The Melbourne Demons finally reached the pinnacle of the AFLW competition, winning their first premiership lead by superstar captain Daisy Pearce.
After finishing second in the home and away season, a four point victory in the grand final over minor premiers, the Brisbane Lions, saw Pearce’s side crowned the premiers of the seventh season of the AFLW competition.
Finishing Position: Premiers (Nine wins, one loss)
A lot went right for the Demons this year, finishing with just the one loss in a stellar campaign.
A star-studded midfield lead by the likes of Olivia Purcell, Tyla Hanks and the ever-reliable Karen Paxman was dominant throughout the entire season, leading the side to average the most disposals a game with over 241 per outing.
The flashy ball movement and speed out of the middle provided plenty of opportunities for the forward line who averaged 6.7 goals per game, second behind only the Lions at 7.1.
The goal scoring brigade was lead by superstar Kate Hore, who finished the season with 17 goals to her name after the finals. This lead to her second All-Australian selection, with her first coming in 2020.
In a season full of positives, not much was to be said of coach Mick Stinear’s women, who were nearly inch perfect in all of their games.
Their one blemish against the Lions came as a result of the opposition running the Demons off their legs and producing a greater effort across all four quarters.
A sustained effort across the entire game was something that Stinear highlighted as a place for improvement throughout the season and caught up to them at times, either leaving their push late or falling off towards the end of matches.
The situation was rectified however and the Demons were able to put aside their negatives in emphatic fashion.
The Demons had a plethora of young, emerging talent that helped push the side to the very top of the AFLW ladder in season seven.
22-year-old Olivia Purcell was astronomical in her first full season since 2020 after recovering from an ACL injury towards the back end of season six. She placed third in the Demons best and fairest race and averaged 22.7 disposals a game in a superstar-making season.
Eliza West backed up a solid debut season in the red and blue with an even better one in season seven. The 25 year old mature aged recruit averaged 17.5 disposals a game in the Demons premiership year, to go with 5.5 tackles and 3.8 clearances.
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The obvious high point of the season for the Demons came on the final day, as they claimed the win over a stubborn Lions outfit to win their first ever premiership after being one of the eight sides in the competition at its inception in 2017.
Midfield gun Eliza West had 19 disposals in the engine room for the Demons, as they grinded their way to a tough, low-scoring win.
The battle in the midfield allowed the Demons to stem the Lions territory game, holding them back and restricting them to just the two goals for the match, their second-lowest total for the season.
Skipper Pearce was finally able to lift the elusive trophy that she had chased since the opening season, giving her her final accomplishment in a stellar career before announcing her retirement.
It’s difficult to signal out a significant low point for the dominant Melbourne side, with only one game a blip on a near perfect outing.
The one and only loss for the season came in round 4 against the side they would eventually defeat in the grand final in the Brisbane Lions. The Demons started well in the match at Casey Fields before being overrun by a determined Lions outfit, eventually going down by 15 points.
They didn’t allow themselves to wallow in sorrow for too long, demolishing the Blues in the following round by 42 points to put them right back on a hot streak.
Where to next
The Demons will face an interesting task next season with the retirement of their greatest ever player in Pearce.
They will look to find their next leader within the group in her absence and back up their premiership in season eight.
They will face stiff competition from the likes of their grand final opponents in Brisbane and the ever-dangerous Adelaide, who will be looking to claim their second and fourth premierships respectively.
Season seven All-Australians Olivia Purcell and Kate Hore will begin preparations to take their side to the top of the ladder once again, after their strong form proved the catalyst for the Demons rise, with both players having significant impact in the grand final as well.
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