The template on how to beat Melbourne has officially been revealed, with players accused of lacking a “bit of kill” by AFL hard nut Dermott Brereton.
The Demons had no answer for Sydney’s tackle pressure in the qualifying final on Friday night, as they were forced into an equal ratio of contested and uncontested ball in remarkable statistics.
AFL commentator Brenton Sanderson said teams could be confident of victory over the reigning premiers if they simply slowed Melbourne down.
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“The template is now there to beat Melbourne,” he said on SEN.
“The thing that worries me about Melbourne is that last kick inside 50.
“If you let Melbourne flow and run fast … (Bailey) Fritsch and (Kysaiah) Pickett have significant influence on the game inside forward 50.
“If you slow (Melbourne) up, it takes those two out of it.
“You have to rely on (Max) Gawn, (Ben) Brown and (Luke) Jackson to take contested marks inside forward 50.”
The Melbourne forward line has been an issue “for a long time”, according to Fox Footy’s Garry Lyon, with forwards Tom McDonald and Sam Weidemen to come into consideration for a team shake up against the Lions.
“Eighteen inside 50s in that last quarter for no goals (against the Swans) – they’ll be looking at it, it’s been an issue for a long time,” Lyon said.
Journalist Jon Ralph says he believes the Demons should concede the “experiment” of playing Gawn forward should end, given he’s kicked just two goals in nine weeks.
“They need to keep taking risks in offence,” Sanderson said.
“At the moment, they are too careful. There’s that element of doubt.
“Sydney got back into holes and leading lanes and frustrated Melbourne.”
Brereton, renowned for his no-backward-step approach to footy, said he was concerned by what he was seeing with the reigning premiers.
“You look at the evolution of Melbourne … but when Petracca was a kid, when Oliver was a kid – what did they go out and recruit?” he said on SEN this week.
“They recruited people with a bit of mongrel in their DNA. They went for Michael Hibberd and then they went for Jordan Lewis. They wanted some mature players that had a bit of mongrel in them.
“The one thing about Melbourne, I still think their best footy is the best footy … the teams that have dynasty’s are the nastiest, rottenest teams of their era. Not just the best – they do the best trash talk and they hurt the most. They are unsociable. I’m not sure Melbourne are that.
“I think they are darn good, (but) I’m not sure they have kill running through their veins.
“Big Max, best ruckman in the comp – I’ve seen him when the ball gets set up on some poor bugger’s head and Max comes past and spikes it, spoils it and gets it going his team’s way. And the bloke goes: ‘Phew that was close, I could of got killed there but I didn’t’.
“I just think there’s a touch of niceness in them.
“When something happens out on the field, the amount of gobbing off they give and receive, I just think they lack a tiny bit of kill.”
The Swans were so desperate against Melbourne on Friday, their pressure ratings exceeded all AFL averages, while they managed 14 forward 50 tackles for the final quarter alone.
“When it comes to pressure, Melbourne can’t sustain that pressure that’s applied to them for four quarters,” Sanderson lamented.