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Melbourne Football Club

AFLW: Round 6 Recap with Meg Downie



THE EQUATION was simple for the Demons on Saturday night: win to keep your season alive.

And that they did.

It was an epic encounter with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium that went right to the wire, with Melbourne coming away victors by the narrowest of margins.

The Dees looked the better side early in the game with the first six scoring shots, but when the Dogs converted five goals from just nine inside 50s, the game was left in the balance.

Eden Zanker slotted a crucial goal from the boundary in the dying stages of the third term to keep her side in the hunt and Tegan Cunningham lived the dream of kicking the match-winner with two minutes remaining in the game.

The result keeps Melbourne’s finals hopes alive, setting up a mini-final against Adelaide next weekend.

Meg Downie’s defensive efforts have been largely undersold in 2019, but the reliable tall impressed yet again against the Dogs and gathered 10 disposals. She recaps the Round 6 clash below.

The numbers

DISPOSALS: Paxman 24, O’Dea 21, Gay, Jakobsson, Lampard, Newman 13, Emonson, Pearce, Phillips 12

GOALS: Cunningham 2, Gay, Paxman, Zanker

Pioneers of the game

“It was ironic that we were playing the Bulldogs during the week of International Women’s Day and it reminded me that there was a greater purpose to that game.

“For me personally it gave me a bit of perspective that what we do is bigger than just a footy game, so it was a real honour to be able to run out there, especially on Marvel Stadium. It was the first time I’ve played there and it’s a massive arena, so it made it even more special.”

Early conversion

“In particular in the first quarter we seemed to have a lot more of the footy and we were just unable to convert in a couple of scoring attempts, but we were moving the ball around the ground really well.

“Moving into the second quarter they were able to kick a couple of goals and we were a bit scrappier around the contest and weren’t as clean with the footy, so that’s where we got a bit punished.”

The standouts

“Paxy (Karen Paxman) would be my number one for the game – she was outstanding.

“I think Elise O’Dea’s leadership – that’s something that you can’t really see as a spectator, but she’s always got the right words. Every time she pulls us in as a group and talks to us you feel that little bit more inspired to get out there and play.

“And Tegan Cunningham was fantastic in the forward line.”

Digging in

“Mick (Stinear) brought us back to the basics at half-time and said these are the areas of the game we need to clean up.

“We knew that the weight of our season was on our shoulders late in the game.

“When the ball was down our end in the backline in the last quarter, we were able to hold strong and not let them get any easy marks. We were a bit more ruthless with the way we defended in that last half.”

That goal

“I almost had a heart attack in that last quarter.

“The way that footy swung it only made it through the sticks by I reckon a couple of inches, so we were fortunate it went through.

“It was just a massive relief knowing we were that slight bit ahead, but it put more pressure on the backs to make sure we were locking down our opponents.

“I knew they were going to push the ball forward and take every opportunity they could to get the ball into our backline, so we just had to really stay focused in those last few minutes of the game.”


Mick’s message

“Mick was proud of us in a sense that we were able to come away with the win under some tough circumstances towards the end.

“He’s always really balanced in the way he communicates to us and he definitely highlighted the fact we have to play four quarters of footy in order to get up on Adelaide this coming weekend.”

Looking ahead

Round 7 v Adelaide @ Casey Fields – Saturday, 16 March, 4:45pm AEDT

“There’s no maths that we go into the game with thinking we need to win by this percentage amount, we just need to focus on less-so the outcome and more-so the task at hand.

“We’ll just be focusing on picking apart Adelaide’s game over the week, but more importantly sticking to what our strengths are as a group.”