2018 6:29 PM

Game Changers Update | Round 1 Carlton Media's Emily Angwin brings you all the news from Ikon Park as the Blues prepare for their season-opening clash with Collingwood.

CARLTON'S AFLW season kicks off tomorrow night, with the Blues hosting Collingwood at Ikon Park.

The opening game of the 2018 AFLW competition should be a great one, with two traditional rivals looking to build on a promising first season.

Carlton showed last year it could match it with the best sides in the league, but some close losses and a final-round draw saw it fall short of a grand final berth.

The Blues had a huge off-season, acquiring gun Brisbane forward Tayla Harris and Collingwood best-and-fairest winner Nicola Stevens. With both having a full pre-season to adjust to their new teammates, they should be raring to go and hoping to impress their new fans early.

Add to them the five AFLW debutantsnamed in Carlton’s side - Georgia Gee, Jess Hosking, Sophie Li, Kerryn Harrington and Maddison Gay - and there will be plenty of new faces for Blues fans to look out for.

With so many changes from last year and a high-pressure game first up, their senior players will need to lead the way. Captain Brianna Davey and AFLW leading goalkicker Darcy Vescio established themselves as superstars of the competition last year, and they’ll no doubt be prominent once again tomorrow night.

Match-ups between the Blues and the Magpies are always a fiery affair, but Stevens’ switch should add even more spice to the rivalry. Collingwood’s list has seen significant changes from last season, with Stevens and best-and-fairest runner-up Alicia Eva (GWS) both departing.

They did most of their recruiting through the draft, and enter this match-up as something of a mystery.

Enigmatic forward Moana Hope will be anxious to start the season with a bang after an inconsistent 2017, and Carlton’s backline will certainly have its hands full trying to contain her.

In last year’s opening game, the Blues were outstanding and made a big statement to the competition, defeating the Magpies by 35 points. They’ll be keen to start on the right foot once again in front of their home fans.

Both sides are very different to the ones that played in last year’s historic matchup, and that went on to finish side by side on the ladder. Tomorrow night’s blockbuster will be the first chance to see who could climb the rungs, and who could fall, in 2018.

CARLTON'S ROUND 1 AFLW TEAM:

Backs: J. Hosking, D. Hardiman, L. Brazzale, B. Davey, A. Downie 

Mids: G. Pound, S. Audley, N. Stevens 

Forwards: T. Harris, K. Harrington, M. Gay, D. Vescio, S. Li 

Ruck: B. Moody 

Followers: S. Hosking, K. Loynes

Interchange: N. Plane, K. Gillespie-Jones, K. Shierlaw, L. Arnell, G. Gee 

Emergencies: S. Last, M. Keryk, T. Lucas-Rodd