Dees’ Double Dream Dissolves

April 20, 2022 by
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!!!


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