Demons aim to prove AFL improvement

Melbourne have scored a total of just 20 goals over their past four AFL matches against Fremantle.

It emphasises the supreme stinginess of a Ross Lyon-coached team, as well as how bad the Demons have been in the last few years.

Melbourne will find out how much they have improved this season when they host the unbeaten Dockers on Sunday at the MCG.

Fremantle have a five-game winning streak against Melbourne, starting three years ago in Lyon’s first season at the Dockers.

In the first of those five losses, the Demons were not too bad – they 12 goals and went down by 34 points.

Since then they been strangled, only kicking five, six, five and four and losing by massive margins.

But there are a definite signs of life this season at Melbourne, who are 2-2 and coming off a strong win over Richmond.

They now come into a fierce three-game block, with grand finalists Sydney and Hawthorn following Fremantle.

“We’d like to think that people would judge us over the course of many weeks,” said Demons assistant coach Jade Rawlings.

“But no doubt, after you’ve had a reasonable start and come off a solid win the week before and play Fremantle, people will make judgements on how you stack up against the top-end teams.

“We’ll know over the next three to four weeks exactly where we sit among the upper echelon of teams.”

While Fremantle clearly start strong favourites, Melbourne pushed them in the pre-season and Rawlings said they should be encouraged by the narrow loss.

“Obviously in the NAB Challenge it’s always hard … you don’t know where people are at,” he said.

“But our players were challenged pretty full-on in the second quarter of that game.

“The third quarter, they really responded.”

Sunday is a big day for Jack Grimes and Jack Watts, two Demons who have endured plenty of hard times in their AFL careers.

Grimes, their former captain, is back in the team after four games in the VFL.

And Watts, the No.1 draft pick, plays his 100th senior game.

“It’s always good to see people fight through adversity and come out the other side,” Rawlings said of Grimes.

“Now it’s a matter of him really making the most of getting back into the team.”

Watts has struggled in the last couple of weeks, but Rawlings has praised him for how he copes.

“He’s very well-regarded around our footy club, Jack,” Rawlings said.

“He’s a passionate person and a positive person.

“He’s a resilient man, he keeps bouncing back.”

Demons forward Chris Dawes was a late withdrawal on Saturday and Cam Pedersen took his place.

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