MELBOURNE has cantered away from Richmond in a well-rounded performance, cruising to a 28-point win at Casey Fields.
The Tigers booted the first goal of the game, but the Demons dominated the scoreboard from that point forward in the 7.2 (44) to 2.4 (16) win.
DEMONS v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
It was a hot contest in the first quarter, with neither side able to break into a lead, while both demonstrating a free-flowing, attacking style of play.
After being held disposal-less in the opening term last week, Richmond best and fairest Monique Conti relished a looser check, wheeling out of stoppages with seven in the first.
The tall Melbourne forward line, with four players – Tegan Cunningham, Eden Zanker, Alyssa Bannan and Jackie Parry – over 176cm, began to stretch Richmond's defence in the second, as the midfield began to pump the ball in deeper to great effect.
Bannan, in her second game after being taken with pick No.5 in last year's draft, booted two in the space of a few minutes, covering the ground with ease.
Melbourne started to look ominous in the third term, quick to capitalise on its forward-50 entries, while the ball often bounced straight out of Richmond's attacking zone.
Lily Mithen (20 and seven tackles) and Tyla Hanks (19 and five) starred in the middle for Melbourne, and while Karen Paxman was not as prolific as last week, it was still a strong four-quarter performance from the veteran.
Statistically, both sides were quite even in nearly every facet of the game bar clearances and tackles. The spread of disposals saw Conti (27 disposals) dominate for the Tigers – the next best was three with 14 – with a much more even contribution from the Dees.
The Northern Knights effect
The Knights have been a strong under-18 team in the NAB League for the past few years, and two of their star recent graduates showed patches of brilliance for both sides. The No.1 pick in last year's NAB AFLW Draft, Ellie McKenzie (14 touches), was clean and composed playing in the middle for the Tigers. Demons forward Bannan had a nice little cameo in the second, kicking two quick goals in a matter of minutes.
Little by little, the Richmond improvement is there
There's no questioning this is a vastly better Richmond side than that of last year. There were more than a few clean passages of play, and the likes of Sophie Molan, Sabrina Frederick, Bec Miller and Gabby Seymour are improving by the week. Players are looking to open the game up and willing to change lanes (occasionally to their detriment), rather than the continual bombs down the line we saw last year.
Raining goals at Melbourne
Melbourne coach Mick Stinear was public and strong in his desire for his side to score more in 2021, and so far, the early signs are good. In 2020, the Dees averaged 34 points from their six home-and-away matches. By comparison, Melbourne's two games this year have produced scores of 56 and 44, for an average of 50. The test as to whether this can continue will come against stronger opposition, having played two expansion sides in Gold Coast and Richmond.
"The way the girls finished the game (was most pleasing). Richmond was really strong around the ball, they beat us in contested possession today, they outworked us in periods, but in the second half the girls were able to have a little more composure with the ball. They were still prepared to work hard offensively towards the end of the game." – Melbourne coach Mick Stinear
"I don't want to give a generic, same message about our competitiveness. I thought they got us in a patch in the second quarter, where we dominated play, inside 50s and time in forward half, and they got through us and scored quickly. In terms of momentum, that was the critical point of the game, I thought. I was really pleased and proud of the last 10 minutes of the last quarter." – Richmond coach Ryan Ferguson
MELBOURNE 1.0 3.1 5.2 7.2 (44)
RICHMOND 1.0 1.2 1.3 2.4 (16)
Melbourne: Bannan 2, Hore 2, Cunningham, Scott, Paxman
Richmond: Frederick, Hosking
Melbourne: Mithen, Hanks, Paxman, Hore, Sherriff
Richmond: Conti, McKenzie, Cordner, Frederick, Seymour
Melbourne: Petrevski (hamstring)
Crowd: 2581 at Casey Fields