Melbourne overcame their cellar dweller doldrums and got their 2021 campaign back on track with a comprehensive98-point spanking of the pathetic Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.Having lost to lowly Adelaide, Collingwood and having being held to a draw by Hawthorn, the Demons did not make the same mistake against a team in the bottom half of the ladder by blowing the insipid Suns off the park.
After spending seven hours travelling to and from Queensland due to a late Covid-forced venue change, Melbourne came out with all guns blazing, racing to a 59-point lead by the main break with eight unanswered goals across the first and second terms.
And the embarrassing demolition continued after halftime with Melbourne kicking five goals in the third term when the woeful Suns went scoreless as the Demons enjoyed a 95-point buffer at the last change.
Melbourne had 44more inside 50 entries than the Suns as they cruised to their 14th win of the year to stay in third spot on the ladder while the Suns slumped to loss no. 13 in arguably their worst performance of 2021.
Clayton Oliver was outstanding for the Demons with 35 disposals,19contested possessions, 12 clearances and a goal to reinforce why he is a leading contender for a host of individual awards in 2021.
And plenty of his teammates took the opportunity to fill their boots as Luke Jackson booted a career-high four goals while Ben Brown added four majors. Christian Petracca was also prominent with one goal and 32 disposals.
To call the Suns glorified traffic cones would almost be an insult to witches hats. They served up a steaming pile of uncompetitive rubbish. Gold Coast senior coach Stuart Dew said at halftime his team was “shell-shocked” but they were just shocking.
A week after conceding 13 goals to one in the second half of the QClash, they let in 12 goals by halftime against the Demons. There was no pressure, no tackling, no purpose, no intent, just nothing. Melbourne did as they pleased all afternoon.
The Demons led by 20 points at quarter-time but should have been further in front given their dominance of the fumbling and bumbling Suns.
Gold Coast was guilty of turning the ball over in their defensive half of the field to gift Melbourne possession.
The Demons kicked the first three goals of the match but poor execution going forward, wayward shots at goal and a slight drop-off in defensive pressure allowed the Suns to show signs of life with three of the next four majors.
Two goals to Jackson gave the Demons some bang for their buck from the opening term when they had double the amount of inside 50 entries and 25 more disposals than the Suns.
Dees snap bad habit
The Demons’ ability to hit the scoreboard had deserted them in the past four to six weeks but they were very much able to get their attacking mojo back against the horrible Suns, flying to their highest score of the year. Melbourne had reached 80 points just once in the past six weeks but had that on the board by halftime. It was just the second time in 15 years that Melbourne had kicked 80 points by halftime, the previous occasion was against the Gold Coast in 2018.
Suns burn out early
The writing was on the wall early for the Gold Coast. Some terrible kicks out of their defensive 50 put them under immediate pressure. Things did not improve. If not for the hard work of Touk Miller, it could have been even uglier. Questions will be raised about the Gold Coast’s lack of success and place in the competition. Until they stop these shocking fade-outs in the second halves of seasons, the doubts will remain.
Bowey brilliance
It was a dream debut for diminutive Demon Jake Bowey. He had 11 touches by halftime as he mopped up across halfback. He was running at 91 per cent disposal efficiency – much like fellow pocket rocket Caleb Daniel from the Western Bulldogs. He almost had a Mark of the Year contender in the third term but spilt the Sherrin. It was a different story for Suns debutant Joel Jeffrey, who was thrust into the Gold Coast forward line and saw little ball all day.
Fixture headache
Outside of the games played in Shanghai and Wellington, has four premiership points been as well travelled as those that were briefly up for grabs on Sunday? This fixture was pushed back from Round 19 to Round 20 as part of the Covid shuffle. It was originally set down for the Gold Coast, then Darwin, then the Gold Coast again before landing at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium. And after all that, the Suns did not bother to show up.
