A SLIGHTLY interrupted preparation was no concern for Simon Goodwin’s men on Friday night, with a mature Melbourne fronting up at Marvel Stadium.
The Demons, who spent the past 24 hours in isolation following a non-playing player being present at a Tier One COVID-19 exposure site, proved too strong in the top-of-the-table clash, running out 28-point winners over the Western Bulldogs.
For all the change in schedule, which meant they missed their final training session, it was the group’s attitude that was most pleasing for the coach.
“[The lead up] was different,” Goodwin said in his post-match press conference.
“One thing that we’ve been really working towards is just being ready for anything.
“No one knows what situations you’re going to face, and we want to be a team that’s just mature enough to handle anything that comes our way.
“For us this week, it was having no last training session.
“The guys were in isolation – they weren’t allowed out of their house for the last 24 hours – so it was different, but we didn’t want to make that an excuse.”
There weren’t exactly any excuses needed anyway.
Melbourne put on an impressive display in the Friday night blockbuster, recording its 10th victory of the season and earning a spot back on the winners’ list.
A six-goal first term went a long way in determining the result – Bayley Fritsch kicked two majors, while James Harmes, Christian Petracca, James Jordon and Max Gawn also converted – with Goodwin acknowledging the impact of the strong start.
“We were able to score early in the game, which gave us a good buffer and enabled us to dictate a bit how the rest of the game was played,” he said.
“It was really pleasing to get off to that fast start. It’s something we’ve been working on the last few weeks and it went a long way to winning the game.”
And taking on one of the top sides of the competition, Goodwin and his group were under no illusions as to what the Bulldogs could dish up.
“In terms of the opposition, we knew we were playing against a quality side,” he said.
“Their ability to transition the ball, from inside to outside, has been really strong.
“I was just really proud of the boys, the way they went about it. It wasn’t the perfect week but their ability to deal with that, the maturity shown and their ability to execute what we were trying to do was outstanding.
“That’s clearly one of our best performances of the year.”
A sour note to the night was an injury to Ed Langdon, who was subbed up late in the game with concussion.
He’ll now enter the mandatory 12-day concussion period before he is available for selection.
Watch Goodwin's full post-match press conference below.