Carlton hang on to beat Gold Coast in AFLW thriller


Carlton have survived a huge late scare to open their first AFLW season under new coach Mathew Buck with a tense two-point win over Gold Coast.

The Blues, fired by three goals from experienced forward Darcy Vescio, led by 23 points early in the last quarter.

But they conceded the final six scores of the game before hanging on for a 5.4 (34) to 4.8 (32) victory at Ikon Park on Saturday.

The Suns posted 3.3 in the latter stages, falling narrowly short of pulling off what would have been a stunning comeback.

"The way they just kept coming was pretty tough and it was a bit stressful at the end there," Carlton star Vescio told Fox Footy.

"We just tried to stay calm. Buck was talking about managing our emotions all game, so I'm glad we were able to do that."

Buck was appointed on a full-time basis in April and took over from long-time coach Daniel Harford, who departed in January after a review of Carlton's women's football program.

Vescio said it was "really special" to begin the new era with a win.

"Leading into this week there was a real sense of calm and excitement too, and I feel like we won't be the same team in round three or four," they said.

"It's a really nice feeling to know that we're going to grow from that.

"Whenever you get a win it just feels like all your hard work is worth it."

Jessica Dal Pos (19 disposals), Amelia Velardo (17), Abbie McKay (16) and Keeley Sherar (16, 12 tackles) were among the Blues' best contributors.

Gold Coast were well served by young star Charlie Rowbottom, who finished with game-high tallies of 25 disposals, 12 tackles and nine clearances.

She also kicked the Suns' only goal of the first half.

Claudia Whitfort (23 disposals) and Alison Drennan (18) were also busy for the visitors.

Carlton broke a tight contest open during the third quarter and looked home when Vescio's third major - kicked out of mid-air on the goal-line - gave them a 23-point buffer.

But Gold Coast replies through Jordan Membrey, Tara Bohanna and Jamie Stanton cut the deficit to just two points with plenty of time left for the Suns to pinch the game.

The Blues' defence held firm in the desperate final minutes as both sides threw everything at the contest.

Gold Coast won the inside-50 count 36-25 and had three extra scoring shots but couldn't make the most of their chances in attack.

"We created opportunities, we just didn't take them ... hence we lose by a couple of points," Suns coach Cameron Joyce said.