Blues' boost just a matter of time: Harrington

KERRYN Harrington can feel it clicking for Carlton.

Although the Blues started the 2019 AFL Women's season with successive defeats, drastically improved performances compared to last year had kept belief high within the group.

That belief was vindicated last Saturday.

In the most comprehensive showing in the team's short history, Carlton kicked its highest AFLW score (10.5.65) to score an emphatic 29-point victory over Greater Western Sydney.

For many in the AFLW community, the result in Blacktown was surprising – especially considering it was Carlton's first victory in 372 days. But for the Blues, it was just reward for executing a new style of play coach Daniel Harford has implemented since arriving.

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"We're sitting back and (saying) to the people who are saying, 'Gosh, now it's good to watch', that we knew it was going to happen," Harrington told AFL.com.au.

"It was always going to take time. We needed time to develop our game style and our skills and our ability to transition the ball from one end of the ground to the other cleanly."

The short time in which Harford's team has been able to move from last year's dour and defensive style to a fresh, attacking approach has been pleasing for Harrington, but it's hardly been surprising.

Having suffered a hefty defeat to the high-flying North Melbourne in round one, Carlton tested a strong Adelaide at Ikon Park a week later. Only an unanswered run of six goals on either side of the final change swung things in the Crows' favour.

Repeating that effort against the Giants, but doing so over four quarters, was key to securing victory. Now, the new-look Carlton team wants to achieve that more consistently.

Carlton players celebrate their win over GWS

"You could see it was coming, so it's no surprise for us that it's better to watch and more fun to play," Harrington said.

"Within the footy club, it's all positive. What we're hearing from people on the outside is that it's fun, attacking and engaging. We certainly feel that, but it's no surprise.

"It just needed time to develop and get there. It's only going to continue to grow in the next couple of years, so that's going to be really exciting.

"There's really been a shift, going from last year where we were a little more defensive-minded to now where we're a lot more attacking," she said.

"Any time you kick 10 goals in a game, you get 10 opportunities to celebrate with your teammates. It's clearly more fun when you're kicking goals and I think it engages the supporters a lot more."

Harrington is in her second season at AFLW level, having previously played for Bendigo Spirit in the Women's National Basketball League.

Elected into the club's leadership group at the start of the season, the 26-year-old has improved significantly in a host of key areas.

Having won double-digit disposals just twice in her first season, Harrington is yet to dip below that mark this year and is averaging 15.3 touches a game.

"I had absolutely no idea what I was in for last year," Harrington said.

People can tell you bits and pieces about how it's going to be, but until you've gone through it and experienced it I don't think you fully appreciate just what it takes to play at this level.

"My background in elite sport has helped me prepare and be able to adapt during the season, but there's no doubt coming into my second season I'm far more prepared and far more understanding of how I can impact the game and the group off the ground," she said.

"To have that sense of familiarity, but also knowing how hard I do have to work personally, is really helpful."

With conference games against Geelong, Collingwood and Brisbane to come, finals football suddenly looks like a realistic ambition for the Blues, who head the Conference B ladder.

"I think that idea was always in the back of our mind," Harrington said.

"We're happy with where we're sitting, but we've got a lot of work to do and we know that.

"You're not going to win a flag if you can't beat (teams in) the other conference, so we've got a lot of work to do. But I don't think it's scaring us that the other conference is doing as well as it is," she said.

"We just need to continue to play our style and continue to learn and build."

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