MELBOURNE has turned the tables on reigning premier Adelaide, establishing itself firmly among the title contenders for AFLW season seven.
A mere 139 days since they squared off in the season six AFLW Grand Final at Adelaide Oval, the Demons gained a small slice of revenge with an impressive 18-point victory – 6.8 (44) to 4.2 (26) - against the Crows at ACH Group Stadium in Glenelg on Friday night.
The Demons held off a resolute Crows outfit in a hectic and pressure-filled contest befitting of the occasion, with midfielder Eliza West, veteran Karen Paxman, Olivia Purcell and gun forward Tayla Harris outstanding for the Dees.
All-Australian onballer Anne Hatchard was tenacious in her 50th game for the Crows with her relentless running, aggression and willingness to hunt the ball, while sharpshooter Ashleigh Woodland kicked three of her side’s four goals.
The Crows can hold their heads high, showing they will be a force to be reckoned with despite the loss of superstar Erin Phillips, Angela Foley and Justin Mules to expansion side Port Adelaide.
CROWS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
It took just two minutes for last season’s leading goalkicker, Woodland, to open her account for the new campaign with an easy goal from the goalsquare.
The Demons hit back through a snap goal to Kate Hore before the game developed into a true scrap.
Harris imposed herself on the game with her physicality before following up with a brilliant 45m goal to give the visitors a handy 10-point lead – 2.5 (17) to 1.1 (7) - at the main break.
Woodland kicked her third early in the second half before goals to Tyla Hanks and Daisy Pearce gave the Demons some breathing room.
Crows goalsneak Danielle Ponter gave her side a sniff with a goal early in the last quarter.
But goals to Eden Zanker and Paxman sealed the victory for the Demons to ensure they start their season on a winning note.
Did you see that?
Demons forward Kate Hore had the ball on a string with an absolute corker of a bounce that the late Shane Warne would have been proud of. The rushed snap kick bounced over the top of the defence, turned right angles and just had enough on it to crawl over the line. It was some way for the Demons to kick their first goal of the new season.
One to watch
Crows forward Ashleigh Woodland won’t be giving up the leading goalkicker crown without a fight after a strong individual performance. Woodland kicked three of the side’s four goals, always putting herself in dangerous positions and making the most of her opportunities. She is a nightmare for opposition defenders.
The Demons will be on the hallowed turf of the MCG when they take on North Melbourne next Friday night, ahead of the AFL qualifying final between Melbourne and Sydney. Meanwhile, the Crows will be looking to bounce back against Richmond at the Swinburne Centre next Saturday morning.
ADELAIDE 1.0 1.1 3.1 4.2 (26)
MELBOURNE 1.4 2.5 4.6 6.8 (44)
Adelaide: Woodland 3, Ponter
Melbourne: Hore, Harris, Hanks, Pearce, Zanker, Paxman
Adelaide: Hatchard, Randall, Woodland, Thompson, Biddell, Newman
Melbourne: West, Paxman, Purcell, Harris, Hore, Lampard