Melbourne needed a hero late in their AFL semi-final and once again it was the unlikely figure of Jake Melksham who came through for them.
The dynamic forward was the most influential player on the ground in a game-defining final quarter on Friday night, booting two goals and setting up another as the Demons ran out 33-point winners at the MCG to book a preliminary final berth.
Melbourne led comfortably at the final break but suddenly looked shaky when the Hawks booted the first three goals of the fourth quarter to get within two straight kicks.
Enter Melksham, who responded with a sizzling goal from outside the 50m arc to stop the Hawks’ run and bring a packed MCG crowd to their feet.
Minutes later, Melksham out-marked James Sicily on the wing and set up Tom McDonald for his fourth major then added another of his own after again beating Sicily.
Not bad for a player who found himself running around in the VFL last year after struggling to find a role at the Demons following his trade from Essendon.
The 27-year-old has become a pivotal player for Melbourne this season, leading the league in goal assists and booting 30 majors.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, who worked with Melksham as an assistant coach at Essendon, said post-match that the match-up with Sicily was pivotal.
“He did a really strong job on Sicily,” Goodwin said.
“We wanted that matchup and it probably took him to the last quarter to really get involved himself.
“But you just saw the class and talent that Jake has, the ability to finish goals … was really strong.