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Match report: Lions win to stay in AFLW hunt

AFLW Highlights: Carlton v Brisbane The Blues and Lions clash in Round 3 of the AFLW
Lions teammates celebrate a Brittany Gibson goal on Saturday night - AFLW,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues
Lions teammates celebrate a Brittany Gibson goal on Saturday night

BRISBANE strangled Carlton to keep its 2018 campaign alive in a ferocious clash at Ikon Park.

Eighteen-year-old Queenslander Sophie Conway kicked two final-quarter goals to push Carlton from the top of the ladder and secure a 22-point victory for the visitors.

Darcy Vescio goaled to put Carlton within a goal in the last term, but former Blue Nat Exon took the match away when she landed her first AFLW goal.

"We were more composed in the second half which allowed us to find a way through," Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich said.

Full match details and stats 

"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 found another dimension after their running game had been stunted by a gritty Blues defence.

They dominated inside-50s all night, but it was not until the third quarter that they started to convert pressure into scores.

The Blues, who remained goalless until the second half, executed poorly and failed to change the game-plan.

"I don't think we had control of the game at any point," said Carlton assistant coach Nick Rutley.

"The absence of Bri Davey had a big impact, but we failed to execute. 

"(Senior coach) Damien (Keeping) will be back to work next week so I will go back to my position as forwards coach and the day job."

Brisbane's small forwards got on top of the Blues defence, with Kate McCarthy often providing the impetus for the visitors.

The intensity was high, but the scoring was low to begin with, equalling the lowest half-time score in AFLW to date.

Leah Kaslar kept former Lion Tayla Harris quiet, but the flow of clean ball to the key forwards stuttered all night.

A frustrated Harris gave away 50m as indiscipline crept in, leaving the prolific Jessica Wuetschner an opportunity to snap from the pocket after the break. And the floodgates opened.

The third-round clash was billed for its sub-plots after the Tayla Harris and Bella Ayre switch of clubs, but it was former Blue Exon who buried Carlton as the 2017 minor premiers bounced back to show the pedigree required to stay at the top in front of 6200 spectators.

Work in progress
Carlton has impressed in the first two rounds, but lacked a Plan B when Brisbane stifled their physical brand of football. Davey was missed and key positions didn't fire, but the Blues' display lacked imagination while the visitors accelerated away with a composed second-half performance.

It was over when
Former Blue Exon extinguished any Carlton hopes after Vescio hit back with a composed finish. McCarthy drove through inside-50 to set up the 24-year-old and deliver a cruel blow to her original club.

The first blow
It was a long time coming but after 28 minutes Kaitlyn Ashmore kicked the first major to break the defensive battle.

What's next?
Carlton play Western Bulldogs in AFLW’s inaugural Pride Game at the VU Whitten Oval to promote inclusion and show support for the LGBTI community, from 7.05pm AEDT on Friday. Brisbane hosts Fremantle on Saturday from 3.35pm AEST. 

CARLTON                  0.0     0.2     1.3     2.6 (18)
BRISBANE                 0.1     1.2     3.2     6.4 (40)            

Carlton: Gay, Vescio
Brisbane: Conway 2, Ashmore, Wuetschner, Gibson, Exon 

Carlton:  Moody, Gay, Harrington, J.Hosking, Loynes, Audley
Brisbane: McCarthy, Wuetschner, Frederick-Traub, Stanton, Exon, Conway 

Carlton:  Gee (concussion), Brazzale (shoulder)
Brisbane: Hildebrand (corked thigh) 

Reports: Nil

Umpires:  Rowe, Dore, McGinness

Official crowd: 6200