Demons open AFLW season with big win over Magpies

Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Melbourne have survived an early scare from a Brianna Davey-led Collingwood to kick off their AFLW premiership defence with a commanding 42-point win in the season opener.

The Demons, who lined up with 19 players from last year's grand final triumph, conceded four of the first five goals and fell 14 points behind before halftime on Friday night.

But they asserted their authority with five unanswered goals in a scintillating third quarter to run away with a 10.13 (73) to 4.7 (31) victory at Ikon Park.

Magpies captain Davey was best afield with 35 disposals, 11 clearances, five tackles and a goal in her comeback after missing both seasons in 2022 with her second major knee injury.

Teammate Brittany Bonnici (17 disposals) also impressed on her return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

But Melbourne's spread of contributors was far greater, with Olivia Purcell (19 disposals), Paxy Paxman (18), Lily Mithen (18) and captain Kate Hore (17) all having an impact.

Alyssa Bannan (three goals), Eden Zanker and Shelley Heath (two each) were all dangerous in attack as the Demons made a significant statement in front of 8412 fans.

"It was a good game to start the season," Melbourne coach Mick Stinear said.

"We felt like we really got challenged and were able to work our way through the game.

"It was two strong teams playing a good brand of footy and hopefully it was a good spectacle for the fans."

Melbourne opened season eight by unveiling their premiership flag, with retired former captain Daisy Pearce central in proceedings before taking up a role in the television commentary box.

The Demons were in control early but wasted chances in front of goal and trailed by two points at quarter-time as Collingwood threatened to cause an upset.

One of the Magpies' four first-half goals came from Davey, who celebrated her return with a major from a free kick midway through the second term.

But Melbourne rallied and kicked the next nine goals without reply, with Hore instrumental as they piled on 5.4 to 0.1 in the third quarter.

Demons forward Tayla Harris (13 disposals, one goal) pulled in four contested marks to become the first player in AFLW history to reach 100 across her career.

Sarah Rowe (20 touches) was busy for Collingwood, who lost last season's leading goalkicker Eliza James to a left ankle injury before halftime.

"We were really happy with our first half but when they got their game going we struggled to stop their momentum," Magpies coach Steve Symonds said.

"We now know where we sit and our job now is to close that gap by the end of the year."