After stewing on a grand final loss to Adelaide for 139 days, Melbourne got the chance to turn the tables on Friday night and the Demons didn’t let the chance go begging.
The Crows trailed at every change at Glenelg Oval as the Demons’ high-powered offence got the better of the Crows’ vaunted whole team defence.
Melbourne’s lowest two scores last season came against the Crows, but in another classic contest between the competition heavyweights, Karen Paxman buried a few mental demons for her teammates with the final goal of an entertaining encounter.
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It was a fitting end to the night for Paxman, who was part of an impressive midfield display.
Paxman (24 disposals), Eliza West (25) and Olivia Purcell (22) gathered plenty of the ball as the Demons came out on top of a 267-193 disposal count.
After soaking up some early pressure, Kate Hore got the ball rolling for the visitors with an unusual goal that nearby Crows were adamant was touched off the boot.
Hore gathered a loose ball deep in a pocket and did the team thing as she attempted to centre the ball to the top of the goal square over Chelsea Biddell’s desperate attempt to spoil.
Sarah Allan was left stranded by a cruel bounce that went over her head and Eloise Jones chased the Sherrin as it bounced another four times before trickling over the goal line.
It was just the pressure release Melbourne needed, Mick Stinear’s team leading by four points at the first break and 10 at half-time.
Biddell was in the thick of the action again in the third quarter when she vociferously appealed for a touched ball that was adjudged a goal.
This time it was Daisy Pearce who was on the right side of a close call, the skipper’s spectacular major in traffic extending the margin to 11 points at three-quarter time.
Anne Hatchard and Tayla Harris celebrated their 50th-game milestones and both played key roles for their respective sides.
Hatchard burst out of the blocks with nine possessions in the first quarter and was a constant physical presence around the ball.
The three-time premiership star finished with 24 touches and eight inside 50s.
Harris renewed hostilities with nemesis Chelsea Randall and the Adelaide skipper had the upper hand early, stopping Harris in her tracks with a bone-rattling tackle.
The star forward, who played eight games for Brisbane, 29 for Carlton and 13 for the Demons, had the last laugh of a tense first quarter when she intercepted an attempted clearing ball from Sarah Allan.
From just inside 50, Harris threw the ball on her right boot and sent through a superb goal.
Ash Woodland, the competition’s leading goal kicker last season, opened her account with the first major in a bright start for Adelaide.
She hit the scoreboard twice in the second quarter with her third major a checkside off her right boot that was straight from the top shelf.
Unfortunately for the home side, she accounted for all of Adelaide’s majors until Danielle Ponter recovered from a heavy hit in the final term to slot the only other goal of the night for the reigning premiers.
Next up, Adelaide heads to Melbourne to take on Richmond at Punt Road Oval on Saturday, while the Demons kick off Round 2 with an MCG curtain-raiser against North Melbourne ahead of the men’s qualifying final against Sydney on Friday night.
CROWS 1.0 1.1 3.1 4.2 (26)
DEMONS 1.4 2.5 4.6 6.8 (44)
Crows: Hatchard, Woodland, Randall, Thompson, Jones, Biddell
Demons: Paxman, West, Hore, Purcell, Mithen, Hanks
Crows: Woodland 3, Ponter
Demons: Hore, Harris, Pearce, Hanks, Zanker, Paxman
VENUE Glenelg Oval