Dees Try The Patience Of The Saints

March 13, 2021 by
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!!!!!



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