Melbourne rolled to a 29-point win over a hapless Geelong on the back of a scintillating first quarter at the MCG on Friday night. Long suffering Demons fans celebrated wildly as their team broke a decade long finals drought and the party might not stop here. The dominant performance would have resulted in a much larger winning margin had the Demon forwards brought their kicking boots, with Melbourne managing just 1 goal, 10 behinds in two quarters of football to give Geelong a sniff of a comeback after halftime.
The young Demons midfield showed no signs of the expected nerves against the more experienced Cats, piling on five unanswered goals in the first quarter to take a handy 31 point lead into the quarter time break.
The second quarter saw the midfield dominance of Melbourne continue, yet despite outpointing Geelong in almost every facet of the game, they faltered in front of goal, amazingly being outscored 2.2 (14) to 0.6 (6) despite having 11 more entries inside their 50 meter arc than the more accurate Cats.
As predicted, Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn was much too strong for the less experienced Ryan Abbott, giving the talented young Demons midfield first use of the ball out of the center square. Clayton Oliver (30 disposals), Angus Brayshaw (26) and Jack Viney (20 disposals and 11 tackles) ran rings around the more fancied Geelong midfielders. The Geelong trio of Gary Ablett, Jr., Patrick Dangerfield, and Joel Selwood failed to have any great influence with Dangerfield’s disposal letting himself down on numerous occasions.
Geelong fought hard to claw their way back into the match in the third quarter, but an undisciplined Joel Selwood act took the ball out of key forward Tom Hawkins hands as he was lining up for a goal. The six points would have taken the Cats to within fourteen points of the lead. The Demons steadied from that point and never really looked threatened again against a Geelong team that had to scrap for their goals, bereft of the slick ball movement that helped them rack up consecutive 100 point victories coming into the match. Young key forward Sam Weideman, playing in place of the injured Jesse Hogan, was simply magnificent, showing no sign of any nerves as he ran amok in his first final, kicking three goals and racking up 24 possessions throughout an impressive all-round display.
Holding a 23 point lead at three-quarter time, the Demon players were determined not to let Geelong back in the game having already suffered two narrow losses against the Cats after leading in the regular season. The almost perfect scenario unfolded early in the final quarter for Melbourne as Nathan Jones, the player holding the longest streak of games without playing a final, banged through a team lifting goal to effectively end any chance of an upset on what was a finals coming out party for the Demons.
With a 29 point win that could have been much greater, 60-44 inside 50 meter count against a quality opponent, a strong midfield which has been bolstered immensely by the inclusion of Jack Viney. Bolstered with a wave of emotion running through a club that has been down for a long period of time, the Demons look to have claims on emulating what the Western Bulldogs and Richmond did in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Simon Goodwin would be rubbing his hands together at the thought of a semifinal next week against a Hawthorn team that not only played in a tough wet-weather contest against Richmond, but also lost key playmaker Ben Stratton to a significant hamstring injury late in the game. The Demons should have the inside odds on a meeting with the West Coast Eagles in two weeks’ time.
Scoreboard: Melbourne: 5.3 5.9 6.13 10.15 (75) Geelong: 0.2 2.4 3.8 6.10 (46) Best Players: Melbourne: Weideman, Harmes, Brayshaw, T.McDonald, Gawn, Viney, vandenBerg Geelong: Dangerfield, J.Selwood, Ablett, Bews, Tuohy
Article last changed on Monday, September 10, 2018 - 2:55 PM EDT