Dees’ Double Dream Dissolves

April 20, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce 

Grand Final – Adelaide V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Going into their first Grand Final as underdogs, the odds were very much against a Melbourne victory. Adelaide had the advantage of a home game plus the experience of three previous finals and being crowned premiers twice. That experience would prove pivotal, as would having the best defence in the competition.

The Demons were understandably nervous and started warily. The Crows were more confident and it showed in their marking and kicking efficiency. Despite Adelaide’s pressure in their forward 50, Melbourne’s back line up was holding tight. Tellingly though, the Crows were spending over three times more in their forward half than the Dees and eventually something would have to give.

The pressure paid off when Jasmyn Hewett marked the ball right next to the upright. She slotted and Adelaide had their first major. After the goal, the Dees started to make some inroads. There were half chances but the Crows defence pounced and tackled ferociously. Some dubious calls also favoured Adelaide, making it difficult for Melbourne to gain any momentum.

The woes continued for the Dees after the break. A series of dropped marks and turnovers threatened to gift Adelaide another goal but Melbourne somehow managed to hang on. Maddie Gay limped off injured but fortunately she was was able to return to the field once strapped up.

Melbourne did make headway towards their goal but Adelaide were much more determined and aggressive in their tackling, thereby limiting the Dees’ chances.
Then, while Melbourne was still to register a point on the scoreboard, the Crows struck again. Erin Phillips saw a half chance and gather the ground ball before chipping over the pack at the edge of the goal square. The ball luckily bounced the right way and crossed the line.

Now the margin was seventeen points and Melbourne needed to make some serious changes if they were going to avoid a shellacking. The Dees realised that they needed to be more aggressive and started to push deeper into their forward half. Tayla Harris was again the go to player inside 50. She attempted the mark but again she was surrounded by Adelaide’s defence.

With a minute to go to half time, Melbourne finally got a break. As the ball was being kicked between defenders, Alyssa Bannan stole an intercept mark and ran on into the waiting goal. The impact was instantaneous and the Dees lifted. Adelaide scrambled to claw one back before the siren, but Melbourne managed to hold them off.

It was still all to play for in the second half but it was the worst possible start for the Dees when Danielle Ponter marked right on the goal line. It was an easy conversion and the deficit was back to sixteen points.

Melbourne was marking and controlling the ball better but were still hesitant when they needed to move faster. The delays gave Adelaide plenty of time to set up behind the ball while the Dees looked around, considering their options.

Just when it looked like the Crows were going to continue their dominance, Melbourne had another breakthrough. A well targeted and weighted kick by Tayla Harris picked out Kate Hore deep inside 50. Hore marked and ran on, getting a kick away towards goal before being mowed down. The gap was back to ten points and the Dees were back in contention.

The goal energised Melbourne and within a minute, Tayla Harris had marked a Daisy Pearce kick. At 40m out, Harris opted not to try for goal, instead kicking to Karen Paxman. Paxman was a little closer but the 45 degree angle was a more difficult shot. Paxman made clean contact with the ball but her effort drifted right and only registered a minor score.

The Dees pressure continued to mount and they were causing Adelaide all sorts of problems. Melbourne made repeat incursions to their forwards 50 but were unable to finish due to the relentless tackling by the Crows’ defence. Lily Mithen had a set shot in front of goal late in the quarter but was unable to convert. Demon fans were left lamenting what could have been.

With the clock ticking Melbourne knew it was now or never as they ran out at the start of the last quarter. They were determined to not die wondering. Maddie Gay had a half chance from just inside 50 but the ball didn’t bounce back far enough and just missed the goal. A few minutes later and Gay had another half opportunity but that missed to the other side.

As so often happens, Adelaide absorbed all the Dees’ pressure before breaking out and racing up the field. Danielle Ponter took another mark just inside 50, then took the advantage to run on, take a bounce and launch a kick 20m from goal. The Crows were thirteen points ahead with only six minutes left to play.

Although Melbourne fought valiantly to the end, they were unable to notch any more points on the scoreboard and the final result was 29-16 in Adelaide’s favour.

