CARLTON has beaten Sydney by five points in a mature performance from the rebuilding side on Friday afternoon.
Not even a career-best four-goal haul from Swans forward Rebecca Privitelli could get her side over the line, with the Blues running out 6.8 (44) to 6.3 (39) winners in the setting sun at Ikon Park.
BLUES v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
Carlton's never-say-die attitude that has been present all season served it well against a spritely Sydney side, ready to match the visitors at every contest to create what was essentially a war of attrition.
The Swans came into the match wanting to focus on their uncontested control of the game, essentially with a plan to remain patient to maintain possession of the footy. That patience saw them look to switch the ball coming out of defence and make use of the wide expanses of Ikon Park.
Taking 78 marks to Carlton's 51, the uncontested, controlled play was evident for Sydney on the stats sheet, but the Blues really excelled when it came to the aerial duels, winning the contested mark count 11 to six.
To combat Sydney's thirst for uncontested possession, the Blues stacked their defensive line, taking away any space in Sydney's forward 50, and as a result, the Swans repeatedly broke down attempting to enter their attack.
Kerryn Peterson (16 disposals, three inside 50s) was crucial to Carlton's organisation right across the ground, as she featured on all lines as the game wore on, while Breann Moody's contested marking prowess was on full show. Moody's ability to take big marks in key moments to allow the Blues to maintain control was important, as the reigning All Australian ruck finished with five contested marks, 16 disposals and a goal.
Carlton generated repeated inside 50s, ultimately registering 38 entries to the Swans' 27, but the visiting defensive contingent of Brenna Tarrant, Julie O'Sullivan and Lucy McEvoy stood strong in the face of the onslaught. The Blues ultimately generated a goal from just 16 per cent of their forward entries.
Laura Gardiner continued her prolific ways for the Swans with 33 disposals, eight tackles, seven clearances and a goal, as did Ally Morphett with 27 hitouts, 25 disposals and six clearances for the afternoon.
Before Bec Privitelli was a Swan, or even a Giant, she was a Blue and in a return to her first home ground she shone. Already having an impressive season as a forward marking target in the much-improved Sydney lineup, Privitelli bobbed up just when her side needed her on Friday afternoon. Kicking four goals for the game, her career best, she was an ever-present threat for the Carlton defence to deal with. Now enjoying support across the attacking line, Privitelli has been able to thrive.
A confused start
Just as the umpire was ready to throw the ball in the air to start the game, Carlton's defensive and forward lines realised they had set up at wrong ends of the ground and had to fix it quicksmart. With the midfielders watching on confused, the Blues' defenders and forwards sprinted to the opposite ends of the ground to begin the game.
Carlton is set to head across town to another AFLW heartland in Whitten Oval to take on the Bulldogs on Friday night, while Sydney will travel to Alberton Oval to play Port Adelaide, against whom they struggled to goal last year, but this year's edition shapes up as a very different prospect.
CARLTON 0.1 5.1 5.4 6.8 (44)
SYDNEY 3.0 3.1 5.1 6.3 (39)
Carlton: Austin 2, Moody, McWilliams, Fitzpatrick, Hill
Sydney: Privitelli 4, Gardiner, Smith,
Carlton: Moody, Peterson, McKay, Hill, Austin
Sydney: Privitelli, Gardiner, Morphett, Steane, Kennedy
Carlton: Velardo (abdomen)
Sydney: Lochland (leg)
Crowd: 2,079 at Ikon Park