Team spirit driving Demons: Stinear

TEAM spirit is the catalyst for a Melbourne Demons flag in Season 7 of the AFL Women’s, with coach Mick Stinear moving away from focusing on “perfect football” but rather consistency within one another. The Dees mentor made the comments on the back of yet another victory – their seventh in eight games – embarrassing a normally impressive Gold Coast Suns outfit by 49 points on their home deck.

In the post-game press conference, Stinear said the message coming into the match had been simple, and rather than look too far ahead, just focus on getting the basics right and ensuring their team spirit was high.

“We’re just trying to create consistency and our competitiveness and our team spirit and we know what we’re going to get from each other,” he said. “That’s been our key focus, not trying to focus on the outcome and not trying to play a perfect brand of footy, but really playing for each other week-in, week-out.

“I guess someone like Daisy (Pearce) that’s what she’s done her whole career, so tonight was really about replicating that consistency and that’s two weeks in a row we feel like we’ve brought that, and we don’t want to shy away from that now, we want to keep building.”

Daisy was another theme of the night, with the team able to get up for the women’s football pioneer’s 50th game, with Pearce fittingly kicking the opener after a hard-fought start.

“Daisy’s 50th was a really special occasion for our team. We’ve had a number of 50-gamers this season which has been brilliant to be able to celebrate those,” Stinear said. “Daisy a really special one for this group, all 50 games as our captain and she just gives so much spirit wise to this team.

“The team really wanted to perform well and we knew it was going to be a tough game against a good contested team and it was moments of it being a grind, but really pleased with the team with being able to work their way through the game and finish strongly.”

Gold Coast was never going to hand the Demons an easy win, especially given the Suns were undefeated in Queensland against a non-Queensland side in Season 7. But the Demons are not an ordinary side and Melbourne was able to shake off the Suns’ strength in the middle – and potential dominance in the ruck given the Dees were minus Lauren Pearce – to come away with the 9.4 (58) to 1.3 (9) victory.

“Half-time gave us a little bit of time to address things,” Stinear said. “Charlie Rowbottom is having a great season and she’s a real beast in there and she was getting first access in there and was getting first access at times, and the group really worked to reduce her impact in the second half.

“(We were) just being cleaner and quicker to get the ball forward, that certainly helped. But as a collective I think the midfield group did really well, and Maggie Caris coming in and playing her role tonight, that was pleasing.”

Melbourne was not only minus Peace, but also Sinead Goldrick and Maddison Gay. Stinear said it showed the depth of the list to be able to bring in long-time emergency Charlotte Wilson into defence, as well as Alison Brown and Caris into the side.

Of all the top seven sides still eligible for a top four spot, Melbourne is the only team that will not play another of those top seven sides in the final fortnight. Instead, the Dees take on Essendon and West Coast in Rounds 9 and 10, both at Casey Fields in what should be a huge finish for the second placed side who is all but assured of top two when factoring in draws across the competition. That includes other top three sides Brisbane and Collingwood playing each other in the final round.

“I think players will be coming back into the side. Lauren Pearce we hope will be ready next week, Sinead Goldrick we hope will be ready next week, Maddi Gay not far away,” Stinear said. “Just trying to get the right balance with the team, and then we’re far from perfect, but for us it’s just that team spirit that’s our big driver at the moment, getting that right. The players, the fans, the staff and broader club know what they’re going to get each time they take the field.”

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