Round 23 – Melbourne V Hawthorn

Liam Chambers

Dees Go Fourth

Hawks get off to a flying start.

Late to the party Hawks have caused a couple of big name upsets in the last two weeks. They would be hoping to add Melbourne to that list as they raced to the finish line.

The visitors were off to the perfect start when Will Day received a hand pass in the square and smashed the sherrin over the line. Luke Breust then collected the tap down before running around and kicking from 20m, landing the ball in the square, where it bounced over Lachie Hunter, who was unlucky not to get a touch as it sailed past.

Hawthorn’s pressure was so impressive, it took the Dees over fifteen minutes to score their first goal. It happened when Joel Smith received a hand pass form Kade Chandler at the top of the square and just managed to kick the ball over the line before being brought down.

The Hawks then had their third when Connor McDonald was paid a mark 25m out and scored from the set shot.

With just over two minutes left on the clock, it looked like being a low scoring quarter for the Demons. That was until Angus Brayshaw launched from the 50m arc to steer the ball over the goal line.

After that Jacob van Rooyen marked inside 50, was awarded a 50m penalty, and scored from point blank range to level the game.

Hawthorn had the last say though when first gamer Henry Hustwaite was awarded a free kick and scored from 30m in front.

Melksham makes his move.

Melbourne was being put through their paces by the young Hawks, but they finally got the opening goal, when Kade Chandler marked in the square. The small forward went back to slot his twenty fifth of the season and put the Dees in front for the first time.

Jake Melksham has been highly influential since his return to the top flight and already had a few chances go astray earlier in the match. Odds on though, if you present him with enough chances, you’ll get a decent return on your investment. His opportunistic soccer kick from the edge of the square was perfectly timed.

Hustwaite was having a dream debut when he kicked his second goal after marking and scoring from 40m. Hawthorn reclaimed the lead when Denver Grainger-Barras marked 45m out and kicked his set shot from the arc.

The Dees were back in front just prior to half time when Jake Melksham marked in the pocket and sent his around the corner kick through the posts.

The Hawks prove difficult to shake off.

Tom Sparrow kicked the opener of the second half when Jack Viney passed him the ball after a stoppage, and he launched from 45m.

Hawthorn hit back straightaway after the bounce when Luke Breust marked, turned and snapped his second from 20m.

Melbourne extended their lead to eight points after Joel Smith’s set shot from 40m bent back beautifully to slip inside the upright.

Connor Macdonald then clawed it back to two points when he marked and converted his 40m set shot.

It ping ponged out to eight again with Melksham scoring his hat trick via a 20m snap.

The Dees now looked comfortably in control, having dominated inside 50 for the quarter, and when van Rooyen extended the lead further to fourteen points, it looked like Melbourne’s game for the taking.

Melbourne’s quality comes to the fore.

The Hawks hadn’t given up yet though and took control of the footy after the opening bounce, getting it inside 50, where Dylan Moore gathered and snapped it across the line.

It was a last hurrah for the Hawks, but it still took another ten minutes for Melbourne to get their first of the term after van Rooyen took a contested mark 25m out. His precise set shot returned Melbourne’s lead to thirteen.

The game was still open though, with Demons only kicking a couple of minor scores before they moved up a gear.

Clayton Oliver, playing only his second game after returning from injury, had been restricted by the Hawks all afternoon. They couldn’t restrict him for the whole game however, as he proved with a brilliant snap form then top of the goal square, after a stoppage.

Now with a twenty one point lead and under ten minutes on the clock, it was looking like a very difficult climb back for the young Hawthorn side.

If it looked difficult before, it seemed like a case of mission impossible after Christian Petracca’s superb individual effort from 30m out.

In the end, it was a twenty seven point win for Melbourne who also locked in fourth spot on the ladder. A fitting result for captain Max Gawn’s 200th game.

It’s the final game of the regular season on Sunday and we travel to Sydney. The Swans could potentially land the number five spot if they beat us and Carlton lose to GWS, so it still all to play for.
Bailey Fritsch is back and here’s hoping for a brace of goals on his return.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!