GEELONG has recorded its second win for the AFLW season, defeating Carlton in a tense, low-scoring affair by five points to help it go top of Conference B.
Inaccuracy was a big issue for both sides throughout the game, but the Cats managed to just scrape home 2.7 (19) to 1.8 (14) at GMHBA Stadium.
Carlton captain Brianna Davey has spent time up forward and in the middle of the ground this year, but was moved to her customary defensive role in an attempt to counter Geelong's tall forward line.
She was matched primarily against Phoebe McWilliams, who was Geelong's best player throughout the game, picking up eight disposals, five marks and kicking a goal in the first half alone.
Something had to change at half-time, and Carlton coach Daniel Harford threw his most dynamic player in Davey into the middle.
She immediately won the first clearance and kick-started a third quarter that saw Carlton hold Geelong scoreless, as well as kicking 10 points in a low-scoring affair.
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The Cats won by dominating large portions of the game, locking the ball in their forward half and putting the Blues' backline under enormous pressure with repeat entries.
Carlton defenders Gab Pound (16 disposals) and Kerryn Harrington (18) did extremely well under duress, while Geelong's midfield trio of Renee Garing (15 and nine tackles), ex-Blue Maddy Keryk (14 and five marks) and Richelle Cranston (12 and nine tackles) were dominant.
Athletic Carlton forward Tayla Harris had a nightmare third quarter, hitting the post twice from within 10m of goal (including running into the goalsquare) and seeing marks just fall from her grasp.
Blues father-daughter selection Abbey McKay (seven touches) showed a bit in her debut but tired as the match progressed.
Carlton midfielder Sarah Hosking will face a nervous wait, on report for front-on contact against Jordan Ivey in the first quarter. Ivey played out the game.
Twin Jess Hosking was also involved in a report, with Geelong forward Maddie Boyd's name in the book for rough conduct (taking the legs out while going for the ball) on the Blue.
Tayla's torrid third term
After an eventful week where Tayla Harris successfully argued her case at the Tribunal, downgrading her one-match suspension for rough conduct to a reprimand, it was a match to forget for the star Carlton forward. Harris hit the post twice in the third term from close range and dropped several marks. She looked to have shaken it off at the start of the fourth, taking a strong mark, but played on quickly and hit the post for a third time.
Hard as a Cat's head
Geelong key back Meg McDonald has won plenty of admirers for her tough play and strong ball-winning skills, but will have a sore head on Sunday morning. Not from any off-field exploits, but the Cat finished the match with a sizable lump on her head after a marking contest gone wrong with Harris in the third quarter. Coach Paul Hood said McDonald was sore but in good spirits in the rooms after the match.
Carlton's forward line Blues
It's been an interesting season for Carlton. Coming off a wooden spoon in 2018, the Blues revamped their football program, bringing in coach Harford and Nicole Graves in a new head of women's football role. The pair have reinvigorated the team, but there's still a bit of a rocky road ahead. The Blues have shown they have the scoring power of a top side, kicking 44 and 65 points, but consistency remains an issue. Round one saw a score of 16 and Saturday's match was just 14 points, the club's equal-second lowest total.
Chase for finals
With Brisbane yet to play, Geelong is sitting pretty at the top of the Conference B ladder. The Cats have won two of their four games but will need a big win to boost their percentage, currently sitting at 70.10. Another win should secure a top-two finish in the five-team pool, but Geelong has a tough road ahead with games against Brisbane, Fremantle and GWS. By contrast, Carlton is second but could drop to fourth by the end of the round, and will need at least two more wins for a finals spot.
"For us to fight like that, hang on and think our way through the game and get a result, we will get so much self-confidence and belief from the resilience we saw today." - Geelong coach Paul Hood
"Bad kicking wasn't the problem today, our problem was our first half. We got mauled at the contest, couldn't match that and then the game [was] pretty much taken away. We had our chances in the second half, but you can't play a half of footy at any level and expect to win, so we got what we deserved today." - Carlton coach Daniel Harford
Geelong has a road trip and a chance to further stake a preliminary final claim, taking on fellow Conference B side Brisbane at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex. Carlton faces its traditional AFL rival Collingwood at Ikon Park on Saturday night.
GEELONG 1.0 2.4 2.4 2.7 (19)
CARLTON 0.0 0.2 1.6 1.8 (14)
Geelong: McWilliams, Van De Heuvel
Geelong: McWilliams, Garing, Cranston, Keryk, McMahon
Carlton: Davey, Pound, Prespakis, Harrington
Reports: S.Hosking (Carlton) for forceful front-on contact on J.Ivey (Geelong) in the first quarter. M.Boyd (Geelong) for rough conduct on J.Hosking (Carlton) in the fourth quarter.
Umpires: Edwards, Bailes, Gibson
Crowd: 7060 at GMHBA Stadium