Carlton have survived a huge fright at Princes Park to beat winless Richmond by five points in a rollercoaster AFLW clash.
Having not won a game since entering the competition last year, Richmond came in as rank outsiders but belied their underdog status to get the jump on the Blues, booting the first four goals to open up a 22-point lead in the second quarter.
After a huge spray from coach Daniel Harford, Carlton then asserted themselves on the contest with seven of the next eight majors to take a 14-point advantage into three-quarter time.
But Richmond refused to throw in the towel, cutting the margin to two points early in the final term.
After Nicola Stevens increased Carlton’s lead back out to eight points at the eight-minute mark, the Tigers continued to press but were unable find the match-winning goal, with three rushed behinds leaving them agonisingly short.
The 8.3 (51) to 7.4 (46) result keeps the Blues in touch with the top six nearing the halfway mark of the season, while the Tigers’ hopes are all but over as they remain stuck in the bottom four.
Richmond are still searching for their first AFLW victory, having lost all 10 of their matches so far.
The result might come at a cost for Carlton, though, with star on-baller Madison Prespakis sure to be scrutinised by the match review officer for her spear tackle on Richmond’s Sarah Hosking in the second quarter, which eventually forced the Tiger to leave the ground to undergo concussion testing. She was able to return to the game.
That aside, Prespakis was one of her team’s most effective players, with 19 touches, five tackles and two crucial goals to kickstart the Blues into action after they were swamped at the start.
Carlton forward Darcy Vescio played her best game of the year, kicking all three of her goals in the third term when the game was still in the balance, while Lucy McEvoy, Grace Egan, Jess Hosking and Kerryn Harrington were also vital to the win.
For Richmond, Monique Conti was outstanding with 26 disposals (18 contested) and eight clearances, Katie Brennan played her best game for the club with 17 touches and two goals, Courtney Wakefield snagged three majors, while Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Hosking were also impressive.