Melbourne have ended their best season under Paul Roos on a high by scrapping their way to a drought-breaking 26-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
The Demons took a 22-game losing streak at Etihad Stadium into Sunday’s clash but a Nathan Jones-inspired third quarter set up the 15.13 (103) to 11.11 (77) victory – their first at the venue since 2007.
It was something of a shame, however, that just 8974 fans were there to watch what was one of the better four-quarter efforts by Melbourne in the second half of the year.
Experienced hands Bernie Vince, Daniel Cross and Jones were important on the ball but got plenty of support from younger midfielders like Jack Viney and Christian Salem.
Jesse Hogan and Ben Newton each booted three goals, while Tom McDonald had the better of his duel with Jeremy Cameron.
Cross, who reluctantly announced his retirement this week, put in an influential 25-possession performance, suggesting he can rightly feel disappointed the Demons decided against offering him a new contract.
His 249th and final game came to an early end, however, when he was stretchered off early in the last quarter after knocking himself out in a typically courageous marking attempt.
It’s unclear whether uncontracted utility Jeremy Howe will be at the club next year but if he has played his last game for the Demons he at least gave fans one final towering mark – this one in the third quarter over Lachie Whitfield – to remember him by.
The Giants were disappointing after halftime but Callan Ward, Adam Treloar and Jacob Townsend worked hard throughout.
An even first half saw scores level at quarter-time and a two-point Melbourne lead at the main break but Vince and Jones were key contributors as the Demons made their move.
Newton put his side 27 points up with the last two goals of the third term and while the Giants kept coming, they couldn’t bridge the gap.