Jesse Hogan’s last-term heroics have given Melbourne a stirring two-point comeback AFL win over Greater Western Sydney.
The Demons overturned a 21-point deficit at three-quarter time to defeat the Giants 12.8 (80) to 10.18 (78) at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.
If this was a preview of Paul Roos’ predicted 2019 grand final, it would be talked about for decades.
Certainly not for the less-than-sparkling football on display during the second and third terms, but for Melbourne’s bewildering performance.
The 28,505-strong crowd could be forgiven for disbelieving Melbourne’s comeback, given how poorly they played for two quarters.
After a spirited and fast-paced first term, the Demons kicked just 1.4 in two terms, falling back into their old habits.
But they emerged from a three-quarter time huddle a changed team, and kicked six goals to run out unlikely winners.
Hogan, blanketed by Phil Davis for three quarters, was instrumental as he broke his marker’s shackles.
The 2015 Rising Star winner kicked three of the Demons’ six last-term goals. Jack Watts was also inspirational on his 25th birthday, with the match on the line.
Roos said the club he inherited two seasons ago would have ended up losers.
“It’s a fantastic win. Our players are pretty excited, as is the club,” he said.
“It’s good to have Easter Sunday, eating Easter eggs with a win.
“It shows the improvement we’re making … the second and third quarter shows us we’ve still got a long way to go.”
The win is the first back-to-back triumph for the Demons in five years, albeit with a six-month gap between matches.
Jack Viney (32 possessions) was best afield for Melbourne, and was ably supported by Nathan Jones and first-gamer Clayton Oliver in the middle.
Tom McDonald overcame a shoulder injury to stand tall in the Demons’ defence, while Ben Kennedy made an impression in his first game for the club.
Giants coach Leon Cameron rued his side’s inaccuracy, with six third-quarter behinds while well on top costing them dearly.
Callan Ward was the Giants’ best, while Rory Lobb shined in a patched-up forward line where Steve Johnson kicked two goals on a mixed debut for the club.
It was hard to shake the impression that if one of the Giants’ three absent power forwards – Jon Patton, Jeremy Cameron or Cam McCarthy – played, GWS would have won.
“Our players knew coming in three-quarter time they missed an opportunity to be six or seven (goals) up,” he said.
“Our kicking for goal was deplorable. You can’t win games of footy if you can’t kick them between the big sticks.”