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Carlton and Collingwood open the AFLW season for the fourth time on Friday night – and season seven will be the biggest yet.

Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and the Sydney Swans will all have teams in the 18-club competition this season. When AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan announced the expansion plans 12 months ago, he declared the competition was “now full”.

The Blues and Magpies have started the 2017, 2018 and 2021 seasons. The two teams have played five times, with Collingwood winning 3-2 at Carlton.

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Collingwood has been one of the best AFLW teams in recent years, making the finals in each of the past three seasons.

After making the 2019 grand final and winning the semi-finals before the 2020 season was shut down due to Covid, the Blues have missed out on the finals with seventh and eighth place finishes in the past two seasons.

The Magpies will unveil a new-look midfield unit, with the All-Australian duo of Chloe Molloy and Ruby Schlecker swapping front and back.

This match kicks off at 7.10pm AEST from Icon Park.

Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504) from 6.30pm AEST.

Quarter-by-quarter match report

It was a tough and tense start to the game, with Carlton’s Darcy Vescio under strong defensive pressure from Magpies star Ruby Schleicher.

Asked if Vessio could be in trouble, Leigh Montagna of Fox Footy said: “The action concerns the court as a whole.” The good thing is that Schleicher gets straight back to her feet and there’s probably no head contact, so I’m sure that will be seen because that’s a risky move. We’ve seen it on two occasions in the men’s game this season, but the good thing is that Schleicher stepped up, so I’ll give it to Vesio.

The Blues hit the scoreboard first, with 18-year-old Mia Austin kicking her first AFLW goal from kick-off.

But the Magpies responded with two quick goals as Jordan Membry and Eloise Chaston converted chances to give PS the lead.

Vescio, playing his 50th AFLW game, won a free kick and kicked his 52nd career goal to go two goals up at quarter time.

AFLW match review could be a busy one on Friday, with Collingwood young gun Imogen Evans applying a tackle on Carlton’s Daisy Walker to cause Carlton’s pace to decay.

Commentators suggested that Evans might be anxious for the match review findings, but Montana Walker pointed out that she was down on Sherri.

That hurts when the ball hits you in the broken basket and hits the ground. She looked like she was struggling to breathe,” Montagna said.

“I don’t think there is any problem (with the addition) because there was no head contact.

“They’re pushing the boundaries, all these players … it’s a very physical game.”

Minutes later, Tarni Brown extended Collingwood’s 14-point lead to five at the main change before Evans pounced on a loose ball and kicked her first AFLW goal.

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