MELBOURNE has broken its finals hoodoo by grinding out a low-scoring but unmissable win, running out 2.7 (19) to 2.3 (15) victors over Brisbane. The Demons looked in trouble early when Brisbane kicked back-to-back goals in the opening quarter, but then took complete control of the game, shutting down the Lions’ run and limiting the Lions to just 12 inside 50s across three quarters, and a further three behinds which all came in the third term.
BRISBANE 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)
MELBOURNE 0.1 | 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.7 (19)
Brisbane: D. Davidson, C. Svarc
Melbourne: B. Mackin, T. Harris
Brisbane: S. Campbell, N. Grider, J. Ellenger, I. Dawes, A. Anderson
Melbourne: E. West, T. Hanks, T. Gillard, O. Purcell, K. Hore
Gay sets the tackling tone early
From the opening bounce, the energy at the ground was outstanding, and straight away it was clear that neither side was willing to give an inch. After making multiple defensive efforts, a huge tackle from Maddison Gay on the wing helped Melbourne earn the first inside 50. Later in the quarter she took a mark on the last line, reading a poor kick inside Brisbane’s forward 50 and chopping it off.
Brisbane back-to-back goals sets crowd alight
After a willing first seven or eight minutes, the Lions crowd got up and about when Dakota Davidson ad Catherine Svarc both slotted goals in the matter of two minutes. Davidson’s came off a brilliant pass from Natalie Grider, while Svarc was taken high at the stoppage and delivered the set shot moments later.
Grider’s run-down tackle brings shades of 2010
One of the most famous moments in the men’s grand final history is Heath Shaw’s rundown smother off Nick Riewoldt’s boot. While it was a tackle rather than a smother, Grider closed down the speedy Megan Fitzsimon in the dying minutes of the first term, when she was running in 15m out from goal. With Alyssa Bannan also loose just forward of Fitzsimon, Grider went all-in on an unaware Fitzsimon and mowed her down to win the free.
Team pressure winning the game for Brisbane
Laying seven tackles inside forward 50, the Lions were forcing the Dees to not make a single mistake when in their defensive half, and then up the other end, Grider’s run-down tackle sparked several other acts in the last minute of the term. Ally Anderson came across for a spoil stopping an uncontested mark, then Kate Lutkins held onto a critical grab in between multiple players.
T. Hanks for coming
With the heat again in the contest early in the second, it took a remarkable play from Tyla Hanks to show just how dangerous the Demons midfield can be. Tapping it above her head to space then running onto it to cleanly take it again, Hanks produced a deadly kick inside 50 to the chest of Tayla Harris. Unfortunately Harris missed the set shot wide, but the play was the best of the day so far.
Lions defence weather early Dees storm
Melbourne put the foot down in the first half of the second term, storming inside 50 on the first six occasions of the quarter. Though it did not yield too many benefits on the scoreboard, it was the first time that the Lions defence looked under siege in the match. Melbourne kept attacking hard but the Brisbane back five were steadfast.
Koenen’s injury mars Mackin’s moment
Lions captain Breanna Koenen had a rare fumble and slip inside defensive 50 trying to tap the ball in Sophie Conway‘s direction. The skipper was forced off the ground limping to the bench, getting inspected and did not return for the rest of the quarter. Unfortunately it became the talking point, because straight after the injury, Koenen’s opponent Bannan won the ball off a Conway fumble to give it to Blaithin Mackin who received it, put on the afterburners and slotted the goal on the run.
Harris and Dawes clash of titans
They might be in completely separate weight divisions, but few could argue that both Harris and Isabel Dawes are tough as nails. Harris copped a knock that left her bleeding from the face, and in the very next contest she reacted directly by hip-and-shouldering Dawes in a massive bump. It was a fair hit, but both had to come from the ground, Harris through the blood rule and Dawes after the hit. Both were fine and returned to the field.
Koenen’s courageous act
It was just a small moment in time, but the fact the Brisbane skipper returned to the field from that nasty knee knock in the second term made her attempted mark in the early moments even more impressive. Among a pack of players, Koenen flew back with the flight despite oncoming traffic and brought the ball to ground instead of allowing a mark to a Dees forward on the leag.
