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Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Melbourne

Angus Brayshaw leads a group of young Demons sweating it out on the track during training at Gosch’s Paddock last Wednesday. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Melbourne

Ronny Lerner    

2017 record: 12 wins, 10 losses (9th)

Jake Lever (Adelaide), Harley Balic (Fremantle), Charlie Spargo (Murray Bushrangers), Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons), Harrison Petty (Norwood), Oskar Baker (Aspley)

Jack Watts (Port Adelaide), Jack Trengove (delisted/Port Adelaide), Heritier Lumumba (retired), Liam Hulett (delisted), Jake Spencer (delisted), Mitch White (delisted), Ben Kennedy (delisted), Colin Garland (retired)

Melbourne has one of the toughest midfields in the competition brimming with hard nuts such as inspirational co-captains Jack Viney and Nathan Jones as well as Clayton Oliver, Bernie Vince and Angus Brayshaw. However, this emphasis on inside midfielders has probably left the Demons a little one-paced through the middle of the ground. The backline has been bolstered by star defender Jake Lever, while Michael Hibberd and Jayden Hunt are already one of the best rebounding combos in the AFL. The Demons’ forward line is developing nicely, too, with seven players kicking 20 goals or more in 2017. Only grand finalists Adelaide boasted a higher figure (eight). If Jesse Hogan can get a clear run at it after all the setbacks he endured last season, the Dees could become one of the most potent teams in the competition. Melbourne led the league for disposals and uncontested possessions on differences in 2017, so the Dees know how to find the ball. But given their failure to qualify for the finals, it perhaps indicates that they’re guilty of over-possessing it. Overall, they have one of the most exciting young lists in the competition, so finals have to be the aim in 2018.

The red-and-blue faithful must still be scratching their heads as to how they missed the top eight last season. Their team found a new and inventive way to break their hearts, missing out by a record low percentage gap of 0.5. All they had to do was beat also-rans Collingwood in the final round, but couldn’t do it. For all the strides forward they have taken in the Roos/Goodwin era, inexcusable losses like the ones suffered against Collingwood, North Melbourne (twice), Fremantle and even Hawthorn, when the Hawks were still struggling in the early part of the season, suggest there’s still remnants of that infamous mental fragility. Making those results even more infuriating for the Demons is that they beat four finalists, including runners-up Adelaide by seven goals at Adelaide Oval in one of the best performances of the season by any side. A stronger mental game is essential if the Dees want to break their 12-year finals drought. As touched on earlier, pace in the midfield could be a bit of an issue. They were also ranked second-last on differentials for contested marks in 2017, and for a midfield that prides itself on being one of the toughest, being ranked eighth for clearances and sixth for contested possessions would undoubtedly sting. They should be aiming to crack the top four in both categories next season.

It might be hard to believe but Jesse Hogan only has 51 games to his credit. A cancer scare, an injured collarbone and the tragic passing of his father made 2017 a year he would rather forget. It halted the spectacular momentum he gathered in his first two full seasons. The 22-year-old is an enormous talent, and 2018 might just be the year we look back on as the time the youngster stamped himself as an elite footballer.

After only missing two games in 2016, small forward Dean Kent spent most of last season in the VFL before a shoulder injury ended his campaign in round 17. He mustered just six AFL games in 2017 and has quickly found himself out of favour. With a year left on his contract, he needs to make every post a winner.

B: Jordan Lewis, Jake Lever, Neville Jetta
HB: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Jayden Hunt
C: Dom Tyson, Jack Viney, Bernie Vince
HF: Christian Petracca, Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham
F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Cam Pedersen
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver
Inter: Christian Salem, Angus Brayshaw, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen
Emerg: Sam Frost, James Harmes, Tomas Bugg

Jordan Lewis will reportedly spend the summer training with the backline in what is a strong indication that he could be set for a shift to defence. Tom McDonald could quite easily play down back, but his impact up forward in 2017 was so tantalising Goodwin will find it hard to resist playing him in attack. With the likes of Harmes, Frost, Bugg, Aaron vandenBerg, Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner, Sam Weideman and Kent left out of the best 22, Melbourne can safely say its list bats pretty deep.

1 Comment
  1. If my Melbourne players spent more time playing football instead of sitting on the side lines after being suspended maybe we could do better. I thought being part of a team is about playing as one not being suspended for 6 weeks.
    Thanks Rohan for this site I have enjoyed it this year.

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