By Ant Wingard
The Brisbane Lions have reclaimed first place on the AFL Women’s ladder at the end of Round 3 after a run-away 22-point victory over Carlton at Ikon Park on Saturday night.
After a sluggish start to the affair, the Lions amped up the pressure; running away for their second win of the season in the 6.4 (40) to 2.6 (18) victory.
Brisbane willed throughout the first half but couldn’t crack the Carlton defence which had conceded a league-low 11.5 points per game to its opposition. The Lions piled on 10 more inside 50s than their opposition throughout the affair, yet mustered jus the one goal before the main break.
The run of Brisbane speedster Kate McCarthy opened up the game in the second term as the Lions began to crack the stingy defensive efforts of the Blues. It wasn’t before the third quarter where the Lions began to assert their dominance on the scoreboard through majors to Jess Wuetschner and Brittany Gibson.
Carlton were able reduce the lead back to 12 points through Maddie Gay, who registered Carlton’s first goal of the game with three minutes remaining in the third term.
After making the fast start in each of the opening three quarters, Brisbane couldn’t do the same in the fourth as the Blues, desperate to keep their perfect season intact, came to life.
Darcy Vescio narrowed the margin to just five points, capitalising on Carlton’s attacking renaissance, but first year Lion Sophie Conway responded almost immediately.
Former Blue Nat Exon put the game beyond doubt with her first AFLW goal, while Conway added her second of the quarter to stretch the margin out to 24 points.
Without skipper Brianna Davey, ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, Carlton were without meticulous deliver out of the defensive half and struggled to generate scoring opportunities.
In stark contrast, Lions Kaitlyn Ashmore and McCarthy were afforded plenty of space on Ikon Park’s wings, both at their creative best including the inside 50 which resulted in Exon’s match sealer.
Leah Kalsar stunted the production of defected Lion Tayla Harris all night, who managed just nine disposals and mustered a solitary behind on the scoreboard.
Emily Bates (20 disposals, six tackles) was again at her best, while Kate Lutkins (18 disposals, four marks) and Tahlia Randall (16 hit-outs, three clearances) produced another consistent outing in their respective seasons.
Losses for Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs helped Brisbane reclaim the competition’s top spot, where they had spent much of the 2017 season, as they aim for back to back Grand Final appearances this year.
Brisbane head coach Craig Starcevich praised his side’s patience during the game.
“We were more composed in the second half which allowed us to find a way through,” Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich told afl.com.au after the match.
“When you keep bombing it into an outnumbered zone, the players will get frustrated, but if you move the ball quickly enough, you can find a way through.”
The Lions now host Fremantle at South Pine Sports Complex this Sunday at 3.35pm.