MELBOURNE has come within one point of the minor premiership with its 78-point win over West Coast ultimately not enough to leapfrog Brisbane at the top of the ladder.
Melbourne's worst enemy in its pursuit for top spot was itself, kicking 11.13 (79) to West Coast's 0.1 (1), missing out on the minor premiership by 0.3 per cent at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon.
DEES v EAGLES Full match coverage and stats
Knowing they had to pile on a big score if they were any chance at closing the gap on Brisbane at the top of the ladder, the Demons kept the ball in their forward half for the duration of the first quarter, registering 13 inside 50s to the Eagles' zero. This was a result of a well-structured, disciplined defensive set-up and forward pressure they were able to apply, laying 14 tackles inside 50 in the opening quarter alone.
Despite being able to register six inside 50s in the second quarter, however, the Eagles simply couldn't break through Melbourne's defences and were left goalless to half time.
To add to the Casey Fields atmosphere, the rain came thick and fast throughout the half-time break, making the ball tough to handle in the second half.
Melbourne's spread of goalkickers was impressive, goaling through nine different players and showing off just how tough it is to shut down in attack.
Meanwhile West Coast was unable to use key defender Sophie McDonald in the lock-down role she is usually so reliable in, purely due to Melbourne's depth in attack, rotating Alyssa Bannan, Eden Zanker, Tayla Harris, and Daisy Pearce through the goalsquare, never allowing the Eagle to settle on one opponent.
On a tough day for the Eagles, their emerging young stars were a highlight with Charlie Thomas and Ella Roberts their best. Thomas, who finished the game with 19 disposals and 12 rebounds, was immense under pressure down back, while Roberts' ability to create aerial contests around the ground was important, taking seven marks and winning 22 disposals.
Olivia Purcell and Eliza West once again worked tirelessly in the midfield for Melbourne, with Shelley Heath and Tyla Hanks also rotating through the middle as the Eagles were simply unable to contain them.
Kate Hore's pressure game
Plenty has been said about Melbourne vice-captain Kate Hore's goalkicking, and for good reason, she has snagged 16 goals for the season to date, but on Saturday afternoon it was all about her forward pressure. In the first quarter Hore laid five tackles, all inside 50, to help her Demons maintain territory control and generate repeat shots on goal. She ended the game with seven, coming just short of breaking Christina Bernardi's record of eight tackles inside 50 in a game.
Percentage Melbourne's worst enemy once again
After missing finals twice in the first two seasons of AFLW on percentage alone, Melbourne has been beaten once again by a slim percentage difference. Falling just 0.3 per cent short of ladder leaders Brisbane, Melbourne finishes season seven in second place and, should both the Demons and Lions progress to the Grand Final, it will be the latter's home game.
Melbourne will eagerly await its finals fixture after earning the home ground advantage, to be released on Sunday evening while it's season over for the Eagles who will head back to Western Australia and begin preparations for season eight.
MELBOURNE 3.5 5.8 7.12 11.13 (79)
WEST COAST 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 (1)
Melbourne: Zanker 2, Hore 2, Paxman, Fitzsimon, Purcell, Bannan, Mackin, Hanks, Heath
West Coast: Nil
Melbourne: Mithen, Paxman, Purcell, Hore, Birch
West Coast: Thomas, Roberts, McCarthy, Lakay
West Coast: Nil