CARLTON has delivered Richmond a sobering welcome to the AFLW, thrashing the League's highly fancied newcomers in the 2020 season opener at Ikon Park on Friday night.
Having struggled to capitalise on their complete authority over the contest early in the match, the Blues eventually put the Tigers to sword in the second half to claim a comfortable 6.12 (48) to 2.2 (14) victory.
BLUES CRUISE TO TAME TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
The 34-point win ensured Carlton quickly put to bed any remaining worries after last year's heavy Grand Final loss to Adelaide, with youngsters Madison Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy demonstrating why the Blues will again be a premiership threat this season.
One of the competition's premier onballers, Prespakis had 21 disposals and a goal in a fantastic individual display. Meanwhile, the second pick in last year's NAB AFLW Draft, McEvoy won 12 disposals and took five marks playing mostly forward in her debut.
Carlton's win came despite a wasteful opening half that would have frustrated coach Daniel Harford.
The Blues had nine scoring shots yet converted just one goal as the Tigers held on desperately. All the while, they kept their opponents goalless at the other end.
Carlton's co-captain, Katie Loynes, eventually slotted the season's opening goal late in the first quarter, but it didn't bring about a scoring spree. In fact, it created more tension as both teams searched for quality in front of goal.
Neither side could convert in a scrappy second term, with the Blues only managing to stretch their lead to 12 points by the main break – when double, if not triple that, might have been a more just margin.
Eventually, the floodgates opened. Four unanswered Carlton goals in the third quarter created the type of buffer its control over the match warranted, effectively ending the match as a contest by the final change.
Richmond finally kicked its maiden AFLW goal through marquee recruit Sabrina Frederick midway through the final term, but by that point the damage had been done as Carlton ran away with a comprehensive victory.
It might not have been Richmond's night, but the crowd – which was in excess of 15,000 people – was brought to its feet when recruit Sabrina Frederick finally slotted the club's first ever AFLW goal. After a strong mark in transition, Frederick went back and slotted a calm set shot from 35m out. It was a moment to remember for the proud Tiger faithful.
She won the NAB AFLW Rising Star last season, but bigger prizes might lie in wait for Madison Prespakis this year. The gun midfielder was the clear best on ground on Friday night, dominating in a brutal display out of the centre. Having copped a number of heavy hits early, Prespakis fought through the pain barrier to be the game's most influential player. She finished with 21 disposals, five tackles and a goal.
Blink and you missed it
Poor Andy. Carlton's high-profile runner, Andy Maher, endured a moment he'd rather forget midway through the third quarter. Jogging onto the field, Maher pinged his calf and was sent for immediate treatment on the sidelines from a team of Blues medics. Needless to say, he didn't return. Expect at least a month on the sidelines.
One to watch
The ball didn't find its way to Richmond's forward line too often on Friday night, but when it did Courtney Wakefield was a constant presence. Able to take a strong mark above her head, Wakefield claimed seven grabs and also kicked a clever goal. Baulking around her opponent, she slotted on the run from 30m out to claim the team's second major for the night.
"It would have been nice to have a real positive result on the scoreboard. We spoke about it after the game, but it was one of those nights when it was just a little bit bigger than footy. For the Richmond Football Club to have a women’s side run out for the first time, in their inaugural season, in front of so many yellow and black supporters tonight … it meant a lot to a lot of people."
- Richmond coach Tom Hunter.
"Jumping them wasn’t necessarily the idea, but you just want to start strong. Their physicality was phenomenal early doors, it was a real challenge to get through them. But pleasingly, we were able to get through that and put a few things on the scoreboard."
- Carlton coach Daniel Harford.
'BIGGER THAN FOOTY' Tigers, Blues fans flock to historic night
Richmond heads to Queensland to meet fellow newcomers Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday evening, while Carlton returns to its traditional home at Ikon Park to face old rivals Collingwood on Sunday afternoon.
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
RICHMOND 0.0 0.2 0.2 2.2 (14)
CARLTON 1.5 1.8 5.9 6.12 (48)
Richmond: Frederick, Wakefield
Carlton: Loynes, Vescio, Walker, Harris, Prespakis, Downie
Richmond: Conti, Makur Chuot, Bernardi, Monahan, Wakefield
Carlton: Prespakis, McEvoy, Moody, Plane, Harris, Loynes, Gee
Crowd: 15,337 at Ikon Park