Demons beat Tigers to go 2-0 in AFLW

Melbourne overcame significant COVID-19 disruption to defeat Richmond by 17 points at Punt Road Oval, starting their AFLW season with back-to-back wins.

The premiership favorites have been forced to omit Maddi Gay, Shelley Scott, Sarah Lampard, Casey Sherriff and Shelley Heath as part of league health and safety protocols.

And after withstanding an early blitzkrieg from the Tigers, the Demons responded fiercely, scoring six in a row before trailing 8.6 (54) to 6.1 (37) winners on Friday night.

Richmond has also been affected by COVID-19, with Sarah D’Arcy, Maddie Shevlin and Tayla Stahl all forced out of the game, as well as Emelia Yassir (concussion) and Poppy Kelly (knee).

Kate Hore (14 eliminations) helped turn the tide in Melbourne’s favor, making the first four shots of the second quarter to put the Demons ahead for the first time.

Veteran Karen Paxman was also influential with 23 touches and a crucial goal just before three quarters of time to stifle the Tigers’ surge.

Monique Conti was the star for Richmond with 25 eliminations (15 contested), seven clearances, six tackles and a magnificent goal 40m from the boundary.

The Demons enjoyed a huge advantage in ball control, with 48 more eliminations (228-180) and 31 more points (50-19) to resume the game after the quarter, shading the Tigers in clearances ( 22-19) and inside. 50s (20-13) in the last three quarters.

Richmond broke blocks and made most of the attacks early as they dominated the turf battle and, thanks also to their ferocious forward pressure, took a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter.

The Tigers scored the first two goals, including a runaway ripper within the opening 15 seconds from Tessa Lavey, and their pressure badly affected Melbourne’s kicking efficiency, leading the Demons to commit numerous turnovers.

The Tigers won the number of final tackles convincingly 61-40.

However, the visitors, inspired by Hore, absorbed the early onslaught and proceeded to mop up the Tigers in stoppage time, scoring the next six goals.

Making the most of the momentum, Demons teenager Alyssa Bannan netted two of those goals in the space of two minutes – one a sensational Goal of the Year contender which saw her sprint down the middle , take two rebounds and drill it 30m outside; the other a brilliant decor shot at 35m at an acute angle.

Demons champion Daisy Pearce’s move forward in the second term, after a quiet opening at the back, was also key in helping the visitors open a 26-point halftime lead.

And while Richmond refused to raise the white flag, scoring four to two in the second half, Melbourne’s class and experience prevailed.

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