Melbourne are confident young gun Angus Brayshaw will line up for round one of the AFL season after injuring his knee in the Demons’ 19-point pre-season win over Port Adelaide.
Brayshaw, a No.3 draft pick in 2014, was crunched in a tackle in the opening seconds of Saturday’s NAB Challenge game at Elizabeth Oval and did not return to the field as the Demons steered their way to a 0.15.5 (95) to 1.10.7 (76) win.
Melbourne assistant coach Simon Goodwin said the 20-year-old’s injury should not set him back for long.
“He’s an important player for us. We know he’s a really talented player so we just put him on ice for the day,” he told reporters.
“We’ll assess him tomorrow but he’s really confident that he’ll pull up fine.”
Port started strongly and led by as much as 30 points before halftime but were held scoreless in the third quarter as Melbourne kicked six straight majors.
The Demons’ win was driven largely by a dominant ruck performance from Max Gawn, who racked up 42 hitouts, seven clearances and 15 disposals.
Goodwin heaped praise on the 208cm ruckman, whose agility and work around the ground was reminiscent of West Coast legend Dean Cox and proved too much for a struggling Port side.
“His training indicates that he’s going to take the next step as a ruckman,” Goodwin said.
“We’re really encouraged by his form.”
Another factor was the Demons’ contested ball-winning supremacy, which Goodwin said would be a key indicator for the club.
Jack Viney (28 touches, 11 clearances) was outstanding in the midfield, while No.4 draft pick Clayton Oliver showed plenty of class on debut.
Port suffered from a lopsided free-kick count but also struggled to stick their tackles despite coming out ahead on the count.
Coach Ken Hinkley said there was no excuse for his side’s second-half capitulation and it was unacceptable even in the pre-season.
“You can use all the excuses under the sun … I reckon it’s effort,” he said.
“We’ve trained for four months. We know how hard it is. We’re now only one game out from the start of our AFL season.
“Both sides came in reasonably level today but Melbourne brought more heat.”
Port expect to regain star forward Chad Wingard (hamstring tightness) for their final pre-season hitout against Richmond on March 10 after he was ruled out of the game against Melbourne as a precaution.