Essendon on verge of finals

Amber Clarke.(Joe Mastroianni). 294022_05

Essendon have just about locked in its first ever AFLW finals spot, after defeating Carlton at Windy Hill on Sunday afternoon.

The Bombers got off to a flying start against the Blues, kicking the first six goals of the game, keeping the Blues scoreless to half time.

From there the game was over as the Bombers head into the final home and away match with a 8.8 (56)- 3.6 (24) win.

Coach Natalie Wood said she was happy with the way her side responded to last week’s shock loss to the West Coast Eagles.

“I was really happy with the way we started the game,” she said.

“We spoke about being off our best last week and I thought today the players did a really good job of turning up ready to compete.

“We also took our opportunities when we had them in the first half.

“Carlton were really good in the second half and equalised a lot of the ball around the middle.

“It was a good bit of growth for us in that we started well and were able to capitalise.”

Wood said making the most of opportunities was one of the key differences between this weekend and last weekend’s performance.

“Also being better around the ball,” she said.

“We had better balance and different personnel.

“We know how explosive Carlton can be around the middle and we started to see that in the back half of the game.

“But we were able to take that away from them in the first which gave us some looks forward which was really good.”

Sophie Alexander celebrated her 50th AFLW game on the weekend, after starting her career with Collingwood. She was one of the Bomber’s key contributors on Saturday, booting three goals and having 14 disposals.

“She’s terrific Soph,” Wood said.

“We ask a lot of all our players.

“So to see Soph play so well, she plays so well to our structure, she commands the others.

“I thought today she was terrific at taking her opportunities.

“When you see someone have a really successful day in a milestone game, it’s extra special.”

Maddy Prespakis (28, seven clearances) starred against her former side, and was ably assisted by Georgia Nanscawen (18 and six) in the stoppages, while Georgia Clarke provided a steady head in defence.

Essendon will be playing off for elimination final hosting rights next week when it meets Gold Coast in Mackay.