Demons AFLW coach Mick Stinear is calling on the midfield to better support captain Daisy Pearce.Melbourne coach Mick Stinear has implored his team’s midfield to improve around inspirational captain Daisy Pearce after the Demons’ shock five-point loss to Fremantle in the AFLW.
The flag fancies let slip of a golden opportunity to remain the competition’s only unbeaten team after the 6.0 (36) to 4.7 (31) defeat at Fremantle Oval on Sunday.
The second-placed Demons are in a logjam of five teams with two wins in three rounds, including the Dockers.
The upset result looked highly unlikely after a dominant first quarter where the Demons had a 15-0 advantage in forward entries but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard due to inaccuracy in front of goal.
The Demons’ midfield controlled play early before Fremantle’s counterparts dictated terms.
Superstar Pearce (24 possessions) valiantly tried to lift her team but lacked support.
“We need to look at other players to carry that load,” Stinear told reporters.
“The midfield group wasn’t getting first to the ball and that was due to Freo’s pressure and physicality around the ball.
“Freo beat us around the footy and were strong in the clearances. Our midfielders will learn from that.”
Stinear backed Melbourne’s attacking style of play despite being thwarted by the determined Dockers.
“I think our style of play works for us and is a blueprint for success,” he said.
He confirmed forward Catherine Phillips had escaped with a high ankle sprain after initial fears of a serious knee injury.
Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan lauded her team’s effort and praised debutant Emily McGuire, who was a livewire with two goals including the match winner.
“She has the X-factor and she’s an absolute talent but wants to keep learning,” she said.
The fifth-placed Dockers have another crunch match next week when they travel to Brisbane to face the league leaders.