A LACK of composure let a "shattered" Melbourne down on Saturday as the Demons blew a winning position for the second straight week, coach Simon Goodwin says.
Melbourne was 15 points up in the third quarter against Geelong in round three, then 27 points ahead of Fremantle before half-time, only to bleed goals on each occasion and eventually go down.
Goodwin's men showed ticker to rally from a 22-point three-quarter time deficit against the Dockers to briefly hit the front late in the game, but the mid-match lapse – in which Freo kicked seven unanswered goals in the third term – proved costly.
The losses followed contrasting triumphs over St Kilda and Carlton in the opening two rounds.
"We're shattered as a footy club," Goodwin said.
"We've had two quarters over the last two weeks which haven't resembled anything about us.
"I think they had 22 inside 50s (in the third quarter) and we were pretty average around the footy and we also lacked composure with the ball, especially in our defensive 50.
"We had trouble getting the ball out and that really weighed heavily against us after a while."
Despite the disappointment, the Demons coach was realistic about his team's stage of development.
"I think it's part of our journey to where we want to go to as a club ... being able to add that composure to the group is really important for where we want to go," Goodwin said.
"We need to be better at being able to handle that and deal with that, because we're going to get that in other games throughout the year, so that's part of our learning."
The match served as the Demons' first since No.1 ruckman Max Gawn suffered a serious hamstring injury that will require surgery and keep him out for three months.
His injury came on top of suspensions to stars Jordan Lewis, who will also miss the Anzac Day eve clash with Richmond in round five, and Jesse Hogan.
Gawn's replacement, Jake Spencer, enjoyed some good moments – kicking two goals, laying three tackles and winning 13 disposals – but was no match in the ruck for Freo giant Aaron Sandilands.
It was Spencer's first match at AFL level since round 22, 2015.
"I thought (Spencer) was terrific. It was a tough ask to come in and play against Aaron," Goodwin said.
"He's a super ruckman, Aaron, but I thought Jake's intensity and ability to work across the ground and kick us a couple of goals was very good. So I'm very happy for Jake.
"He worked hard over the summer. He's waited in the shadows of Max for a good 18 months now and he grabbed his opportunity today."
Melbourne is considered a fringe finals chance, so the wasted opportunities against the Cats and Dockers could come back to haunt it, but Goodwin remained upbeat.
"It leaves us needing to improve in a whole range of different areas to be more consistent and the team we want to become," he said.
"We're disappointed as a footy club (and) we've got to be better than that, but we're 2-2.
"We're starting to play a little more consistently as time goes on and we need to learn and grow to become a better team and with that will come better results – it's pretty simple.
"They're disappointing results, but I don't want to take anything away from Freo. We're really quick to put teams down and Freo the last two weeks have been outstanding."