AFLW 2018 team preview and predicted finish: Melbourne Demons

Joel Shepherd Roar Guru

By Joel Shepherd, Joel Shepherd is a Roar Guru

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    In the last two rounds of season one, the Demons began playing like the best team in the competition, only missing the Grand Final because of a round five loss to GWS, of all teams.

    That loss happened mostly because of woeful kicking in front of goals (one goal nine), highlighting Melbourne’s primary weakness — their forward line.

    This season that weakness appears to be fixed. Yes they’ve lost quality small forward Deanna Berry, but they’ve gained one of the best marks in the competition in Bianca Jakobsson, drafted 182cm youngster Eden Zanker with their first pick, and also taken 186cm basketballer Tegan Cunningham and 194cm rookie netballer Erin Hoare.

    Added to last season’s surprise standout Alyssa Mifsud, Melbourne now have something up forward they didn’t have last season — targets.

    It’s telling that the Dees have gone for tall marking targets in particular, because they also have the best midfield disposal in the competition, giving them the ability to hit those targets — something a team like Collingwood lack.

    That tall marking timber also presents Melbourne’s smalls with a crumber’s delight, giving the talented mids predictable contests they can get to the feet of, and where forward-pocket rocket Aleisha Newman’s speed will give larger defenders nightmares.

    Speaking of Melbourne’s killer midfield, they’ve gotten deeper too, with the speedy Ashley Guest traded from GWS and talented youngster Maddy Guerin drafted with Melbourne’s second pick.

    On paper the Bulldogs’ midfield is possibly more talented, but Melbourne have a large edge in experience, for now.

    They’re not perfect (except for Daisy Pearce) — Mithen is tiny, O’Dea isn’t exactly quick and Paxman doesn’t always hit targets.

    But Guerin should eventually make five of them, all elite, plus some good support from the likes of Guest and lightning-fast winger Cat Phillips.

    No other team has so many at that level, nor Melbourne’s ability to move the ball where other teams don’t dare — switching play, maintaining possession, not having to play the usual loose-ball kick-and-hope that most of the AFLW does.

    The Dees haven’t added much to their defence, but that only speaks to how happy the coaching staff are with players like Mel Hickey and Jasmine Grierson who are there now.

    And with so many athletic new talls, surely some of them will get rolled into the backline once the coaching staff sort through their luxury of options.

    With a strong defence, the competition’s best midfield, and forward targets who can mark the balls those midfielders kick down their throats, it’s hard to see many teams beating the Demons in season two.

    Of course, the seven-week regular season is a short sprint where one inexplicable stumble will probably cost a team everything, so there are no guarantees.

    But while Brisbane might have a little more depth, Melbourne have both depth and starpower, and I name them favorites for the cup in 2018.

    Prediction: 1st.

    In addition to his interest in sport, Joel Shepherd is a professional Science Fiction author. You can read more by him here.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • December 14th 2017 @ 3:26am
      Maggie said | December 14th 2017 @ 3:26am | ! Report

      You’re right – Daisy Pearce IS perfect!

      • December 14th 2017 @ 4:52pm
        Joel Shepherd said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

        Well, I guess she could be another four inches taller. And if she could fly, that would be great too.

    • December 14th 2017 @ 12:41pm
      Perry Bridge said | December 14th 2017 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

      They have a top key back in Laura (Corrigan) Duryea, flying the flag for Ireland. Worth a mention when discussing the Melbourne back 6. (And IC champs again this year for the Irish Banshees over the Canadian Northern Lights).

      • December 14th 2017 @ 4:52pm
        Joel Shepherd said | December 14th 2017 @ 4:52pm | ! Report

        Yes she is, but I don’t mention everyone who deserves it in writing these things because otherwise it reads like a shopping list. 🙂 But it further demonstrates how the Dees have got real talent all over the ground.

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