AFLW Round 1 – Melbourne v GWS: Dees win in tight first round tussle

Melbourne v GWS Giants

5.05pm, Saturday 3 February

Casey Fields, Melbourne


At the end of the first season of the AFLW, the Dees loss to GWS was essentially what cost them a place in the Grand Final. The Giants played better last season than their last place on the ladder, so this first round match-up was an interesting way to discover how both clubs had used their offseason.


The first quarter was spent mostly in the Dees forward for little reward, while the Giants seemed to score easily when the ball was in their attacking 50. The increase in pace and accuracy with foot from both teams was clear from the first bounce, with good use of the whole ground to provide opportunities for their players. Paxman was a standout for the Dees, seeming to be everywhere, although her game was cut very short due to a back injury.


The second quarter saw the first case of premature fireworks in an AFL fixture, with the Casey attendants setting one lot off for a touched point that they thought was a goal. It’s an interesting thing to be sitting at a sports ground in daylight and having fireworks going off every time the Dees scored a goal. Maybe the money spent on fireworks could be spent on the players?


Back on the field, the Dees couldn’t capitalise on many entries into fifty, even with pressure from Mithen, Scott and Phillips and going into half time the Giants were ahead by a couple of goals. The first half proved that the Giants are not to be underestimated, with players like Staunton and Tully collecting easy possessions. For the Dees to win, they needed to convert entries into 50 into goals; a quiet game from Daisy Pearce was also helping the Giants cause.


Whatever Mick Stinear said to the Dees at half time certainly worked, with the Melbourne outfit coming out and kicking two quick goals through Cunningham and Cranston. The rest of the quarter was more evenly poised, with McWilliams proving the difference between the two sides and making the Dees pay by converting some excellent forward pressure close to the three-quarter time siren.


The crowd at Casey was treated to a tense final term, with both teams showing ferocity around the ball. Most of the quarter was played with the scores tied, building pressure on the field and in the crowd. In the end, it was some brilliant work from Cranston that gave the Dees a 6-point win, kicking two goals in the last quarter and showing the reward for a solid preseason.


Melbourne were lucky to win this game. The Giants had Melbourne in all sorts of trouble for the first half of the match and were able to score quite freely. If Melbourne was named one of the title contenders in 2018 by media and punters alike, then the rest of the competition should be wary of the Giants.


Phoebe McWilliams was brilliant in the forward line for GWS with three goals, and will certainly need to be tagged if teams want to beat them. She was supported well by Gum, Eva and Barclay who racked up possessions easily. Daisy Pearce and Elise O’Dea worked hard from the first bounce to provide stability for the Dees, and Cranston, Paxman, Mithen and Scott certainly showed their strength and speed around the ball. For both teams there was an even spread of disposals and players willing to take control of the play, meaning that the debutants could work their way into the game too.


For the crowd of 5100, this was an entertaining and tense game of football that was not impacted by the controversial ‘last touch’ rule. It showed the dramatic improvement by all players over the break, and the debutants in this match could holds their heads high knowing they contributed. This Dees supporter went home happy (with Rocky’s signature on her jumper) and in just as much awe of all players as after that first match in February 2017.


Melbourne 1.2 1.3 4.3 7.3 (45)

GWS 2.0 3.0 5.2 6.3 (39)



Melbourne: Cranston 3, S. Scott 2, Cunningham, Hore

GWS: McWilliams 3, Barclay 2, Staunton



Melbourne: O’Dea, D Pearce, Cranston, S Scott

GWS: McWilliams, Barclay, Farrugia, Gum


OUR VOTES: Cranston (Melb) 3, P McWilliams (Melb) 2, D Pearce (Melb) 1


About Cat Jones

When I'm not busy teaching secondary students, I'm thinking about sport. Hopeful of a Demons premiership.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Cat,
    watched on the TV this and agree with your assessment. Daisy Pearce made the difference, the Melbourne experienced players stepped up second half but only just made it through. Phoebe McWilliams is a gun, loved her work. It’s going to be interesting to see how Paxman recovers and how the women improve. Excellent stuff.

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