It was a case of so close, yet so far for the Demons in 2017. They won 12 games for the year – their best since 2006 when they won 13 games. However, disaster struck in the final round of the season when they took on Collingwood. A victory would have seen the Demons play finals for the first time since 2006, but the Pies proved to be too strong running out 16-point victors. Melbourne will also be kicking themselves for not beating Fremantle in round 4 (2 points), Hawthorn in round 7 (3 points) and North Melbourne in round 17 (4 points).
Nevertheless, the Demons would have taken some significant positives out of the season. Despite a protracted injury list, a host of young Demons stood up including Clayton Oliver, Christian Salem, Alex Neal-Bullen and Dom Tyson. Furthermore, Michael Hibberd proved why the Dees were so keen for him to come over from Essendon.
|B||N. Jetta||T. McDonald||M. Hibberd|
|HB||J. Hunt||J. Lever||J. Lewis|
|M||A. Brayshaw||N. Jones||C. Salem|
|R||M. Gawn||C. Oliver||J. Viney|
|HF||C. Petracca||C. Pedersen||A. Neal-Bullen|
|FF||J. Garlett||J. Hogan||M. Hannan|
|I||J. Melksham||O. McDonald||D. Tyson|
|E||T. Bugg||S. Frost||J. Harmes|
BEST 22 ANALYSIS
The addition of former Adelaide young gun Jake Lever helps shore up the Demons defence. The key defender is excellent at reading the play, winning one-on-one contests, while his intercept marking and rebounding are also elite. Along with Tom McDonald, the Dees will look to be able to combat most key forwards. Neville Jetta is an excellent lock down small defender, while Michael Hibberd and Jayden Hunt offer excellent rebound.
The midfield is Melbourne’s strong suit with the likes of Angus Brayshaw, Nathan Jones, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, Christian Petracca, Jake Melksham, Dom Tyson and Alex Neal-Bullen all able to rotate through the middle. Max Gawn is one of the best ruckmen in the competition, nearly always winning the hit-outs to advantage.
Up forward, Jesse Hogan can rip games apart while Jeff Garlett and Mitch Hannan are elite crumbers. Cameron Pedersen may not be a household name, but he is reliable and will always crash packs to bring the ball to ground.
Round 1 Geelong Cats at MCG
The Demons will be keen to hit 2018 in full stride and a victory over the Cats would boost morale. Even more important for Melbourne is that Geelong stars Patrick Dangerfield (hamstring), Gary Ablett Jnr (hamstring), Lachie Henderson (knee) and Scott Selwood (ankle) could all miss the clash due to injury. They need to take advantage.
Round 12 Collingwood at MCG
Needless to say that the round 23 defeat to the Pies last year, would have burnt the playing group. Even though it does not atone for the loss the Demons would love to vengefully smash Collingwood.
Round 23 GWS at MCG
If Melbourne finally get back into finals contention they need to go in with serious momentum, and with GWS expected to be amongst September action, this clash is pivotal. A victory would be a massive morale booster for the young squad.
In the two seasons that Petracca has played, he has only scratched the surface of his potential.
In 39 games he has booted 38 goals, and has averaged 18 possessions (10 contested), 4 inside 50s, 3 marks, 3 tackles and 2 clearances, playing primarily as a half-forward flanker who could push into the midfield.
But 2018 looms as the season when he can break into the midfield, to become Melbourne’s raging bull.
The former #2 draft pick is powerful, skilful, competitive and fast – traits that could help him become one of the best players in the league, in the not too distant future.
Max Gawn – $605 000
The imposing ruckman has to be a lock for Fantasy owners, especially with his current form near reminiscent of his marvellous 2016 campaign when he averaged 107.
In the first two games of 2017 he scored 111 and 95, before succumbing to a serious hamstring injury. He returned in round 14 and in the last 10 rounds of the season he averaged 88 points, including two monster outings against North Melbourne (113 points) and GWS (140 points).
With Gawn dominating the pre-season, fantasy owners should lock him in straight away.
5th – 8th
Finals is a must for the Demons in 2018, and anything less would be a failure. Simon Goodwin has all the tools at his disposal for the Demons to end their drought.