Brilliant To The End

April 17, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Preliminary final – Melbourne v Adelaide

Liam Chambers

In the end, Adelaide’s experience in finals was invaluable in keeping Melbourne from scoring a goal until the final term. By then it was too high a mountain for the Dees to climb.  Even though we were the most consistent team in the latter half of the campaign, we were still considered the underdogs against a side that had won two Grand Finals.

For five hard fought games in a row, Melbourne had found a way to win. In fact, their Round 7 clash against Adelaide was arguably the best game the team had played in their short four year career. It was a must win game and the players took on the challenge with gusto. 

The following week they travelled across the Nullarbor to take on the competition favourites in the notoriously partisan city of Perth where they survived a second half onslaught to secure a spot in the finals for the first time (2020 season was abandoned before the finals began). Their final game against Brisbane was another nail biter with Melbourne surviving a last second (literally) attempt on goal by the Lions to ensure a home advantage going into the finals.

Having beaten the Dockers once away from home, the Dees were confident of causing another upset on home soil, having not lost a match at Casey Fields since 2019. Again, they dominated in the first half but Freemantle struck back in the third quarter to come within striking distance of Melbourne. Fortunately Melbourne steadied the ship in the last term but were unable to land the knockout blow until the final minutes.

Travelling to Adelaide Oval last weekend, though undoubtedly daunting, was also an invaluable experience. The Crows were determined not to be over run early and defended ruthlessly, denying the Dees the chance of early goals and momentum.  The team has gain enormous confidence from their experience this year and they will carry a sense of belief in their abilities into next year when they will be a force to be reckoned with.

The 2020 season was a break through year for the Demons. They had a mid season case of indecisiveness and uncertainty but came back stronger after that period of self doubt. With veterans Pearce, Paxman and Scott leading the way and young guns Hanks, Zanker and McNamara continually improving, the club has got a very bright future.

This year both the women and men’s sides have shown a team spirit not always present in past seasons. If they can maintain that cohesion, a Grand Final victory won’t be far away.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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Tossing the Coin – Women’s Final – Casey

April 9, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

I got to toss the coin at the women’s final at Casey Fields on Saturday!!!!!

Goodness how privileged am I?  And we won it!! Even better.

It was an epic journey on the train to get there, but had enough time for a brunch of Eggs Benedict and a lovely big coffee at Cranbourne Park Shopping Centre. Found some players parents wandering the streets and we conferred on how the hell to get to the ground (apparently few locals follow AFL).

After an extremely wild bus ride to Casey Fields, I met up with Matt from the club who was there to escort me to the gate just before the game started. He checked in on my coin tossing technique (which was pretty hopeless despite some considerable practice) and did I have a coin. ” Of course Matt” but to my horror I discovered that I had been practicing with the wrong coin…….. I figured being a finals match – surely it would be a gold coin, and had landed that on it’s rim four times in mum’s backyard (the epitome of even handedness). “No” says Matt!! “AFL regulations it has to be a 20 cent coin” (which is bigger, lighter and therefore harder to toss).

Bugga!! So more practice before the game….. getting worse with every throw.

Anyhooo – I had worn my lucky Daisy blouse and Jackie’s No. 19 guernsey – all of which worked. I did my very best Joe Biden run onto the field (as you have to be very quick at it – on the ground as soon as the National Anthem finishes) and managed not to fall over. A polite introduction to the Dockers Skipper and a fist pump to our Vice Captain “Go Get ‘Em Paxy!!”

Miraculously the coin toss went very well – a nice gentle flick and it spun up and down. The coin came down Tails – the Dockers way – but as I had lulled the opposition skipper into a false sense of security she unfortunately picked the “wrong end”. Our girls held them goal-less for the first half, in a stiff NNW breeze, and came home with the wind at their backs and Demon Supporters in the final quarter goal.

It was a hot 32 degree day and honestly I don’t know how they did it ‘cos I was ready for a Bex and a lie down after the coin toss!! The Dockers came at them in the Third quarter but our girls had their measure – and petrol in the tank because they are so fit. Mick, Jane and the rest of the coaching / fitness team have done such a great job preparing our women for this season and they are ready to roll through the finals series. Great work, and Mr and Mrs Stinear even managed to fit in having a little baby boy “Jack” just in time for Mick to take his place in the coaching box for Saturday.

I really enjoyed the match and met many of the players’ families, player sponsors, board members and staff. At the end of the match a gentleman approached me and asked if I was “Jacqueline Parry” – yes – turned out to be Jackie’s dad Frank Parry. So I was able to catch up with Jackie Parry 19, and her family. Judging by the height of them I clearly come from the “midget” arm of the Parry family, but they are lovely and I have prepared the papers to adopt them all – as their elder aunt from NSW!!

Go Dees!!

