MELBOURNE star Tayla Harris has led the Demons to an incredible come-from-behind win to topple premiers Brisbane by three points at Metricon Stadium on Monday night.
After trailing 22-0 late in the first half, Melbourne rallied after the main break to record a 5.5 (35) to 4.8 (32) win and snap the Lions' five-game win streak.
LIONS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
Remarkably – just as she did in the corresponding match in round nine last year – Lion Greta Bodey had a chance from 40m to win the game after the siren, but her set shot fell just short.
Harris was incredible for the victors.
The former Lion and Blue was unstoppable inside 50, kicking 2.2 from her 13 disposals that included an equal AFLW-record seven contested marks.
Her goal early in the last quarter gave the Demons the lead they would not relinquish.
Alongside fellow tall forward Alyssa Bannan (two goals), the duo asserted aerial dominance that had the usually frugal Brisbane defence scrambling.
Veteran Karen Paxman was a big part of the second-half turnaround, finishing with a match-high 23 disposals and 413m gained as she flipped the momentum with her hard overlap running.
Daisy Pearce was moved from half-forward to half-back in the second quarter and offered a steady hand with her 15 touches.
Three games in nine days appeared to catch up with Brisbane after a ferocious first half that netted goals for Orla O'Dwyer, Sophie Conway and Bodey.
As if by magic – or a sense of theatre – Greta Bodey found herself in an almost identical position to one she was in 11 months ago, with a chance to win after the siren against Melbourne. And as she did at Casey Fields last March, her set shot from 40m out on a slight angle landed agonisingly short in the goalsquare. Last time Brisbane lost by two points and this time it was three. Despite the anguish, Bodey was one of the Lions' best.
Despite the wild ebbs and flows of the game, many of the statistics ended up similar – except for one. Brisbane was able to generate 39 inside 50s to Melbourne's 26, but it was the Demons' potency when they went forward that proved the difference. The main reason for that was the irresistible Tayla Harris, too tall and too athletic – and with hands like a vice – for reliable Lion Shannon Campbell. Harris' sidekick Alyssa Brannan was also dangerous with two goals from three marks, while the absence of Dakota Davidson (concussion) seemed to leave Brisbane one target short when it needed it.
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Four nights earlier, Courtney Hodder won the QClash Medal as the best player afield against Gold Coast and she produced another piece of magic against the Demons. After great lead-up work from Emily Bates and Orla O'Dwyer early in the second quarter, Hodder was running on to a loose ball about 20m from goal, but sensing pressuring from Melbourne defenders, cleverly tapped the ball into the path of teammate Sophie Conway for an open goal.
"The opposition had a nine-day break and we had four, but we played well enough. We left a bit out there in the first half. We probably should have come in 5.3 instead of 3.5. It was a bit galling that we gave it up. If you want to simplify it and say it's an energy thing, probably, which then affects all sorts of things like decision making." – Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich
"We were definitely on the back foot at half-time. Our midfield was able to respond, Daisy [Pearce] throughout the course of the game helped our backline and our ball movement and Tayla Harris ahead of the ball was extraordinary and really kept us in the game. She's quite a remarkable player and really pleased she's enjoying her footy." – Melbourne coach Mick Stinear
The Demons have another top-four test in five days' time when they host North Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday from 7.10pm AEDT. Brisbane will play its fourth game in 15 days when it makes the longest trip in the country to play West Coast at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday at 2.10pm AWST.
BRISBANE 1.3 3.5 4.5 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE 0.0 1.0 4.4 5.5 (35)
Brisbane: O'Dwyer, Conway, Bodey, Farquharson
Melbourne: Harris 2, Bannan 2, West
Brisbane: Bates, O'Dwyer, Bodey, C.Svarc, Pullar, Dawes
Melbourne: Harris, Paxman, Bannan, D.Pearce, Hanks, McNamara
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