CARLTON has survived a late scare to beat the Western Bulldogs by three points as they topped their AFLW conference.
The Blues will host Fremantle in a preliminary final after holding off the Bulldogs 6.5 (41) to 5.8 (38) on Sunday at Whitten Oval.
A bumper crowd of 9609 nearly saw a remarkable comeback win by the Bulldogs, who kicked five goals to one in the last quarter.
While the Bulldogs went from premiers to bottom in Conference A, the Blues topped Conference B after claiming last season’s wooden spoon.
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.
Carlton looked home at three-quarter time in the AFLW’s annual Pride game with a 28-point lead after keeping the Bulldogs goal-less.
The Blues kicked three goals in the first term and another two in the second, while the Bulldogs sprayed seven behinds.
There was no goal in the third term as the Blues had repeat inside 50s and the Bulldogs defended desperately.
But the game was turned on its head in the first five minutes of the last quarter.
Bulldogs co-captain Katie Brennan kicked their first goals at two minutes and Aisling McCarthy followed with the second a couple of minutes later.
When Libby Birch was awarded two 50m penalties and kicked an easy goal, the Dogs remarkably closed to within nine points.
Chloe Dalton kicked her second goal at 15 minutes to give the Blues the breathing space they needed.
© AAP 2019
CARLTON 3.2 5.2 5.5 6.5 (41)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 0.7 0.7 5.8 (38)
Goals: Carlton: B Walker 3 C Dalton 2 T Harris. Western Bulldogs: A McCarthy E Blackburn I Huntington K Brennan L Birch.
Best: Carlton: B Davey M Prespakis C Dalton B Walker. Western Bulldogs: M Conti E Blackburn A McCarthy K Lamb.
Umpires: Jack Edwards, Jamie Broadbent, Bronte Annand.
Official Crowd: 6,541 at Whitten Oval.