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On a blustery Saturday afternoon when the conditions affected marking skills and the ball bounced unpredictably, the Mighty Dees stuck fat against a determined Kangaroos outfit to break away with two final quarter goals to none to win AFLW Preliminary Final 2 by 17 points — an all-time high winning margin between these two teams. From the outset it was a fiercely fought contest with Melbourne unable to find the ball in space. North really amped up their one-percenters and tackling pressure and played an extra player behind the ball, making it difficult for Melbourne to score. With the Dees up by 5 points at the main break, the Kangaroos came out and dominated the third quarter holding Melbourne scoreless. The ball spent 82% of the time the Roos’ forward half but they could only muster two points. Bella Eddey had their best opportunity, but her reverse torpedo missed to the right. It was only 3 points the difference at ¾ time. Melbourne came out in the last with its own increased level of determination and soon increased the lead to 10 points. Then, with less than three minutes to go, skipper Daisy Pearce secured her team’s second straight grand final appearance by kicking a stunning long-range bomb to rapturous applause. For North, its best player was skipper Emma Kearney with 10 strong intercepts and 17 disposals. Tyla Hanks helped limit the usual impact of star player Jazzy Garner. Hanksy herself had 12 tackles to go with 20 disposals and her usual outstanding creative playmaking. Riddell, Bruton and Bresnehen were busy for the Roos while Paxman and Mithen were terrific for the Dees. As a result, Melbourne will play the Brisbane Lions at ‘Brighton Homes Arena’, a newly constructed home ground for the AFLW in Springfield, a suburb of Ipswich, located southwest of Brisbane. Meggs was seated near the Demons’ race and really enjoyed the audible support coming from the non-playing Demons and family friends. Q1 A flying start by the Kangaroos ended with a Gavalas kick off the ground to the goal square where Randall took advantage of a Tahlia Gillard fumble to turn around and goal. We all took a deep breath, hoping it wasn’t a repeat of last week’s slow start against Adelaide. Hanksy and Paxy were where the action was, creating good ball movement. Paxman hit up Fitzy who worked in front of her opponent and cleverly marked the ball low. She went back and kicks dead straight. Excellent skills, has our number 24. On the other side of the ground to where we were sitting, a 50-metre penalty was given to Mithen. We asked around for an explanation, but no matter. She too kicked it dead straight. Loves a finals goal does Lily. Tayla Harris hurt her shoulder in a ruck contest late in the term that saw Melbourne 2.0.12 lead North 1.0.6 at the first break. Q2 Kearney was having a great game for North while Ferguson and Wright were working well defensively. Libby Birch’s greatest asset is her ability to read the play and take intercept marks. It looked to Meggs as if she had lost a bit of confidence on the day with the swirly wind but on watching the replay, it appears she suffered from tonsilitis during the week. A couple of unnecessary frees were given away by the Dees key defenders. Emma King kicked truly for North’s second goal — their last of the match. Some fine fluid corridor footy from the Dees saw a couple of set shot opportunities emerge with Mackin getting involved again and Goldie playing on as always. Casey Sherriff marked, went back and kicked it dead straight for the Dees’ third goal (and her first for the season) which made it three times where the goal umpie did not have to move. Late in the quarter Meggs saw Bannan landing awkwardly and looking proppy, perhaps an ankle roll. At half time Melbourne 3.1.22 led North 2.2.14 Q3 A furiously tight contest continued in the swirly conditions. It was tense. Incredibly North had 18 forward entries to Melbourne’s two for the quarter but they could muster only two points. North had been dogged all day and were winning the contest but the Demons’ all-team defence was stoic and held up incredibly well. At this stage, Zanker, sharing ruck duties with Loz Pearce and Harris, was forward but looking sore. Gillard was impressive since being shown up early by Randall. We were later surprised to see she misses out on being named in the best players. The third was a scoreless quarter for the Dees and it was a 3-point game. Melbourne 3.1.22 to North 2.4.16 Q4 Crowd support seemed evenly split and getting vocal with everyone hoping we could lift our teams. The Dees came out firing in the last and the Melbourne supporters could feel the anticipation. The ball was kicked to a one on one with Daisy outsmarting Sarah Wright out the back and then running on into an open goal. The Melbourne faithful got excited, but inexplicably Daisy kicked out on the full. Everyone around us sat down, flummoxed. Daisy looked rueful. Later, Mithen, who was still in everything, kicked it high to full forward. Kate Hore playing in front of her opponent, anticipated well, marked and then goaled. The Dees supporters went wild, it was the first goal of the last. Some slight easing of the collective Demons’ blood pressure. Then something unanticipated happened right in front of us which was difficult to describe. Did her preceding miskick galvanise her to execute such a marvellous piece of play? With the game still in the balance, Daisy snatched a loose ball, shrugged off Ash Riddell, ran away, and slammed it on to her boot from 40 metres out. It sailed through post high. Around us we could see the direction of the ball mid-air, so we jumped up and cheered with unabashed delight as it sailed through. Daisy had driven it home. Magic stuff, game over! We’re in the Season 7 Grand Final and a date with destiny. Melbourne 5.3.33 to North 2.4.16. Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said it was hard work, but he was proud of the effort. North is a hard team to play against and conditions were swirly which made it difficult. They were not able to get the game going which was a credit to North’s pressure. It was far from perfect but that’s finals footy. Excited to enjoy the week ahead. Stinear said he couldn’t see Tayla Harris missing next week. North Melbourne coach Darren Crocker said his team had a crack. He sees a trend in games against Melbourne where the Dees get a run on and make the most of their opportunities whereas North have tended to rush theirs. MELBOURNE 2.0.12 3.1.19 3.1.19 5.3.33 NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0.6 2.2.14 2.4.16 2.14.16 GOALS MELBOURNE Fitzsimon Hore Mithen D Pearce Sherriff NORTH MELBOURNE E King Randall BEST MELBOURNE Paxman Mithen Hanks Heath D Pearce Birch NORTH MELBOURNE Kearney Garner Riddell Wright Bruton Rennie INJURIES MELBOURNE T Harris (left shoulder) NORTH MELBOURNE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil CROWD 5,592 at Ikon Park