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Do or die in Darwin for AFLW Demons

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 25: Daisy Pearce of the Demons is tackled by Lauren Arnell of the Blues during the 2017 AFLW Round 04 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Carlton Blues at Casey Fields on February 25, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce says the Demons learned a lot from their loss to the Giants
We can't leave the results up to anyone else now, other than ourselves.
Daisy Pearce

MELBOURNE faces its biggest test of the NAB AFL Women's season when it takes on Adelaide on Saturday.

The Demons travel to Darwin knowing a loss spells the end of their season as they would be unable to finish in the top two and qualify for the Grand Final.

Melbourne sits fourth, two games behind leader the Brisbane Lions and one back from the Crows.

Captain Daisy Pearce said the disappointment of potentially missing out on a place in the Grand Final would provide the Demons with plenty of motivation. 

"It's do or die now," Pearce told melbournefc.com.au.

"We can't leave the results up to anyone else now, other than ourselves. [We need] to get the four points."

Coach Mick Stinear said the Demons missed an opportunity to cement themselves in the top three when they lost in a five-point upset to Greater Western Sydney last Friday.

"That one or two spot [on the ladder] was in our control, but now we're back with the pack a little bit," Stinear said.

"It's a brutal competition. You haven't got too many times to make mistakes."

The Demons were riding a three-game winning streak going into last Friday's game, but couldn't stop the Giants from winning their first game of the season.

Despite winning most of the statistical battles, Melbourne managed just one goal and nine behinds in greasy conditions, a result Stinear labelled as "bitterly disappointing".

"It was a game we desperately wanted to win," Stinear said.

"We just couldn't convert. We had plenty of opportunities inside 50, but [there were] some critical misses due to a lack of composure. 

"We didn't play our best, but we still had opportunities to win." 

Before the season started, Melbourne was expected to be in contention for a Grand Final spot.

But expectations fell quickly for the Demons after a disappointing first hit-out in wet conditions against the Lions when they fielded an inexperienced team that contained just five players from last year's AFL exhibition series all-star game (marquee players Pearce and Melissa Hickey, priority selection Karen Paxman, the club's first draft pick Elise O'Dea, ruck Lauren Pearce and forward Richelle Cranston, who played for the Bulldogs that day). 

It took until half-time of the club's second game against Collingwood for the young team to adapt to the game plan. The result was a much quicker and exciting brand of football, led by Pearce, Paxman and O'Dea along with younger players in Alyssa Mifsud, Lily Mithen and Deanna Berry.

After beating the Magpies, the Western Bulldogs and the Blues, Melbourne was one of the form teams in the competition before stumbling against the Giants.

Pearce said the team gained plenty from the loss to the Giants, particularly how to adapt to wet conditions which the Demons have failed to do twice. 

"We have to adjust to the conditions quicker," Pearce said.

"Our go is to move the ball smartly and to run and carry but [in wet conditions] you almost have to chuck that [game plan] out the window.

"Hopefully we take the learnings from [Friday night's game] up there (to Darwin) given that it will probably be pretty greasy being the wet season.

"It will be good preparation."