IT'S ALL coming together for the Blues at the right time, with maturity and cohesion driving them into Saturday night's match of the round against Melbourne, says co-captain Kerryn Harrington.
The clash at Alice Springs' TIO Traeger Park shapes as a battle to sort out the top half of Conference B, with both clubs locked on four wins behind undefeated Fremantle (five wins).
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Harrington, who was the Blues' best on Saturday night in their scrappy victory over St Kilda at Ikon Park, says the core of her team – three years in the making – can thank an increased level of composure and maturity for finding different ways to win this season.
"Last year was a real surprise for us, with the way we built off the back of a wooden spoon to a Grand Final, and this year was really about consolidating what we learnt last year and being able to more consistently execute what we were after," Harrington told womens.afl.
"It takes a bit of time to be able to build the relationships we've got and the confidence in each other.
"In the past we might have dropped our heads after a loss like Collingwood [in round two] and it would have taken us a long time to recover from a loss like that.
"This year, there was a real sense of calm following the loss.
"The most pleasing thing is the girls are buying into the systems that 'Harf' [coach Daniel Harford] has put in place … what we've trained all summer is coming to fruition."
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Harrington has formed a formidable partnership in defence with youngster Charlotte Wilson, with the two taking a whopping 16 marks between them in their 21-point win over the Saints.
The former basketballer admits there's part of her that will always love her previous life as a WNBL player.
But now, she's firmly entrenched in the world of AFLW – and even deeper at the Navy Blues, where she also works as a part-time physiotherapist with the men's team and also in the community program for the club she grew up supporting in Bendigo.
"I really enjoyed my time playing basketball and I had a great career but the whole AFLW sweeps you up and you're immersed in what's going on," Harrington said.
"I still support the WNBL and I'll always have an interest in it and a love of the game, but I can't see myself going back … who wouldn't want to be part of this?"