THERE was a 42-point turnaround in the second half on Friday night, and it was on the back of one key area: defensive contests.

Melbourne struggled to stop the Lions’ dangerous forward line early, and with plenty of supply (they were plus 15 inside 50s in the first half), the 20-point margin was inevitable at the main break.

But according to Tom McDonald, that area was addressed by the coaches and helped swing the game in the second half.

“We were pretty disappointed in how we were playing all over the ground, especially defensively,” McDonald said on 3AW post-game.

“That was the main talking points – we just couldn’t win a contest in the back half, or down the line, so they were scoring pretty easily on us.

“They were kicking down the line to contests and that’s where we’ve been super strong, but we were losing those contests.

“We’ve prided ourselves on being able to win those contests and then bounce back offensively from there, but that was just way off, and we weren’t helping each other in the air.

“I think we actually did what we planned to do (defensively), but then the hard part is you’ve actually got to be able to win the contest to be able to win the ball back.

“That was the main focus for us into half-time and that would kick start the rest of the game.”

And it did just that.

While the Demons’ midfield got on top (plus 755m gained from stoppages in the second half), it was their ability to rebound from the backline which opened up the field.


Melbourne ended up winning three more ground ball contests in defence for the night, as well as taking five more intercept marks.

“We only really got that bounce back with the handball link up when we started winning those one-on-one, two-on-two, contests,” McDonald said.

“That allowed us to actually open up the game offensively and have a bit of flow and enter with a bit of speed, because there was just none of that in the first half.”

The Dees' 22-point victory was their eleventh of 2021, keeping them on top of the table ahead of a Queen's Birthday clash with Collingwood at the SCG.