A final-quarter blast has seen Melbourne overcome some very poor goalkicking on Sunday to continue their perfect start to the season with a dominant 50-point victory over Hawthorn at the MCG, 15.14 (104) – 8.6 (54).
The game was an arm wrestle for most of the afternoon, with the margin failing to exceed 11 points until early into the final term, by which time the contest was still well and truly in the balance, thanks largely to the Demons’ wastefulness in front of the big sticks.
Melbourne looked like the more threatening team when entering their forward 50, finishing the day with more than triple the marks inside 50 (17-5), but a host of poor shots on goal from the likes of Max Gawn, Kysaiah Pickett, Christian Petracca and Nathan Jones kept the Hawks in it.
For most of the day the Demons seemed to be really missing its sharpshooter from last week Bayley Fritsch (4.1) who was out due to a broken hand.
And when Dylan Moore goaled for Hawthorn 13 seconds into the final term, the deficit was only four points. However, the Demons responded like good teams do to boot eight of the last nine goals, putting the result beyond doubt and showing that they could very well be a serious player come September.
The 5-0 Demons are just one of two undefeated teams left standing this year, along with the Western Bulldogs, and have now beaten the Hawks four times in a row for the first time in 61 years.
Ruckmen Max Gawn and Ben McEvoy compete for the footy.Source:Getty Images
With his side having failed to successfully shut the door on the Hawks, despite being the better side for most of the afternoon, Melbourne captain Max Gawn stood tall early in the final quarter when he showed his teammates how it’s done by splitting the middle with a beautiful set shot from 50m out. Moments earlier Hawthorn’s Tim O’Brien had the chance to level the scores, but dropped a mark he should’ve taken 20m out from goal. Gawn’s goal capped off a brilliant game from the ruckman which saw him register 26 disposals (19 contested), 10 marks (eight contested), 24 hitouts, nine intercepts, seven score involvements, five clearances and a goal assist.
DEES MAKE IT HARD FOR THEMSELVES
Despite dominating the contested possessions in the first quarter (44-28), controlling the game with 10 more marks (30-20) and having the same amount of inside 50s as the Hawks (14-14), Melbourne really let themselves down up forward, managing just 2.5 while Hawthorn booted 4.3, thanks to a pair of goals each from Oliver Hanrahan and Luke Breust, to take a 10-point lead at quarter-time. The slow start set the Dees back and prevented them from getting a hold of the Hawks until late in the game.
HIBBERD TO THE RESCUE
Late in the third quarter, Tom McDonald put the Demons up by 10 points with a goal from the goal square and he had Michael Hibberd to thank, because moments earlier the returning defender’s desperate lunge at the ball metres out from Hawthorn’s goal denied Chad Wingard the chance to soccer it through in what amounted to essentially a 12-point turnaround for the Demons.
FEND-OFF MIXED BAG
Early in the game, James Worpel produced a fend-off that Dustin Martin would have been proud of as he denied would-be tackler Alex Neal-Bullen to set up Hanrahan’s first goal. But early in the third quarter, Neal-Bullen got his revenge as he teamed up with Petracca to gang-tackle Worpel who tried to repeat the dose deep in Melbourne’s attack but failed. Petracca kicked the goal from the resulting free kick to put Melbourne in front.
FROST FIRED UP
Sam Frost seemed to relish the opportunity to ruffle the feathers of his former teammates late in the second quarter. In the first instance he grabbed Clayton Oliver by the scruff of his jumper, before having an intense nose-to-nose “conversation” with him and ultimately throwing the midfielder to the ground with disdain. Frost was probably lucky not to give away a free kick 30m out in front of Melbourne’s goal. And moments later after Pickett ran into him, he grabbed the young Demon WWE style and flung him over the boundary line, which prompted Petracca to charge at him like a freight train.
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