Star Melbourne defender Karen Paxman was instrumental in the stunning first-half turnaround, with 13 of her 25 disposals coming in the second term. She also finished up with 11 contested possessions and four tackles while Lily Mithen was also brilliant with 22 touches, three clearances and a goal.
Tegan Cunningham, Kate Hore and Krstel Petrevski each booted two majors for the Demons.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Suns, with Sarah Perkins playing a spectacular debut game for her third club, which included two goals and very sharp foot skills, while 29-year-old first-gamer Elizabeth Keaney was very impressive in defence.
Melbourne struggled to get going early, though. They were sloppy around the ball, were breaking down at half-forward and, despite having eight of the first 10 inside-50s, trailed by seven points at quarter-time.
But after the Suns looked so solid in defence in the opening stanza, things couldn’t have been any different in the second. The Demons ran rampant, booting five unanswered goals to turn the game on its head and take a commanding 22-point lead into half-time.
The Suns regained their competitive edge in the third period, and things could’ve been a lot more interesting had Leah Kaslar not failed to make contact with the ball from the goal square, just seconds before the three-quarter time siren sounded to potentially cut the deficit to 15 points.
SLOPPY SUNS SABOTAGE THEMSELVES
With the game still up for grabs, Gold Coast suffered costly lapses in concentration at critical times. Two of Melbourne’s first five goals came from the goal square thanks to encroachment 50-metre penalties, giving the visitors an 11-point lead. And down the other end in the second term, Brittany Perry missed a sitter from point-blank range after marking a spectacular 45-metre pass from Perkins which hit her on the chest in between two Melbourne defenders. That ‘gimme’ would’ve cut the deficit to 10 points and got the Suns back in the game, instead Hore rubbed salt into the wound by booting her second goal on the half-time siren and the Dees never looked back.
2.0 7.1 9.1 9.2 (56)
3.1 3.3 5.4 5.5 (35)
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Hore 2, Petrevski 2, Heath, Mithen, Zanker.
Gold Coast: Perkins 2, Perry, Kaslar, Stanton.
Melbourne: Paxman, Mithen, Cunningham, D Pearce, Hore, L Pearce, Petrevski
Gold Coast: Perkins, Stanton, Keaney, Drennan, Surman.
Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.