Contributed by: Tash Gunawardana
A hot second half from Carlton steered them to a 16-point victory over Melbourne in a must win Conference B clash at TIO Traeger Oval on Saturday night.
It was only the Dees second loss of the season.
The Dees only led in the first and second quarters, as in the second half the Blues were simply outstanding keeping the Dees to three behinds and kicking four unanswered goals in the second half to notch up the win 6.4 (40) to 3.6 (24).
It was the Blues fourth consecutive win, as they defeated Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Crows and St Kilda and are sitting second in Conference B equal with the ladder leaders, Fremantle.
With two rounds left till finals, the Blues are well in contention for finals.
Image Source: @FlashScoreAU
Former Australian rugby union sevens and Touch Football Australia representative player, Brooke Walker was pivotal up forward with her ability to find space and pressure the Dees defenders, as she recorded two goals from her eight disposals.
Maddie Prespakis was also sensational through the midfield with her pressure and her ability to drive the ball forward, as she accumulated 23 disposals and a 40m goal on the run in the last term, while Georgia Gee (12) racked up six tackles and a goal.
Carlton's tackling was top notch they had 60 tackles to the Dees 49 and this crucial stat was what helped them to turn the game in their favour as not much separated the two teams in the other stats including hit-outs, centre clearances, contested possessions and inside 50s.
A surprising stat from the match, was that Melbourne had the double the inside 50s compared to Carlton (15-8) and uncontested possessions (73-36), but could only lead by eight points at half time.
It was a tight tussle in the first half with neither team able to break the shackles, until the third quarter when the Blues were able to get into the form that has seen them win the last three weeks.
Using their immense pressure with and without the ball, Carlton scored two goals each in the third and final terms, while they were strong defensively, they kept the Dees to three behinds.
It was disappointing for the Dees, as the inaccurate kicking by normally reliable goal kicks in Tegan Cunningham, Scott and Alisha Newman let them down.
The result leaves the Dees third on the ladder with four wins and two losses and they still have a chance of playing finals even with two rounds left in the season.
Dees' Karen Paxman continued her stellar All-Australian form finishing with a game-high 27 disposals, while Kate Hore was once again a lively forward target with a goal (possibly a goal of the year contender), 19 disposals (nine of which came in the first quarter) and six tackles.
Nothing much separated the teams all afternoon, it was just Carlton's ability to go that next level with their pressure and ball use that allowed them to kick the last four goals of the match.
Melbourne were able to get off to a quick start, booting through the first goal of the match via Hore and then the Blues responded quickly with their first major courtesy of Walker.
Just before quarter time, Sarah Perkins popped up and slotted through the Dees second major of the quarter to give the Dees a lead of eight points at the break.
Both teams intensity in and around the contest lifted in the second quarter, as the two teams were only able to score a goal each with Gee slotting through the goal for the Blues and for the Dees, Shelley Scott was the goal recipient.
It became a highly contested match in the second quarter. Dees held an eight-point advantage at the main break.
The Blues came to life in the third term thanks to a number of players stepping including Lucy McEvoy, Tayla Harris, Gee and Grace Egan.
Harris was the one who got the goal scoring started with the first goal of the third quarter and then the Blues second major followed soon after nailed through by Egan giving the Blues a slight lead of two-points at three quarter time.
In the final quarter, young gun Prespakis capped off a great night with a goal.
Five minutes before the match finished, the Blues put the icing on the cake scoring the last goal of the match via Walker.
For the Dees, Sarah Lampard looks to have injured her left knee and lets hope it's not as bad as when she ruptured the ACL in her right knee, two years ago.
Lampard immediately grabbed her left knee after she came off second best after colliding with Carlton forward Darcy Vescio in the third quarter after hitting the ground.
Lampard was stretchered off the ground, with play stopped.
Carlton now sit equal top along with Fremantle with a 5-1 record in Conference B and will play newbies West Coast Eagles on Saturday afternoon at Ikon Park at 1:10pm.
Melbourne will travel to Perth to play ladder leaders Fremantle on Sunday afternoon at Fremantle Oval next week at 4:10pm, as they look to stay in the finals hunt.
World Footy News