Melbourne are finally off the mark in 2019 after climbing off the canvas to beat Sydney by 22 points on Thursday night and notch a desperately-needed victory.
Down by the same margin midway through the second quarter, the Demons looked like heading into the weekend with a dismal 0-4 record but turned things around in a major way after the long break.
They assumed control of the contest with their best third term of the year, booting four goals while holding the Swans to just three goals after half-time to prevail 15.10 (100) to 11.12 (78) – their first win at the SCG since 2006.
Remarkably, it's the first time Melbourne has beaten a team with Lance Franklin in it. Heading into this clash, Franklin was 15-0 against the Demons stretching back to his days with Hawthorn, but the superstar forward had an off night, kicking 1.3 and striking out on moments when he would usually produce something freakish.
Buddy's performance was emblematic of Sydney's – the opportunities were there but the finishing touches were not. They'll look back on it as a game they should have won, but that's the risk they run when they rely so much on one man's magic. Already they are 0-2 at home this year and a concerning 1-3 for the season.
Swans coach John Longmire conceded they were "smacked around the ball" after half-time. "It's pretty hard to win a game of footy when you play 65 minutes," he said. "We played some good footy, particularly early – some really good footy. But you need to play good footy for longer than that and stick it out a bit longer, particularly against a desperate opposition."
Max Gawn monstered the ruck, his 55 hit-outs – the Swans as a team had just 13 – ensuring the Demons midfield had first use of the ball. Clayton Oliver (33 disposals, seven clearances), Christian Salem (27 disposals) and Nathan Jones (21 disposals, three goals) helped swing the momentum at the key moments. For Sydney, Jake Lloyd had a game-high 34 touches.
The Demons suffered a pre-match blow, losing star defender Neville Jetta (knee) and forward Jay Lockhart (back) from their selected side. But they still came out breathing fire. Even before the siren they were making their presence known, with Jack Viney and Oliver the chief instigators in a brief push-and-shove session. Clearly, the Dees had a point to prove.
"I think you get to a point when you're 0-3 that enough's enough," coach Simon Goodwin said. "We want to play our brand of footy. This was only a first step for us, to get ourselves back defending in a way and hunting our opposition around contest areas.
"We still know we've got a lot of work to do. The mentality for our group, right now, is how much can we improve and how can we get better? They were adamant right from the start of the week that they wanted to improve the defensive aspect of their game and they did that."
Melbourne channelled their anger in the right way in the opening minutes, scoring the first two goals of the game through Christian Petracca and Braydon Preuss. But eventually it fizzled out and their hapless kicking invited a different kind of trouble.
Sydney took advantage and kicked five of the last six goals in the first quarter to open up a 14-point lead. It grew to as much as 22 points before the Demons composed themselves and reeled the deficit back in with a run of three straight goals – two of them from Jones, who let his brother and direct opponent Zak know all about them.
Franklin took a one-handed grab and kicked a steadier for the Swans, but Viney responded for Melbourne and the hosts missed two other attainable chances before half-time, making it six points and anyone's gRead More – Source