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How Carlton's first win of 2021 can set them up for the rest of the season

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14th February, 2021
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After losing their opening two games of the 2021 AFLW season, both by a straight kick, Carlton got their first win against St Kilda on Saturday afternoon.

It was an impressive display from the Blues away from home. Carlton are a side considered to have a lot of quality and came up just short in their opening two games.

Against Collingwood they were scoreless in the first half before attempting a comeback, and despite keeping Collingwood to only one goal in the second half, they still fell short by a goal in the end.

Despite kicking the first three goals against the Western Bulldogs and holding a 12-point lead at the final change, Carlton conceded the only three goals of the last quarter and wasted chances late. They went down by six points in consecutive weeks.

So the confidence was there from the Blues, but they lacked some quality within quarters, which proved costly. The effort was there, but they were yet to be rewarded with any wins after two games.

Coach Daniel Harford felt that after the first two disappointing results his side needed to “dig deep”. Despite the disappointing start to their 2021 campaign, Harford had faith in Carlton’s ability to address deficiencies and get their season back on track.

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“We’ve got to probably dig really deep into the numbers, dig deep into the psyche of the players and find out why what is happening, is happening”, he said.

Finally, in Round 3, the Blues got their reward for their efforts and showed the quality they can produce in a comfortable 24-point victory over St Kilda in Moorabbin. After conceding the opening goal and a scoreless first quarter, the Blues got the game on their terms over the second and third quarters. They kicked the only three goals of the second quarter.

In the second half Carlton remained in control, keeping St Kilda to only one goal in the third term and scoreless in the final quarter. They added another three second-half goals to run out four-goal winners. For Dan Harford’s talented side finally made good on their potential and reaped the rewards of their efforts over the first three rounds.

And this win could set them up really well for the rest of the season.

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The talent that helped get them over the line included Nicola Stevens, who was prolific up forward with two goals, along with new Blue Elise O’Dea, who crossed over from the Demons. She finished the game with 21 disposals and was one of Carlton’s leading performers in her best outing for the club so far.

Madison Prespakis got the Blues moving on Saturday, gathering 24 disposals and a goal in Carlton’s first victory of 2021. She is proving a superstar for the Blues.

Now the Blues are on the board, they have proven they are a team to reckon with. With a star-studded line-up, they should have plenty of confidence they can challenge for the top six yet again.

Some players who are also ready to step up include Tayla Harris, who starred against the Dogs with two goals, ten disposals and four marks, and Darcy Vescio, who has started quietly in 2021 with only one goal so far from three games.

Daniel Harford was very pleased with his team’s 24-point win over the Saints on Saturday afternoon. He was hoping that the game against St Kilda would be a turning point for Carlton and, after an impressive week on the track, he was full of confidence that the team would respond in Round 3.

Daniel Harford

(Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

“I thought that we trained enormously through the week so I would’ve been disappointed if we hadn’t come out there and put on a show today,” he said. “Our focus shifted towards movement, to defence, to team as well and I think that paid dividends today.”

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Elise O’Dea really impressed Harford up forward, and he valued her presence in the side after crossing from Melbourne.

“I thought she was awesome with her presence in the forward line, coming up at the footy, hunting defenders, creating space for her teammates, presenting as an option,” he said.

“She looked like the one we saw three or four years ago today and we have great belief that Elise is going to be a great player for us for a long period of time and I hope she gets a bit of love for what she did today.”

Carlton have now got a win on the board, and that win should set them in good stead to attack the rest of season 2021. They have the depth, the talent is there, they’re well coached and if their best players are up and firing, there is no reason why Carlton can’t challenge the top six despite the results not being there in the opening two outings.

Next they face Richmond at home in another massive opportunity to square the ledger at 2-2 after four games. Now they’ve got the crucial win, they could be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season.

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