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Melbourne Football Club

The team review: round nine

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

Melbourne’s fourth win in a row – its sixth for the season – was significant for several reasons. Not only did the red and blue keep its winning streak intact, it achieved several things it hasn’t for a long, long time. The Demons chalked up their first 100-point-plus win in 14 years – coincidentally against the Blues at the ‘G in round six, 2004 – while it was Melbourne’s greatest winning margin since round 21, 1993, when Allen Jakovich and Andy Lovell kicked eight goals each to help defeat Richmond at the MCG by 121 points. The Dees also moved into third on the ladder. Melbourne hasn’t been third – or that high on the table – since round 20, 2006. And, it was Melbourne’s greatest win over Carlton in 212 matches.

How’s stat?
Melbourne has now won its past 14 quarters. The Demons have not lost a quarter since the opening term against Essendon at Etihad Stadium in round six. They drew with the Bombers in the second term of that match. But since winning the third term against Essendon by 37 points, Melbourne has won all quarters against St Kilda, Gold Coast Suns and Carlton respectively – an outstanding achievement.

The number
109 – points was Melbourne’s eighth greatest winning margin since it joined the VFL/AFL as a foundation club in 1897. Interestingly, the seven ‘greater’ wins all came in years when the club made finals (including three premierships) – except the match mentioned earlier over the Tigers in round 21, 1993. Yet that backend of the season win was not far away from Melbourne’s 1994 team, which played in a preliminary final and was one of the most talented red and blue teams since its most recent flag in 1964. For the record, Melbourne’s greatest win was against Hawthorn by 141 points in round nine, 1926 at the MCG – the year the red and blue won its second premiership.

Melbourne’s greatest wins

Round nine, 1926: Melbourne 21.28 (141) d Hawthorn 1.7 (13), MCG – 141 points (year finished: premiers)

Round two, 1991: Melbourne 27.18 (180) d Fitzroy 6.13 (49), Princes Park – 131 points (year finished: fourth)

Round seven, 1937: Melbourne 25.16 (166) d North Melbourne 5.14 (44), MCG – 122 points (year finished: third)

Round 21, 1993: Melbourne 26.19 (175) d Richmond 8.6 (54), MCG – 121 points (year finished: 10th)

Elimination Final, 1987: Melbourne 22.26 (158) d North Melbourne 5.10 (40), MCG – 118 points (year finished: third)

Round 17, 1940: Melbourne 26.20 (176) d Hawthorn 8.14 (42), MCG – 114 points (year finished: premiers)

Round 10, 1964: Melbourne 23.18 (156) d Richmond 6.7 (43), MCG – 113 points (year finished: premiers)

Experience differential
Games: Melbourne (1934) v Carlton (1895)
Goals: Melbourne (956) v Carlton (999)
Average age: Melbourne (24 years, 315 days) v Carlton (24 years, 316 days)

Did you know …
Melbourne kicked 16 more goals than behinds, after finishing with a score of 25.9 (159) against Carlton. Only twice has Melbourne achieved better with more goals than behinds. That happened in round 24, 1994, when Melbourne kicked 27.5 (167) against the Sydney Swans at the SCG – 22 more goals than behinds. David Schwarz kicked nine goals that day. The Demons also booted 18 more goals than behinds against St Kilda at the Junction Oval in round 19, 1947, when Fred Fanning kicked a league record 18 goals. Back then, Melbourne booted 27.9 (171). For the record, Melbourne has now kicked 16 more goals than behinds three times – with the other two occasions being 23.7 (145) against the Kangaroos at the MCG in round two, 2000, and 27.11 (173) against the Sydney Swans at the MCG in round 19, 1990

3 votes: Jake Melksham
Not only played his best game for Melbourne, but arguably his finest AFL match, after kicked a career-best five goals. Melksham was superb against the Blues, booting a goal in each quarter, including two in the third. He also finished with 21 touches, including 14 contested possessions.

2 votes: Tom McDonald
In his fourth game back from a serious foot injury, McDonald again shone in front of goal, booting four majors, on the back of an equal career-best five last round. He has now kicked 13 goals in four matches this season. He has added an extra dimension to Melbourne’s structure since his return.  

1 vote: Nathan Jones
Notched up a season-high 31 disposals and finished with a team-best 18 contested possessions and seven clearances. He also had a game-best eight inside 50s. The co-captain and three-time best and fairest winner is now just two games away from becoming the ninth player to play 250 VFL/AFL games for Melbourne.

Apologies to …
Alex Neal-Bullen, Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw and Jake Lever who all could’ve been among the votes.

Good to see …
Tim Smith return and play a fine game. His third AFL game – and first appearance since round five last year – was his best yet. He finished with 18 disposals, five tackles and nine hit outs after much of his first season was ruined by injury.

Oppo’s best: Patrick Cripps
A shining light for the Blues on a disappointing day, Cripps won 31 disposals, including 23 contested possessions, and reinforced why he is one of the best young players in the game. He also finished with 10 clearances.

Pic of the day

The co-captains lead the way (Photo: Scott Barbour)

Facebook post of the day

Instagram of the day

Hands up if you enjoyed that. 🙋‍♂️🙋‍♀️ #RaiseHell

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

Tweet of the day

Video of the day

The double handshake 🤝 #RaiseHell

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

In the mix
Who goes out after a win like that? Changes might be hard to make, but there are several pushing their claims. Cam Pedersen continues to bang down the door, having booted six goals for Casey last round. Tom Bugg also kicked five majors to keep pressing his claims. Jayden Hunt and Jeff Garlett were also among Casey’s best and will be in the mix for a recall. Josh Wagner, Billy Stretch and Joel Smith are other names around the mark.

Next round
Melbourne heads to Alice Springs for a fascinating clash against the Adelaide Crows. The match looms as a beauty between third on the ladder (Melbourne) and fourth (Adelaide). The Demons will be aiming for their fifth straight win – something it hasn’t achieved since 2006 – and their seventh for the season. The sub-plot to this match is that boom recruit Jake Lever will take on his former side for the first time. The stunning Central Australian backdrop only adds to what promises to be one of Melbourne’s biggest tests this season.  

In the press box …
Collingwood president and Fox Footy commentator Eddie McGuire was his usual up-and-about self, ordering a coffee pre-match, while chatting to journos and staff. In great form, McGuire was already getting pumped for the upcoming Queen’s Birthday clash. This year’s game could attract a crowd of 80,000-plus, given the form of the Dees and Pies, plus Neale Daniher’s great cause for MND.

In the rooms ...
Nathan Jones shares a great moment with his kids post-match

Hugs for Dad ❤️

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

Song to sum up match
Four to the Floor – Starsailor  

Simon Says …
"That's two weeks in a row now, and I think our leaders have been really instrumental in that, they've been driving a high standard around the footy club and just getting the basics right. A real focus in our game going into the last quarter was to get the basics right, continue to drive those and do the simple things well, and I thought the selflessness and team-first actions were outstanding. That's been a big part of our footy club for a while now. We're starting to see the rewards of that with shot selection and roles within games." – Simon Goodwin