Last month I started my 2019 AFL preview, detailing the competitive prospects of six of the competition’s teams, from Adelaide to Fremantle.
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Melbourne have had a comprehensive win over the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba, racking up a record-equalling 83 inside 50s and ultimately running out 69 point winners.
It took just thirty seconds for the Suns to kick the opening goal, but almost immediately the game set into a pattern where the Demons had control, but struggled to take advantage.
Gold Coast looked every bit like a team battling to find cohesion and confidence after almost half a season on the road, missing targets by foot and hand, while Melbourne kept the ball locked for the most part in their forward area.
But poor conversion prevented Melbourne from really getting on top early, keeping the lead at a deceptively low six points at quarter time.
The second quarter continued much like the first, with the Demons threatening to pull away but missing several good chances.
The Suns were effective enough on the counter to briefly take the lead, but weight of opportunities was always going to tell, and Melbourne began to wrest control back, taking advantage of defensive errors by Gold Coast to extend the lead to 22 points at half time.
Melbourne continued to control the game in the third term. A brief flurry by the Suns appeared to give them a sniff, but their continued problems in clearing from defence made it hard for them in every way, and the Demons found enough scoring chances to push the lead out to 32 points at three-quarter time.
The fatigued Suns didn’t seem to really believe they had a chance of reigning in that lead. After a few minutes of stalemate the Demons clicked into gear and this game really opened up.
Eight goals to two in the final stanza extended the lead out to 69 points at the final siren, a fair reflection of a game where it was really only the Demons’ sloppiness up forward that prevented the sort of embarrassing blowout the Suns might remember from their very earliest days.
The biggest sign of the weight of Melbourne’s dominance around the ground was the inside 50 count, a lopsided 83 to 42. The Demons’ tally equalling the highest ever number by a team in a game, that record shared with the Kangaroos in their drubbing of the Giants in 2012.
Frankly, that little tidbit is probably the only thing anyone might remember from this evening. It was a perfunctory win by Melbourne over a tired and outmatched Suns.
Just over 6000 people turned up to watch this ‘contest’ and it’s hard to blame Gold Coast residents who don’t feel it’s worth the train ride up to Brisbane to watch this sort of game.
At an individual level, Melbourne will be thrilled with the work of Tom McDonald, who kicked five goals, and James Harmes who was arguably best on ground with 33 touches.
Touk Miller was the Suns’ best, while Aaron Hall had a successful return to the first term, collecting 23 touches and doing some good work in defence.
At a team level, Melbourne get a healthy percentage boost, and Gold Coast kill one more week of this pointless, wasted season.