Melbourne aren’t good.
For a glorious four week period in 2018, the Melbourne Football Club performed like an elite team. Closing out the regular season with victories over fellow finalists West Coast and GWS, they would qualify for the Preliminary Final after two cut-throat finals victories.
They would be ruthlessly dispatched in the Prelim by West Coast and Simon Goodwin famously suggested the game wasn’t worth reviewing. The football world felt similarly and on the weight of the four wins proceeding it, have continued to throw the Demons into discussions about premiership contenders.
Unfortunately for Demons fans, and those who continue to expect them to rise from their mire, this logic was flawed. From the start of the 2018 season through to their defeat against Port Adelaide, they remain their only victories against Top Eight opposition from 24 attempts.
That four game winning streak against quality opposition in 2018 was nothing more than a mirage. A false dawn. A cruel joke. The Preliminary Final, rather than the hiccup many thought it to be, was in fact a return to normal transmission.
How the Game Was Won
It was a case of the same old story for the Demons. Like they have for much of the last two seasons they butchered the ball and made very little use of their forward entries. Remarkably, despite only scoring four goals from 31 inside 50’s, their scoring efficiency was higher than their season average.
As bad as the Demons were, to focus only on their shortcomings would be a disservice to the Power who were outstanding. Their appetite for the contest completely overwhelmed their opposition and stands out on the stats sheet.
Desperate for the ball they dominated the contested ball. More willing to run and spread they won more uncontested ball too. Despite Max Gawn winning the hit out count by 29, they broke even in clearances. All the while out tackling the Demons too.
It was a ruthless performance. No wonder Ken Hinkley had a smile a mile wide on his face in his post match press conference.
What the Coaches Said
Simon Goodwin didn’t mince words post match. “That’s as poor as a performance we’ve put on this year,” he told reporters. “For the majority of the year we’ve improved our method, we’ve improved our stability, we’ve improved a lot of things but tonight’s unacceptable. We clearly got beaten by a pretty good team but its the way we got beaten, all phases of the game just not to the level,” he said.
With ‘six days to turn our season around’ Goodwin guaranteed a strong post match review with his team. “It looked nothing like us. I am disappointed for our supporters. The club has worked incredibly hard to start to build some momentum back into the season and we let ourselves down tonight, collectively as a group, as coaches, players, everyone, and we need to bounce back.
Ken Hinkley was understandably pleased with his teams performance and their response to recent results. “We obviously played as well as we possibly probably could tonight I reckon,” he said. “We don’t want to be that response team but its better to respond than not. We’ve had a pretty positive first nine weeks of the season so it was good for the boys.”
He acknowledged his team’s renewed ferociousness around the ball. “We needed to be, we talked about that leading into the game,” he said. “That collectively, it’s not just our midfield, collectively we needed to be stronger around the contest and we were certainly stronger around the contest against a really strong midfield and an elite ruckman.”
MELBOURNE 0.2 1.3 3.5 4.8 (32)
PORT ADELAIDE 3.2 6.6 10.9 12.11 (83)
Melbourne: Weideman 2, Petracca, Melksham
Port Adelaide: Georgiades 3, Westhoff 2, Rozee 2, Dixon, Mayes, Wines, Farrell, Boak
Melbourne: May, Salem, Gawn, Hibberd
Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Amon, Georgiades, Mayes, Houston
Port Adelaide: Nil
Melbourne: Oliver for striking Ladhams in the second quarter
Port Adelaide: Nil