Sunday 19 February 2017

NB: A side called Melbourne is inside the top four

See also the post on the same day's men's practice match.

Unable to stay after the first game, and unable to go home and watch live I took the ridiculous view that I could keep a media ban alive until watching this on tape. Which might have been fine, except when I flicked over to ABC Newsradio in the car expecting some dry examination of the Estonian parliament only to discover that for no apparent reason they were doing live coverage. Which blew the surprise that approximately 25 minutes after the first bounce the score was one goal apiece.

Then after I'd finished writing the regular post for the men's game I had to go onto Twitter to post it, exposing me to the last post on my feed. Which was about Daisy Pearce, with a picture of her playing against the Dogs. Was it a picture from this year? Was she in the media because we won or was it a coincidence? I have no idea why this all mattered to me, why not just listen to it on the radio? Because the words Melbourne, Football and Club used together (note: not with North or Port) have a ridiculous hold on me.

Then once I'd finished everything else I needed to do it was midnight, and given the choice between avoiding social media to continue the ban or ignoring another early start and watching it I naturally chose the latter. Which I am paying for in significant fashion now, but stuff it I have no regrets.

Oddly enough we declined to play Daisy Pearce in the middle from the start again. Last week it was when she went into the midfield that we took off and shot past the Pies. It's a weird tactic considering that's two weeks in row that she's barely had a touch in the first quarter. Why sacrifice your best player? I don't understand the thinking behind that. Not surprisingly she started racking up touches galore when she went back on the ball.

As we with every other week in this competition we gave away a cheap goal, in this case the first one, and surely in low scoring games nobody has handed over more freebies than us. This time it was a free against Catherine Smith, who has ridiculously long hair which will no doubt be yanked by an opponent at some point this season. She also did a great passive aggressive arms wide open, incredulous look at the umpire after it was paid.

The Bulldogs were clearly the better side early, but missed several opportunities at goal which cost them. Up popped Harriet Cordner right in front after barely getting a touch the last two weeks for the goal that I heard while flicking channels on the Western Ring Road and we were back to within a kick. I especially enjoyed how she jostled her opponent after kicking it, if I'm going to have to live without Lynden Dunn this year then somebody's going to have to take up the jostling.

Unlike the first quarter we got on top in the second, coincidentally when Daisy went into the midfield, and after having the first five inside 50s of the quarter finally got a goal through a snap from Deanna Berry. Now it was our chance to waste multiple chances. I liked Alyssa Mifsud's leading and marking inside 50 but she couldn't convert it into a goal. It was a level of forward pressure that the senior side might want to study, instead of letting sides rebound all the live long day.

Because Melbourne Supporter Depression Syndrome crosses genders you felt that all our dominance for the quarter would go out the window when we let them kick a late goal. Instead we got Mifsud's alternative route to goal, waiting for a loose ball to fall at the feet of the contest then just shoving her opponent out of the way and dribbling through from the square. This was good. The Bulldogs fan who had earlier gone on for minutes about how much he loved the way our women's team played obviously knew what he was talking about.

It was the third quarter in the last four we'd kept a side scoreless, and I'm not even sure they went inside 50 once for the quarter. They only did it five times in the whole of the half. It eventually took - SURPRISE - a free for a high bump to gift them another shot which they converted. This caused Channel 7 to cut to a Footscray version of Catman - a nuffy in a costume doing an insane dance.

For all our dominance we were only nine points up and vulnerable to the same sort of surprise reverse that subjected the Pies to last week. Until they kicked another goal straight after, cutting the margin to three and causing fireworks to inexplicably go off. Has a team ever celebrated getting back within one straight kick by firing off explosives? We should have done that in 2013 whenever we got within 10 goals. I suspect the fireworks operator just got excited by the goal and leaned on the big red button.

They were unable to recall the big bang when shortly afterwards Mifsud got her second, again manhandling an opponent in a contest close to goal. We would have been back to where we started if Cranston hadn't missed an open goal - sadly this week she also missed hitting anyone in the head. Speaking of AFLW players I've declared my favourite it was another good week for Cat Phillips, not as dominant with her speed as last week but still better than you'd expect an expert frisbeeist to be. Other than her, everything I know about frisbee comes from California Games:

For some reason the Brad Green/Manchester United style fun fact about her that commentators run into the ground is that she's a 'speedster', and nothing to do with the competitive throwing of a plastic disc.

Footscray's challenge was snuffed out by a third goal for Mifsud, as the female answer to Jesse Hogan became the first Demon ever to kick three in an AFLW game. The double counter-attacking suckerpunches hadn't cost us too badly. For now at least the season remained alive - with Collingwood, Freo and GWS all wiped out (and any GWS loss is good for footy) at least we can be fairly sure we're not going to be sucked into a wooden spoon battle no matter what happens from here.

Still not sure about our forward line - Mifsud Mania notwithstanding - but the defence is rock solid. If you take out the goals we've gifted sides with free kicks or 50s there wouldn't be many others left. Despite this we couldn't get rid of the Dogs, another goal that cut the margin to nine set off an even more baffling fireworks display and they attacked again immediately. Laura Duryea unnecessarily gave away a free by suplexing her opponent, which was lucky not to give away another goal. I enjoy the way that every time she goes near an opponent there's a chance that she's going to inadvertently cause them injury.

The Dogs were alive again, like the first quarter - and us in the middle two - they were in charge but couldn't convert it into scores while we were unable to clear out of defence. At last a goal from a 50 finally went in our favour, when Mel Hickey kicked the sealer against the run of play. It was a double blow for the Dogs, they thought they had the mark in the first place before giving away the 50.

Finally, after that exhibition games where their ring-ins beat our ring-ins the Bulldogs women's team are back to being our bunnies. Turns out we're pretty good as this caper.

2017 Debbie Lee Medal for Player of the Year
Two new faces in the votes this week, but the big hitters continue to dominate.

5 - Daisy Pearce
4 - Alyssa Mifsud
3 - Elisa O'Dea
2 - Lauren Pearce
1 - Karen Paxman

11 - Daisy Pearce
9 - Elisa O'Dea
8 - Karen Paxman
6 - Lily Mithen
5 - Cat Phillips

4 - Alyssa Mifsud
2 - Lauren Pearce

After the unfortunate banner scenario in the men's game we were lucky to have the posh iSelect sponsored version for this game. In competition was a Bulldogs one which tried to refer to two teams as 'pioneer' rather than 'pioneers' to help with a rhyme. No thanks. Dees 2-1.

Next Week
As we continue to await the Daisy Pearce goal that will make that Chemist Warehouse ad seem more legitimate, it's Carlton in a double header with the pre-season game. If the conditions are anything like the last game we played at Casey Fields don't bother turning up. The Blues seem to be very good, and while we've really started to pick up in the last couple of weeks (and Brisbane have turned out to be good), I suspect they'll clean us up.

Final Thoughts
Don't think I can cope with two games in a day. If you want to write a guest report for the Carlton game I would like to hear from you.

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