A CLUTCH goal from Tegan Cunningham has kept Melbourne’s AFLW finals hopes alive, with the Demons beating the Western Bulldogs by a point.
Melbourne’s 5.9 (39) to 6.2 (38) win in the second game of Saturday’s Marvel Stadium double header was arguably the match of the season.
The pulsating win keeps Melbourne’s finals hopes alive and they have a huge game next Saturday against Adelaide at Casey Fields.
Provided Adelaide beat GWS at home on Sunday, the Crows will go into next weekend’s last round sharing a 5-1 record at the top of Conference A – with North Melbourne, Fremantle and the Demons a game behind.
Fremantle will also host North next weekend, with the two top teams through to the finals.
Melbourne have missed the finals narrowly in the first two AFLW seasons.
After missing two shots earlier in the game, Cunningham took a strong mark and kicked accurately to put the Demons ahead and they then hung on grimly in the frenetic last two minutes.
The Demons nearly were left ruing a wasteful first quarter, where they kept the Bulldogs scoreless, but only managed 1.5.
The reigning premiers roared back in the second term, kicking four straight goals and leading by six points at the main break.
Aisling Utri provided one of the game highlights with her strong mark and goal for the Bulldogs in the second term.
Maddy Gay gave the Demons an ideal start to the second half with her outstanding steal and snapped goal.
Rising Star nominee Eden Zanker also kicked nervelessly from a tight angle to add the Demons’ second goal of the third term and they trailed by one point at the last change.
A superb tackle from Utri set up Conti for the crucial first goal of the final term, but the Bulldogs could not build on their lead.
Cunningham’s match winner was the only other goal of the last quarter.
Demons star Karen Paxman continued her outstanding season with a 24-possession game, while Lauren Pearce amassed 31 hitouts.
Ellie Blackburn and Kristy Lamb starred for the Bulldogs, who are last in Conference A.
© AAP 2019
MELBOURNE 1.5 2.6 4.7 5.9 (39)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 4.0 5.2 6.2 (38)
Goals: Melbourne: T Cunningham 2 E Zanker K Paxman M Gay. Western Bulldogs: A McCarthy A Utri K Brennan K McLeod M Conti N Ferres.
Best: Melbourne: K Paxman L Pearce E O’Dea A Newman. Western Bulldogs: E Blackburn K Lamb M Conti A Utri.
Umpires: Nathan Toner, Nic McGinness, Courtney Gibson.
Official Crowd: 10,612 at Etihad Stadium.