From the first bounce, the Melbourne Demons looked determined to chase down the 43 per cent deficit between themselves and the Brisbane Lions for the minor premiership.
However, wasteful kicking and a brief downpour saw them fall one point short in the hunt, naming Brisbane as the AFLW season seven minor premiers.
Demons Coach Mick Stinear credited the players’ effort to get so close to the monumental task, saying the coaches didn’t inform the playing group due to fears it would change their style of play.
“We could’ve given the players more information, but they were playing with such freedom and boldness out on the ground and potentially we could’ve lost some of that style,” Stinear said.
“We’re happy with where we’re at and looking forward to the double chance.
“We didn’t really think it was possible with the conditions when we arrived. We were coaching towards that outcome late, but it’s not something we communicated down to the players.”
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The Demons were at their dominant best in the first quarter, using their trademark running handballs to tear apart the Eagles’ defence.
Kate Hore had five forward 50 tackles as the Melbourne forwards applied incredible pressure, resulting in five of their first-quarter scores coming directly from stoppages.
Eden Zanker has become a dangerous addition to the Dees forward line – the 22-year-old sat third in the league for goals this season at the conclusion of Saturday’s game.
The versatile Demon was intended for more time in the midfield, but Stinear can’t find a reason to take her out of a forward line that’s working so well together.
“She’s [Zanker] been brilliant up forward, we planned on playing her more in the midfield but we’re really happy with the way the forward line is working at the moment,” he said.
“We think the best form of defence is keeping the ball in our attacking half.
“It’s a good environment the forwards have created down there. Daisy [Pearce] and Kate [Hore] have a little competition about who can have the most pressure acts.
“I think it encourages the team to get the ball in there more often if they’re prepared to work like that.”
Tayla Harris’ injection into the ruck ensured the Dees would continue dismantling West Coast from the middle. She finished with 15 hit outs to go with 10 disposals and six tackles.
Harris was instrumental in the final term when Melbourne ramped up the pressure to kick four goals in a last-ditch effort to reach the top of the table.
90 seconds remained on the clock when Melbourne got within a solitary point of securing the top spot on the ladder.
Despite having the ball in the forward 50 for most of that time, the Eagles held out the Dees in a final stand of defiance for their last act of season seven.
The loss brought the Eagles’ season to a sour end, finishing with two wins and eight losses, while the Demons will host a Qualifying Final against either the Crows or the Tigers.
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