Midnight Oil’s Power and the Passion blared over the speakers at Casey Fields, before an inspired Melbourne unleashed a pressure-packed demolition of Fremantle in their AFLW Qualifying Final.
Without injured captain Daisy Pearce, the Demons played with both power and passion, choking the Dockers with a ferocious attack on the footy in a 5.10 (40) to 3.5 (23), book a date with Adelaide in the Preliminary Final.
The match-up was a year in the making, with these two teams scheduled to play each other in the 2020 Prelim before the season was cancelled as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
And, to keep with the musical theme, it was a case of hello darkness, my old friend, as Maddison Gay — who booted the sealer two weeks ago against Fremantle in Perth — capped off the Demons’ victory with a goal just before the final siren.
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Maddi Gay celebrates with teammates after slotting a goal. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Karen Paxman, stand-in captain for Pearce, took on the responsibility of leading her team from the front.
The mulleted one was involved from the opening minute, burrowing in at the first bounce to win a freekick and send the Demons forward in the face of a strong wind.
Melbourne made a mockery of the breeze, dominating with 12 inside 50s to four — but only managed one goal through Alyssa Bannan, who weaved her way out of traffic and mongrelled one through after being injected off the bench.
It was more one-way traffic in the second term, Paxman again starting proceedings, using the breeze to launch a long bomb that allowed Shelley Scott to get out the back and toepoke it through for the Dees’ second.
Hugs for Daisy on the siren 🥰#AFLWFinals | #AFLWDeesFreopic.twitter.com/Qsal9jw4xw
It kicked off a purple patch for Scott who moments later gathered the footy and snapped across her body from outside 50, allowing the wind to do its trick, the ball bouncing between the big sticks for her second.
Those goals sandwiched a near-mark-of-the-year contender from the busy Eden Zanker, who stood on two Dockers’ heads, but couldn’t reel in the footy.
The Demons’ pressure was relentless — and they should have kicked more goals in the second term with the Dockers under siege.
To their credit, the likes of Janelle Cuthbertson, Ebony Antonio and Angelique Stannett held up in the face of a constant onslaught.
The Dockers have made a habit out of falling into an early hole, before digging themselves out after halftime. And they came out hard, Ashley Sharp booting the first of the third quarter from outside 50m.
Ashley Sharp kicked one of the Dockers’ three goals. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
But the Demons produced their best chain of footy for the match, keeping the footy low with a series of marks that left Brenna Tarrant with a golden opportunity that she duly converted.
It looked like the goal against the grain that would seal the match, but the Dockers hit back immediately through Sabreena Duffy and then made things very interesting. Gemma Houghton seized her opportunity across the body to bring the margin back to four points at the last break.
Sabreena Duffy snaps a quick response for the Dockers ⚓#AFLWFinals | #AFLWDeesFreopic.twitter.com/hT6ZKmJnP5
Gay’s bone crunching tackle on Phillipa Seth early in the last quarter showed how badly the Demons wanted it — but they couldn’t buy a goal as nine shots resulted in seven behinds and two out on the full.
But the brilliant Gay was there to sink the dagger in, winning a freekick for holding the ball and duly slotting her set shot through.
The goal capped off a best afield performance from Gay, who collected 19 disposals with nine brutal tackles, while Paxman had 20 touches and Tegan Cunningham played one of her better games for the club with 16 touches and six hit-outs.
Karen Paxman was busy as always for the Demons. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Fremantle superstar Kiara Bowers led the way for the Dockers with 20 disposals, but she fought a losing battle against the tide.
The Demons go through the season unbeaten at Casey Fields and will now wait on a venue for their date with the Crows — and sweat on the fitness of Pearce.
MELBOURNE: 1.2 3.3 4.3 5.10 (40)
FREMANTLE: 0.2 1.2 3.3 3.5 (23)
DEMONS Scott 2 Gay Bannan Tarrant
DOCKERS: Houghton Duffy Sharp
DEMONS: Gay, Paxman, Cunningham, Mithen, Lampard
DOCKERS: Bowers, Sergeant, Seth, E Antonio, Stannett, Cain
Originally published asAFLW finals: How Dees triumphed without Daisy
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