It was a great experience for the Dees and they will have learned a good deal about what it takes to win a Grand Final. All Demon fans will be hoping that Daisy Pearce hangs around for one more effort.

Now that next season starts this August, maybe the AFLW legend and footy pioneer can be tempted to give the dice another roll?

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Team Daisy Hold On For A Famous Win

April 8, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons, Sponsoring Olivia 

Preliminary Final – Melbourne V Brisbane

Liam Chambers

Melbourne have made it to their first AFLW Grand Final! It was so close in the end, but the girls put in a valiant effort to produce the win.

It was a nervous start all around but the Dees managed to keep the ball in their forward half for the first five minutes. They were unable to capitalise on their advantage and the Lions started to make headway into Melbourne’s defensive territory. Brisbane also struggled to get on the scoreboard with the Dees keeping their defence tight.

Shelley Heath effected a great tackle on Jesse Wardlaw, preventing the Ruck from scoring an almost certain goal. The wet conditions didn’t seem to be favouring either side as both sets of players struggled to hold onto the ball.

Melbourne had dominated the first term in the majority of the stats but their kicking efficiency was letting them down. They desperately needed a goal to settle their nerves.

That breakthrough came when Alyssa Bannan initially had the chance to collect the ball inside 50. There were no Lions blocking her path but Bannan was unable to gather up the ball before being tackled. After the ensuing stoppage, the forward finally found enough space to drill one through the pack and into the open goal.

It didn’t take long for the Lions to respond. Taylor Smith dropped a mark inside 50 but was able to recover, gather up the ground ball, snapping a kick towards goal. With five seconds to go, Eliza McNamara was awarded a free kick 25m from goal. McNamara went back to take the kick after the siren but just missed to the far side where her shot scrapped the post.

After the break, the Lions looked the most likely to score first. Their effort was rewarded when Dakota Davidson got a kick away that sailed through the uprights from 35m out. Brisbane continued the pressure after the bounce but Melbourne was able to break clear and make their way up the field.

While Daisy Pearce was bringing the ball to ground then gathering it up, Alyssa Bannan was running on to a good position inside 50. Daisy got the kick to the waiting Bannan to collect and then outrun her opponents before kicking into an open goal.

The Dees then had the advantage after Lauren Pearce grabbed the ball out of the ruck. Turning towards goal, Pearce launched a kick, securing Melbourne’s third goal. Eliza McNamara then had another opportunity to go for goal and this time she opted to kick it along the ground and through the Lions’ defence, incredibly finding a gap and watching the ball dribble across the line.

Brisbane continued to chase a late goal but the Dees managed to hang on to their eleven point margin.

Melbourne had the perfect start to the last quarter when Alyssa Bannan again used her speed to chase the ball before picking it up and strolling into the waiting goal. Bannan had three under her belt and the Dees had a seventeen point lead.

The reigning premiers wouldn’t go down without a fight and for the next five minutes the Lions continually made inroads to their forward 50. They couldn’t manage a breakthrough though until Shannon Campbell was able to crumb the ball and snap a kick from 30m out.

Now with only a ten point lead and six minutes remaining, Melbourne needed to play some smart footy to prevent Brisbane kicking another two goals. The Dees had opportunities to extend their lead but the Lions defended well before initiating an offensive of their own but without much success until the last forty five seconds. Greta Bodey (who else?) kicked a goal from a set shot and clawed Melbourne’s lead back to four points.

The last thirty seconds was a frantic push forward by the Lions and equally frantic attempts by Melbourne to clear the ball. The Dees prevailed, securing their first win in a preliminary final.

There’s no doubt that Adelaide is the firm favourite. They are an extremely difficult team to score against and they have some very strong players. However, one thing we know about Melbourne is their ability to preform above expectations when they’re given the status of underdog.

Also, the team will want to do it for Daisy, arguably the one person who has done more than any other to promote and champion AFLW.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

AFLW – Dees Scrap And Scramble

March 25, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons, Sponsoring Olivia 

Round 10 – Melbourne V Carlton

Liam Chambers

After Round 9’s emphatic win in Perth, the Dees were back on home soil to face Carlton. The Blues season had started poorly with only one win from their first six outings. Now they were coming home strongly with three victories in a row and looking to make it four from their visit to Casey Fields. With no chance of playing finals, Carlton was ready to try a spot of giant slaying.

