They’re billed as home games but Melbourne’s AFL meetings in the Top End aren’t bringing much of an advantage.
Saturday’s clash between Melbourne and Port Adelaide marked the third time in as many years the sides have played for premiership points in Alice Springs.
And once again, Melbourne came off second best.
The Demons slumped to a 45-point loss in front of 5146 fans at Traeger Park, prompting Port coach Ken Hinkley to joke that he wished his side could play in Alice Springs more often.
Melbourne haven’t fared much better in Darwin, losing four of the six home games they’ve played there since 2010.
It’s enough for some to question the merits of a strongly-improved side with hopes of returning to finals contention giving up two home games a year.
Demons football operations manager Josh Mahoney says it’s up to the AFL and the NT government to negotiate whether games are played in the Territory.
But he insists his side’s recent improvement is no reason to consider a change of arrangements.
“You’ll see the team that’s won the last three premierships, Hawthorn, they play down in Tasmania and they moved their home games there,” he told AAP.
“If playing games up here can become a real strength for us and a competitive advantage, we don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t do it.”
Coach Paul Roos was circumspect, saying his young side would grow from the experience of playing in unfamiliar surrounds.
“It’s never going to be a home advantage, is it? You’re only playing up here once a year,” he said.
“You’re trying to create a team that can win anywhere and it’s a great learning experience.
“We enjoy coming up here and we’ve played some good football here.”
Melbourne will have a golden opportunity to break their losing streak in the Territory when they host winless Fremantle in Darwin in round 16.