AN inspiring on-ball performance by Maddy Prespakis set up Carlton to break through for their first win of the AFLW season against St Kilda on Saturday afternoon.
Prespakis was unstoppable with her ball-winning ability to amass 24 possessions in the Blues’ 6.4 (40) to 2.4 (16) win in sunny conditions at RSEA Park.
The Saints assigned Cat Phillips to a heavy tag on Prespakis in the second half, but the competition’s 2020 best and fairest winner emphasised why she won the highest individual award.
Carlton’s ability to kick goals from Alison Downie and Nicola Stevens into the wind in the third quarter was also pivotal to the breakthrough victory after one of the flag favourites started the season with two losses.
The Blues released Elise O’Dea from a midfield role to alternate in attacking and defensive roles with the wind and when kicking into it.
But they lost nothing from her absence around the centre duels and stoppages as young midfielders Grace Egan (24 possessions) and Abbie McKay (17) stepped up to the task.
St Kilda had individual winners, like defender Rhiannon Watt keeping Blues forward Tayla Harris goalless. But the Blues’ collective teamwork and pressure was far superior.
O’Dea was a spare player in the backline when the Saints kicked to the scoring end in the first and third quarter. And the former Melbourne leader was a handy assistant for Mua Laloifi in the huge task of containing dangerous goalkicker Caitlin Greiser.
And O’Dea adapted quickly to the role of a forward, kicking Carlton’s opening major from a free in the first minute of the second quarter.
Greiser underlined the problems she posed by goaling on the run with her only touch of the opening period as the Saints attacked with the strong breeze at their backs.
But Carlton hit back after a scoreless first term, building on the ruck work of Breann Moody and the busy Prespakis around the packs.
It was no surprise that Prespakis booted the Blues’ first goal with a quick left foot shot from a stoppage in the second quarter. It was already her 13th possession in the brilliant on-ball display.
(C) AAP 2021
CARLTON 0.0 3.1 5.1 6.4 (40)
ST KILDA 1.1 1.2 2.4 2.4 (16)
Goals: Carlton: N Stevens 2 A Downie E O’Dea L Brazzale M Prespakis. St Kilda: C Greiser K Shierlaw.
Venue: RSEA Park.