A win for Melbourne would secure a top two place on the ladder; lose and the Lions could leapfrog their rivals and take the coveted position. The Dees had everything to gain, Carlton had nothing to lose.

The pressure showed as Melbourne grappled to play their preferred game. The Blues were determined to close them down at every opportunity. It took a while but eventually Daisy Pearce was on the receiving end of an Alyssa Bannan kick which was marked directly in front of goal. Daisy’s conversion helped settle Demon tremors.

With a minute to go Pearce returned the favour when she slotted a kick inside 50 where Bannan jumped to take the mark. She kept her set shot low and it sailed through for Melbourne’s second.

At the start of the term two, the Blues continued pressure paid off when Nicola Stevens was able to scoop up the ground ball and snap it into the waiting goal.

Melbourne responded quickly when Alyssa Bannan was taken high, then awarded a 50m penalty. Her set shot restored the margin and delivered Bannan her second of the evening.

Later in the quarter, Nicola Stevens also got her second when several bounces favoured Carlton and the defender was able to get a kick off the deck and across the line. It was back to back goals when Georgia Gee had a set shot from a similar position to Alyssa Bannan’s kick in the previous quarter. Like Bannan the midfielder kept the kick low and it ended up between the posts, reducing the Dees’ lead to two points.

It was stretched back to nine points when the aforementioned Bannan took a mark directly in front and claimed her hat trick. Then like the proverbial see saw, the margin was cut back to two points again as Keely Sherar marked from 40m out and converted with an impressive kick.

Each side continued to apply extensive pressure on their opponents but neither team could make the breakthrough in the third term.

In the end it was Daisy Pearce who stepped up to break the drought deep into the quarter. Lily Mithen had a set shot from just inside 50and her kick was collected by Daisy in a diving mark. The skipper snuck it through and Melbourne went into the break with a handy eight point lead.

The fourth quarter turned out to be an exercise in nail biting tension for the army of Demon fans. The stress was only ratcheted up when Nicola Stevens was to get another kick off the deck five metres in front of goal and celebrated her own hat trick. Suddenly it was a one point game and the faithful watched the remainder of the match through the gaps in their fingers.

With thirty five seconds to go, every red and blue heart stopped beating truly when Darcy Vescio had a set shot to the left of goal. She missed the big target and the supporters around the ground exhaled en masse. Having dodged the late bullet, Melbourne was able to hold on to the slimmest of leads and finally claim victory when the siren sounded.

Carlton had put up one hell of of a fight but the Dees did what good sides do and found a way to win. There was an element of luck for the Blues but there was no denying their talent. They unnerved and unsettled Melbourne at various stages, especially in the final term but the girls will use the experience to improve their strengths.

They now get to enjoy a well deserved few weeks(!) off but there’ll be plenty happening behind the scenes. Our most likely opponent in the preliminary final is Brisbane, who get to play at home in their qualifier. However, the Pies have been impressive in recent weeks so who knows. Either way…

Go the mighty Dees!!!

Dockers Done & Dusted

March 10, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Round 9 – Fremantle V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

What can you say about Melbourne’s performance at Optus Stadium? Okay, Fremantle players Kiara Bowers, Gabby O’Sullivan, Ebony Antonio, Kara Antonio and Emma O’Driscoll were all missing due to injury or health and safety protocols and their absence most certainly had an affect on the Dockers’ overall game plan. However, the way the Demons executed their plan was nothing short of spectacular. Their relentless pressure, tackling and determination was magnificent.

The early play showed little of the overwhelming Demon storm to come. Freo opened the scoring thanks to an opportunistic collect and drop kick from Makaela Tuhakaraina in the goal square. So far, the Dockers were dictating the terms.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook Lauren Pearce’s contribution but the Ruck’s ability to mark and precision kick, combined with vision, has been a huge part of Melbourne’s success. But it was the other Pearce, captain Daisy, who opened the scoring; receiving a handpass from Tayla Harris, then snapping the ball into an open goal.

