RICHMOND has extended its winning streak to six games with a hard-fought 10-point win over Carlton at Ikon Park - its first victory over the Blues in AFLW history.
After a slow start where the Tigers conceded 26 points, they ultimately won 6.8 (44) to the Blues' 5.4 (34) on Friday evening to open Pride Round.
The Blues controlled the opening term, dominating territory and really challenging the Richmond defence, but it took eight minutes to break through for their first goal, a beauty from the pocket by way of Mimi Hill. From then, it was a first-quarter onslaught as the Blues went on to kick their highest ever opening quarter score.
It was a different story in the second, however, as Richmond found space through the middle of the ground, began to hit targets and, importantly, Monique Conti started to have her say with ball in hand. It became much more of an armwrestle, and each team exchanged impressive running handball chains and strong intercept marks, and Richmond slowly pegged back that early deficit to trail by just three points at the final break.
As the Tigers found more meaningful possession and repeat forward entries, Courtney Wakefield became the most dangerous forward on the ground, taking two contested marks and finishing the game with four goals.
BLUES v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
The Darcy Vescio defender experiment continued for the first three quarters, but as Richmond surged and Carlton were found wanting in attack, the competition-leading goalkicker was switched forward to provide an option. With the switch, Gab Pound moved from attack to her home of defence.
Richmond was able to create space in its forward line, and then bear down on Carlton's defenders with immerse pressure, forcing worried disposal when they looked to exit the back 50.
Sarah Hosking's grunt around the ball was a welcome addition for Richmond's midfield, while Katie Brennan added another tall target in attack which forced Carlton's defenders to play accountable footy even if she wasn't quite racking up the stats.
Carlton's dynamic duo of Mimi Hill and Abbie McKay excelled once again, combining for seven clearances and 39 disposals, but it was McKay's ability to drive the ball forward that was particularly valuable. Because of her impact, McKay had Richmond tagger Meg MacDonald to contend with in the final quarter.
It becomes near on impossible for the Blues to make finals from here, still a game and percentage out of the top eight, while the Tigers have a sniff at a top four spot.
Carlton on fire
With pride in the air and a celebration of captain Kerryn Peterson's 50th game, Carlton came out with a bang and kicked its highest-ever opening quarter score. Goals came through Mimi Hill, Peterson, Gab Pound and Taylor Ortlepp as the Blues controlled territory and piled on the pain for the Tigers defence. Ortlepp's goal, her first in AFLW footy and Peterson's, to complete the club's set of 50 gamers kicking a goal in their milestone game, were particularly special.
The 'hot girl hot streak' extends
As coined by Richmond midfielder Grace Egan earlier in the week, Richmond's "hot girl hot streak" has been extended to six games with this win over the Blues. Across its first three seasons in the competition Richmond won a total of six games. They have now done that in the space of six weeks and are finals bound for the first time.
Carlton must travel north to take on Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Friday night, where the Blues kicked their highest ever score against the Suns back in 2021, meanwhile Richmond continues its push to finals against Greater Western Sydney in the first-ever AFLW match in Mildura on Sunday afternoon.
CARLTON 4.2 4.3 5.3 5.4 (34)
RICHMOND 1.1 2.4 4.6 6.8 (44)
Carlton: Hill, Peterson, Pound, Ortlepp, Skepper
Richmond: Wakefield 4, S.Hosking, Brennan
Carlton: Hill, McKay, Moody, Peterson
Richmond: Conti, Wakefield, S.Hosking, McKenzie
Crowd: TBC at Ikon Park