Dees Try The Patience Of The Saints

March 13, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Round 6 – Melbourne V St Kilda

Liam Chambers

Whereas the Pies kept Melbourne in their defensive half for most of Round 5, this week we had St Kilda on the back foot from the opening siren. The Saints were hemmed in and couldn’t a path out of their defensive 50. When Maddi Gay saw Daisy in the perfect goal kicking spot, Pearce was able to notch up her first major of the season.

Then as a flurry of Saints raced up the pitch, the Dees took back possession almost immediately, starting a handball chain from Paxman to Cunningham to Gay who kicked again to Pearce on the 50m line. When Daisy floated another handball to Alyssa Bannan, the forward was in a perfect position to launch a kick through the uprights.

Melbourne was tackling well and going hard, especially Tyla Hanks who has amazing equilibrium. She has a natural ability to run, turn, scoop up the ball and kick accurately, all while her opponents are turning around wondering where she’s gone. The Dees showed none of the indecisiveness that plagued their performance last week. With Eden Zanker playing so well, you could feel her frustration at not being able to score with a last minute kick hitting the post.

Only 14-0 to the good at quarter time, Melbourne could justifiably feel disappointed not to be further ahead. With thirteen inside 50s to nil, the Dees had completely dominated St Kilda but it was only a matter of time before they came under some pressure themselves.

However, Melbourne remained calm, playing their way out of trouble and up the field. Daisy’s kick from the 50m line was blocked and St Kilda ran back towards their goal. The Dees found themselves defending again. It was short lived though as Melbourne headed goalward with Pearce hand-balling to Hanks who ran, bounced and passed to Paxman who returned the favour. As Hanks launched a running kick towards the goal square she was pushed and a free was awarded. With Shelley Scott taking the set shot, the ball sailed through for the Dees’ third of the night.

Finally St Kilda got a break when some stumbling play inside 50 ended with Nat Exon somehow getting a look at goal. She went for it and claimed the Saints first of the night. Energised, St Kilda started to pile on the pressure and Melbourne started to lose some of their composure; turning the ball over and allowing the Saints to maintain possession.

Eventually the Dees managed to play their way out and made it up to the other end of the ground. With Tegan Cunningham awarded a lucky free kick from thirty metres out, she didn’t waste the opportunity. As Melbourne increased their lead in the second quarter, they would have felt confident heading into the latter half of the match.

That confidence was personified by Zanker when spun out of a tackle, effectively passed the ball to herself and delivered a beautifully targeted kick to Daisy Pearce who was waiting patiently in the goal square. Having only scored three goals during her entire career in AFLW, Pearce now had two in a single game. Kudos to the decision makers for placing her in her new role. A minute later Bannan also got her second when a running kick from Eliza McNamara dropped the ball into her path, allowing the forward to soccer kick straight through the uprights.

With a thirty one point lead the future was looking bright for the Dees. Then they had to wear shades as a thumping kick from Jacqui Parry, forty metres out, stretched the margin still further. Maddi Gay had a few chances late in the quarter but was unable to add to the tally.

Melbourne were painfully aware before the game that Round 6 was a must win contest. With a horror run home, their percentage on the table would also be pivotal. A thirty nine point advantage was a good start and they needed to keep the pressure on the Saints to make sure that lead didn’t slip.

Melbourne held St Kilda in their 50 and peppered the goal square without landing the knockout blow. Then after some rampaging play towards goal, Eliza McNamara managed to collect the ball and score her first AFLW six pointer. Eden Zanker was having a terrific game but her twentieth disposal didn’t result in a goal. It was certainly a bitter sweet moment.

The next goal was at the other end though as Claudia Whitfort got one back. It was only a fleeting turnaround for the Saints however, as Melbourne resume their dominance. When McNamara handballed to Cunningham, it looked like Tegan might get caught holding but she managed to get it away to Hore who slotted it through for the Dees’ ninth.

As the term was wrapping up, Tamara Luke was able to salvage some St Kilda pride when she grabbed the sherrin thirty five metres out and then kicked her first AFLW goal. The fourth debut goal of the night.

Next week we face the fancied Crows. It’s a home game so we have that advantage. The tipping competition has us as an 18% chance to win. Not great odds for a home game. What chance will it give us next week when we face Freo in Perth?

Anyway we can take heart from the win against St Kilda and all you can do is give each game your best. If Melbourne is good enough, they’ll make the final. There are no more more easy games so…

Go the Mighty Dees!!!!!

