The AFL Women's competition reached new heights in 2021. Photo: Melbourne FC

Despite missing Daisy Pearce, Melbourne Demons defeated Fremantle Dockers in the AFLW Qualifying Final, booking a spot in the Preliminary Final against Adelaide.

A fourth quarter breeze has helped Melbourne sail home against Fremantle in the AFLW’s first Qualifying Final, winning 5.10.40-3.5.23.

In an intense battle, the Demons managed to rise above the pressure applied by Fremantle, finding targets inside their forward fifty consistently.

Melbourne had 35 inside fifties, including nine marks inside fifty, compared to just 22 and one to the Dockers.

Melbourne star Karen Paxman had a major influence on the game, collecting 20 disposals and laying five tackles.

After the game, Paxman said it was an intense match-up between two great sides.

“The scoreboard doesn’t really reflect the intensity out here today,” Paxman said.

“A lot of our game is around contests and energy, and that’s what we’ve been bringing, which today came through for us.”

Melbourne will face Adelaide next week in the Preliminary Final, potentially at the Adelaide Oval.

Paxman says the Demons have the belief to travel away and book a place in the Grand Final.

“Adelaide is obviously a really good team, it’ll definitely be a battle no matter who you’re playing,” she said.

Despite missing captain Daisy Pearce for the final, Melbourne had no issues with forward fifty entries and scoring conversions.

Speaking after the game, Pearce said she felt confident in her side throughout the final quarter.

“We were looking pretty good, peppering the goals and it was only a matter of time,” Pearce said.

“We were relieved to hear that siren and know we’re going on into next week.”

Pearce is hopeful she’ll be right to go against Adelaide next week.

“I ran this morning, which was a really good step, and put in a pretty good session in the gym,” Pearce said.

“It’s progressing a lot quicker than we thought it would, so we just need to keep ticking it off each day.”

After an undefeated season in 2020, Fremantle were due to face Melbourne in the Qualifying Final last year before the season was cancelled.

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