MELBOURNE has defeated Collingwood by 20 points, a result compounded by a suspected torn ACL to All-Australian Magpies defender Ash Brazill.
PIES HIT BY DEES, INJURY Full match coverage and stats
The Demons, coming off a shock loss to St Kilda, comfortably controlled all assets of the game, leading from the first siren to the last in the 7.4 (46) to 4.2 (26) win at Marvel Stadium.
Brazill injured her knee in the dying minutes of the third term when attempting to change direction and was stretchered from the field. Ruby Schleicher was also restricted to the bench with her arm in a sling after suffering a knock to her wrist.
Collingwood was unable to confirm the severity of Brazill's injury, with the Pie set to receive scans over the weekend.
The match itself – crucial in regards to the future of Conference B given both teams were 2-1 coming into the game – was a fairly free-flowing affair, with the Dees' superior forward power and disciplined defence proving to be too much for the young Pies.
Collingwood would be ruing giving away two 50 metre penalties in one passage of play – one for encroaching the protected area at half-back, and the second for a hold close to goal – which resulted in 23-year-old draftee Jackie Parry opening the Dees' account with her first goal in her debut match.
Melbourne came into the match under pressure for some fairly ordinary conversion in front of goal, but outscored Collingwood by one major each quarter except the fourth to finish with seven individual goal-kickers.
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Two of this season's top-tier midfielders are Collingwood's Jaimee Lambert and Melbourne's Karen Paxman, and while the two didn't go head to head, they were both their teams' most effective players.
Lambert (22 disposals, six inside-50s, one goal) was a clearance beast, her small frame motoring along the field and often picking up multiple possessions within the one chain.
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On the other hand, Paxman (a game-high 24 disposals, six clearances) picked up a lot of her ball around the ground, working well defensively in particular to power Melbourne forward.
The ladder now…
In the context of Conference B, this match could end up having finals ramifications. With the top three making finals, Melbourne is now four points clear of fourth position, regardless of what happens later this round. Collingwood will be hoping Carlton gets pumped by Adelaide in Sunday's Grand Final rematch, which could push them back to third position.
It's a very different Melbourne defence these days, with former Bulldog Libby Birch holding the fort at full-back. Daisy Pearce has also been added to the half-back flank, while Irish rookie Sinead Goldrick has slotted in on the other side. Birch has been a rock on the last line, allowing Meg Downie to direct traffic further up the ground. It confused the Pies, halting their run-on play in its tracks.
Work in progress
Collingwood is a vastly better side compared to what we've seen in years past, but there's still improvement to be made. While their handball running style looked good at times, there were times when too many players were sucked into contests, leaving free Melbourne opponents on the outside of packs. We can see what the Pies want to do, but they're not quite at four quarters yet.
For a good cause
The match was originally slated for Victoria Park, but the implementation of the State of Origin for Bushfire Relief in the AFL saw the AFLW clash shifted to a curtain-raiser at Marvel Stadium. Both coaches said their players enjoyed the rare opportunity to play in the indoor stadium. Teams formed a guard of honour post-match for emergency service workers and the AFL Vics and All Stars running out through the banner.
"Just the consistency (was most pleasing), just being able to execute across all four quarters. It was only a week ago, but we went away from what we've been playing and training as a team. Goals have been hard to come by, so it was good to see different people chipping in and we weren't reliant on anyone." - Melbourne coach Mick Stinear
"We looked a little bit tired, to be honest. The short turnaround, whether we handled that well or not, I'm not too sure. We'll review that aspect as to how we recovered and how we trained. We just made too many mistakes. We're trying to play a certain style and, at times, we're okay with it, but when we backed off with our pressure we got exposed." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
Both sides have a relatively lengthy break, not playing again till Sunday. Collingwood will host fellow Conference B side Western Bulldogs at Morwell Recreation Reserve, while Melbourne will be warm favourites against West Coast at Casey Fields.
COLLINGWOOD 0.1 2.1 3.1 4.2 (26)
MELBOURNE 2.1 4.2 6.3 7.4 (46)
Collingwood: Rowe 2, Layton, Lambert, Rowe
Melbourne: Parry, Hore, Zanker, Cunningham, Sherriff, Scott, Gay
Collingwood: Lambert, Davey, Bonnici, Rowe, Layton
Melbourne: Paxman, Birch, Hanks, Scott, D.Pearce
Collingwood: Schleicher (wrist), Brazill (knee)
Melbourne: Goldrick (cut head)
Crowd: 21,528 at Marvel Stadium