There was little to separate the two sides for most of the first quarter. Both teams were bringing pressure to bear on each other. Then, as so many times this season, Tayla Harris took a contested mark from 30m out. She converted perfectly to put the Dees ahead.

Within a minute, Melbourne had their third of the term as Kate Hore gathered and snapped from the 50m line, then watched the ball bounce fortuitously across the line.

The Dees headed into the second quarter with the momentum well and truly on their side. They’d been dominating uncontested possessions and inside 50s; always an ominous sign for their opponents.

From the first bounce, Melbourne was firing on all cylinders. Eliza West and Tyla Hanks again combining to drive the ball towards their forward 50. At the other end, the Demon’s defence was stellar in turning back the Dockers.

Melbourne continued to rack up the uncontested possessions and strung several together before Tayla Harris spotted Daisy Pearce near the goal square and floated the ball in her direction. Daisy took the mark and went back to slot her second.

Immediately after the bounce, the Dees took it straight back inside 50 and scrapped and scrambled for every ball until eventually Kate Hore’s kick landed in Shelley Scott’s lap. Scott turned and snapped from the edge of the goal square.

Fremantle managed to stem the attacks from the Dees until the last couple of minutes when Tayla Harris’s tap down was collected by Alyssa Bannan. The forward ran around and kicked directly into the goal.

Ominously for Freo, Melbourne tend to play their best footy in the third quarter. Would the Dockers be able to strike back or would the Demons march continue unabated? All the stats were in stacked in the Dees favour but the first five minutes of the second half would have given the Fremantle faithful reason for optimism.

That hope proved short lived as Melbourne launched yet another attack. This time Alyssa Bannan took a mark seventy metres from goal and ran on, taking a bounce and drawing the Freo players before passing the ball over their heads to the waiting Daisy Pearce. The handpass allowed the Skipper to casually stroll into the open goal, notching up her hat trick in the process.

Pearce was also involved in the next goal when she marked the ball forty metres out. She thought about the shot before glimpsing Kate Hore who ran out to take the garb. Her set shot made it two goals from two marks.

From there the Dees surged ahead. Daisy took another marked and converted. Next Casey Sherriff added her name from a similar set shot position. Then Sherriff looked like she was setting up for another before kicking to the better positioned Karen Paxman, who marked directly in front. Within two minutes, Paxy had her second and the margin stretched to a mind bending seventy points.

The quarter still wasn’t over though and Daisy Pearce iced the caked with another set shot conversion.

The three quarter time stats made grim reading for the Fremantle fans as they revealed a Melbourne side dominating in every category except tackles, which the Dockers led forty nine to forty five. It did show the home side still fighting but the battle was long won by the Dees.

Though Melbourne was determined to add to their scoreline and boost their percentage, it was unlikely that the third term would be replicated. Unsurprisingly the first five minutes remained goalless until Kate Hore popped up to receive a handpass from Lauren Pearce after a stoppage. Kate took advantage of the space to run, turn and snap for her own hat trick.

Finally, to the relief of the home fans, Fremantle scored their first goal since the opening quarter when Hayley Miller marked and scored from the edge of the square. There was no celebrations among the players though, only a resignation to their fate.

From a Demon perspective, it seemed ironic that, having recorded their biggest margin and the highest score in AFLW history, there had only been a single contribution from their leading goal goal kicker. That changed when Tayla Harris took a mark from a Kate Hore kick. Her subsequent set shot, 25m in front of goal, brought up her second of the night. Fittingly it was Harris who then struck again with her eighteenth of the season, cracking the century for Melbourne and writing the team into the history books.

There was to be a consolation for the Dockers when Maggie Maclachlan kicked her first for Freo; unfortunately reducing Melbourne’s percentage to below two hundred in the process. The Dees now sit just under Adelaide on the ladder and by the slimmest of margins.

