Demons breathe fire, belt Blues in AFLW

·2-min read

Melbourne have bounced back from their first AFLW defeat to warn that they are still a force this season, crushing an injury-stricken Carlton by 42 points at Ikon Park.

The determined Demons controlled the contest after an even first quarter to run away with a 7.8 (50) to 1.2 (8) victory in wet and slippery conditions after halftime on Friday night.

Missing key players such as Darcy Vescio and Phoebe McWilliams, Carlton were more than a match in the opening term with young midfielders Mimi Hill (11 possessions) and Abbie McKay (10) brilliant around the stoppages.

But the experienced Dees tightened their control of the Blues' young guns and, although Hill finished with 33 touches, she was eventually overwhelmed by young counterparts Olivia Purcell (30) and Eliza West (20), well supported by the wily veteran Karen Paxman (16).

Purcell said Melbourne were hellbent on making a fast start and maintaining the pressure after falling away at times in earlier games.

"It definitely was the focus. I think it's pretty good having a short turnaround after the loss against Brisbane," she said.

"They're a very good team who played consistently for four quarters and that's what we want to do. It's only the halfway mark of the season and we just want to make sure we turn up and play better each game."

After a week out with suspension, Melbourne forward Tayla Harris kicked three goals against her former Carlton teammates and she had other options all around her.

An illustration of the Demons' dominance was the lopsided 46-13 inside 50 count.

The Blues had stout defenders with Vaomua Laloifi and Gabby Pound, but two heavy head knocks that sent captain Kerryn Peterson twice to the bench further hampered the already weakened home team.

Harris set it all up for Melbourne with her strength and smarts up forward that caused problems for the Carlton defence every time the ball ventured inside the visitors' forward 50.

In the opening two minutes, she marked on the 50m line, played on and booted truly and then converted again after a contested mark 30m out.

While Melbourne had marking options up forward other than the dangerous Harris, Carlton struggled once they advanced within scoring range. The Blues' only goal of the first half came from Breann Moody's quick thinking to get a boot to the ball at a stoppage at the top of the goal square early in the second quarter.

Carlton's injury list included Vescio, the games and goals record-holder, and former Geelong key forward McWilliams. So dire were their numbers that Christina Bernardi, an All-Australian forward with Collingwood in 2018 before joining the Giants and then Richmond, played for her fourth AFLW club after being elevated to the Blues' playing list only last Wednesday.