AAP AFL

Blues survive late scare to win in AFLW

By AAP Newswire

Carlton coach Daniel Harford is bullish about their AFLW finals hopes after holding off the Western Bulldogs for a third-straight win.

The Bulldogs stormed home in the last quarter on Sunday at Whitten Oval with five goals to one, but paid for earlier inaccuracy with the three-point loss.

Carlton have topped Conference B and will host Fremantle in a preliminary final after the 6.5 (41) to 5.8 (38) win.

The Blues had to lose the AFLW's annual Pride game badly to be dislodged from top spot in their conference.

Despite Fremantle finishing second in Conference A, which is clearly the stronger group, Harford has no qualms about the final.

"I'm very confident that our upward trajectory is very dangerous at the moment," he said.

"I wouldn't want to play us."

Top spot is a triumph for the Blues, who had finished at the bottom last season.

It is also Harford's first season as an AFLW senior coach.

He was unfussed about how Sunday's game ended.

"It certainly wasn't the ideal finish but, when you're in the position that the Bulldogs were in, with their season effectively over, you just take the game by the horns and that's what they did," he said.

"We just took a long time to react.

"I can imagine the (Carlton) girls' minds might have even wandered a little bit as well."

Just as the Blues went from last to first, the Bulldogs went from reigning premiers to bottom of Conference A.

"We're clearly not a bottom-of-the-conference team - but we are, in results," said Bulldogs coach Paul Groves.

"In our ability and the quality of girls we have in our program, it's astronomical."

Groves pointed to the second term on Sunday, when the Bulldogs sprayed 0.5 and they trailed by 28 points at three-quarter time.

"AFLW is such a game that you must take your chances in front of goal," he said.

One of the highlights of their final-term resurgence was Irish forward Aisling McCarthy celebrating her goal with a jig to mark St Patrick's Day.

Blues captain Bri Davey and newcomer Maddy Prespakis starred and Brooke Walker kicked three goals, while Monique Conti and Ellie Blackburn were outstanding for the Bulldogs.