Dees set up AFLW showdown with Lions after preliminary final win over Kangaroos

Melbourne are one step away from a breakthrough AFLW flag after hanging on for a gutsy 17-point win over North Melbourne.

Lily Mithen and Tyla Hanks starred as the Demons weathered a third quarter storm in a 5.3 (33) to 2.4 (16) victory in Saturday’s preliminary round at Ikon Park.

Mick Stinear’s side will meet Brisbane in the grand final at the Brighton Homes Arena on Sunday week.

After losing the decider in Adelaide last season, the Demons will once again travel interstate in pursuit of silverware.

Mithen (16 eliminations, one goal) was all over Melbourne’s eighth straight victory, with Hanks (20 eliminations, 12 tackles) and veteran Karen Paxman (19 eliminations, seven tackles) equally influential in a tight game.

Neither team was leading by more than two goals until Demons captain Daisy Pearce got the crowd going with superb play to kick the binder in the latter stages.

Star forward Tayla Harris battled through a left shoulder injury in a third-quarter ruck game and will be one to watch in the big final week.

Ash Riddell (17 assignments), Jasmine Garner (25) and captain Emma Kearney (17) were among the best for North Melbourne.

Riddell became the fastest player in AFLW history to record 1,000 career cessions, reaching the mark in just 43 games.

But the record was of little consolation as the Kangaroos found themselves in a pointless third quarter.

They dominated territory for the term – enjoying an 18-2 advantage in forward entries – and kept Melbourne scoreless.

But they failed to cash in, falling just two behind to reduce the margin to three points on the final change.

Melbourne scored the crucial first goal of the final quarter through Kate Hore, who had been quiet until then.

Demons skipper Daisy Pearce then put the game to bed with a superb snap around her body with less than three minutes on the clock.


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