Defensive twin towers dominate in Demons opening round win
By Lance Jenkinson
Key defensive duo Steven May and Jake Lever were instrumental in Melbourne’s 22-point season opening win over Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday.
May (8) and Lever (7) combined for 15 marks and continually repelled from the back 50 when the Dockers mounted a challenge after quarter time.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin was pleased with his team’s defensive work in general, but heaped the praise on his two big pillars May and Lever, along with small defender Neville Jetta and tall Adam Tomlinson.
“I thought our back six were outstanding today in the way they defended,” he said.
“Just having May and Lever and Tomlinson playing a good chunk of footy now together makes a massive difference to your team. That’s helping us and enabling us to be more aggressive in other areas of the game.
“You can see with that cohesion their ability to intercept the ball and be really strong in the contest and work well together. It’s no coincidence they’re playing well. It’s probably our most mature area of the ground is behind the footy.”
Melbourne supporters were taken on a rollercoaster ride en route to the victory, which has been a familiar tale in most games in recent years.Embed from Getty Images
Jake Lever gets the applause from a small but vocal Melbourne crowd.
The Demons burst out of the blocks, opening up a commanding four goal lead at quarter time, but things got a bit nervous for the fans in red and blue after half time with the Dockers mounting a serious threat.
Goodwin was adamant his side was in control of its own destiny.
“I felt like we had good control of the game,” he said.
Tom McDonald was outstanding across half forward for Melbourne, finishing with 18 disposals, nine marks, five tackles, five hit outs and two goals.
McDonald’s competitiveness permeated throughout the Demons team and it did not go unnoticed by Goodwin.
“It was his competitive efforts, he marked the ball a few times, but not once did he get outmarked when it was in his control,” Goodwin said.
“We’re so pleased for Tom. He’s put in an enormous amount of work.”Embed from Getty Images
Tom McDonald powers the ball home for a Melbourne goal.
Melbourne’s midfield guns all fired.
Max Gawn dominated Freo youngster Lloyd Meek in the ruck, while onballers Clayton Oliver, playing in his 100th game, two-goal Christian Petracca, James Harmes and Ed Langdon were prolific.
Youngsters James Jordan and Kysaiah Pickett caught the eye for their two-way running, while Charlie Spargo set himself apart from the rest with his delightful passing inside forward 50.
Bayley Fritsch presented well in attack and was rewarded with two majors.
It was a great start to the season for Melbourne, but Goodwin will not be letting his players get ahead of themselves.
“To get on the front foot is really important for our footy club,” he said.
“It’s important for our supporters and our players.
“It’s really pleasing to get off to a good start, but there’s plenty of work to be done.”