Melbourne’s stunning 41-point loss to North Melbourne in the AFLW’s second qualifying final at Ikon Park will “sting” the Demons for a while, according to coach Mick Stinear.
The Demons headed into Sunday’s clash as premiership favourites but were held to their second-lowest score – 1.3 (9) – and copped their second-biggest loss after being spectacularly ambushed by the Kangaroos who had only beaten Melbourne once before.
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The 7.8 (50) to 1.3 (9) stunner means Stinear’s side now face Geelong in a cutthroat semi-final next weekend and have to win three in a row if they want to become the first team to achieve back-to-back flags.
“It’s really disappointing, the scoreline today,” Stinear said post-match.
“I think there was about five-and-a-half thousand people here, so it was a good chance to showcase where we’re at as a team.
“That will sting. That will sting for a little while, and we’ll certainly use that as fuel to get ourselves back on track, get ourselves in form and be ready to go in a week’s time.”
It was a shock result as even the Roos coach Darren Crocker was taken aback by his side’s performance.
“I must admit driving here today I wouldn’t have thought we would’ve won as comprehensively as that,” Crocker said post-match.
“But the way that our players just applied themselves was super today.”
Much had been made of North’s poor overall record of 2-14 against the “big three” of Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne heading into Sunday’s clash, but Crocker denied it served as any extra motivation for his team to beat the Demons.
“That’s more a narrative that I reckon gets driven in the media,” he said.
“We actually don’t talk about that internally.”
As for the Demons, after starting the year 5-0, and extending their winning streak to a record 14 consecutive matches, the Demons have now lost to fellow top-four teams Adelaide, Brisbane and North Melbourne in the last six games.
But Stinear wasn’t concerned about how his team stacked up against the best sides in the finals.
“We know it’s close between those top-four teams, and obviously Geelong and Sydney are now bridging that gap,” he said.
“We think we’re right in there with the best in the competition. Obviously today’s not good enough and a performance like that is not going to be good enough next week either against Geelong.
“We’re under no illusions that today wasn’t where we need to be … we need to have an edge about us and come out here and have a much better performance next week.”
Stinear denied his team took North lightly.
“We didn’t deliver our end of the bargain … they outplayed us today and gave us a bit of an update of where we’re at and where we need to get to,” he said.
“We didn’t perform to the level required and credit to North today.”
Stinear suggested that Eliza West and Rhi Watt (concussion) would be strongly considered to return to the line-up next week.
It sets up a huge semi-final week after the minor premier Crows also lost and will now face the Sydney Swans next Saturday night, with the winner to take on the Roos.
In the other match, the Demons will face the Cats for the chance to play the Lions in the prelim.
Originally published as ‘Outplayed’: Demons thrashed in shock AFLW Finals ambush