A KAREN Paxman masterclass has led Melbourne to a comfortable 21-point first-up win over an ill-disciplined Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
The four-time All Australian was sublime in the hot and humid conditions, racking up 19 of her 25 disposals in the decisive first half of the 9.2 (56) to 5.5 (35) victory.
SUNS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats
Paxman slowed down after half-time, but had plenty of help from her teammates.
Lily Mithen (22 and one goal) was terrific onball, while debutant Eliza McNamara also caught the eye with a polished, hard-running wing display to finish with 18 touches.
Lauren Pearce was also a welcome return in the ruck with her strong marking around the ground.
After a tight first quarter in which Gold Coast led by seven points, the Demons put the game away with five unanswered goals in the second.
Goals to Shelley Heath and Tegan Cunningham came via 50m penalties, as did one to Krstel Petrevski just after half-time to split the game wide open.
The Suns will be kicking themselves.
Jamie Stanton (18 disposals) worked hard in an outgunned midfield, while Sarah Perkins (two goals) made a promising start for her third club.
Did you see that?
It was hard to not smile at the performance of Sarah Perkins. Running out for the first time in Suns colours after previous stints with Adelaide and Melbourne, Perkins had a wonderful debut. She took a contested mark and goaled on the quarter-time siren and then added another in the third. Not only were her 11 disposals eye-catching, but the three tackles and willingness to play high up the ground made the Suns look far more dangerous in attack than any stage in 2020.
Five minutes of madness
Melbourne split the game wide open with three quick goals in the second quarter. Trailing by a point at the five-minute mark, Krstel Petrevski gave the Demons the lead when she cleverly roved a marking contest and snapped truly on her right boot. Shelley Heath and Tegan Cunningham then cashed in from close range following 50m penalties and the visitors never looked back.
With most of the traditional stats – contested possessions, clearances, scoring shots and inside 50s – close to equal, it was Melbourne's aerial dominance that really shone. They hauled in 10 contested marks to Gold Coast's four, with tall forward Tegan Cunningham, who was a handful for Jade Pregelj all day, and ruck Lauren Pearce particularly powerful in the air. The Dees were able to get deep entires inside their forward 50 and either mark or create a contest for their crumbers.
"They're the simplest of things (50m penalties) and the girls are so apologetic, but they're the simple things that cost you. Before you know it it's three goals and then you go the other end yourself and don't kick your chance and the gap just widens that little bit more." - Gold Coast coach David Lake
"The exciting thing about 'Paxy' (Paxman) is she continues to find ways to improve. Whether that's physically, athletically or football-wise. She's invested a lot of time into her skill development and understanding the game and I think this year you can expect to see a more efficient, more consistent Paxy around the ball. I think she's going to continue to have a serious impact on games." - Melbourne coach Mick Stinear
The Demons will attempt to make it two-from-two when they return to Melbourne to host Richmond next Saturday at Casey Fields from 6.10pm (AEDT). Gold Coast will also play in Melbourne, a little earlier that afternoon, when travelling to Victoria Park to play Collingwood from 4.10pm (AEDT).
GOLD COAST 3.1 3.3 5.4 5.5 (35)
MELBOURNE 2.0 7.1 9.1 9.2 (56)
Gold Coast: Perkins 2, Stanton, Kaslar, Perry
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Hore 2, Petrevski 2, Zanker, Mithen, Heath
Gold Coast: Stanton, Perkins, Keaney, Ahrens, Drennan
Melbourne: Paxman, Mithen, McNamara, L.Pearce, Cunningham, Hanks
Gold Coast: Bradfield (knee)
Crowd: 1902 at Metricon Stadium
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