Luckless forward Ainslie Kemp's suspected serious knee injury threatens to sour Melbourne's gritty 20-point win over the Western Bulldogs.
Old firm Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman shone for the Demons in tough conditions on Friday night as rain made for scrappy passages of play at Whitten Oval.
It didn't dampen either side's spirit in a hotly fought contest, particularly early in the piece.
Pearce and Paxman were cleaner than most with ball in hand as goals proved hard to come by in a low-scoring first half.
Two majors in the first quarter through Paxman and Chantel Emonson gave Melbourne a lead they never relinquished in a 4.8 (32) to 2.0 (12) triumph that underlined their premiership credentials.
However, Kemp was the latest in a growing list of AFLW players to go down with a knee injury when she twisted her left leg and fell to the ground in the dying minutes of the match.
The 22-year-old, who appeared distraught as she hobbled off the ground, has twice ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee.
If scans confirm the worst for Kemp, she would be the third Melbourne player to succumb to a major knee injury this campaign after they lost Katherine Smith and and Shae Sloane during the pre-season.
"She's an incredibly powerful athlete and player, so she's done well to be able to get back to this position," Demons coach Mick Stinear said.
"But she hasn't had a good run at AFLW, unfortunately. Fingers crossed it's nothing too severe."
Pearce played the role of general across half-back for the second successive week on return from a 693-day break from AFLW football, during which she had twins.
The former midfield star mopped up loose balls and provided a steadying influence for the Demons all night, with her clean hands in the wet outstanding.
But the game's biggest highlight came from young teammate Casey Sherriff, whose first AFLW goal was one she won't forget in a hurry.
The 21-year-old followed Shelley Scott's long kick into a vacant forward line during the third quarter and cleverly poked the ball off the deck from 20m out with an opponent in hot pursuit.
Maddison Gay converted a free kick moments later to give Melbourne an unassailable 26-point lead.
They had registered a dozen scoring shots to the Bulldogs' one by three-quarter time.
Melbourne's win meant they retained the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, which the two foundation AFLW clubs play for each year.
Australian Associated Press