Got the lucky Daisy blouse on!!

It was a great game to watch and a great result for our hardworking team.

So now we are in the Preliminary Final against the Crows in Adelaide. Go get ’em Girls!!

MELBOURNE 1.2 3.3 4.3 5.10 (40)
FREMANTLE 0.2 0.2 3.5 3.5 (23)
GOALS
Melbourne: Scott 2¸ Bannan, Tarrant, Gay
Fremantle: Sharp, Duffy, Houghton
BEST
Melbourne: Paxman, Gay, Scott, Mithen, Cunningham
Fremantle: Bowers, Miller, Sergeant, Cain, Seth
INJURIES
Melbourne: Nil
Fremantle: Nil

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Brisbane Given A Lesson In Lion Taming

April 2, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Round 9 – Melbourne V Brisbane

Liam Chambers

When the final three AFLW Rounds were announced almost a month ago, most punters and even die hard Demon fans felt the task was almost insurmountable for Melbourne. Fast forwarded to Casey Fields last Saturday and even top of the table Brisbane suddenly seemed less daunting.

The Dees confidence was high and they now believe they can beat anyone. Even though the Lions kicked the first goal thanks to Jesse Wardlaw, Melbourne wasn’t phased and went on the attack, exerting major pressure to keep Brisbane in their defensive half. The Lions fought back, but the Dees kept forging ahead. When Alyssa Bannan outran her pursuers, she was able to get the sherrin inside 50 where Shelley Scott kicked a brilliant shot on goal, bending it towards the target and sealing her first of the evening.

When the rains came down, the wet conditions seemed to favour Melbourne even though they couldn’t add to the scoreboard. Their defence was in top form, especially Meg Downie who is playing great footy after her return from injury. Unfortunately the inspirational Daisy Pearce suffered an knee injury in the first quarter and may miss playing in the finals. We wish her a speedy recovery and know she will still play a pivotal coaching role for the Dees.

After an even sided first term, the Lions took hold of the reins early in the second. First Dakota Davidson, then Courtney Hodder kicked goals to push Brisbane’s lead out to eleven points. Hodder’s goal was particularly spectacular after a great run; even kicking the ball to herself before scoring. Just when things were looking grim for the Dees, Karen Paxman put on a spectacle of her own, scoring from 40m out (ably assisted by Tegan Cunningham).

Demon joy was short lived however as Dakota Davidson got her second from a set shot and the Lions were again in the ascendancy. That was until the in form Shelley Scott showed Brisbane how it’s done. First with a one handed pickup and then with a burst through the Brisbane defence to kick another superb bender that sailed through the uprights to double her tally. However jubilation turned to sorrow for the fans right on the siren when Taylor Smith landed another for the visitors.

Brisbane started the second half determined to put the Dees away . Nearly all the play was in Melbourne’s defensive half for the first five minutes. They defended well but the Lions kept up the barrage and finally Lauren Arnell broke through to score Brisbane’s sixth. The hill had just got a little higher for the Dees but they didn’t panic and continued to fight for the game. It was a hard battle. Even when Melbourne was able to spend some time inside their own goal area, Brisbane kept pushing them back.

Finally the Dees got their reward when Cunningham kicked the ball to inside 50 where Paxman collected it with a diving mark. Her set shot was knocked down before being collected by Scott who slipped behind the Lions’ defence to claim her hat trick. The Lions attempted to hit back straightaway but Melbourne’s defence frustrated all Brisbane efforts.

The Dees began the last quarter trailing by eleven points. They would need to pull out all the stops to topple the league leaders and secure a home final berth. Brisbane were equally determined to retain their top spot on the ladder. It was Brisbane who blinked first when Alyssa Bannan’s lob from forty metres out sailed through the uprights and reduced the margin to one goal. Within a minute, Tyla Hanks was chasing the sherrin through traffic, twisting and turning before snapping one off the outside of her boot and giving Melbourne the lead.

There was a brief period of confusion when Paxman marked the ball but the Umpire called play on, giving Brisbane the advantage. Then almost immediately there was a free awarded to Brisbane on the 50m line; another dubious call. I had to quickly check that the Ref hadn’t secretly donned a Lions’ guernsey. Brisbane tried to seize the momentum but the Dees defended valiantly.

Lauren Magee was having the game of her short AFLW career, tackling brilliantly and denying Brisbane several times. Then Dee after Dee tackled and fought to get the ball out of their defensive 50. The last ten minutes were frenetic with both sides fighting ferociously for the honours. Shelley Heath made some great tackles to keep the pressure on the Lions.

When Maddie Gay marked from forty five metres out, her kick didn’t quite make the distance but the Dees were able to scramble another point. Brisbane almost had a game winning chance but Melbourne again played clever defence to deny the favourites. The last fifty seconds was hard fought and there was still one more twist to come. Greta Bodey was awarded a free right on the siren and the crowd held it’s collective breath. Fortunately her kick didn’t make the distance and Melbourne secured a famous victory.

