Carlton AFLW coach Damien Keeping has praised his players’ continued resolve to fight out games following the Blues' six-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park on Saturday.
The Blues kicked away to a 25-point lead midway through the final term before the Bulldogs piled on three unanswered goals to bring the game to a thrilling finale.
But Carlton held firm, constantly repelling the Bulldogs' attacking forays in the dying minutes to keep its undefeated home record intact.
“Its been close for the last three weeks. We’re really pleased with the character of our players to continue to push through when it's been tough,” Keeping said.
“The Western Bulldogs are a quality team and been in a lot of these tight-knit games, so we knew that they would keep coming until the end. I was proud that our girls kept their composure and to see them hold on for the win was really encouraging.”
Keeping singled out the return of Bri Davey and praised forwards Darcy Vescio (five disposals, three goals) and Bianca Jakobsson (five disposals, three marks), who he felt had a major impact on the result.
“Bri (Davey) stood up as she’s done all season and her back injury was something we were really conservative with but her positive energy and willingness to perform at her best has been fantastic," he said.
“I thought our whole back six was really strong under a lot of pressure all game, so to come away with the win in a really crucial game was an excellent result in what we’re building at this club.
“Darcy Vescio and Bianca Jakobsson both didn’t have a lot of the ball but their pressure and willingness to sacrifice their own games to bring their teammates into the contest was excellent. We couldn’t be prouder.”
The coach also made mention of key forward Isabella Ayre for the second week running and touched on Carlton’s progress to date in the inaugural season with two rounds to go before the 25 March decider.
“Isabella Ayre’s form is really encouraging and she’s a long term prospect for us. She’s progressing really well and she showed today last week’s form wasn’t a once off, she backed that up today and we’re really excited for the kind of player she’ll develop into," he said.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved up until this point to give ourselves every chance of a grand-final spot. We feel that the lessons we’ve learnt in those two losses (against Adelaide and Melbourne) put us in a position to stand up today."
Carlton will travel to Perth to face Fremantle for the 6:05pm EST encounter on Friday, 10 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.