It was an energetic start at Blacktown International Sportspark, as both the Blues and the Giants sought to close season 2021 on a positive note. It was the Giants who took the home ground advantage an channelled it towards an early first goal before the inside 50s went the Blues' way. After five minutes of arm-wrestling, Carlton would get its payback off the boot of Darcy Vescio. Heading into the clash tied among the league's best on 14 goals for the season, Vescio pipped the competition with a classy major to seal the 2021 AFLW Leading Goal-Kicker title and put the Blues' nose a point in front at the first break.
Carlton quickly settled into the game in the opening minutes of the second term, feeling at home in enemy territory. Speedy Blue Brooke Walker wasted no time extending the lead, kicking a silky goal from just inside the Blues' forward half for their second of the afternoon. Keen eyes and clever kicking from Elise O'Dea then placed the Sherrin firmly in the hands of Lauren Brazzale whose confident kicking got the Blues their third. A bone-crunching chase down tackle from skipper Katie Loynes threatened Carlton's forth consecutive goal, but a swing to the left kept the half time lead at 13 with the Giants' one goal for the quarter.
Carlton faced a reinvigorated GWS outfit in the opening minutes of the second half, the home team notably turning up the pressure in the third term. The Giants took their chances on goal, but wayward kicking left the door open for the Blues to notch another major off the boot of Darcy Vescio. After another five minutes marked by strong tackling and defensive pressure, GWS was able to sneak one through for its third goal of the day to narrow the lead to just 11 points. A couple of minor scores left the three-quarter time margin at just nine points.
It was certainly a nerve-racking opening to the final term of Sunday's clash, with the ball spending the lion's share of the opening five minutes in the Giants' forward 50. Fortunately for Carlton, wayward kicking from GWS retained its Navy Blue lead until the eighth minute of the term. A chaos ball lead the Giants to their fourth goal for the after and cut the margin to just a point. The Blues would have to hold their nerve as the Giants drove repeated entries into the forward line, while Darcy Vescio's two goal-saving marks helped the team escape with a one-point win.
One last chance to celebrate together!— Carlton Women's (@carltonfc_w) March 28, 2021
Head to The Carlton Shop to get 30% off our AFLW range.
Limited time only. ??
Moment of the match:
A perfect finish to an impressive season: Darcy Vescio will leave Blacktown International Sportspark as the 2021 AFLW Leading Goal-Kicker. With the match all tied up in the opening half and a Giants goal threatening a first half lead, a familiar set of hands marked the ball inside 50 and Darcy Vescio kicked away from the pack to notch 15 goals. It wouldn't be her last of the match either, with her two goals for the day seeing her finish 2021 with an AFLW of record 16 goals.
Three things from the game:
1. Carlton's forward line synergy has grown in leaps and bounds over season 2021. The return of Brooke Walker and impressive offensive work from Lauren Brazzale meant there were no shortage of forward entries on Sunday afternoon. Combine that with Vescio's goal-kicking ascendence and you have a strong forward line mix.
2. With finals off the table, there was pride to play for in Sydney on Sunday night. The Blues proved themselves to be a team of intensity, no matter where they are. With a positive finish to their 2021 campaign, the Blues will take fresh determination into the year ahead.
3. The Blues might be saying goodbye to two of their inaugural Game Changers with co-captain Katie Loynes and Alison Downie chaired off by their teammates following the siren. True to their style Loynes and Downie left nothing out on the field, with both playing an important role in the win and able to leave the field with their heads held high celebrating a win with the Blues for what might be the last time.
GWS 1.0 2.1 3.5 4.7 (31)
CARL 1.1 3.8 4.8 4.8 (32)
GOALS: Vescio 2, Walker, Brazzale
BEST: Vescio, Prespakis, McKay, Brazzale, Loynes, Plane