The overall match reminded me of Melbourne’s AFL Preliminary game against Geelong last season. It was expected to be a tight contest but the Dees were ruthless in exploiting their opponents’ weaknesses. Max Gawn like Daisy Pearce, lead from the front with both Captains scoring five goals each. I don’t like to put the cart before the horse but it does seem to bode well for our finals campaign. Of course there’s still one game left in the regular season and Carlton are hitting a late stride, having won their last three games. Still…

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Dees Get The Jump On Kangaroos

March 4, 2022 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Round 8 – Melbourne V North Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Welcome to Casey Fields. Wind speed 30 kmh. Not quite blowing a gale but enough to frustrate the potential goal kickers. After Melbourne’s impressive away win against premier hopefuls Brisbane, tonight would be a fierce fight for second spot on the ladder, against another formidable opponent.

The Dees looked good early on, pushing forward but it was North who had a chance to open the scoring when Daria Bannister’s set shot was touched on the line by Tahlia Gillard.

Melbourne responded with Alyssa Bannan snapping what looked like perfect shot, only for the wind to act as proxy goalkeeper and deny the Dees. No matter. The ensuing stoppage had Jacqui Parry forcing her way out of the pack and managing a wild high kick which floated back towards goal. Kate Hore was in the right place and jumped for the contested mark. The number ten got her number eight for the season and the Dees were up and running.

Melbourne was able to double their score when Karen Paxman was the beneficiary of the confusing and inconsistent 50m rule. Paxy wasn’t complaining though and slotted from near point blank range.

With two goals versus two behinds, Melbourne was in the driving seat at the start of the second term. Within a minute however, the Dees were shaken out of their comfort zone when Jasmine Garner received the ball from an inside 50 stoppage. Her driving kick towards goal was wind assisted and crossed the line untouched.

Even though Melbourne conceded the early goal, they quickly reset, raising the intensity of their attack. All that effort was in vain though until Tayla Harris was awarded a free kick for a lingering tackle in the middle of the ground. Due to a mix up between two of North’s players as to whose kick it was, Harris was awarded a 50m penalty. Her powerful 35m kick was perfectly balanced; reading the breeze to a tee. As a result, the Dees went into the main break leading nineteen to ten.

The second half started brilliantly for Melbourne. A mixture of brute force and clever tactics drove the ball to inside 50 where Tayla Harris was waiting to receive. Harris went for the ball, was deemed held and a free awarded. The forward had no trouble kicking her second and the Dees’ lead was extended to fifteen points.

The Dees pressure was impressive and they continued to threaten their goal. The Roos had a chance or two but otherwise it was all Melbourne. One of the highlights of the quarter was when the Dees strung together a masterclass in transition play down the right side of the field. Involving five Demons, starting with Mithen to Bannan to McNamara to Mithen to Paxman to Mithen and finally to Heath whose shot from the pocket tragically hit the post. Had Shelley Heath scored, it would have been the goal of the year. That run of play epitomised the depth and strength of the Dees and why they are so dangerous.

While Melbourne had the best of the third quarter, the Roos were too good a side not to launch a fightback in the final term.

True to form, North came out swinging. All night the Dees had targeted attempts at neutralising the Roos best players. Shelley Heath again shadowed Emma Kearney, limiting the midfielder’s capacity to influence the game. North required three unanswered goals to win and Kearney would be pivotal if they were to reach that target.

Initially Melbourne had the answers to North’s persistent incursions but eventually Kaitlyn Ashmore was able to outpace Daisy Pearce and launch a rocket from 25m out. It sailed high through the uprights and the margin was back to ten points. Now the Dees would need all their skill and experience in order to contain the rampaging Roos.

Melbourne was having to play a containment game, occasionally making it up to their forward 50 but essentially just frustrating North’s efforts. Each time the visitors got the ball inside 50, the Dees were able to defuse the danger. With the minutes ticking down, Melbourne pounced on every loose ball, ensuring the Roos couldn’t get a break.

The last couple of minutes was a frantic clash of bodies inside 50 but the Dees’ wall proved impenetrable.

The win propelled Melbourne into the top two with a chance to cement that spot when they travel to Perth in Round 9. The Dockers are a good side and will have home advantage but the Dees are in the form of their footy lives and I wouldn’t bet against another upset being on the cards.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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