The Southern Saints have defeated Carlton in an impressive 24-point win at Skybus Stadium on Sunday.
Overcoming strong winds, Peta Searle’s side triumphed over a young Carlton outfit boasting nine AFLW players.
Their 4.10 (34) to 1.4 (10) victory means only percentage separates them from second spot after the opening three rounds of the VFLW season.
The Saints side featured high-quality efforts from Olivia Vesely and Deanna Jolliffe, as well as a dominant performance from Tilly Lucas-Rodd.
Francesca Hocking was formidable as the Saints’ last line of defence, with elite ball distribution setting up superb linkages down the wings and into the forward line.
Dominating the ruck battle was Jemima Kelly, while Kelly O’Neill also played key hands in the victory, remaining steady in difficult conditions.
Cat Phillips proved dangerous once again, racking up possessions through the midfield and powering her team forward from the stoppages.
The Saints dominated play in the first term but failed to capitalise, trailing by two behinds at the first break.
Coming into the second quarter the wind was now on their side, however the team struggled to break out of defence with Carlton clearly commanding play.
It was an exceptional defensive effort led by Hocking that finally saw the Saints break free in the latter part of the quarter.
Alison Brown booted the first goal of the match, followed just minutes later by Caitlin Greiser who slotted a set shot to take the margin out to 13 heading into half time.
A goal from Carlton early in the third proved that they were not out of the contest, but the Saints upped their intensity and managed to hold firm.
The final term was played almost entirely in the Saints’ attacking 50, with two unanswered goals from Lucas-Rodd and Vogt securing victory for the red, white and black.
Searle commended her side on a hard-earned victory.
“To dominate possession against the wind was a real positive,” she said.
“Structurally we set up really well going into the last quarter, giving us plenty of opportunities inside 50 and making it really hard for them to score.”
Looking forward she says the team will keep working on the fundamentals.
“The girls must learn to keep believing in their own strengths. If we can get all the girls to continually play to their strengths we will go a long way to become a really good footy side,” she said.
Next week the Southern Saints take on top side Casey.