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Melbourne have retained the coveted Hampson–Hardeman Cup for a 10th time in 14 meetings after defeating the Western Bulldogs by 42 points at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon.
The trophy – which pre-dates the AFLW as the prize for the exhibition games between 2013-16 between the two sides – has been part of a lot of history. And while most of the players have changed, including Ellie Blackburn and Paxy Paxman who’ve swapped colours, the hunger and ferocity to win it remains.
Melbourne’s Lily Mithen celebrates a goal during the win over the Bulldogs.Credit: AFL Photos
The two clubs went into the day (and finished it) on opposite ends of the ladder. Melbourne, the reigning premiers and undefeated, while the Bulldogs are yet to win a game.
Despite the finishing margin in the 12.11 (83) to 6.5 (41) win, each challenged the other until the final term, in which the Dees booted four goals to none.
Melbourne’s Maddison Gay said it was a hotly contested game and credited the Demons’ ability to adapt mid-game to what the Dogs threw at them.
“We thought we prepared, but they came out really strong in the first three quarters and sort of put us on the back foot throughout each quarter,” said Gay.
“But then we just had to come together and kept to our game style and obviously in the last quarter we were able to run out the game.”
Tayla Harris of the Demons is tackled by Isabelle Pritchard.Credit: AFL Photos
Melbourne, who are becoming known for their endurance and class, outlasted and outsmarted their opponents. They had answers for everything the Dogs threw up them, particularly in front of goal. Captain Kate Hore, Eden Zanker, Paxman, Lily Mithen and Gay all finished with two goals each.
The midfield group of Tyla Hanks (25 touches, six tackles, six clearances), Olivia Purcell (20 touches) and Eliza McNamara (20 touches) were prolific around the ball, and Tayla Harris was an important linking player.
“Obviously things are gonna happen throughout the game. So, whoever’s the quickest [to] sort of adapt to that situation is obviously going to come out on top,” said Gay.
“And we’ve been fortunate enough, like last week, [the] Giants came out really strong and we sort of adapted to that and same again this week. The Bulldogs came out really strong, and we just made a few moves and were able to sort of keep their score low.”
The Dogs’ spirited fight and unyielding pressure was led by skipper Blackburn, who finished with a game-high 29 touches, seven clearances and 485 metres gained. Teammate Isabelle Pritchard led the tackle count with nine, while Kirsty Lamb had a couple of crafty goals in moments of need.
Katie Lynch also proved damaging with 20 touches.
It could have easily been a further blowout if not for the defence of the Dogs and the inaccuracy of the Dees, who kicked 12 goals and 11 behinds. The wind no doubt played a factor, but there were some gettable set shots missed early on.
With the ball living in the Demons’ forward half – at times it spent 94 and 88 per cent of it’s time there in 10 minutes chunks – some extra percentage points arguably were there for the taking.
Shelley Heath of the Demons and Gemma Lagioia of the Bulldogs vie for possession.Credit: AFL Photos
In blows on the injury front, Melbourne sharpshooter Alyssa Bannan was taken off in the opening quarter with an ankle injury and didn’t return to the field, and Bulldog Brianna McFarlane ended the day with their arm in a sling.
The win leaves Melbourne 3-0 to start the season and with a handy percentage. They next face Hawthorn at Kinetic Stadium, while the Bulldogs will look for their first victory next weekend against Gold Coast at Heritage Bank Stadium.
Gay added that while the four points are important, so was honouring the pioneers of the women’s competition through the continued tradition of the cup.
“We always appreciate the players and the women that came before us. That was a big focus on today,” said Gay.
“Just sort of appreciating the players that created this game and, obviously, you didn’t get a chance to play at the highest level in AFLW – but obviously that’s why we’re here today is because of them.
“Definitely a huge part of what we look forward to is just creating that history and keep pushing and making this competition better but also honouring the ones that got us here as well.”
Snakes on the (Blacktown) plains: Intruder disrupts AFLW match but Tigers prevail
Playing in 30-degree heat, Richmond held off a desperate Greater Western Sydney to grab their second win of the AFLW season.
A red-bellied black snake slithering on the oval delayed the start but could not keep the Tigers from taking the four points, with the visitors emerging victorious by 7.11 (53) to 5.4 (34) at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney’s west on Saturday.
A snake catcher deals with the culprit who held up play in the AFLW on Saturday.Credit: Getty Images
“It’s pretty interesting,” Giants head of women’s football Briana Harvey told Fox Footy during the delay. “There’s a little red-bellied black snake … just in one of the far pockets.
“Obviously for the safety of everyone here, we need to halt the game for a moment.”
With play starting 30 minutes later than scheduled, the Tigers began on the back foot, losing gun midfielder Jess Hosking (ankle) just minutes after the first siren.
Richmond conceded nine of the first 11 inside 50s of the game, but the Giants were wasteful with their hard-won territory. Both sides entered the second quarter goalless, with Richmond leading by two behinds.
Tigers star Katie Brennan celebrates a goal.Credit: Getty Images
Annalyse Lister kicked her first AFLW goal across 35 games to open the Giants’ account thanks to a free-kick.
Six minutes later, Tiger Caitlin Greiser (one goal, 13 disposals) answered to put the hosts back in the deficit.
Captain Katie Brennan (one goal, 18 disposals) showed her class to pile another goal on the Giants, increasing the margin to eight points by half-time.
Greiser looked sure to dribble the Sherrin through the goal square but a flying Grace Hill denied her a second major in the third stanza.
The ever-prolific Alyce Parker (two goals, 21 disposals, six clearances) and rugby sevens Olympic gold medallist Chloe Dalton put ball to boot to keep the Giants within three points. The orange tsunami threatened to sweep up the Tigers when Parker grabbed her second backed up by a goal from Haneen Zreika (one goal, 13 disposals).
But a tremendous effort from Monique Conti (one goal, 22 disposals, seven clearances) and Emelia Yassir (two goals, 10 disposals, two clearances) reclaimed the lead for the Tigers.
With pressure boiling from the Giants, Brennan and Greiser were inaccurate in front of goal. The Giants began to falter with fatigue setting in, allowing Courtney Jones to kick truly and score the first goal of the last term.
A major to Sarah D’Arcy sealed the win for the Tigers, while Parker hobbled off the field with a knee injury. AAP
Garner stars as slow-starting Roos beat Geelong in AFLW
Jasmine Garner produced a standout display as North Melbourne overcame a rare poor start to post a nine-point AFLW win over Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.
The Kangaroos were held goalless in the first half for just the second time in their history, but they stormed home with four unanswered goals in the second half to post a 4.7 (31) to 3.4 (22) win.
Emma King battles with Geelong’s Olivia Fuller.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images
Garner was influential in the win, tallying 32 disposals, 12 clearances, 11 tackles, 600 metres gained and a 50-metre goal on the run.
North ruck Emma King was a rock with seven marks to go with 25 hitouts, while forward Bella Eddey kicked two vital goals.
Kangaroos defender Jasmine Ferguson played an excellent shutdown role on star Geelong forward Chloe Scheer, who managed just 0.1 from three disposals. It came a week after Scheer booted five goals in a thumping win over Sydney.
Georgie Prespakis (27 disposals, one goal) battled hard for the Cats, but North Melbourne controlled the midfield battle after half-time to secure their third straight win to start the season.
The Cats, who are now 0-6 in head-to-head battles against North Melbourne, are 2-1 for the season.
Geelong’s Julia Crockett-Grills could be in trouble for a dump tackle on Mia King.
King was assessed on the sidelines for concussion, but was cleared to return.
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