Mithen Crash Tackles Giants In Last Gasp Act

April 4, 2020 by
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)
GWS: Schmidt, Staunton, Dal Pos
Melbourne: Mithen 2, Scott, Perkins

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


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