 

Where Have All The Goal Kickers Gone?

March 6, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, NSW Demons 

AFLW – Round 5 – Collingwood V Melbourne –

Liam Chambers

After last week’s disappointing loss to the Bulldogs, the Dees needed to seize the momentum early. Unfortunately it was the Pies who struck first when Chloe Molloy was awarded a set shot for an infringement.

Then there was more concern when Sinead Goldrick looked to have re injured her knee. Luckily, there seems to have been minimal damage caused. After spending the first five minutes in their defensive 50, the Dees made some headway up the field. Collingwood’s defence was too good though and Melbourne found themselves backtracking without gaining any advantage.

In each of the first three Rounds, Melbourne was dominant in the opening quarters. Even against the Dogs, we controlled the play in our half. However Collingwood took command from the start, marking and kicking well, putting Melbourne on the defensive. Whenever the Dees got too close to scoring, the Pies calmly passed and kicked their way out of trouble.

Finally, Melbourne had a chance when Maddie Gay was taken high. Her set shot went wide for a point. In the last few minutes, the Dees maintained possession but seemed plagued by indecision. When the siren sounded, we could consider ourselves lucky to be only trailing by one goal.

With Collingwood ahead in most of the first quarter statistics, Melbourne needed to knuckle down in order to reverse the trend. However it was the Pies who continued to call the shots and they were unlucky when they hit the post for a second time in the match. Melbourne were at sixes and sevens trying to fend off the attack. Even the ever reliable Daisy Pearce managed to turn the ball over when clearing from the goal square. Aishling Sheridan didn’t hesitate when gifted the chance, kicking the sherrin straight through the uprights.

With the Pies back up at their goal end after the bounce, Melbourne’s defence, normally so consistently steady, was making rookie mistakes. Then the Dees made a dash towards their own goal with Tyla Hanks marking the ball on the run. Her measured tap towards Shelley Scott was forwarded to Kate Hore who failed to take it cleanly. Her subsequent attempt to scoop up the loose ball and burst through was slammed down.

Collingwood continued upping the pressure but then the Dees had a break through on the back of some clever play. First Kate Hore marked from about thirty five metres out but decided to kick to Scott. Shelley took her set shot from a similar distance but missed to the right. Melbourne’s lack of efficiency over the last couple of games has been a bonus for their opponents. A few choice scoring opportunities went begging for the Dees in the second quarter.

Having weathered the Melbourne storm, the Pies went back on the offensive in a major attack. First Chloe Molloy kicked her second on the run before Mikala Cann grabbed the bouncing ball from a throw in and had an easy path to kick Collingwood’s fourth six pointer. While the Pies were on top form in the first half, they also made the Dees looked pedestrian. Melbourne needed to come out fighting if they wanted to get back into the game.

It was a better start for the Dees but both early shots on goal from Tyla Hanks and Sinead Goldrick sailed wide. After dominating for the first five minutes, Melbourne allowed Collingwood to break through and almost conceded another goal. Luckily Aishling Sheridan’s shot hit the post. If all three of the Pies’ strikes on the upright had gone through, the Dees would have been done and dusted by now.

Melbourne again made inroads towards their goal but were again hampered by indecision. The Dees remained goalless; a situation that didn’t alter when Mattie Gay was awarded free kick for a brilliant tackle inside 50. Alas her set shot went wide and the frustration continued in a quarter dominated by Melbourne’s possession of the footy. When Kate Hore marked and kicked to Lily Mithen who in turn kicked the ball back to Hore, it seems like a sensible decision as it placed Kate Hore in a better position in front of goal. Again though it drifted behind for a minor score.

Even when they were dominating, Melbourne seemed directionless. Their set shots kept veering either side of the target. Finally Lauren Pearce saved Demon blushes when she first marked superbly, then ran through a clear path to launch the ball towards goal.

Trailing by sixteen points Melbourne needed to re-enact the third quarter only with more accurate kicking. Regrettably it was the Pies who came out swinging and the Dees again struggled to contain them. When Chloe Molloy marked directly in front of goal and score her third, it looked too high a mountain for Melbourne to climb. The Dees seemed to have lost all confidence in front of goal. When presented with set shot chances, they increasingly opted to go short.

They desperately needed to recapture their sense of self belief. Collingwoods’ sixth goal owed as much to Melbourne’s sloppy clearing as it did to Brianna Davey’s reaction in taking advantage of the error. Davey got her second when the ball dropped in front of her in the pack. Seeing the path to goal was clear, she snapped it through to increase the lead to thirty six points. Kate Hore’s snap kick at the other end summed up Melbourne’s game, with the sherrin again floating across the front of goal.

