2022 AFLW Season Preview: Melbourne

THE 2022 AFL Women’s season is almost upon us, so it is time to take a look at each of the competing teams and see where they sit as we head into another season. Today we will take a look at Melbourne, who came agonisingly close to a first Grand Final appearance in 2021.

This year was a case of so close, yet so far for the Dees. After being round the mark for so long and never quite reaching the last day of the season for one reason or another, they got the closest they have ever been in 2021. They made the Preliminary Final but lost to a dominant Adelaide side.

In 2022, they will be more determined than ever to break that barrier and make the Grand Final. It may also be one of the last chances they have to ensure the likes of Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman see that elusive premiership before they retire.

They had a number of retirements and other departures at the end of 2021. However, the inclusions they have brought in more then ably fill the holes.

Niamh McEvoy, Shae Sloane, Tegan Cunningham and Meg Downie all retired last season. Chantel Emonson was traded and Mietta Kendall was delisted.

In their place, they traded in Tayla Harris and Olivia Purcell from Carlton and Geelong respectively, recruited Eliza West as a rookie from Casey, and drafted Georgia Campbell, Tahlia Gillard and Alison Brown.

Harris needs no introduction, but will provide an excellent marking target up forward, while Purcell will provide midfield depth well into the future. West is an exciting cross coder recruit who has proven she is a natural at footy for Casey in the VFLW.

Although recruited as a forward, Gillard is being trained as a defender, so she will go a long way to filling the hole Downie’s departure creates. In the meantime, Brown the former Saint and Blue will fill that hole nicely.

If the Dees are going to make that next step and finally make the Grand Final, they are going to have to avoid the mid season form slump that has become a signature of their seasons for the past few years. That slump in 2021 was arguably the difference between them earning the week off and having to play the extra final that they ultimately did.

Three games could be all that determines Melbourne’s season in the end – Round 1 against the Bulldogs, Round 4 against Adelaide and Round 6. Win all three of those and it will go a very long way to setting up the premiership tilt nicely.

Aside from the Bulldogs and Crows, they also have Richmond and St Kilda in the opening month. Both are games the Dees are expected to win, so the Dees could either be four from four, or two from four after the first month of the season.

They certainly have the right mix of young and experienced talent to finally make that final hurdle. With the likes of Gabby Colvin and Libby Birch down back, Lauren Pearce and Maddison Gay in the middle, and Jacqueline Parry and Alyssa Bannan up forward, there’s no reason that the Dees can’t go all the way in 2022.

Then there’s the likes of Sinead Goldrick, who after what she has shown in the pre season could be on the verge of a break out season.  

So will the Dees be able to go all the way in 2022, or will it be another case of so close yet so far? Stay tuned to find out.

2022 squad:

  • Alyssa Bannan
  • Libby Birch
  • Alison Brown
  • Maggie Caris
  • Georgia Campbell
  • Gabby Colvin
  • Megan Fitzsimon
  • Maddi Gay
  • Tahlia Gillard
  • Sinead Goldrick
  • Tayla Harris
  • Tyla Hanks
  • Shelley Heath
  • Kate Hore
  • Sarah Lampard
  • Lauren Magee
  • Eliza McNamara
  • Lily Mithen
  • Jackie Parry
  • Karen Paxman
  • Daisy Pearce
  • Lauren Pearce
  • Krstel Petrevski
  • Olivia Purcell
  • Shelley Scott
  • Casey Sherriff
  • Isabella Simmons
  • Brenna Tarrant
  • Eliza West
  • Eden Zanker

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