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Melbourne Football Club

Stinear proud of first-up win

The players did really well under pressure and I’m just so proud of them for the way they finished off the game
Mick Stinear

COACH Mick Stinear says he was proud of his team’s opening round win over GWS Giants at Casey Fields on Saturday night.

The Demons won their first AFLW game by six points in an entertaining contest. Stinear said he was delighted with his players’ composure when the game was on the line.

“There was a lot of conversation in the coaches' box upstairs, but thankfully we practiced last week some 'win the game' and 'save the game' strategies,” he said post-match.

“The players did really well under pressure and I’m just so proud of them for the way they finished off the game. It was just a really exciting game of footy and it’s exciting for the rest of the competition.”

Stinear said the standard had gone to another level since the end of the inaugural 2017 AFLW season.

“We knew (GWS) they were a good side and they’ve improved in a lot of areas,” he said.

“They’re fit and very strong around the ball and we saw a high intensity game for four quarters.

“It’s only going to get better. It was a good snapshot of what’s to come and it was really exciting for women’s footy.”

Richelle ‘Rocky’ Cranston was the hero, when she kicked the match-winner, minutes before the final siren. It was her third for the game and Stinear praised her performance.

“The work she’s put in, in the last 12 months, she’s really wanted to make the most of this opportunity,” he said.

“She’s put a lot of time in off-field and you saw, particularly in the second half, what she can do.

“Her teammates were rapt with what she brought to the table, and so are we as coaches. She did really well and it was an outcome of all of the hard work she did.”

Stinear said captain Daisy Pearce, who had a game high 19 disposals, led from the front.

“She just competes all day and she is so critical with her leadership on-field,” he said.

“The last quarter just epitomised what we want to be about as a team.

“She showed plenty of heart and the way she competed under pressure – even how she started that last quarter ... you couldn’t have asked for a better person to the lead the group. And she inspired the rest of the girls to do what they did.”

Stinear said the six Melbourne debutants – Bianca Jakobsson, Tegan Cunningham, Erin Hoare, Kate Hore, Maddy Guerin and Ashleigh Guest – all played their part.

Meanwhile, Stinear said star midfielder Karen Paxman injured her back in the first quarter and would be assessed during the week.

“It was a back spasm. She got a knock in the back, so it wasn’t able to settle down, so she was out for the game,” he said.

“It just showed the work of our strength and conditioning team, and the work that the girls have done in the off-season – that they were able to handle one down, particularly in the midfield.

“To be able to play like they did – right to the end was a great effort. Hopefully Paxy will be OK, but we’ll know in the next couple of days.”