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Keeping proud of fightback

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

Carlton AFLW coach Damien Keeping has praised his players’ willingness to fight out close games, despite going down to Melbourne by six points at Casey Fields on Saturday.

Melbourne was dominant in possession across the four quarters, but it was Carlton’s endeavour to make the Demons earn victory that pleased the coach the most after trailing by 19 points at the last change.

“Our girls were exceptional in the last quarter, played really aggressive football and stood for something after they could’ve given up,” Keeping said.

“We missed opportunities across the four quarters which ultimately hurt us but our defensive pressure was pretty good. We just need to get better when we have the ball.

“Moving the ball quickly and a bit of pace across the ground were elements that we really liked. Its important for us because that's the style of game we want to play, but with greater consistency.”

Keeping singled out key forward Isabella Ayre as the team’s multiple goalkicker and debutant Tahni Nestor, who also impressed with eight disposals.

“Isabella Ayre was really exciting in the front half for us - to kick two goals from two marks showed us she has a lot to offer. She’s a very exciting prospect for us going forward.

“Bri Davey, Sarah Last and Natalie Plane missing through injury has hurt us, but to see Tahni Nestor (eight disposals, five handballs, four tackles) come in for her debut was really exciting. We think we’ve found a player who’ll be a part of our side going forward.

“We want to get Bri (Davey) back into the side as soon as we can but we’ll monitor her recovery as the weeks go on. Unfortunately we won’t see Sarah Last and Natalie Plane until next season, given the extent of their injuries."

Despite two successive losses and sitting in fourth place on the AFLW ladder, Keeping remains positive ahead of Round 5.

“Even though we’ve lost our past two games by a kick or less, we’re really encouraged by the girls’ efforts to stay in the game and apply strong defensive pressure on the opposition. We’ll continue to improve as well, so we look forward to our next challenge," he said.

“We turn our attention to the Western Bulldogs next week now, knowing that our focus will be to win. We’re looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd again after two weeks on the road.”

Carlton hosts the Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park for the 11:35am EST encounter on Saturday, 4 March, with the game to be broadcast live on FOX Footy in what is also a double-header with the JLT Community Series to follow.