Jordan Lewis took to the field for the first time against his old team Hawthorn in round seven’s Pink Lady Match. The Hawks weren’t going to make it the match Lewis wanted however, clinging on to victory in a thrilling 3-point finish.
It seemed like the fairy tale finish would come for Lewis when he kicked the final goal at the 26th minute mark of the final quarter to bring the Demons within 3 points. It wasn’t meant to be however, with the determined Hawthorn not giving up.
At half time, Hawthorn led the Demons with 122 kicks to 99. However, Melbourne had close to 50 more handballs than the Hawks, clearly showing the different style of game the two teams were playing.
Melbourne was sitting at just 31% for inside 50 efficiencies with only 8 shots on goal from 26, with just 4 goals at halftime.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said he was “very frustrated with what [he] saw early” in his post-match press conference. “This game demands a fair bit out of you and if you don’t bring a level of intensity to the game and effort and you’re not prepared to defend you get results like that.”
Melbourne allowed Hawthorn an 8-goal lead in the first half. Even though Melbourne scored 10 goals to 4 in the second half, the damage had already been done and Melbourne simply ran out of time.
It has been said that Melbourne lose the games they are expected to win and win the games they are expected to lose.
Goodwin responded to this by saying “this is a really hard competition and you have got to make every week whether you’re favourites or not favourites is irrelevant, it’s how you play the game.”
One of the biggest statistics that is showing serious cracks in the Demons current structure is their lack of hit outs. At half time they had just 8 of the 40 hit-outs and by the final siren they had just 24 to Hawthorns 61.
Not only did Melbourne lose its All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn in round three, it also lost his replacement Jake Spencer just two weeks later to a shoulder injury.
As many predicted, losing these two players has definitely hurt the Demons.
Goodwin said post-match when asked about his lack of ruckmen that is was a challenge the football club had welcomed. “We see it as an opportunity for our midfielders to gain a new skills set … we’re not going to sit here and say ‘poor Melbourne we don’t have a ruckman’ … that’s what we’ve got and that’s what we’ve got to deal with” he said.
Alistair Clarkson had said in previous weeks there was going to be “catastrophic” changes if his team did not improve after they began their season 0-4.
“We’re hoping this is a little step forward,” Clarkson said in his post-match press conference, but was quick to mention they didn’t want to get ahead of themselves. “We are very, very mindful that we thought West Coast was going to be a step forward for us two weeks ago and our efforts the next week [against St Kilda] were very, very poor,” he said.
Clarkson made mention that he was disappointed with the lack of free kicks being rewarded for tackles. “Both sides tackled well, there was 162 tackles laid between the two sides today and 26 free kicks paid for the whole game … so that’s frustrating for a lot in the game, coaches, players and [supporters],” he said.
A significant statistic from the match was that Melbourne had 430 disposals compared to 356 and Clarkson said it’s not very often a team has that high a disposal count and loses. “Having 440 touches and not being able to convert enough of those into scoring opportunities for them is a credit to the defensive work that our guys applied to the Melbourne side,” he said.
Hawthorn now travel to their home away from home in Tasmania where they meet Brisbane. They must consolidate this win over Melbourne by defeating Brisbane if they are to have any hope of making it to September.