Darcy Vescio has sealed her second AFLW leading goalkicker award and helped Carlton finish their season with a thrilling one-point win over Greater Western Sydney at Blacktown Oval.
North Melbourne’s victory on Saturday meant both sides were playing for pride in Sydney’s west on Sunday, rather than a potential spot in the finals.
Vescio and Giants forward Cora Staunton loomed as likely match-winners at various stages of the topsy-turvy contest, while Carlton star Maddy Prespakis finished with a game-high 27 disposals.
Vescio booted two goals then stepped during the final three minutes of the game, holding two marks on the last line of defence to ensure the Blues prevailed 4.8 (32) to 4.7 (31).
There were emotional scenes from Carlton after the final siren as they chaired off the retiring players Alison Downie and Katie Loynes.
Vescio, who topped the AFLW goalkicking charts after the inaugural season in 2017, finished with 16 goals for the year.
The Blues star broke her own record for the most prolific AFLW season ever, while 39-year-old Irishwoman Staunton capped another impressive campaign with 2.4
GWS were sharper at the outset, leading to a snapped goal from Staunton in the second minute.
Vescio quickly replied with a set-shot goal that delivered her outright lead on the league’s goalkicking table.
Momentum continued to ebb and flow; Carlton shot out to an 18-point lead early in the third quarter thanks to Vescio’s second goal but it would have been a far bigger buffer if not for their inaccuracy in front of the posts.
The Giants, led by Staunton, Alyce Parker, Bec Beeson and Tait Mackrill, fought back gallantly.
The second of Mackrill’s two snapped goals reduced the visitors’ lead to one point with a tick over six minutes remaining in both sides’ seasons.
Carlton clung on during a frantic finish full of repeat stoppages.
GWS had plenty of the ball, but Vescio ran back to the goal square and held marks to deny what could have been match-winning goals from Mackrill and Parker.