The Dee-train continued to roll on, as Melbourne defeated Hawthorn by 33 points at the MCG on Friday night. After a tight opening quarter, the Dees pulled away over the rest of the game, dominating at the contest in their trademark style.
A last quarter push by the Hawks created tension for the 90,000-strong crowd that was primarily decked out in Red and Blue, but the Dees held strong to win their second final and set up a mouthwatering Preliminary Final against the Eagles
Melbourne’s overpowering offense is kicking goals.
For the 15th time this year, the Dees notched up triple figure on the scoreboard, as they were devastating whilst heading forward. You’ll win a lot of games if you’re kicking a big score, and despite the Dees’ well publicised defensive woes, they’re outgunning everyone at the moment.
Whilst they kicked 10.15 against the Cats, they were more sniper rifle, less machine gun this week, posting 16.8 in an efficient night up forward. It was so efficient that they kicked that score whilst losing the Inside 50s to the Hawks, who stunk the place up at the other end. Tom McDonald kicked four goals for the night, while Weiderman (who’s nickname is apparently ‘Big Sexy’?) kicked two, as their key forwards stood up again; that’s 10 goals between them in two finals now.
Clarko’s concerns about midfield depth were right.
After a trademark 50-disposal match from Tom Mitchell last year, Alistair Clarkson mused post game that he’d like to see a greater spread of disposals in his midfield; that it was better to have two or three guys getting thirty possessions than one player getting fifty. That comment received its fair amount snickering from the footy world, confused why anyone might be less-than-pleased with having the greatest pure ball-winner of the last few years strutting their stuff. We’ve seen why in the last two weeks.
Especially against the Dees, Mitchell was out of his depth as his right-hand man Jaeger O’Meara missed the clash. Maybe the Dees don’t have anyone that’s as good individually as Mitchell is, but they had strength in numbers, as they have all year long, and blew him away. Mitchell sustained an injury early in the game, which didn’t exactly help as he had a below par night, but that’s kind of the point – if your one guy has something happen to him, or cops a tag, then you’re going to struggle.
Gunston was Hawthorn’s angel and their devil.
On a night where not a lot was going right for the Hawks, Jack Gunston had several chances to put the Hawks back in it as the other forwards including Luke Breust were nearly anonymous. Gunston did everything except put the ball through the sticks though, as he kicked 3.5 on a night that could have brought so much more for him and the Hawks. Four of those behinds came in the second and third quarters. as the Dees were getting rolling, and a few goals to stem the flow would have changed everything. His performance everywhere else was exceptional, as he took seven marks and had 16 disposals; a few straighter kicks and he’d be lauded as a hero.
Injury hasn’t hampered Jack Viney.
Having missed a huge amount of football this year leading into finals, there were concerns about how Dees co-skipper Jack Viney would go jumping straight in at the deep end. Two games later, and that’s not even a question anymore. Viney was close to best-on-ground on Friday night, with 20 disposals, including 13 contested, and seven tackles.
The Dees have levelled up, and now have to face the next boss.
The funny thing is, the Dees are in for a similar match next week. The Eagles are good defensively, with strong outside players who’ll feast on uncontested footy, but with the potential to be beaten through the middle. The Dees will have to cope with much better defenders (McGovern and Hurn), much better tall forwards (Darling and Kennedy), the travel to Perth and a raucous crowd that’s loving their new crib. But the Dees will head in with a pretty similar plan to this week – we’re going to be harder than you at the footy and beat you at the contest. It’s a pretty enticing matchup.
FIRST SEMI FINAL
HAWTHORN 3.1 3.7 6.9 10.11 (71)
MELBOURNE 3.1 6.2 12.5 16.8 (104)
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Schoenmakers 2, Roughead 2, Worpel, Puopolo, Smith
Melbourne: T. McDonald 4, Weideman 2, Brayshaw 2, Melksham 2, Spargo 2, Petracca, Gawn, Neal-Bullen, Hannan
Hawthorn: Gunston, Mirra, Howe, Shiels, Mitchell, Henderson
Melbourne: Viney, T.McDonald, Petracca, Jetta, Hibberd, Oliver
Hawthorn: Mitchell (AC joint), Puopolo (hamstring)
Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Nicholls
Official crowd: 90,152 at the MCG