Where has the Weed been?
It’s a good question, and one Demons supporters have been asking up until a fortnight ago. The young key forward has been deprived of opportunities since his breakout in the 2018 Elimination Final, when he took the game by the scruff of the neck against Geelong.
He doesn’t need to kick goals or take marks to be important, his pure willingness to crash packs and influence the contest is a massive factor in bringing the Demon small and mid sized players into the game. Rarely out marked, this enables the Demons to prevent the opposition’s counter attack and spring board from defence. The fact he had five shots on goal and kicked three, against Hawthorn, is pure cream on the cake for a traditionally malfunctioning Demon forward line.
How the game was won?
There were a number of factors that influenced this result. The Demons forward half pressure was important as was the brutal attack on the ball and the ball carrier by all of Simon Goodwin’s men. So too was the taking away of Hawthorn’s sideways options meaning they were forced to kick down the line, often to Max Gawn.
But their is no doubt that it was the Demon midfield that had the biggest say. Christian Petracca (the best value $26 Brownlow chance ever), Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, all force fed from the dominant Max Gawn, were all in contention for best a field honours. They were clinical, at times brutal and totally dominant over a Hawk midfield that has several very good players. The swarming numbers at the contest was something not seen by Demon supporters for several years
What the Coaches Said
A frustrated Alastair Clarkson expressed confidence that his team would rise again. “The wheel will turn. For our fans, our club has been in a really, really strong position for a long period of time and it’s not frequent we’re in these sorts of positions,” he said.
“And so we just work hard. We know we’ve got a very, very loyal fan base that will stick with our group. The wheel will turn. We are hoping it’s sooner rather than later but we’re not going to give up on it. We’re three wins and four losses. I’ve been in situations at this time of year where we’ve been one win and six losses.
“We’ll find some confidence and winning form is only just around the corner. Sometimes within a quarter. That’s what we’ll keep searching for. As long as there’s a silver lining and some blue sky for us, we’ll continue to search for it and we know it’s just going to take a roll up the sleeves type of mentality to get ourselves back on track.”
Given their reversal of fortunes, it was no surprise that Simon Goodwin felt that there had been positives in moving out of Victoria. “Without question, we enjoy being away. We’ve embraced the hub lifestyle. It’s given a greater chance for our players and coaches to be together more often than what we were back in Victoria,” said Goodwin.
“We’ve had chances to work really hard on our game. To really connect at a deeper level. We’ve had families and partners and kids with us the whole time, and that’s been terrific for our playing group. You can see the way they’re connecting off field is coming out on field. And it was a really good time for us to get away and really start to pull our game together for our footy club and for our supporters.”
“And this is just the start for us.”
HAWTHORN 1.2 2.3 4.6 7.6 (48)
MELBOURNE 3.2 7.3 11.6 14.7 (91)
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Wingard 2, O’Meara, Morris
Melbourne: Weideman 3, Pickett 2, Fritsch 2, Hannan, Viney, Hannan, Bennell, Melksham, Jackson, Petracca
Hawthorn: Frost, Sicily, Day, Henderson, Gunston
Melbourne: Petracca, Gawn, Oliver, Viney, May, Weideman, Langdon
Hawthorn: O’Brien (left ankle)