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Melbourne Football Club

The team review: round eight

MATT Burgan looks at the stories, stats and surprises in his weekly column.

Melbourne’s win over the Gold Coast Suns resulted in the red and blue’s best start to a season since 2006 – the same year as its most recent finals campaign. Although Melbourne led at every change against the Suns, and held a 32-point lead entering the final term, it was the last quarter when the Demons blew the game apart. At one point, Melbourne led by 75 points, when Jesse Hogan kicked his third goal late in the game, before it claimed a 69-point victory – Simon Goodwin’s biggest win as coach. The Demons have now won five of their opening eight rounds, including their past three. And after four rounds out of the top eight, Melbourne has bounced back in to sixth position.

How’s stat?
Melbourne notched up 83 inside 50s – an equal AFL record. The only other time 83 inside 50s were recorded in an AFL match was when North Melbourne defeated GWS Giants by 129 points in Hobart, round two, 2012. That was just the Giants’ second game. Melbourne’s previous best was against West Coast Eagles in round seven, 2000 at Docklands.

The number
6,060 – was the lowest crowd attendance at the Gabba. It eclipsed the previous lowest, which was 6,480 when Melbourne played the Brisbane Bears at the venue in round 22, 1991.

Experience differential
Games: Melbourne (1932) v Gold Coast Suns (1580)
Goals: Melbourne (956) v Gold Coast Suns (713)
Average age: Melbourne (24 years, 216 days) v Gold Coast Suns (23 years, 361 days)

Did you know …
Melbourne hasn’t lost a quarter since round six. The Demons lost their first quarter to the Bombers by six points, while the two sides drew in the second term. But since the third quarter of that match, which Melbourne won by 37 points, the red and blue has gone on to win 10 consecutive quarters, having won all terms against St Kilda (round seven) and Gold Coast Suns (round eight).

3 votes: Tom McDonald
In just his third game back, after missing two months with a foot injury, the tall utility played an outstanding match to help set-up the win. Starting on the wing and then pushing forward, McDonald kicked an equal career-best five goals, including four in the first half. And when he landed his fifth he put the Demons up by 36 points.

2 votes: James Harmes
Arguably his best game for Melbourne, Harmes racked up a career-best 33 disposals, beating his previous best (26 touches), which was also against the Suns, in round seven, 2016. Harmes had a game-high 18 contested possessions, while his clearance and tackling work were also features of his game.

1 vote: Clayton Oliver
Finished with a game-high 29 disposals, 11 clearances and 11 tackles to continue his stellar season, on the back of his 2017 best and fairest winning season. Oliver’s work was again on show, particularly in the second term, when he had 11 touches. A phenomenal young player in the game.

Apologies to …
Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Jordan Lewis, Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen, Mitch Hannan and Jesse Hogan who all could’ve been among the votes.

Good to see …
Alex Neal-Bullen play his best game for the season. He kicked two goals – one in the opening term and the first of the second half – while he collected 23 disposals. His work rate is outstanding, with his ability to cover the ground, and he was rewarded for his efforts against Gold Coast.

Oppo’s best: Jack Martin
Sam Day, Aaron Hall and Touk Miller were all among Gold Coast’s best, but it was hard to go past Martin, who booted a team-high four goals. He collected 19 disposals, including 10 contested to be his side’s standout.  

Facebook post of the day

Tweet of the day

Instagram photo of the day

All smiles. 😁 #RaiseHell

A post shared by Melbourne Football Club (@melbournefc) on

Video of the day

Pic of the day

In the mix
Co-captain Jack Viney made a successful return from a foot injury, playing for Casey Demons on Sunday. It was his first game of any sorts since round 21, last year against St Kilda. Coach Simon Goodwin has already confirmed that the tough-nut midfielder will return for round nine. Jayden Hunt, Jeff Garlett, Tim Smith and Josh Wagner were emergencies against the Suns, and will again be in the mix, along with Cam Pedersen, Tom Bugg, Billy Stretch and Joel Smith, who all impressed for Casey.

Next round
Melbourne returns to the MCG – albeit for an away game – against Carlton on Sunday. It’ll be the red and blue’s first match at the home of football since its Anzac Day Eve match against Richmond. It’s also the first of four matches at the ‘G for Melbourne from rounds six to 19. The Demons will be aiming for their fourth consecutive win – something they achieved once last year, from rounds 10 to 14 (it had the bye in round 11) – while the Blues will be attempting to notch up back-to-back wins, after recording their first win of the year against Essendon on the weekend. Melbourne edged past Carlton in their past two meetings, and although the Demons will be red-hot favourites and the Blues have had a tough season, it will be yet another test for the red and blue, given it’s a game the Dees are expected to win.

In the press box …
Some genuine banter came from the Queensland-based journos. One suggested “there were more scones than people” at the ground, when the half-time nibbles arrived. And chuckles went around the box early in the game, when the same journo suggested that Max Gawn wouldn’t cop another spray, like he did recently from an Essendon supporter, when he was lining up for goal from the boundary. “I don’t think he’ll get abused from that corner of the pocket,” the journo said in relation to the small Gabba crowd.

In the rooms ...
Post-match was akin to a B-grade movie scene, where the family rushes from home to the airport in breakneck speed, simply to catch that flight! Although it wasn’t perhaps as chaotic as that, the turnaround from the end of the match to post-match to catching the bus and boarding the plane was as tight as an ill-fitting wetsuit. In the end, it was about a 20 to 25-minute turnaround from the end of the game to catching the bus. But like the team did so on the night, it did so with precision and little fuss in the end and the team made it back to Melbourne late on Saturday night.

Song to sum up match
Up and Up – Coldplay

Simon Says …
“It’s pleasing that we want to play a forward half game. That’s something we’ve worked on all summer and something we want to keep on doing. To have that many is a lot. We kept going for the whole game and that was something we’ve been working on for a few weeks.” – Simon Goodwin