The Roar
The Roar


A grand NEW flag! Melbourne claims first AFLW premiership in thrilling grand final

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27th November, 2022

Foundation AFLW club Melbourne have at last claimed their first premiership, holding off minor premiers Brisbane in a thrilling grand final to end women’s football icon Daisy Pearce’s long wait for the ultimate glory.

Despite a Herculean performance from the Lions’ defence led by Shannon Campbell (19 disposals, eight marks), named player of the match in a losing side and exhausted to the point of vomiting immediately afterwards, the Dees held the favourites goalless for the final three quarters, atoning for their loss to Adelaide in last season’s grand final in April this year.

Humble as ever, Pearce could only praise her teammates following their triumph, reiterating her discomfort with the Dees’ journey having become as much about ‘doing it for Daisy’ as about team success.

“I’ve felt uncomfortable the whole time, the narrative, it being about me, I feel like that’s a glorified thing that happens outside of these four walls,” she told Channel 7 amid the post-match celebrations.

A packed crowd at the controversial venue of Brighton Homes Arena in Springfield was treated to a captivating match, with the final scoreline not doing justice to the frenetic pressure, exceptional defending and constant desperation featured by both sides in a grand final worthy of the name.

A heroic last quarter from Kate Hore was the catalyst for the Dees’ victory, but attention will also turn to a contentious decision to not award the Lions a 50m penalty after Alyssa Bannan tackled Dakota Davidson following a holding the ball free kick.

Such a result looked unthinkable after the Lions slammed on the first two goals of the game and looked set to do what they have done to all but one opponent (Richmond) throughout a dominant AFLW campaign.


A nerveless Davidson set shot was quickly followed by another to Cathy Svarc, the Lions dominating territory with seven o the first 10 inside 50s – and making it count.

Just as symbolic were a pair of defensive efforts at the other end of the ground, Campbell comprehensively beating the great Pearce in a one-on-one contest deep inside 50, before being one-upped by teammate Nat Grider, whose goal-saving chasedown on Megan Fitzsimon was the stuff of instant grand final folklore.

With a solitary behind to their name at quarter time, the Dees seemed thoroughly outclassed despite holding their own against Brisbane’s powerful on-ball brigade: it wouldn’t take long, however, for them to flip the script.

Led by Eliza West (19 disposals) and ruckman Lauren Pearce (17 hitouts), the Dees enjoyed territory domination of their own in the second term, surging to a 16-10 lead in the inside 50 count.

All that was holding them back were Campbell and company, Irish recruit Blaithin Mackin’s goal their only breakthrough of the term as the Lions held firm in defence.


Every chance became a premium, and a bad miss from spearhead Tayla Harris in the opening minutes of the quarter looked set to bite. As did injury woes; Lions captain Bre Konan sending a shiver through the Brisbane camp by limping off with an apparent knee issue midway through the term.

Heavily strapped, Konan would return to start the second half, but her influence on the rest of the game was noticeably inhibited by the knock.

Continuing on their second-quarter surge, it would again be all Demons in the third term. Once more, the Lions’ defence held sway against the onslaught, conceding just one goal – but Harris’ major from point blank range was at least enough to put Melbourne in front for the first time.

A strong Davidson mark on the stroke of three-quarter time gave the Lions hope of snatching back the lead, but the set-shot miss would leave them two points in arrears at three-quarter time. With scoring having slowed to a trickle amid suffocating pressure, it might as well have been twenty.

As it stood, the Lions were unable to trouble the scorers in the final term, managing only three inside 50s as the Demons tackled like maniacs to deny the powerhouse any freedom of movement.


Even Dees hard nut Karen Paxman felt the pain, smashed in a contest just moments after returning to the field and limping off in the arms of the trainers.

Perhaps the Lions’ final true chance of forcing a win arrived via a Davidson holding the ball free kick on Mackin, running the winger down on the half-back flank. Having heard a call of play on, Bannan dashed like mad across half the field, tackling the Lion as Mackin stood mystified on the mark.

However, there would be no 50m penalty, which would have taken Davidson within two kicks of the goals; the umpires ruled that one of them had duped Bannan by not awarding the original holding the ball, enabling the Dees to breathe a sigh of relief.

In the end, the siren only arrived to end one final Dees attacking charge, a Fitzsimon snap coming within metres of the goals as the siren sounded. But not a single person wearing red and blue cared in the slightest.