IT WASN’T how Melbourne imagined Round 3 would look, but it managed to make the most of Sunday’s run on the MCG, nonetheless.
After the club’s clash with Essendon was postponed due to COVID-19, the Demons scheduled a last-minute practice match to ensure they would reach the required loads for the weekend.
And while there weren’t any premiership points to take home, coach Simon Goodwin was still optimistic about the intra-club match on home turf.
“Obviously when there’s a setback like we had yesterday afternoon there was some frustration, but it’s then about the opportunities, and the opportunities were to get a full game of match simulation between ourselves,” Goodwin told Melbourne Media.
“We’re really lucky to have a healthy squad, so to be able to play that game at the MCG was great.”
With 40 players fit to partake in Sunday's session, competition was high among the playing group.
“It’s fantastic, the depth of the list,” he said.
“It’s healthy, it’s encouraging but we’ve still got work to do to continue to get better.”
The game started with two teams of 20, but jumpers were quickly tossed around so the coaches could get a glimpse of some different set ups around the ball.
“I think we’re still looking for what our best team looks like in different areas of the ground and how we function best,” Goodwin said.
“Whether it’s with a tall forward line or a slightly smaller one.
“We moved some guys around today and we’ll certainly continue to look at what that best team looks like.
“But it was a really good game of footy – it felt like a game of AFL footy and it feels like we’ve set ourselves up well for next week.”
While fans will be hoping for an in-depth report on the Dees’ hit-out, Goodwin says in such a competitive industry, sometimes privacy is important.
“We had some things we needed to work on in our game and it was good to do it behind closed doors,” he said.
“Obviously that doesn’t help our fans and supporters, but it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up to really work hard on our game and get ourselves in tip-top shape for next week against Geelong.”
In positive news, the Dees were able to get some further match fitness under the belts of three boys who are returning from stints on the sidelines.
“It was great to get another game into Harley (Bennell), Vanders (Aaron vandenBerg) and (Mitch) Hannan,” Goodwin said.
“They haven’t played a lot of footy and they certainly haven’t played a lot of footy together so that was encouraging.
“We got through unscathed and that’s another benefit out of the day.”
Although there are plenty of positives to take into Round 4, Goodwin admits playing just two official games in the past three months has been difficult for the group.
“It’s frustrating, there’s no question,” he said.
“We worked all week to get ourselves in a position to take on the Bombers and we didn’t get a chance to do that.
“In saying that, we always knew this might happen at some stage in the year.
“We’re a bit sick of the stop-start nature of our season at the moment, but it gives us a chance to continue to build our game and we think we’re progressing pretty well.”