Why did it take three quarters for Melbourne to wake up?
That is the question that will keep a deflated Demons coach Simon Goodwin up tonight.
Melbourne has the guts and grit to rattle teams at the coalface, with hard-nosed contested ball-winners Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw, Nathan Jones and James Harmes, and yet today the Dees waited until the game was beyond reach to hit the scoreboard.
After booting three goals in as many quarters, the Demons rattled off seven goals to two in the final term to close out a forgettable and frustrating afternoon’s work.
The Giants, it should be said, were their own worst enemies too, adopting a more expansive style after racing to a 10-goal break at the final change, to gift the Dees some cheap goals and invaluable momentum.
And Toby Greene might have a case to answer from AFL match review officer Michael Christian after whacking Clayton Oliver off the ball.
DEES NOT GIVING UP ON 2019
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has not given up on 2019 despite the 16th-placed Demons teetering with a 3-7 record.
The Demons hope to get back a number of stars in coming weeks, including key defenders Jake Lever, Steven May, Michael Hibberd and Jake Kolodjashnij.
“We just keep looking for ways to get better and to continue to improve, and look to continue to win some games of footy,” Goodwin said.
“We haven’t looked any further than that, and yep, 3-7 is not a great start, there’s been some things that have been difficult to deal with, from a personnel perspective.
“If we stick at it, and keep working hard, and stay connected as a group, we’ll continue to forge a better second half of the season.”
Christian Salem and Alex Neal-Bullen, who both missed with concussion, should be cleared for Saturday night’s blockbuster against Adelaide in Darwin, while Sam Wiedeman and Jay Kennedy-Harris returned from injury in the VFL.
But Goodwin conceded the Demons had to be careful about bringing back too many players too quickly, mindful of the risk of re-injury and potentially destabilising the current squad.
The slick GWS Giants hammered Melbourne for three quarters before the Demons rattled off seven goals — from 16 entries — to two in the last quarter to cut the margin to 26 points.
“We certainly played to the level we wanted to play in the last quarter but having said that the game was done as well,” Goodwin said.
“We need to be more efficient going forward, I think we had 30 entries for three goals in the first three quarters so there is certainly a lot we can work on in our game still.
“I thought their (Giants) aggression around the footy, full credit to them, they were outstanding.
“They showed up our midfield group early in the game but to our players’ credit … to fight back was really promising.”
Giants coach Leon Cameron said getting the win in Melbourne was important.
“It’s not so much the size of the ground that’s the issue, it’s just making sure we come to play when we play interstate,” Cameron said.
“Our interstate record has got better … that’s been better, and if you want to be a good team, you got to win interstate.
“We still got to learn to win in Melbourne. Today we needed to win interstate and we did.”
Cameron revealed the Giants invited North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey to speak to the forwards about playing on the bigger ground and preparing for big games.
HOORAY FOR HARRY
Sharing is caring, right? It is the secret to premiership success, after all.
Think back to premiers of seasons’ past and often it is a spread of goalkickers that delivers best results in September.
Harry Himmelberg cashed in today with five goals, just seven days after Jeremy Finlayson pocketed five against the Blues. Jeremy Cameron snapped a run of nine consecutive behinds across three rounds to finish with three majors.
What a stark contrast it was up at the other end of the MCG with out-of-sorts swingman Tom McDonald leading a limp Melbourne attack, comprising of Jayden Hunt, Jeff Garlett and Christian Petracca in spurts.
Season over? Not officially, but it might as well be for Melbourne.
You wouldn’t blame Dees fans if they walked out at halftime. It was a sorry tale for Melbourne, a team many had pegged to be firmly in the premiership window. Even the most ardent of Dees fans, most of which made up the lowly crowd of 20,023, would be prepared to put a line through 2019 just 10 rounds into the season.
The Dees stumbled out of the blocks and only fell flat on their collective faces. Veteran broadcaster Peter Donegan nailed it in one: “If they do put this (game) in a time capsule hopefully nobody ever finds it.”
Co-captains Jack Viney and Nathan Jones barely touched the ball in the first quarter, and Angus Brayshaw didn’t until he was gifted a kick on the siren. Christian Petracca did nothing of consequence, while goalsneak Jeff Garlett went into halftime with one kick.
Only Max Gawn and Marty Hore could walk away from the MCG able to look teammates in the eyes. Just two nights after Brodie Grundy stamped his All-Australia ticket in Sydney, Gawn replied in kind with another superb performance. Had it not been for Gawn the Dees could easily have been 10 goals adrift — not five — at the main break.
It wasn’t the greatest spectacle, but it was a win the Giants had to have at the MCG, having dropped 14 of their 16 well-spaced visits.
The Giants had not won on the hallowed turf since Round 2 last year when they defeated Collingwood by 16 points, but today was nothing but a statement game from the expansion team.
After engaging Melbourne in a sluggish and scrappy affair early, the Giants put the hammer down with a six-goal third term to put the game beyond doubt. It’s hard to get a clear gauge on the Giants’ prospects given the timid opposition, but the orange team is firmly entrenched in the premiership breakaway group with Geelong, Collingwood, Richmond and West Coast going into the mid-season block.
MELBOURNE 1.1 1.3 3.6 10.8 (68)
GWS GIANTS 2.5 6.8 12.9 14.10 (94)
Melbourne: Baker 2, T.McDonald 2, Hunt, Garlett, Petracca, Lockhart, Stretch, Spargo
GWS: Himmelberg 5, Cameron 3, Whitfield 2, Taylor, Finlayson, Coniglio, Kelly
Melbourne: Gawn, Hore, Viney
GWS: Kelly, Himmelberg, Taranto, Haynes, Whitfield
Melbourne: Salem (concussion) replaced in selected side by Spargo
Umpires: Haussen, Gavine, Chamberlain
Official crowd: 20,023 at the MCG
3. Josh Kelly, 2. Max Gawn, 1. Harry Himmelberg