AFLW Round 7 – Melbourne v Fremantle: Destructive Demons keep finals hopes alive
4.35pm, Saturday 18 March
Casey Fields, Melbourne
Last weekend, the Demons proved that they were truly one of the most efficient and capable teams in this inaugural season by beating the Crows by two points. In their last game of the season, they had to beat the Dockers to hold on to their finals chance. The decision by the AFL to have a first v second grand final after the short season meant that the last round of matches had everything riding on it.
And didn’t the Dees know it.
It was clear during the warm up that the Melbourne players would be trying to create as much space as possible for their forwards. The whole side had a look of determination on their faces; this would be one hard team to stop. Unfortunately for the Dockers, their captain and inspiration for the Round 6 win against Carlton, Kara Donnellan, was out injured. This combination would prove too much for the Dockers.
From the opening bounce, the Dees showed that they deserved to be in the final, potentially more than any other side. A quick clean kick from Daisy Pearce straight to Mifsud and the Dees had their first goal within the first minute. What followed from this opening goal was one of the best performances from any club in the season, and a record-breaking score set by the Dees.
Over the match, the drive of the Melbourne squad had become a tight unit, often working in groups to ensure the flow of the ball into the forward line. Pre-season, Daisy Pearce and Mel Hickey were penciled in to be some of the best players in the team, if not the league. What stood out in the game against the Dockers was that every single Melbourne player had grown in confidence and knew their role. They were not relying on one or two players to drive momentum.
The goals came from a range of players, and not just the forwards. Cat Phillips showed that she was handy right across the ground and her run provided the spark for many forward fifty entries. There were multiple players with two goals – Berry, Phillips, Mifsud, Scott – and the deliberate tactic to get within 20 metres of the goals worked. The Dees were 10 goals straight at the end of the third quarter, aided by a calmness in front of goals on set shots.
Unfortunately for Fremantle, the ease in which the Demons scored goals was coupled with a backline that was like a brick wall. No matter what the Dockers tried, the pressure of Scott, Grierson, Hickey and Duryea, along with support from others, was too much and the Dockers could only manage four points in the last three quarters. The Demons pressure across the ground meant that even though the Dockers went inside 50 23 times, they could only manage 2.4 for the game.
It was definitely not the way that the Dockers wanted to end their season, but they came up against a team that had much more to play for. The Demons of the last round were nothing like the team that missed many opportunities in front of goals against the Suns, or the team that struggled in the wet. The Dees were used to the heat, having travelled to Darwin the week before, and had learnt from that game how to use rotations to ensure that no player was working beyond capacity.
When the final siren went, the Dees were emphatic 54-point winners. They had boosted their percentage and all that remained was to see who would win out of the Crows and Pies. A Crows win and they were in, while a Pies win or a draw would mean the Dees would make the finals.
In a way, it would be a shame if the Dees season were to end this weekend, as they are clearly the in-form team of the competition. Whatever happens, the Demons can be proud of all they achieved in this inaugural season – especially of setting the highest score in AFLW.
Melbourne 5.0 8.0 10.0 11.4 (70)
Fremantle 2.0 2.3 2.4 2.4 (16)
Melbourne: Berry, Mifsud, Scott, Phillips 2, Paxman, Newman, Humphries
Fremantle: Antonio, Houghton
Melbourne: Phillips, O’Dea, Paxman, Mithen, D Pearce, Grierson, Scott
Fremantle: Hooker, Filocamo, Houghton
OUR VOTES: O’Dea (Melb) 3, D Pearce (Melb) 2, Scott (Melb) 1