Demon champion Nathan Jones announced his retirement less than two weeks before the Grand Final. He informed his teammates via Zoom after leaving the club's hub in Perth to return home to be by his wife's side as she gave birth to twins. He flew out Saturday and made it just hours before she gave birth. Jones, 33, has not played a senior game since Round 14. He was an unused sub for Round 15 but was not recalled since. With West Australia's tight border restrictions, it was unlikely he would be allowed back across the border for the Grand Final. His career finishes with 101 wins, 198 defeats, and three draws. He kicked 141 goals in his 302 games. He was a Rising Star nominee in 2006 and 2007 and won the club best and fairest 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was co-captain in 2014 and 2017-19 and captain in 2015 and 2016.
The match was between two teams that have had ordinary starts to the 2019 season. For Melbourne, it seemed that if they did not win today, they could kiss their finals hopes goodbye. After a lackluster first half, they turned around their fortunes in the third quarter, and managed to hold off the Hawks who pushed them to the last.
The big movers on the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week were the Tigers and the Saints up four places each, while the Adelaide Crows fell four spots after a disastrous loss to the previously winless Kangaroos. Other notable happenings over another topsy-turvy round of footy were the Demons notching their first win for the season up in Sydney, while the previously unbeaten Cats were ambushed late by an impressive Giants outfit despite losing Callan Ward to a nasty knee injury in the first quarter.
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.
Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats (MCG)
State of Play:
This is a battle between two differing line-ups: the finals hardened Cats and the young enthusiastic Demons. After a disastrous end to 2017, Melbourne finished strongly this season to book their finals berth for the first time in 12 years. By contrast, Geelong has missed the finals only once in the same 12 year period. The contrast continues with the Cats playing two easy beats in Gold Coast and Fremantle to complete the minor round, winning both games by over 100 points each.
Apparently no one had read the script to the Melbourne Demons. They hadn’t beaten a team in the top eight all season and it was a West Coast Eagles home game, Optus Stadium is a fortress and at 75 degrees, it was supposed to be too hot for Melbourne teams to last four full quarters. All that mattered little when the siren sounded and the Demons put on a display worthy of finalists when they ran over the Eagles in an upset in the West.
From the very first moments it was clear that Melbourne had come to play. They were ferocious in their tackling and hunted the Eagles down in packs all over the ground. West Coast were rattled and started to make disposal errors that played right into Melbourne’s hands.