Ruck star: Blue deflects praise after reaching decider

RUCK Alison Downie expected the pressure in Carlton’s preliminary final against Fremantle last Saturday.

The Blues were too good for the Dockers to seal a spot in Sunday’s NAB AFLW Grand Final against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

"To play our game, we need that source pressure," Downie said on Channel Nine’s Women’s Footy on Sunday. 

"If they (the opposition) don’t have the ball, we’ve got it and that plays into our hands."

Downie played a key role in Carlton’s 36-point victory, collecting 13 disposals and laying three tackles to put the Blues in the decider.

The in-form ruck was quick to single out midfielder Lauren Brazzale, who returned to her best with a game-high 22 disposals following shoulder surgery in the off-season.

"It was really good to see Lauren play (like that). I think she (had) lost a little bit of confidence," she said.

"She’s so quick (and) she used her body really well. To do it in a final … was even better."

Downie also praised first-year player Madison Prespakis, who piled on the pressure with six tackles and 19 disposals against the Dockers.

She said the NAB AFLW Rising Star favourite was "like a little sponge".

"She’s getting better and better. The tags are coming to her, but she’s still managing to get high possessions," Downie said.

Downie acknowledged the Blues’ underdog status in the lead-up to the preliminary final, having finished the home and away season on top of Conference B but with two fewer wins than Fremantle.

"I guess in terms of how it has panned out, we’re the lucky ones," she said. 

"At the same time, with such a short season, you can see that we’ve started to get that form.

"If it was a full length (season), where you play everyone twice, we may well (have been) in the top four."

THIS IS AN EDITED VERSION OF A STORY ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CARLTONFC.COM.AU