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Demons stay in AFLW finals hunt with win

After narrowly missing the AFLW grand final in the first two seasons, Melbourne scored a crucial one-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.

Demons stay in AFLW finals hunt with win

After narrowly missing the AFLW grand final in the first two seasons, Melbourne scored a crucial one-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.

TEGAN CUNNINGHAM of the Demons handballs during the AFLW match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Melbourne Demons at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Australia.
TEGAN CUNNINGHAM of the Demons handballs during the AFLW match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Melbourne Demons at Blacktown International Sportspark in Sydney, Australia. Picture:Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Regardless of what happens on Super Saturday, Melbourne feel they passed a major test in the AFLW thriller against the Western Bulldogs.

Tegan Cunningham took a massive mark and coolly kicked the goal that put the Demons in front with two minutes left on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.


The pulsating one-point win kept Melbourne in the finals hunt ahead of next Saturday's massive match against Adelaide at Casey Fields.

Fremantle also host North Melbourne on Saturday night and those two games will decide which two teams from Conference A make the finals.

The Demons narrowly missed the grand final in the first two AFLW seasons, losing to the Bulldogs by a point in the last round a year ago, and coach Paul Stinear said Saturday night's big win was a major boost.

"You see the enjoyment, but (also) the relief in the girls' faces, who played in that game last year (and) the ones who have been there since year one," he said.

"It gives the group so much confidence that they can do it.

"It's just such a good experience, playing in those close games.

"It might well come in handy next week for us."

The controversial conference system has been a major talking point in the AFLW's third season.

Conference A has been much stronger than Conference B, with Stinear calling his group "red-hot".

"We still give ourselves a chance to play in a final, which has been quite elusive in the first two seasons," he said.

"I know our group is just burning to play a final and next week is a final for us, playing against one of the best teams in the comp."

But the Demons will need to improve, particularly in attack.

The Bulldogs were kept scoreless in the first quarter, but the Demons kicked a wasteful 1.5 when they could have killed off the game early.

"Part of our game was good, the pressure around the ball, but just our ability to connect forward of centre, we really let ourselves down," Stinear said.

"We didn't take our opportunities and the Bulldogs were clinical with their finish.

"But the girls' ability to find a way to win really helps us going into next week."

AAP


AAP




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