Collingwood has delivered an exciting indicator of its improvement this season, emphatically disposing of old rivals Carlton in an impressive display at Ikon Park on Sunday afternoon.
Despite missing gun recruit Bri Davey through injury, the Pies controlled proceedings from the outset to secure their first ever NAB AFLW victory over the Blues and ensure their unbeaten start to the season continued with a 15-point win.
A fast start in perfect conditions was the catalyst for the side's 6.3 (39) to 3.6 (24) victory, with Collingwood already eclipsing its win total from the entirety of last season throughout the opening fortnight of the campaign.
Sarah D'Arcy was the most creative influence on the field, providing a helping hand on a number of Collingwood scoring opportunities, with midfield duo Jaimee Lambert (21 disposals) and Brittany Bonnici (17 disposals) also playing pivotal roles in the victory.
Collingwood's win was inspired by a fast start at the home of its biggest rivals, with a 50m penalty gifting Jordyn Allen the game's opening goal within a minute before yet another undisciplined free kick enabled Jordan Membrey to put the visitors clear at the first change.
A similar pattern emerged after the break, with a pair of quick Collingwood counter-attacks leading to both Aishling Sheridan and D'Arcy walking into open goals as the Pies' lead stretched to 20 points.
Fortunately for the Blues, who at that point had only hit the scoreboard through Tayla Harris, a nice intercept and goal on the run from Lauren Brazzale halted their opposition's momentum and ensured they stayed within touching distance at half-time.
Carlton peppered the goal for the next portion of the game, but couldn't capitalise as Collingwood's backline stood firm to repel any damage. Early in the final quarter, it then took advantage at the other end as D'Arcy put it on a plate for Sophie Casey to ice the game.
Membrey added her second of the match following a nice grab at the top of the goal square, with the goal putting an exclamation point on what was a dominant performance from the Magpies.
Did you see that?
Or, perhaps more importantly, did you 'hear' that? Speaking to broadcasters after the game, Collingwood defender Stacey Livingstone had a few choice words for her opponent Tayla Harris: "You just have to stop her in the air, that's her game. If you can do that, she's useless." Harris finished with only six disposals and a goal from two marks.
Sarah D'Arcy was Collingwood's most influential player forward of centre, with her quality and craft in the forward line proving a constant headache for Carlton for much of the afternoon. D'Arcy was strong in the air, clean on the ground and dished out a number of opportunities to teammates to go with her 13 disposals and one goal.
Work in progress
Carlton's forward line remains an area in need of improvement. The Blues peppered for long periods within the game and actually won the inside 50 count 31-30, but couldn't get close to Collingwood after a slow start. Marquee players like Tayla Harris, Nicola Stevens and Darcy Vescio were well held in the forward line, leading to youngsters like Madison Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy being shifted into attack. However, when they couldn't spark the Blues, it appeared all hope was lost.
The first blow
It proved crucial to the outcome of the contest, with Collingwood delivering a statement of its intent inside the first minute. Having won the clearance from the centre bounce, Jordyn Allen marked strongly and was then the beneficiary of an undisciplined 50m penalty for encroachment. It put her to the goal line, leading to a routine finish that sparked a strong start.
"We chased tails. They were very good through the contest and coming out the front of that, which put a bit of pressure on us. We didn't deal well with that. But in the second half, we equalised that pretty well and gave ourselves a chance. Nine shots to nine, it's a pretty even game of footy." - Carlton coach Daniel Harford
"One of the key focuses in our group is the word 'improvement'. It's nice to win some games, but our major focus is just improving each week in what we're trying to do. We're taking some steps each week at this stage, but we've still got a lot of areas that we need to continue to work on." - Collingwood coach Stephen Symonds
Carlton travels to the VU Whitten Oval to take on the Western Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon, while Collingwood heads interstate to meet Fremantle at Fremantle Oval next Saturday night.
CARLTON 1.0 2.1 2.4 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 4.2 4.3 6.3 (39)
Carlton: Harris, Brazzale, Walker
Collingwood: Membrey 2, Allen, Sheridan, D'Arcy, Casey
Carlton: Dalton, Harrington, Egan, Laloifi, J.Hosking
Collingwood: Bonnici, D'Arcy, Sheridan, Lambert, Molloy, Cann, Livingstone
Crowd: 7529 at Ikon Park