Hore hits Harris, hope builds for Dees
After completely dominating the second term and having the early going in the third, the Dees finally got another goal on the board thanks to some quick thinking from Harris and Kate Hore. Harris went into an aerial contest against three opponents at the top of the goalsquare, then as they went to the stoppage, Harris ducked out the back, and a quick kick from Hore towards goal found Harris in front position and marking. She slotted the goal from point-blank range to put the Demons in front for the first time.
Lions gain momentum late
Despite Melbourne having control across the best part of 25 minutes, Brisbane almost snuck through another goal or two late in the quarter. Kicking three behinds – two of which were rushed behinds – the Lions were ferocious in attack, while the Dees remained steadfast in defence. While Courtney Hodder had just one touch in the first half, she started to get off the chain with some key kicks inside 50 and big tackles.
Davidson misses chance to put home side in front
The game’s first goalkicker had the chance to send her team in front at the final break after tacking a mark 25m out from goal. There were pleads from Hore and Alyssa Bannan that Davidson had pushed Hore in the back, though the umpire deemed it a fair side arm and bodywork. In the end, it mattered little on the scoreboard as the Lions forward sprayed it to the right and Brisbane trailed by two points.
Tackling pressure goes to another level
There was no space for either side in the last quarter as both teams were determined to not give an inch, with just a couple of behinds scored for the entire quarter. Though both teams had forward forays, Melbourne’s repeat stoppage game worked in what was a remarkable show of strength. Both teams were incredible in the game and deservedly, the Dees finished in front.
Dawes shows footy IQ
Brisbane young gun Dawes might not have come away with a medal, but she certainly showed her footy IQ on the big stage. With the game on the line and close to the boundary, Dawes handballed into Eden Zanker‘s leg for an out on the full call. In a game of moments, she certainly knew what the task was, and got it done.
Paxman cops Harris friendly fire
Melbourne star Karen Paxman had to come from the field midway through the final term after copping friendly fire in a marking contest from Harris. The big forward flew high but took out plenty of collateral, with Paxman – who had just returned from the bench – having to come straight off and sat down again.
Hanks incredible last term
She was fantastic all game, but Hanks was out of this world with her final term. She continued to bullock in, and when Brisbane kept attacking, she got to the right spots. Even in teh dying seconds with a loose aerial ball that could have ended badly on the counter attack, Hanks lunged forward to take a diving mark. Her work rate was simply sensational and deserving of all the plaudits.
MATCH TALKING POINTS
Campbell wins Norm Smith in losing side
Though her side lost the game, few could deny that Campbell did everything in her power to get her side over the line. Often opposed to Daisy Pearce, Campbell completely nullified her – bar a couple of moments when Pearce worked her way up the ground – and limited her to seven disposals and just one behind, ensuring that Pearce could not spur her team on through a brilliant goal like against the Roos. Campbell finished wih a match-high 19 disposals and eight marks, intercepting anything that came her way.
It was prominent throughout the game, but the immense pressure applied from both teams was simply sensational. The Lions laid a whopping 84 tackles to the Lions’ 57, while two of the best forward 50 tackling teams also went at it. After the Lions laid seven in the first term, they had limited entries after that to lay just nine for the match, their lowest of the season. Melbourne – who had 10 more inside 50s – 29 for the match – laid 16.
Both sides might well have left the game feeling a little aggrieved making sense of the umpiring from the match. The pressure on the big stage is not just reserved for players and coaches, with the umpires also feeling the heat. At one point in the final term, an umpire called holding the ball for Davidson – rightly so – but then the other umpire called advantage. It saw Bannan charge down Davidson and then the umpires had to decide whether to give 50m or a ball-up. In the end, they gave benefit of the doubt and the Lions forward took her kick. Both sides had some contest moments that were real 50/50s and the crowd definitely tried to get involved with their voice.
Gillard blankets Wardlaw
It was a massive matchup in the game, with young talent Tahlia Gillard going head-to-head with competition leading goalkicker Jesse Wardlaw. At half-time, Wardlaw had not touched the ball with Gillard winning all the crucial one-on-ones. Later in the game, Wardlaw rotated into the ruck to get her hands on the ball, but that was a huge win for the Dees who had one less talented forward to worry about.