Versatile Dee helps retain Cup

THE Hampson-Hardeman Cup stayed in Demon hands yesterday afternoon after Melbourne posted a big win over the Western Bulldogs in Round 3 of the AFL Women’s. The Dees did not have it all their own way at times, having to shrug off a persistent Bulldogs side in the last term.

Early on in the match the Bulldogs were often playing with an extra player in defence which was a positive strategy for the most part.

But an injury early to one of Melbourne’s many dangerous forward targets in Alyssa Bannan saw the Dees need to reshuffle their structure. However, the move of one particular player from backline to forward line helped nullify any positive that extra player in defence was having for the Bulldogs and really helped Melbourne race away and open up the margin.

One of many trademarks of the Melbourne side is the versatility of the players, and Maddi Gay is certainly a prime example of that.

Beginning her career as a midfielder, Gay was originally shifted into defence several years ago after Daisy Pearce was moved into a more permanent role in the forwardline. Gay has made that half-back role her own in the seasons since, with reading the ball coming in and then intercepting one of the strongest components of her game.

Once she got pushed forward to begin the third term, it was clear that some of the skills she had picked up playing in both the midfield and defence translated well into being a forward and helped her slot into that forwardline seamlessly.

Her first goal came after she read the ball well coming in from a high kick from Tayla Harris, and then snapped from the pocket and kicked truly.

Her ability to read the flight of the ball to take the mark that led to that shot on goal had been developed when she was playing off half back, with many teams long bombing it into the forward line in a very similar way.

Her second goal came through very different circumstances, but she had snuck around the pack to receive the one-two from Casey Sherriff and then snapped truly.

The way she was able to get herself into best position around the contest to be most useful for her team mates is also a skill she had picked up playing other positions, and it was clear she was using her midfielder’s mindset to do so.

Gay’s move from defence to attack yesterday was not necessarily because of Bannan’s injury but to neutralise the influence the spare defender was having for the Bulldogs, but her full game performance showed how versatile her game has become particularly since she joined the Dees five seasons ago.

As Melbourne coach Mick Stinear noted post-game “Maddi went forward just to try and even up the numbers.”

“They had a spare behind the ball that we just didn’t want to give them an extra, we wanted to make sure we were kicking to a contest and getting good representation in the forward half and trying to keep the scoreboard ticking over. So that was our reasoning there, and Maddi did a great job. She applied herself to the role really well.”

Once Gay had been moved into attack in the third term and had neutralised that spare player the Bulldogs had, things really started to get going for the Dees. They had been winning all afternoon, but just could not quite shake the Bulldogs.

That changed in the final term as Melbourne kicked four goals to none to open the game up and run away with the win.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments