MELBOURNE is through to a preliminary final after holding on against a dogged Fremantle to record a 17-point win on a warm day at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon.
The Dees will face Adelaide next week, with the victor to line up in the Grand Final.
With the temperature reaching 32 degrees, Melbourne was all over the Dockers early with its pressure allowing it to head into the first break with a six-point lead, despite having kicked into the wind that quarter.
DEMONS v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats
The Demons kept Freo scoreless in the second term and it looked like they had all the momentum, but the Dockers produced the response they seemingly always do after the main break.
AFLCA AFLW Champion Player of the Year winner Kiara Bowers was typically relentless, laying 17 tackles to go along with 20 disposals to help her side turn the tide through the middle of the ground.
Melbourne regained ascendancy in the final term and dominated play but couldn’t convert accurately, keeping Fremantle in the game.
The Dees booted seven behinds and had a couple of shots that went out on the full before Maddison Gay kicked truly to seal the result with seconds left remaining in the contest.
Momentum on Melbourne’s side
It’s going to be hard to topple Adelaide but the Dees should enter that clash with confidence. They’ve won five matches on the trot (one of those was against the Crows) and dominated play in three of the four quarters on Saturday afternoon. To provide even more reason for optimism, skipper Daisy Pearce is tracking well in her return from a right knee injury, although she was sporting a brace. "I ran this morning which was a really good step, and put in a pretty good session in the gym, so it’s progressing a lot quicker than we thought (it would),” Pearce told Channel Seven.
Home ground advantage pays dividends
The Dees haven’t lost at Casey Fields since 2019 and their nous there was apparent. In the two terms they were kicking with the wind, they went long with the footy, and didn’t allow Freo to score. Stand-in captain Karen Paxman and Shelley Scott took advantage of the breeze, with the latter bouncing a snap through from 55m out.
‘Turbo’ shows why she’s considered a jet
Bowers was outstanding once again, showing why she’s considered the frontrunner for the AFLW best and fairest. Time and again, she was in the thick of things at the coalface and was integral when the Dockers made their charge in the third term. She will no doubt be disappointed with her side’s season being over but Bowers can hold her head high after another excellent individual display.
Melbourne is set to go on the road to face Adelaide, with a spot in the decider on the line. For Fremantle, it will be a long road back to get to this stage again.
MELBOURNE 1.2 3.3 4.3 5.10 (40)
FREMANTLE 0.2 0.2 3.5 3.5 (23)
Melbourne: Scott 2¸ Bannan, Tarrant, Gay
Fremantle: Sharp, Duffy, Houghton
Melbourne: Paxman, Gay, Scott, Mithen, Cunningham
Fremantle: Bowers, Miller, Sergeant, Cain, Seth
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