MELBOURNE 5.0, 8.0, 10.0, 11.4 (70) FREMANTLE 2.0, 2.3, 2.4, 2.4 (16) GOALS: Melbourne – Berry 2, Mifsud 2, Phillips 2, Scott 2, Newman, Humphries, Paxman. Fremantle – Houghton, AntonioBEST: Melbourne – Daisy Pearce, Lily Mithen, Elise O’Dea, Shelly Scott, Karen Paxman, Richelle Cranston. Fremantle – Dana Hooker, Amy Lavell, Lara FilocamaUMPIRES: Annie Mirabile, Ryan Guy, Michael PellCROWD: About 2000 at Casey Fields, Cranbourne
Melbourne have done everything within their power to push for an AFLW grand final berth, notching the biggest score thus far in thrashing the Fremantle Dockers by 56 points.
They must rely on Collingwood beating Adelaide in Melbourne on Sunday, but they can take consolation from an ultra-positive finish to the season with the impressive 11.4 (70) to 2.4 (16) victory.
The in-form Demons booted five goals straight in the first quarter and only recorded their first behind early in the final term as they touched up the listless Dockers in warm conditions in Melbourne’s south-east.
Melbourne star Daisy Pearce was central to the victory, dominant from the start and finishing with 22 possessions.
She won many clearances in the centre and was selfless with a hand in several of Melbourne’s early goals.
Adelaide will draw level with the Demons on five wins if they prevail over the Pies, but the Crows would advance to the grand final thanks to their superior percentage.
“I feel the longer our comp goes the better we’ll continue to get,” Melbourne coach Mick Stinear said.
“It’s win-win for us really. We’ll walk away from this season being proud of how far we’ve come and looking forward to next year’s challenge if things don’t go our way.
“But the girls are all preparing to play in a grand final, so their recovery becomes really important.
“We’re in second spot now, we’re in the grand final, and it’s up to Adelaide to take that away.
“[But] I hope the girls get the opportunity to play next week … I think they really deserve it with how they’ve developed over the course of the season.”
WHY MELBOURNE WON THE GAME
It was a pretty clinical team performance. Sure, there were stand-out games from Pearce, Elise O’Dea and Lily Mithen, but the Demons had contributors across the board and across the four quarters. Richelle Cranston, Karen Paxman and Shelly Scott were others to shine.
With eight goals to their credit by half-time and just two majors from the visitors, the match was done and dusted. They were solid and organised in defence.
Melbourne took full advantage of their numerous entries in the forward 50 but most times they had set up their attacks from the defensive half. In contrast, Freo at times looked disorganised in attack.
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
It was a wonderful team goal for the Demons at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter that ultimately gave them the highest score by any team this season.
Starting with Pearce in the back pocket, the Dees were nearly blemish-free as they carried the ball forward, eventually finishing in the hands of Paxman who slotted truly. At this point Melbourne had a deadly accurate 10.0 and the highest winning margin was also well within their sights.
There were many highlights but this coast-to-coast effort is one worth tracking down on the replay.
THE MOMENT THAT PEOPLE WILL TALK ABOUT
It’s a little unfair to single out a Fremantle lapse, but it did reflect the fortunes of the two teams on the day.
The Demons were dominating possession and the scoreboard midway through the second quarter when the Dockers made a rare foray forward. They desperately needed their third goal to somehow get back into the match.
Melbourne was penalised for a deliberate out of bounds, giving Freo’s Kirby Bentley a free kick deep in the left forward pocket. She did the right and creative thing by playing on but then tried too much. After evading her opponent, she should have snapped truly but instead dished off a handball. Opportunity missed.
WHAT THE WIN / LOSS MEANS FOR THE TEAMS
It was win number five for the Demons, including their fourth in their final five games, ensuring a positive finish to their regular season. Whether or not they somehow sneak into the season decider, they can look ahead with positivity to next year.
Fremantle’s season was already cooked, of course, but they finish with one win, five losses and one draw.
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