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Q: How to crack a tough nut?

A: Use a bigger hammer!

It took Melbourne until the last quarter to crack the Hawthorn nut. These days, the Hawks under Alastair Clarkson simply don’t have the talent that served them so well in years gone, and they have to rely on not losing rather than trying to win.  

The result is that the match became a slog for three quarters, as Hawthorn clogged the game, flooded heavily and simply stopped the Melbourne run.  Even in the first quarter the signs were already there, as they managed four goals, but three of those came from the Demons’ mistakes.  

It wasn’t helped with Melbourne continuing to mis-fire in front of goal, although constantly forcing the ball into the 50m arc again and again. As in previous weeks, the set-shot kicking wasn’t up to standard and this  kept Hawthorn within striking range. The reality was that the Hawks lack any reputable forward line, and with Jake Lever having another day out marshalling the troops in defence, they were denied any avenues to goal.  

The first quarter saw a masterclass in ruckwork from Max Gawn with nine hitouts and nine disposals to put McEvoy in his place.  But the Demons could not capitalise, and despite the same number of shots at goal, they trailed by ten points at the first break.  

The second quarter was much the same, with Melbourne slowly pegging back the lead to be down by just 2 points at the main break.  It was not great football to watch, and Clarkson’s tactics of denying Ed Langdon the ball, by playing away from his wing, resulted in fewer possessions to him, but he managed to hit the scoreboard a couple of times instead.  More was to come. But he was doing it on his own as at least three other easy set shots were squandered.  

The third quarter was a repeat of the first two but this time the Demons pegged the lead back and by the end of the term they held a ten point lead. A miraculous save on the goal line by Hibberd, stopped a certain goal to the opposition, and this seemed to lift the side from their stupor.  

Cue the final stanza, and the paranoia of the doubters among the supporter group must have risen to high levels, as the Hawks jagged a goal within 30 seconds.  The lead was only four points ...

And at this point in time, out came the large sledgehammer for use on the Hawthorn nut!  And what a sledgehammer! Max led the way by slotting a magnificent goal from outside 50m. And Jack Viney decided he had had enough and simply threw himself at everything and everyone.  

Tom McDonald was marking everything coming his way finishing with ten for the game, and Mitch Brown also found himself on the end of a couple of clean entries, and kicked truly.  Even Jake Melksham was gifted a couple of majors, as the Hawks struggled to clear the Melbourne 50m zone, while former Demon Sam Frost managed one of his “Frost balls” following a run out of defence and duly depositing the ball onto Trent Rivers’ chest.

Let’s not forget the mids with Clarry Oliver leading the way with 30 disposals.  Unlike Mitchell and O’Meara, his touches are effective and paired with Christian Petracca they eventually wore down the Hawthorn midfield.  Mitchell had a single clearance for the game, showing how statistics for possessions mean nothing if they are dinky handballs and kicks to no-one in particular.

After being only four points in front just seconds into the final term, it became all one-way traffic for the Demons. Eight goals and four behinds, essentially all in succession just blew the opposition away.  

Make no mistake, the Demons were still going strong and we are now seeing the results of our superior fitness levels. We are also seeing the outcomes of our recruiting and development strategies from previous years, as the coach now has the enviable task, after five successive wins, of deciding who gets to play next week. The Casey side demolished the Box Hill Hawks as well, with Sam Weideman scoring seven majors and Ben Brown three. The Melbourne side against the Hawks were missing their full-back and full-forward, yet still pulled off a 50 point win.

Yes, we can all say we were playing a team barely off the bottom rung of the ladder, but you can only beat what is given to you as opposition.  Importantly although challenged, yet again, Melbourne decisively put the challenger to the sword.  

So next week, we have a bigger nut to crack in Richmond.  Will Nathan Jones play his well-deserved 300th game in front of the home crowd?   We couldn’t wish for a more suitable hard-nut as our own to run onto the field.  

And we still have some even bigger sledge-hammers to bring to the contest as well.

MELBOURNE 2.5.17 4.7.31 7.10.52 15.14 104

HAWTHORN 4.3.27 5.3.33 6.6.42 8.6.54

GOALS

Melbourne Langdon Melksham 3 Brown T McDonald Petracca Pickett 2 Gawn

Hawthorn Breust Hanrahan O'Brien 2 McEvoy, Moore

BEST

Melbourne Gawn Langdon Salem Oliver Hibberd McDonald Petracca  

Hawthorn O'Meara, Mitchell, Impey, Wingard Scrimshaw

INJURIES

Melbourne Nil

Hawthorn Nil

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Hawthorn Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne T. Sparrow (unused)

Hawthorn J. Cousins (unused)

Umpires Dean Margetts Brendan Hosking Cameron Dore

CROWD 36,337 at the MCG

ReportRd052021.png

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