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Roger Vaughan

Cats hang on to beat Demons in AFLW semi-final

Geelong have ousted reigning premiers Melbourne by five points in a thrilling AFLW semi-final. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

Geelong have upset fast-finishing reigning premiers Melbourne by five points in a pulsating semi-final, one of the greatest games in the AFLW's short history.

The Demons kicked five goals to one in the last term to nearly swamp the Cats, who held on in the last frantic seconds on Sunday at Ikon Park and won 7.8 (50) to 6.9 (45).

Melbourne's Lauren Pearce snapped at goal in the last minute and narrowly missed - had it been a goal, the match would have gone into extra time.

The Cats now face Brisbane away next Saturday night, with North Melbourne hosting Adelaide on Sunday at Ikon Park in the other preliminary final.

It is Geelong's second preliminary final and their first under the current top-eight system.

Meghan McDonald attempts to mark while Tayla Harris tries to spoil.
Meghan McDonald attempts to mark while Tayla Harris tries to spoil.

"That last 15 minutes - if I had more hair to lose, I probably would have lost it," Cats coach Dan Lowther said.

Geelong also gave up several goals in last week's elimination final win over Essendon and Lowther said they were aware they were a fast-starting, slow-finishing side.

"We've trained a certain system over a couple of seasons, to play the way we play for the first two-and-a-half, three quarters," he said.

"We're not hiding behind the fact that we start well and we fade towards the back end of games - that's more practise and time.

"We train scenarios around that. We just have to do it for longer."

Star Geelong midfielder Nina Morrison, who was clearly best afield, was off the ground at the finish as she had work on her calves.

She said the last few minutes were "stressful".

But at least she could celebrate, whereas the Demons were gutted by their straight sets finals exit.

"We're bitterly disappointed and we didn't feel like we gave ourselves the best chance over the last two weeks," said coach Mick Stinear.

"We couldn't bring our best today. That hurts and it will hurt for a while."

Eden Zanker takes a mark.
Eden Zanker's three last-term goals couldn't save the Demons from a straight-sets finals exit.

The Demons looked rattled for much of the first half and did not kick their first goal until Maddi Gay's long bomb after the half-time siren.

They stormed home in the last term, with Eden Zanker kicking three goals and Tyla Hanks also mighty at the finish for Melbourne.

"It will be an interesting one to watch back - that was one hell of a last quarter," Stinear said.

Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich was at the game and it will have given him plenty of food for thought.

It is the first time Melbourne have lost three-straight in the AFLW.

The Cats led by as much as 32 points in the third term and had a 30-point lead at three-quarter time. 

But Melbourne opened the last term with three quick goals to make it a contest.

Geelong's Amy McDonald kicked the first two goals of the game in the opening eight minutes - also the first time she has kicked multiple goals.

In last week's qualifying final, Melbourne had no answer to North Melbourne's tackling pressure.

On Sunday, it was Geelong closing down Melbourne's run early and picking them off as the Demons tried to clear out of defence.

Geelong's Georgie Prespakis also worked hard in the midfield and Becky Webster was excellent for the Cats off half-back.

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