MELBOURNE returned to the winners list on Sunday with a 39-point win over GWS on the road.

But despite the score line, the Demons didn’t have it all their own way.

The Giants were fierce in the centre, challenging the red and blue midfield group and winning the clearances 24 to 14.

It was a tight first half in the contest, but Melbourne was able to get on top on the scoreboard in the second term and take a 16-point lead into the main break.

Nothing separated the two sides in the third quarter, but the Demons broke the game open in the final term, running away with a convincing victory to keep them in touch with the top-two.

Harriet Cordner has been a leader in defence for the Dees all season and played another crucial role on the weekend with 13 disposals. She recaps the Round 5 clash below.

The numbers

DISPOSALS: Gay 19, Paxman 17, Cordner, Hore 13, Cunningham, Mithen, Newman 12

GOALS: Cunningham 13, Gay, Hanks, Paxman, Pearce, Zanker

Strong finish

“We probably missed a few chances early on in the game, so it was good to have a good finish off in the last quarter to seal the deal.

“It wasn’t a pretty game of footy and it wasn’t predictable. The way they play is to surge it forward and I think we struggled to get our game style going in the first half.

“But I think in the last quarter our fitness probably prevailed a little bit and we kept trying to implement our game style which started to show, and we started converting which helped.”

Hitting the scoreboard

“I think our scoring has been an area for improvement over the last two years. We’ve always been able to get inside 50s, but we haven’t always been able to convert.

“There’s a bit more of an even spread across the forwards now. Everyone is contributing to goals, our mids are getting in and having effective inside 50s too and actually putting scores on the board which I think helps it.

“It seems like a real team effort down there.

“I think we’ve seen all year we’re definitely a team that can put scores on the board. In the games that we’ve dropped it’s probably been more the team defence that has let us down.

“We know we can score so it’s really about stopping the other team from scoring, then hopefully we can score big and do something for our percentage too because it might come down to that.”

The standouts

“Tegan Cunningham was great – she kicked three goals in the end, so it was good for her to get on the scoreboard.

“Maddi Gay was really good too. I think she’s had two weeks in a row now where she’s really getting in and under and winning that contested footy which I think is the best part of her game. She’s finding her feet in that midfield role and was able to get on the scoreboard too which was good.

“I think Lauren Pearce also played really well again in the ruck. She’s having a really good season. Her impact around the ground can sometimes go unnoticed but she’s just having a ripper at the moment.”

Room for improvement

“I think the contested area of the game was one they matched us in and that’s what we pride ourselves on. That’s definitely something we want to start our game from, winning that contested footy, and we probably let ourselves down in that area at times yesterday.

“So I think in order for us to play four quarters of our game style, we really can’t go away from that contested footy at all. And it’s a really hard thing to do for four quarters, but that’s really what drives our game style.

“Obviously it was really good to come away with the win but at the same time I definitely think there’s big scope for improvement. Given we kicked what we kicked yesterday when we didn’t have a lot of control of the ball, we can definitely take our game to the next level.”

Mick’s message

“He was positive that we got the win and dug deep in terms of scrapping it out because it was a pretty scrappy contest, but it was more about how we didn’t play four quarters of the footy that we really want to.

“We scrapped it because that’s what they brought to us, but I think we can play a much more controlled, composed game when we play our best, so there’s definitely room for improvement.”

Looking ahead

Round 6 v Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium – Saturday, 9 March, 7:15pm AEDT

“We don’t want to get distracted by what’s happening on the outside, so we just have to keep winning, and that’s what we want to do against the Dogs.

“A really good theme of this year has been focusing on our own game. We’ve tried not to be too distracted by our opponents or changing to adjust to what they’re doing.

“We haven’t really done anything different all year, we’ve just been chipping away at the same thing. So we’ll just do that again this week, have a good week on the track and then come out on Saturday.”