AFLW GIANTS DEMONS
Melbourne have verifiable belief that anything is possible in their AFLW preliminary final after pipping GWS by three points at Giants Stadium.
Lily Mithen kicked the Demons' match-winning goal with just 25 seconds remaining.
The goal umpire hardly moved as Mithen marked in the pocket and calmly converted her set shot, completing a remarkable final-quarter comeback on Saturday afternoon in the topsy-turvy semi.
The COVID-19 lockout ensured that screams of "SAVE THE GAME" from the Dees' bench were then heard around the ground.
Melbourne, who kicked three goals straight in the fourth term and will next face Fremantle, did exactly that to triumph 4.5 (29) to 3.8 (26).
"Whatever next week's scenario throws up, the girls have another experience they can draw on," Demons coach Mick Stinear said.
"They got a bit more desperate with only a quarter to go in our season."
The first goal of Mithen's career came in the second quarter and put Melbourne in front, only for GWS to rally and build a 15-point lead early in the final term.
Demons Shelley Scott and Sarah Perkins kicked goals in the fourth quarter to build belief, the latter a sensational long-range effort from a tight angle, but it was Mithen's clutch effort which triggered chaotic then jubilant scenes.
"Pretty crazy game," captain Daisy Pearce reflected.
"Throughout the season, we've been able to score pretty quickly, so we had belief we could do it ... Lily Mithen picked a good time to kick the first two goals of her career.
"She said nothing (after taking the mark), which is so rare.
"I knew there was 45 seconds left. So it was either A: it doesn't make the distance or it's a point and try to to get real aggressive and lock it in.
"Or defend with our lives - option B and thankfully it paid off. Everyone was pretty excited."
Saturday was meant to mark the first time a club had hosted an AFLW-AFL double header for premiership points.
The coronavirus pandemic meant the stakes were even higher in the curtain-raising knockout AFLW contest played behind closed doors.
Irishwoman Cora Staunton and Jess Dal Pos, both members of GWS's leadership group, stood up with goals in what looked to be a decisive third quarter.
But it wasn't to be for the Giants in their maiden AFLW final.
"Fairly shattered," GWS captain Alicia Eva said.
"We've put a lot of hard work in and played some good footy. Played good footy in the last month with a number of injuries.
"To get here was one thing but we're obviously very disappointed ... you play footy to win premierships. It'll drive us."