Round 9 – Melbourne V Fremantle
A wafer thin competition on the first quarter scoreboard.
With Melbourne sitting on top of the ladder, they would have felt comfortable hosting Fremantle, who currently reside in the lower half of the table. However, it was the Dockers who scored the first major, after Megan Kauffman was awarded a free kick in front of goal.
The equaliser for Melbourne took a while, but it was worth the wait, with midfield gun Tyla Hanks kicking off the outside of her right boot, on the run, landing the 15m shot.
The famous Casey breeze didn’t favour either side for the remainder of the quarter, as the players kicked a series of minor points; the term ending with the slimmest of leads for Freo.
The Dees flex their muscles.
Melbourne had the wind at their backs in the second quarter and they attacked enthusiastically, making the most of their advantage. It still took over five minutes to kick the first six pointer of the term though. That happened when Eden Zanker burst through after collecting the bouncing ball and running it in from the edge of the square.
A couple of minutes later and Paxy Paxman scored a rare but spectacular goal, when she turned and snapped from 20m, sending the ball across the open goal line. Not to be outdone in the spectacular stakes, Eliza West scooped up the ground ball, was immediately tackled, but held her footing and slammed one through the uprights from the top of the goal square.
Melbourne was powering ahead, leaving the shell shocked Dockers in their wake.
The surge continued after the bounce, but Fremantle finally managed to regain some composure in the face of the rampaging Dees. It didn’t last long though and Melbourne continued to pepper Freemantle’s defence with an assortment of shots on goal. Unfortunately they all resulted in minor scores and the dockers could consider themselves lucky not to be trailing by a substantially bigger margin.
Then, in a complete 180 degree turnaround, Freo got the next major via, arguably the best play of the game. Megan Kauffman, having scored the visitors’ only other goal, chased the sherrin into the empty inside 50 arena, tipping it forward on the bounce, outpacing her opponent, collecting it on another bounce, then cleanly kicking it from 25m.
The goal energised the Dockers, but they were unable to build on their momentum or add to their tally before the main break.
Freo rallies late but Dees retain control.
After half time, a resurgent Fremantle attempted to hold on to the impetus gained at the backend of the previous quarter.
However, Melbourne proved too difficult to control and when Kate Hore soccered through the loose ball, a couple of metres from the goal line, the hosts were again in the ascendancy.
The Dockers did finally manage to work their way up the other end and secured a free kick in front of goal. Serena Gibbs went back to take the 15m set shot, reigning the margin back to eighteen points.
Melbourne again outclass the opposition in the final term.
The Dees have been unstoppable in virtually every fourth quarter this year, so they would have been very confident from the final opening bounce. Despite the best efforts of the hosts however, they had only kicked three minor scores by the halfway mark.
Then the Hibernian on hiatus, Blaithin Mackin, turned and snapped from the 50m arc, sending the ball long and straight and across the goal line.
Freo didn’t give up though and goal hero Megan Kauffman got her hat trick when she collected the ball from a stoppage in front of goal, then snapped it through the posts.
Next, there was another hat trick up the other end when Kate Hore ran through the seventh goal for Melbourne.
In the final goal of the game, Eden Zanker reclaimed her lead as the top AFLW goal scorer for the season, when her wind assisted 45m set shot cross the line.
Next week it’s the replay of last year’s Grand Final when we travel to Brisbane to face the brilliantly inconsistent Lions. Anything could happen but I’ve got a feeling we’ll be smiling by the end.
Go the Mighty Dees!!!