Demons back on track
Melbourne senior coach Simon Goodwin says the Demons’ “DNA’’ remains intact after they annihilated a woeful Gold Coast by 98 points at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
With just one win from their last four outings, the third-placed Demons needed to make a statement and they embarrassed the insipid Suns, kicking 14 unanswered goals from late in the first term to early in the fourth to emphatically rediscover their attacking mojo.
Melbourne spent seven hours on a plane on Saturday due to a late venue change forced by the Covid lockdown in Queensland, flying to and from Brisbane in a day.
Goodwin joked his side was “pretty well rested” after the tumultuous trip and was unlikely to “add that to our pre-game preparation” moving forward.
But he was seriously delighted with how his side responded along with the triple tall forward threat of Ben Brown, Luke Jackson and Tom McDonald who combined for nine goals.
“They handled the day yesterday very well and as a coach you look at those opportunities to look at when things aren’t perfect, how your group handles it, how they respond,’’ Goodwin said.
“To our players’ credit, I thought they handled the situation really well, mature. They came today ready to go, ready to play and put on a really strong performance.
“What we saw today was the DNA of our game is still really strong. I thought we defended really well. We were really honest with the way we played and obviously getting our forward half game back was something that we have really focussed in on.”
McDonald was subbed out of the game in the second half after copping a blow to his lower back. Goodwin said his condition will be closely monitored with the Demons expected to fly to Perth tomorrow ahead of next Monday night’s clash with West Coast.
“We’ll have to take every player that we need to take with the quarantine regulations over there. We are going away now to do match committee and pick a squad that will travel with us. Tom will be a part of that, and we’ll assess him day by day,’’ Goodwin said.
“We’re hopeful but we’ll just have to see how he pulls up. He’s pretty sore and he was struggling there for a while. I’m pretty sure once it settles, we’ll have a good indication where it sits.’’
Goodwin said Brown and Jackson got reward for effort against the Suns with four goals apiece.
“Since he (Brown) has come back into the team, the one thing that hasn’t wavered has been he’s competed really strongly…he’s put in a hell of a lot of work throughout the season, building his body and building his game back to a level that can play really strong, competitive AFL footy. Proud of the work he’s done,’’ he said.
“He (Jackson) certainly hasn’t been at his best for the last month but there was a little bit of pressure building externally. He’s handled that really well and come through the other side.
“He played a great game today. He was instrumental in setting the game up.’’
Melbourne enjoyed a 71-27 domination of inside 50 entries along with 30 more contested possessions, 17 more clearances, 25 more hit-outs and 65 more total disposals than the terrible Gold Coast.
Suns senior coach Stuart Dew said there was no sugar coating the result that followed a second half capitulation against Brisbane in last weekend’s QClash when the Lions kicked 13 goals to one after halftime.
But he insists that 2021 is not a repeat of the Suns fading out badly in the back-half of a season.
“We looked lethargic at the start of the game and off pace. We’ve got to get the helmets on and fight this one out, there’s much to play for…we’re hurting, but it’s not fatal,’’ he said.
“The last six quarters have not been impressive, we’re not going to hide from it. We’re not trying to talk up any positives. We got taught a football lesson.
“We’ll worry about what we can control … and get back to work.
“We sat here after the Fremantle, Port and North games probably in a similar situation where everyone was questioning us and how we were going and we were able to fight our way out of it.
“Once again we have to bunker down and fight our way out of it.”
The Suns are expected to stay in Melbourne for the week in the build-up to their Round 21 clash with Carlton.
DEMONS: 6.4/12.8/17.14/18.20 (128)
SUNS: 3.2/3.3/3.3/4.6 (30)
DEMONS: Jackson 4, Brown 4, Fritsch 2, Gawn 2, Pickett 2, McDonald, Oliver, Spargo, Petracca
SUNS: Burgess, Sexton, Corbett, Flanders
Greg Davis’ best:
DEMONS: Oliver, Petracca, Harmes, Jackson, Brown, Viney, Gawn
SUNS: Miller, Swallow, Anderson, Fiorini
DEMONS: McDonald (back)
Greg Davis’ votes:
3: Clayton Oliver
2: Christian Petracca
1: James Harmes

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