MELBOURNE has posted an important 39-point win against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday afternoon to stay in the finals race.
Riding the aerial dominance of Tegan Cunningham in attack, the Dees wasted chances but finished the match well to post an 8.9 (57) to 2.6 (18) victory at Blacktown International Sportspark to keep in touch with the top two in Conference A.
The score was even at the first break and the Giants had looked dangerous, with Christina Bernardi threatening and Cora Staunton and Yvonne Bonner connecting on several occasions.
Nicola Barr was rewarded for her hard running in the third term when she managed to stop Shelley Scott from booting what seemed a certain goal after the Demon found herself free out the back, and it seemed the Giants were in it with a sniff if they started the final term well.
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However, a goal by Maddison Gay to start the last quarter effectively ended the contest, and Dees star Karen Paxman ran out the game well in warm conditions to finish with 18 disposals.
Neither Scott nor Giant Courtney Gum took a short step when they approached the football in the second term, and the result was a huge hit that left both players lying on the deck in the moments after the clash.
Goalkicking practice will be on the Dees' agenda
This one should have been an even bigger percentage booster for the Demons but inaccuracy proved costly. Maddison Gay, Tegan Cunningham, Aliesha Newman and Madeleine Guerin were among the culprits who would have been disappointed not to have converted their chances.
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Bernardi gets the goal assist, and the goal
Giants forward Bernardi's first shot at goal was on line, but didn't make the distance. Her second attempt was a shank, so when she had the ball alone in attack minutes later, the former Magpie's decision to handball over the top to Bonner instead of taking the shot was understandable. The problem came when her pass was off target, but Bernardi didn't let that stop her, collecting the footy herself and putting her side's first goal through.
Newman's raw pace has made the highlights reel on several occasions but Guerin thrilled after the half-time break when she took a bounce and turned on the afterburners. She wasn't able to convert but it was an exciting play from the youngster.
"GWS were really strong around the footy. Thankfully something our girls have been working on during the week has been making better decisions once we'd won the ball, so we were able to get that footy forward more often in a bit of space, and allowed our forwards to launch and compete." - Melbourne coach Mick Stinear
"I've just said to the girls, I actually haven't studied the ladder and the results a lot, other than to say it would require a miracle for us to probably be playing beyond the next two weeks, which really tests where our group's at." - GWS coach Alan McConnell
The Demons will be desperate to overcome the Western Bulldogs as they bid to keep their finals hopes alive in a brutal Conference A, with the two sides to meet next Saturday night at Marvel Stadium. GWS will fly to South Australia and take on Adelaide at Unley Oval the following afternoon in what looms as another tough clash for the Giants.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 1.2 1.3 2.5 2.6 (18)
MELBOURNE 1.2 3.7 4.9 8.9 (57)
Greater Western Sydney: Barclay, Bernardi
Melbourne: Cunningham 3, Gay, Zanker, Paxman, Pearce, Hanks
Greater Western Sydney: Staunton, Dal Pos, Bernardi, Eva, Barclay
Melbourne: Cunningham, Gay, Paxman, Newman, Hore, Pearce
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Melbourne: Scott (shoulder)
Umpires: Broadbent, Lewis, Edwards
Official crowd: 1576 at Blacktown International Sportspark