To misquote the Bard, the Dees have of late, but wherefore they know not, lost all their mojo. I’m crossing everything that they find it before Saturday’s game against the Saints at Casey Fields. With the top five positions largely settled (barring some huge upsets) the best we can hope for is to clinch sixth spot. It will be a toss up between us, the Roos, Carlton, St Kilda and GWS.

With four games to go we have to win Round 6, then take it one match at a time. I’m sure the last two games have been an aberration; how often have we heard the word in relation to Melbourne? We’ve shown we can compete with the best teams, we just need to remember how to kick goals.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Heaven 17 – Melbourne v North Melbourne

February 20, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Liam Chambers

I’m not sure what the players had for breakfast but both sides began at a frenetic pace that barely slowed for the entire game.

Kate Hore had an early chance but only managed a minor score. Karen Paxman was typically on form apart from a miskick back across goal which was collected by North Melbourne, allowing Grace Campbell a set shot in front of goal. Then Melbourne were penalised for not returning the footy and Emma Kearney slotted the Roos’ second.

The Dees would have been frustrated to give the opposition two easy goals so early in the game but they fought on, tackling hard. They were rewarded when Shelley Scott marked the ball thirty five metres out but disappointedly converted for a minor score. Then Kate Hore’s banana kick from the sideline was marked by Jacqui Parry from the pack in front of goal. Her easy miss from Round 2 would have been in the back of her mind, however she didn’t miss this time and Melbourne went in at quarter time only trailing by four points.

The second term started at 100mph. Jacqui Parry continued to mark well and her passing play was impressive. You could see the Dees upping their game as Kate Hore kicked their second. When Tegan Cunningham marked and scored from thirty metres, the margin stretched to eight points. Melbourne’s tackling was ferocious and effective; especially Lily Mithen who seemed to be everywhere. Niamh McEvoy’s kick to Scott was marked and kicked for one of the goals of the match.

The Dees onslaught was interrupted briefly when Daisy Bateman got one back. North Melbourne were good in defence but the Dees were making the most of their opportunities. Parry didn’t waste her chance when she was awarded a free kick twenty metres in front of goal. Melbourne was pouncing on everything and everything was going their way. Tegan Cunningham got her second from another free to increase the lead to twenty points. However the icing on the quarter came when Parry launched a superb running kick in the last minute of the term to score her hat trick.

After an incredible second term, the Dees needed to be careful not to let their guard against such a quality opposition. However, nothing was going to stop the Roos’ attempt to redress the balance. Jasmine Garner’s opening goal of the second half was an important strike for North Melbourne and put the Dees on notice as the margin was reduced back to twenty points.

The Roos were going in hard and Melbourne struggled to hold them off despite the valiant effort in defence. Daria Bannister was channeling Alyssa Bannan from last week when she scored back to back goals for North Melbourne in less than a minute. With Dees nerve’s fluttering, Karen Paxman provided the perfect antidote with her kick from thirty five metres in front of goal.

The Roos continued to push hard but Melbourne’s defence fought equally hard. Unfortunately Sinead Goldrick gave away a free kick in front of goal and Sophie Abbatangelo didn’t miss from point blank range. With the difference only seven points North Melbourne threw everything at their goal. The Dees were equally motivated to prevent a last minute tragedy. Then Goldrick redeemed herself brilliantly by marking the ball in front of goal with only seconds to go.

Melbourne knew they couldn’t afford to sit back trying to protect their lead for the full final term so they went in hard to try and sew up the result. Now it was North Melbourne’s turn to scramble in defence as the Dees tackled hard, hoping to get the upper hand. With the Roos getting a break against the run of play, Captain Daisy Pearce, stellar in defence all night, made an important smother and chased the attack to the sideline. The Dees defence was in overdrive.

Suddenly back up the other end, Casey Sherriff tried a soccer kick at goal but only just missed, slipping wide for a minor. Just as suddenly, the Roos were on the of Melbourne’s defensive inside 50 and Isabella Eddey received a good pass before kicking directly into goal and reducing the Dees’ lead to two points.

Melbourne went on the offensive, desperate not to lose, having been twenty seven points ahead at half time. Alyssa Bannan has a chance from 35 metres out but only managed a minor score. The Dees kept pushing forward and the Roos, under extreme pressure, got a lucky break when a high tackle on Goldrick was overlooked by the Umpire. Instead a free was awarded to North Melbourne. The Roos made it all the way to their inside 50 with ninety seconds left but a free kick was given Melbourne’s way.

It was back and forth for the next minute until Bannan snared a free kick on the sideline half way down the pitch. As the ball made it’s way towards the uprights, Bannan reappeared but her kick to goal is touched. However Shelley Scott was taken high as she scrambled for possession. As the siren sounded, it was all academic but Scott took two steps and kicked beautifully to give Melbourne a nine point win.

The victory put the Dees on top of the table for the second Saturday night in a row. This time though, their position was less precarious as they claimed three wins from three games. Last week I felt we were being sorely underestimated when the tipping competition had us a 17% chance to win. Fast forward a week and we’re currently an 82% chance to defeat the Bulldogs on Sunday.

The Dogs have two wins under their belt and a close loss against the Saints, so they won’t be a pushover. If we can play sustain the fighting spirit and skill that’s got us this far, then we’re in a good position to make it an unprecedented four wins in a row.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

AFLW – Heaven 17 – Melbourne v North

Mithen Crash Tackles Giants In Last Gasp Act

April 4, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, NSW Demons 

Semi Final – Greater Western Sydney Vs Melbourne

It was very sad to hear that both the AFLW and the AFL seasons have come to a premature end. Even though there’s a slim possibility that the AFL season will recommence after 31st May, it’s also highly unlikely.

The AFLW season though has officially been cancelled and no premiership will be awarded. I choose to believe that Melbourne would have beaten Fremantle in the Preliminary Final before going on to win their first Grand Final. Based on their fourth quarter performance against GWS, I don’t believe I am being overly optimistic.

I read a few post match articles that suggested GWS were the underdogs and that Melbourne were the firm favourites. The fact that Melbourne has suffered a string of injuries as well as losing their two Irish recruits; leaving them with a depleted bench of twenty one seemed to have escaped the critics’ notice. In addition, the Giants had a home ground advantage, albeit a silent one. Finally, Melbourne was coming off a Round 6 defeat that had threatened their place in the finals.

Against all these odds, the Dees performance was stellar. We’ve been accused of being wasteful in front of goal and not making the most of scoring opportunities. We had our chances early on but so did the Giants. In fact we were in danger of being over run by a rampant GWS but held our nerve and were saved by the upright on a couple of occasions.

However the fact that we turned in our best fourth quarter of footy in the Club’s short history is testament to the players’ depth of character. Melbourne looked down for the count at the end of the third quarter. They hadn’t scored a single point for the term while the Giants continued to gain confidence with Cora Staunton giving them a three goal advantage ten seconds from the siren.

After the Dees initial fourth quarter burst, it was all GWS; pushing into Demon territory and determined to take home the win. Melbourne weathered wave after wave of onslaught from the Giants before Shelley Scott marked the ball thirty metres out from goal midway through the term. Scott had a relatively quiet afternoon up until then but the mark from a Lily Mithen kick saw her ensuing set shot reduce the margin to nine points.

Suddenly there was hope in the Dees’ Camp and a flutter of doubt crept into the minds of the GWS players. For the next three minutes the Giants defended desperately while Melbourne struggled to gain another six pointer. Finally a free kick was awarded to Sarah Perkins forty metres out and to the right of goal. When Perkins kicked what was one of the most important goals of her career, it was a like an arrow plunging into the heart of Greater Western Sydney. Now with just three minutes to go, it was a ‘next one who scores wins’ scenario.

Melbourne had to go hard and get a third goal and ensure that GWS got nowhere near their inside 50. A terrific mark by Shelley Scott on the edge of the Giants’ inside 50 added to the drama. GWS had every player back defending as Melbourne kept thundering towards the goal. The Giants were trying to maintain possession but then Harriet Cordner was award a free kick at the centre of the field. Ailesh Newman missed the mark but applied enough pressure to cause a stoppage. Lauren Pearce won the hitout and got the ball to Kate Hore who kicked to Lily Mithen who marked the ball in almost the exact spot as Scott a few minutes earlier. It was also near the spot where she had kicked her inaugural goal in the second quarter.

With one minute to go Lily Mithen had a chance to kick her second and potentially the winning goal in a Semi Final. Lily Mithen who hadn’t scored a single goal in her entire AFLW career before this game and now she was the focus of all the Melbourne fans watching around the Country. All those fans were asking the same question: “Can she hold her nerve?” I’ve tried to imagine how it must feel to have that much pressure weighing down on you while you take the most important kick of your career. How do you block out those voices of doubt saying if you miss this opportunity, there are no second chances. We all seen the best players miss a crucial goal in the dying seconds of an all important game. Kick it and it and you’re the hero. Miss it and you’ll play it over and over again in your mind wondering what went wrong.

