Melbourne to banish demons against Pies

Melbourne have the opportunity to break another AFL hoodoo when they take on Collingwood in the Queen’s Birthday clash on Monday.

The Demons haven’t beaten their rivals in the annual encounter since 2007 and haven’t defeated the Pies twice in a season since way back in 1988.

But Melbourne have slowly been ridding themselves of such unflattering streaks under Paul Roos.

Having beaten Nathan Buckley’s side by 35 points in round four, the Demons are well-placed to get another monkey off their backs on the big stage of the MCG.

“I think we’ve broken a few of those sorts of streaks recently,” Melbourne midfielder Tomas Bugg told AAP.

“It definitely helps that we’ve already had a win over them this year, but it’s a new challenge for our group.

“It will be in front of a big crowd … we’re continuing to build so that we can play well and perform in these big games.

“I think Melbourne supporters can see that there’s been some positive change and that’s only growing.”

The 11th-placed Demons are favoured to improve their 5-6 season record against the Pies, who are currently 12th with just four wins – an expectation of success that hasn’t always sat well with Roos’ side.

But Melbourne have displayed a harder edge this season, perhaps even a touch of swagger at times, that has been absent for a while.

“It’s more about confidence I would have thought … confidence and belief that we belong in big games and that we can compete against quality teams,” Bugg said.

“We don’t want to go out there and get pushed around any more … we’re ready to make a bit of a stamp on the competition.

“We’re going to have some ups and downs and people probably will have a bit of a crack us when we do show a bit of confidence but we need to show that we belong in these big games.”

The inclusion of Jack Viney, who overcame a broken knuckle quicker than expected, is a big boost to the Demons’ cause.

The combative onballer comes in with Ben Kennedy, with Jeff Garlett and James Harmes dropped.

The Pies reacted savagely to last week’s big loss to Port Adelaide, Buckley dropping Travis Cloke, Alan Toovey, Matthew Goodyear and Adam Oxley.

Marley Williams makes a welcome return from a foot injury, with Jarrod Witts, Jonathon Marsh and Tom Phillips, who will make his AFL debut, included.

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