The win means the Dees have a home final. It won’t be easy though and Fremantle will want to avenge their loss from Round 8. On current form though I feel comfortable having a flutter on Melbourne.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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Dees Start As They Mean To Continue

March 24, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 1 – Melbourne vs Fremantle

Liam Chambers

Round 1 last year and the Dees went to Perth and lost. Round 1 this year and Perth came to us and we won. I vote we never go to Perth again.

Fremantle jumped out of the box straightaway and applied the pressure in the opening minutes. Melbourne’s defence was tested and a few free kicks were given away early, with some scrambling to break away from our defensive 50. When the Dees got up the other end, they made some attempts on goal. Christian Petracca got himself into a good position to score the opener but unfortunately found the post.Tom McDonald also had a chance a few minutes later but put it wide.

May and Lever were looking strong in defence, frustrating the Dockers efforts to rack up the points. It was Kysaiah Pickett though who finally nailed it after marking a great kick from Charlie Spargo. His set shot from 35m to the left of goal was low but sailed over Freo’s defenders. Within a minute, Ed Langdon had doubled the advantage after the centre bounce when a driving kick from James Harmes sailed into the inside 50. Langdon was able to gather the ball and blast it off the outside of his boot for goal number two.

Petracca set up the third when his bouncing kick into the goal square was tapped in by Bailey Fritsch. Not sure how to describe the kick other than it may owe something to the martial arts. With their confidence up, the Dees were dominating and keeping Fremantle inside their defensive 50. The pressure paying off when new kid James Jordan got the ball to Petracca who scored from a 35m set shot. This time the post didn’t get in the way.

The second term got off to a great start when Jordan scored his debut goal in his debut game; never a bad stat to boast about. Then Melbourne were let off the hook when Liam Henry missed from a set shot in front of goal. Not so a few minutes later when Sam Switkowski launched a kick from 30m to secure the Dockers first goal of the afternoon. When Henry got a second opportunity in front of goal, he didn’t miss and reduced Melbourne’s lead to 17 points.

Then Freo rushed to take advantage of their turnaround in fortune but the Dees were up for the fight. Fritsch set shot from 40m was grabbed by Tom McDonald who was standing next to the upright. He hooked it to score his first goal. Fremantle had a few further chances but eventually took advantage of a gap in defence when Lachie Schultz was able to weave through and shoot from 20m in front of goal.

The Dees struck back a minute later when a series of fumbles from both sides ended when James Harmes got the ball back in the goal square and scored giving Melbourne a 48-26 half time lead.

Tom McDonald almost got his second goal at the start of the third quarter but his 20m set shot hit the post. Unfortunately Matt Taberner didn’t miss with a goal taken from a difficulty angle and neither did Connor Blakely when his 40m set shot also found the target. With Fremantle dominating the centre bounce, Melbourne wasn’t adapting their game to counter the pressure on our defence.

Luckily though our forwards were able to keep notching up the goals. Charlie Spargo found Bailey Fritsch in a good position and Fritsch was able to place a well kicked ball through the uprights. Melbourne upped the pressure and tackling after that with James Jordan playing well and looking like a good pick for the future.

Jake Lever, along with Steven May was having a great game. When he took an intercepted mark and was also awarded a penalty, he looked a shoo in to add to the score sheet. The fans can’t be too disappointed though; I’m happy seeing Lever preventing the opposition from scoring. If he can score the occasional six pointer that’s a bonus.

Kysaiah Pickett is looking really fit and maturing as a player. When he was awarded an advantage, his run and kick to Fritsch was beautifully executed. Fritsch’s kick inside 50 bounced around a bit before Jordan got the ball to Spargo who tapped it in from the goal square.

Unfortunately Melbourne then conceded a goal from the centre bounce which has been their Achilles heel for a few seasons now. The Demon fans get a little nervous when the opposition gets the advantage from the hitout in those circumstances. With the three quarter time score at 62-45, the Dees still had a bit to do keep the Dockers at bay.

At the start of the last term, Freo had a few missed opportunities and their pressure made Melbourne look a bit indecisive and lacking momentum. The Dockers kept peppering the goal and preventing the Dees from escaping their defensive 50. When they did break free though and made to their own 50, there was a mad minute where the play was going in all direction. Eventually Petracca kicked a bouncer through the traffic to settle Demon nerves.

Now Melbourne raised the pressure with Pickett firing up with some Freo players on the sideline. Tom McDonald got his chance for his second when he was awarded a free. It was a difficult set shot from 45m to the left of goal but that’s the way Tom likes it. The big man has a point to prove and he proved it in style extending the lead to 29 points. Luke Jackson was also having a good game but his accuracy in front of goal was letting him down.

