DISPOSALS: Paxman, Scott 16, D.Pearce 15, Hore 14, Birch, Gay 13, O’Dea 11
GOALS: Emonson, Gay, Paxman, Sherriff
Niamh’s special debut
Friday night was one to remember for Irish recruit Niamh McEvoy, who played her first official game of Aussie Rules footy.
The Demon received the red and blue jumper from her father, Dave, who stole the show in an entertaining pre-game presentation.
McEvoy, who had two disposals on debut, went on to celebrate the win in style, pulling out some dance moves in the team song post-game.
Birch’s return to Whitten Oval
The clash with the Bulldogs was highly anticipated for a number of reasons, and Libby Birch was one of them.
Melbourne’s biggest recruit over the off-season returned to her former home ground to take on her ex-teammates, and there was no love lost.
Birch had a target on her back, with the Bulldogs girls attacking her early in the game, but the defender had the last laugh with 13 disposals in the 20-point victory.
"It's the biggest decision ever but bloody hell I'm so excited to be here."— 7AFL (@7AFL) February 14, 2020
Libby Birch is stoked to get the win over her former club! pic.twitter.com/vZAt5RmeXp
Dealing with the rain
It certainly wasn’t an easy game of footy, as rain tumbled down for much of the evening.
The Dees were quicker to adapt to the wet conditions, playing the percentages well to do all the attacking throughout the scrappy affair.
Winning it in the centre
Melbourne’s midfield stood up on Friday night, winning 19 more inside 50s than their opposition.
The ball lived at the Demons’ end of the field on the back of the on-ballers work, as Karen Paxman and Maddi Gay were among the best once again.
Shelley Scott played a crucial role up forward, presenting on the lead and clunking six marks, while Kate Hore was dangerous inside 50 with 14 touches, but wasn’t able to capitalise on her good work in front of goal.
Strong in defence
With Harriet Cordner required to ruck in Lauren Pearce’s absence, Melbourne’s backline has been challenged in the early part of the season.
But it continues to hold up under pressure, conceding just two scores for the entire night against the Bulldogs.
Meg Downie has been a rock on the last line of defence, while new additions Birch and Gabby Colvin have been impressive at half-back.
Misfortune aplenty for Kempy
The night ended on a sour note for Melbourne, as Ainslie Kemp went down with a knee injury in the dying stages of the match.
Kemp, who had previously ruptured the ACL in her right knee on two occasions, suffered the same injury to her left knee, ruling her out for the season.
It was a disappointing blow for the bubbly 22-year-old who is a popular member of the Demons’ side.
Sad scenes after the game with Ainslie Kemp.— 7AFL (@7AFL) February 14, 2020
The luckless Demon looks to have done her ACL again ?? pic.twitter.com/asEZM2JIQa
The Hampson-Hardeman Cup
Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have built a steady rivalry in recent years, dating all the way back to the inaugural women’s game in 2013.
The two pioneers of the league play for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, which the Dees have successfully retained.
It’s another Friday night contest scheduled for Melbourne in Round 3, as it faces its first expansion team for 2020, St Kilda.
The Dees have impressed in the opening two rounds, but after failing to put their dominance on the scoreboard against the Dogs, there is still plenty to work on heading into next week.