THE GAME CHANGERS have enjoyed their return to Ikon Park, returning to the winners' list with a 33-point win over Geelong.
While the Blues were tested at stages through the afternoon, strong performances from Darcy Vescio, Georgia Gee, Maddy Prespakis and Kerryn Harrington were at their very best to help the team to an all-important win.
The Blues were able overcome a series of slow starts in recent rounds to kick things off strongly at Ikon Park, scoring freely early in the match. It was all about Darcy Vescio early, the veteran Blue notched two goals in two minutes and kept herself involved with a number of assists. Waiting in the wings was second-game Blue Serena Gibbs, taking the tall role for the afternoon inside 50. It didn't take long for the youngster to open her AFLW account, a crafty handball from Vescio and a confident kick saw Blues come from around the ground to celebrate. Nat Plane bobbed up in attack to polish off what was a strong opening for Carlton, notching her own goal before the end of the term.
The second quarter started in much the same fashion as the first, with the Blues finding easy entries into attack. Nicola Stevens kicked off the quarter with an impressive goal from the pocket, which was followed shortly by a second Gibbs goal. Geelong bolstered its defence thereafter, sparking a Cats onslaught of inside 50s. Third-year defender Charlotte Wilson was strong in her ability in the backline, coming off the best in several one-on-ones and keeping Geelong goalless in the second term despite their efforts. Maddy Prespakis returned to the field after a knock to her elbow, adding back some grunt in the centre and keeping the Blues dominant into the main break.
There's no better way to open a quarter than with a cheeky defenders goal and Gab Pound had to be the one to slot it. Taking her run through the centre, the inaugural Blue decided to go for the barrel over the top and slot her first of the season. From there the Blues got on a run with some brilliance from Darcy Vescio resulting in a Prespakis goal. The Cats steadied thereafter and it was an arm-wrestle to the siren as they notched two of their own.
The Cats played with great desperation in the final term, controlling the play with repeated entries inside their forward 50. Resolute defending by Kerryn Harrington, Mua Laloifi and Charlotte Wilson helped the Blues survive the onslaught - while clean movement from Lucy McEvoy and Gab Pound gave the Blues the spark they needed. The term was soured after young star Mimi Hill left the field with what looked to be a knee injury. Able to survive the Cats' relentless attack, the Blues eventually found some space when Georgia Gee broke away for two quick goals to close off the game.
Moment of the match:
It's hard to go past a first goal for a highlight, but Serena Gibbs thought she might double down on that with two goals in just her second Navy Blue outing. It came late in the term off the back of a slick handball from veteran forward Darcy Vescio and Gibbs was able to seal the deal. If the goal was sweet, the celebration was sweeter: Blues came from across the ground to celebrate the youngster
Three things from the game:
1. Serena Gibbs has developed into a genuine tall forward option for the Blues. In just her second game, the youngster showed Bluebaggers her potential with two strong goals and plenty of good work inside 50.
2. We say it every week, but Darcy Vescio is in some form in 2021. The veteran Blue has proved her ability to not only impact the scoreboard, but organise the forward line around her. She finished the day with two goals and 10 disposals.
3. Lucy McEvoy is finding her groove after an injury interrupted start to the year. The second-year Blues' ability to play in virtually any position was crucial, especially following the fourth quarter injury to Mimi Hill. Her ability to read the play, get into the right positions and consistently find time under pressure is something Carlton fans should look forward to watching for many years to come.
CARLTON 4.0 6.1 8.3 10.4 (64)
GEELONG 2.1 2.3 4.4 4.7 (31)
Carlton: Gibbs 2, Vescio 2, Gee 2, Stevens, Pound, Prespakis, Plane
Carlton: Prespakis, Vescio, O'Dea, Egan, McKay, Gibbs
Carlton: Hill (knee)