By now fatigue was setting in. After a compressed season last year with shorter games, it may take a few rounds before all the players are 100percent match fit. Sadly, Fremantle’s Matt Taberner was still full of beans and scored his second from a tight angled set shot. Despite Max Gawn’s protestations that he had touched the ball, the goal stood. Then to rub it in, Taberner got his hat trick from a 45m kick.

It was a game of good and bad for the Dees. Our defence is in great hands with May and Lever creating a virtual brick wall at the back. Tom McDonald is fighting fit and the midfield looks tight. There are concerns about centre bounces and stoppages which the coaching staff will be looking to fix but overall, we could be forgiven for dreaming about playing finals in September.

Interesting stat, this is Melbourne first Round 1 win since 2017. Next week we face St Kilda who had a greatly improved season in 2020 but I fancy our chances.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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How The Dees Won The West

March 24, 2021 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: AFLW, Daisy Pearce, NSW Demons 

Round 8 – Melbourne v Fremantle

Liam Chambers

The temperature was high at 30C but the stakes were higher. If Melbourne could win in Perth, they were in the finals without worrying about anyone leapfrogging them next week. Fremantle have gained a reputation as slow starters so the Dees needed to make the most of their early chances in front of goal.

The first opportunity came early when Maddi Gay kicked from the 50m line to Kate Hore who marked and converted to take the points. When Shelley Scott was held, Kate Hore had her second look at the uprights, substituting for Scott who ran off the pitch for treatment to a hand injury. Two in a row for the talented forward.

Since Daisy Pearce has taken up her new position up front, she has been even more influential and inspiring. Her mark and intelligent kick to Eliza McNamara set up the third Melbourne goal.

Up the other end Gabby O’Sullivan scored for the Dockers but the goal was disallowed due to free given for an off the ball push in the back incident. Kate Hore almost scored a fourth for the Dees in the last seconds but it drifted wide in a let off for Freo.

Melbourne started the second quarter tackling hard and limiting the Dockers’ chances. Karen Paxman and Jacqui Parry shots on goal only resulted in minor scores. Then Daisy again showed her footy smarts when she curled the ball brilliantly towards goal. The sherrin took a couple of lucky bounces before crossing the line to put the Dees 28 to 1 in front.

Of course Fremantle were always going to come charging back but their efficiency let them down. They peppered the goal with shot after shot but couldn’t land the crucial six pointer. Luck was definitely a lady to Melbourne and they finished the first half with a twenty three point margin. After the break the Dockers continued their fierce attack on the visitors but again failed to reduce the gap on the score board.

Finally Gabby O’Sullivan was awarded a free and scored from the set shot with two minutes to go in the quarter. Melbourne just needed to hold on and not do anything silly. Unfortunately a lapse of concentration in defence allowed Roxy Rous to scoop up the ball and run it through to score for Freo with ten seconds left on the clock. To add insult to injury, Rous got all up in the faces of the Melbourne players and there was quite a bit of pushing and pulling as tempers flared.

The Dees, who seconds earlier looked to be going into the final quarter with a nineteen point lead, now had a more precarious two goal margin. The Dockers were now brimming with confidence and the home crowd were cheering them on with a partisan passion unique to the west. Even in a small footy ground that crowd can be quite intimidating.

Melbourne just needed to forget the mishaps and focus on winning the game. Their victory against the Crows last week would strengthened their believe that they could withstand the immense pressure from a side used to finishing strongly. That belief was seriously shaken when Roxy Rous got her second and the pressure was all on the Dees.

Fremantle had the momentum and there was only one goal in it. When Gemma Houghton scored from a set shot and put the home side one point in front, the Demon fans were hiding behind the couch, occasionally poking their head up to see what was happening on the field. There was eight minutes to go but it felt more like eighty to the nervous faithful watching in Perth and across the country.

Daisy Pearce didn’t seem worried though as she took a contested mark in the middle of the ground. While she was looking for a Dee to kick to, she was awarded a 50m penalty for a Freo infringement. You can’t teach instinct and when Daisy spotted Maddison Gay in a great position 30m to the left of goal, she didn’t wait to run the full fifty metres, instead kicking the ball to Gay who obliged by taking the mark. The set shot needed to be perfect and it was.

Suddenly Melbourne were five points ahead and the pressure was back on Fremantle who lost some of their confidence. The Dees pushed forwarded and the Dockers made mistakes in their attempt to win back the lead. Melbourne remained composed and calmly got the ball out of danger again and again.

Fremantle threw everything at their opponents in the last minute but the Dees were equal to the task. When the final siren sounded, they knew they’d scored an historic win.

Next week it’s back to Casey to take on the Lions. I wouldn’t bet against Melbourne.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

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