MELBOURNE has made a massive statement, becoming the first AFLW side to break the 100-point barrier as it beat a depleted Fremantle at Optus Stadium by 88 points.
Records tumbled as the Demons systematically piled on the highest score in AFLW history, 16.11 (107) to 3.1 (19), as captain Daisy Pearce became just the fourth player ever to kick five goals in a game.
It was the worst-case scenario for the Dockers as they lost Emma O'Driscoll and both Ebony and Kara Antonio through health and safety protocols just an hour before the opening siren, coming up against a full strength Melbourne side that was licking its lips for a game protected from the elements to show off its neat kick-and-mark game.
Melbourne dominated the disposal count 303-192 and used the ball expertly, going at 65.1 per cent disposal efficiency.
The Dockers' backline was immediately put under the pump, leaving Aine Tighe to mark the in-form Tayla Harris with both O'Driscoll and Janelle Cuthbertson unavailable, as Harris finished the game with three goals, one of four Demons to kick multiple goals for the game.
DOCKERS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
Tyla Hanks' work in the midfield was outstanding, as her neat handballs out of congestion were weighted perfectly to teammates on the run, meaning they didn't have to break stride and could get the ball inside 50 very quickly from each stoppage.
For Fremantle, captain Hayley Miller battled exceptionally hard all day, kicking a goal and ending the game with nine tackles and a team-high 22 disposals.
That third quarter
Melbourne kicked 7.1 in the third to register the highest scoring quarter in AFLW history. Daisy Pearce kicked three in that third term alone, ending the game with five goals. This surge contributed to the highest score in AFLW history, surpassing Brisbane's 98 points from last Sunday. This also smashed the Demons' previous high score, flying past their 70 points kicked against Fremantle back in round seven, 2017. Karen Paxman also kicked multiple goals for the first time in her career while seven different Demons registered a goal for the game.
The Dockers were already without important midfielder Gabby O'Sullivan and young forward Amy Franklin due to health and safety protocols when they had to make three big changes an hour before the opening siren. Emma O'Driscoll and both Ebony and Kara Antonio were withdrawn through said protocols, leaving coach Trent Cooper to call in both emergencies Ann McMahon and Maggie Maclachlan, while also giving top-up player Mikayla Western the call up. Fremantle ended up with three debutants for the game—Maclachlan, Western and ruck Sarah Wielstra—to take their tally to 11 for the season to date.
Melbourne's impressive performance was underlined by a true team performance. The Demons were disciplined in their running to support one another, and just as ready to provide a block for a teammate to get into space as they were to receive the ball, and it was this that overwhelmed Fremantle. On the expanses of Optus Stadium, the Demons were using the full width of the ground, and worked hard from siren to siren to outnumber their opponents at every single contest.
Fremantle will lick its wounds and finish up its home and away season at Fremantle Oval against the Suns, while Melbourne return home to Casey Fields to take on Carlton.
FREMANTLE 1.0 1.1 1.1 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 3.0 6.5 13.6 16.11 (107)
Fremantle: Tuhakaraina, Miller, Maclachlan
Melbourne: D. Pearce 5, Harris 3, Hore 3, Paxman 2, Scott, Bannan, Sherrif
Fremantle: Miller, East, Verrier, Tighe
Melbourne: Hanks, D. Pearce, Bannan, Mithen, Paxman
Fremantle: Sergeant (head knock)
Melbourne: Zanker (quad tightness)
Fremantle: E. Antonio, K. Antonio and O'Driscoll (Health and Safety Protocols) replaced in the side with McMahon, MacLachlan & Western
Crowd: 2717 at Optus Stadium
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