Well Lily proved that she has the depth to shut out all the external chaos and to focus her mind inwards enabling her to score the goal of her life. If there had been a stadium full of supporters watching, they would have erupted in a massive outburst of euphoria. There was a massive outburst of euphoria in my lounge room as the reality sunk in. When the last twenty five seconds were finally run off the clock, the sound of the siren was like most beautiful aria ever written.

While the celebrations were short lived as the AFL’s decision hit home, we will always have one of our most unlikely victories. In the end though it’s a game and we just have to put off our dreams of Grand Final glory for another year. Let’s hope that once all this virus pandemic passes, the game as we know it can recover and go from strength to strength.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.2 1.4 3.7 3.8 (26)
MELBOURNE 0.1 1.5 1.5 4.5 (29)
GOALS
GWS: Schmidt, Staunton, Dal Pos
Melbourne: Mithen 2, Scott, Perkins

Watch Lily’s interview after the heroics of the semi final:

Demons Suffer From The Blues

March 20, 2020 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, NSW Demons 

Farewell Irish

Round 6 – Melbourne Vs Carlton

Liam Chambers

I had written Round 6’s report when I heard that the two remaining AFLW Rounds had been cancelled.

It means that Melbourne has made their first final but it’s not the ideal way to have qualified. Having said that with all our injuries and now the departure of the Irish contingent, we probably would have struggled to remain in the top three. Collingwood’s defeat of Brisbane made it essential that we won the last two games.

Anyway, we’re there so lets enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity. Of course the season may yet be suspended or cancelled if COVID 19 continues to throw the sporting world into chaos. That would be a great shame. Whatever happens regarding the virus, it will be beyond the Clubs’ control and probably the control of the AFL.

Back to last Saturday’s match, the Dees started well, again dominating inside 50 but their accuracy let them down. Melbourne’s determination paid off late in the quarter though with a brilliant snap goal from the inspirational Kate Hore. Celebrations were short lived however as Brooke Walker kicked the Blues goal first less than a minute later. The Dees’ advantage was restored when the talented Sarah Perkins kicked a forty metre set shot that never looked like missing. At the other end, Libby Birch kept Carlton at bay and the Dees maintained their lead at the end of the term.

Melbourne continued to play well in the second quarter but Carlton looked in danger of taking control especially after Georgia Gee scored the Blues’ second. To add to the Dees’ woes, Sinead Goldrick hobbled off with an injured leg. With just over a minute to go, Lily Mithen had a chance to score a goal but instead kicked it to the reliable Shelly Scott. Scott’s kick from thirty five metres out sailed through the uprights beautifully for the Dees’ third of the afternoon.

The second half belonged to Carlton and Melbourne’s eight point lead was reduced to three when the legendary Tayla Harris kicked a goal from twenty metres out. Just prior to that goal Melbourne suffered another injury when Darcy Vescio collided with Sarah Lampard resulting in Lampard being stretchered off the pitch. It looks like another ACL injury and will mean Sarah Lampard missing the remainder of the season. Then a lucky bounce from a Grace Egan kick saw the Blues take the lead for the first time in the game. Elise O’Dea had a chance to put Melbourne in front at the end of the third quarter but kicked it wide.

Carlton sensed the game was there for the taking in the last term and when Madison Prespakis kicked a spectacular goal midway through the quarter, their confidence skyrocketed. Melbourne was kept goalless for the second half but Walker’s second for the Blues just rubbed salt into the Dees’ wounds. Her opportunistic kick in front of goal saw the sherrin bounce in favour of the Blues. All the luck seemed to be with Carlton and Melbourne would have to fight another day.

We’ve drawn GWS in our first finals game. Both sides have won four games so it should be a close contest. Of course we have a very sparse bench due to a long list of injuries and the loss of Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick. I think we will given under dog status which may work in our favour. I’m sure the girls will give it a red hot go whatever happens.

Go the Under Dees!!!

MELBOURNE 2.3 3.3 3.5 3.6 (24)
CARLTON 1.1 2.1 4.1 6.4 (40)
GOALS
Melbourne: Hore, Perkins, Scott
Carlton: Walker 2, Gee, Harris, Egan, Prespakis

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