AFLW Grand Final talking points: Eliza West, Olivia Purcell lead Melbourne to maiden title

Melbourne have won their maiden AFLW premiership, downing Brisbane by four points in the decider at Brighton Homes Arena. 

Brisbane bounced out to an early advantage after scoring the first two goals, but it was the Demons who fought back valiantly in the next two quarters.

With a narrow margin heading into the final stanza, Melbourne scored two behinds and did enough to hold on for a 19-15 win on the road. 

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Purcell, West help Demons to maiden title

Olivia Purcell was a woman on a mission in Sunday afternoon’s decider. 

The 22-year-old was relentless in the midfield, finishing with 16 disposals and seven tackles in the four-point victory.

Purcell wasn’t alone in her efforts, with another five Demons players – Eliza West, Karen Paxman, Kate Hore, Tyla Hanks and Maddison Gay – all registering double-figures in the disposal department. 

West and Purcell can be considered unlucky to miss out on the Player of the Match award, which instead went to a player from the losing Brisbane outfit. West finished just one point behind the eventual winner, Shannon Campbell. 

Tayla Harris kicked one goal and one behind, while Blaithin Mackin scored the other major for the Dees. 

Shannon stars in defeat

Shannon Campbell was one of the stars of the show for the Lions and seemed to be everywhere on the park on Sunday afternoon, taking out Player of the Match honours despite the heartbreaking loss. 

With a game-high 19 disposals, the 26-year-old did everything in her power to will Brisbane to the title, but it wasn’t enough to get them over the line. 

Nat Grider and Catherine Svarc were also fantastic in defeat for the Lions, with the latter recording 16 tackles and seven disposals, while the former recorded 10 disposals and eight tackles. 

Brisbane fade after hot start

Lions fans would have been thrilled with the side’s opening quarter, scoring two goals and taking a 12-1 lead into the first minor break.

Dakota Davidson got things underway for Brisbane, before Catherine Svarc continued the momentum for the Lions just moments later. 

A desperation tackle from Nat Grider got the crowd on their feet and kept the Lions in the lead. 

Melbourne would hit back in the second quarter and narrowed the margin, but the fast-starting Lions dominated the first-half as a whole before fading out in the latter parts of the match. 

Questionable umpiring 

There was plenty of talk on social media regarding the officiating, with plenty of missed calls from the umpires luckily not hindering Melbourne’s victory. 

Melbourne fought valiantly through the adversity from the officials and their supporters will be happy the calls against them didn’t ruin a special day. 

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