A five goal to two third quarter in which Melbourne translated their physical and territorial dominance to the scoreboard, and some clutch moments in the final term saw the Dees win a nailbiter against the Hawks.

Let’s run down the players that mattered, for better or worse, on the day.

Melbourne

James Harmes

He was the key to Melbourne’s revival when sent to O’Meara at quarter time. The Hawthorn midfield brute had racked up 11 disposals and kicked a goal in the opening, term but Harmes kept him to just eight more for the game, while knocking up 31 disposals (15 contested) and laying five punishing tackles.

His chase and tackle on Worpel late in the third term was immense and a crucial goal deep in the last proved to be the match winner.

Christian Salem

Salem was the Dees’ cleanest distributor on the ground. He is one of few Melbourne players to enhance his standing in 2019 and he again demonstrated a cool head in an often chaotic game. His vision to spot and then deliver a low, spearing ball to Tom Mcdonald in the third quarter was pure class, and his ability to set the tempo by maintaining possession or playing with dare when the game demanded it made him a standout. Salem finished with 26 intelligent disposals

Jayden Hunt

Another Demon who’s impressed me in what has been a spluttering start to 2019. Hunt started on Sicily, rarely letting him run and jump at the footy, and as the game progressed was able to find dangerous space and hit the scoreboard.

Two goals (the first a classic small forward crumb, the other a nice hit up lead) were reward for effort but it was a composed pass to Jay Lockhart following Jeff Garlett’s tackle on Luke Breust that best summed up Hunt’s maturity.

Max Gawn

We saw the best and worst of Gawn today but in the end it was good Max that prevailed. His ruckwork was polished as per usual but his kicking was horrific, picking out Burgoyne with a comical short pass and striking the behind post on the full in the final stanza. Sounds like a poor day right?

Wrong. Gawn took the points in his the centre square duel with McEvoy and clunked some telling marks in defence when the Hawks were charging home.

He notched 17 disposals, six marks and a mammoth 46 hitouts against quality opposition.

Angus Brayshaw

Courageously backed into an onrushing Jarman Impey before linking up with the play to slot the opening goal from 50 on his left foot.

Had an entertaining battle with Ricky Henderson on the MCC Members wing early before spending more time in the centre. Was industrious without being spectacular and finished with 21 disposals

Sam Frost

Was opposed to Roughead early and the ex-Hawk skipper looked to have his measure, having a hand in two early goals. However, Frost fought back strongly, keeping Roughead possession-less in the third quarter as Hawthorn struggled to find time and space.

Frost’s willingness to leave his man and impact the contest (without letting the ball get over the back) was inspiring, winning a crucial 2 v 1 against Scully and Breust in the final term before spoiling Wingard and subsequently winning a very hot footy in the final play.

Alex Neal-Bullen

Gathering 12 disposals and a goal reads like a meagre return but ANB was an important cog in a half forward-line previously devoid of confidence. He had a hand in numerous Melbourne scores after half-time and kicked an outrageous 50 metre goal around his body after McEvoy inexplicably spoiled Ben Stratton’s marking attempt.

An even more impressive sight was seeing him win a 3 v 1 contest late in the game before linking up again inside 50. Also finished with a game high 8 tackles.

Michael Hibberd

Started on Chad Wingard and was wayward in possession as his opponent helped engineer goals to Gunston and Breust. Some haphazard kicks in the second term could’ve seen a lesser player crumble, but Hibberd bounced back after halftime to be Melbourne’s most effective outside runner behind Salem.

He used the ball cleanly and intercepted plenty of Hawthorn attacks to finish with 26 disposals, seven rebound 50s and six inside 50s.

Hawthorn

Jack Gunston

Gunston was the second best player on the ground and broke his month-long goal scoring drought in the process. The Hawk vice-captain was super clean, whether defending, linking up on the wing or taking strong grabs inside 50.

Gunston was opposed to Marty Hore and Billy Stretch at stages and proved far too classy for both. Two clutch 45 metre goals from tough angles were a reminder of his once-deadly accuracy and his final effort following a James Harmes 50 metre penalty got the Hawks off to a quick start in the final term. 20 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s and three goals are reflective of his day out.

Liam Shiels

Had another admirable game in his second week back from a hamstring strain. Shiels was the Hawks best midfielder winning seven clearances to go with his eight inside 50s. His clever kick to the hot spot set up Mitch Lewis in the second quarter and a sizzling pass from Wingard set Shiels up for a left foot snap as Hawthorn clawed back the Dees lead late in the game.

His hard running saw him link up James Worpel in the final play, Shiels’ kick slipping through Wingard’s hands and with it, the game.

Blake Hardwick

The man who inherited Luke Hodge’s number was uncompromising in the contest, winni
ng plenty of hard ball and finding teammates with pinpoint kicking.

Hardwick was the best kick-in exponent on the ground but was also classy forward of centre where he broke free and hit a leading Mitch Lewis with a rare centre clearance. The effort to go back with the flight and expose his midriff in front of a leading Tom Mcdonald was inspiring. He notched 19 disposals @89%, seven marks and eight rebound 50s

Ben McEvoy

Had an engrossing battle with Max Gawn and was far from disgraced, taking two or three nice marks in defence, and competing well around the ground. Ultimately his inability to impact the scoreboard sees the points go to Gawn as the Hawthorn coaching staff would’ve identified McEvoy’s goal sense as an area for him to exploit. He had 16 disposals, 26 hitouts and six marks.

Jarman Impey

Another hard running, hard tackling and imposing game from Hawthorn’s most reliable small defender in 2019. As teammates wilted, Impey continued to run at the opposition and take the game on. He finished with 22 disposals @81% and six tackles 

Isaac Smith

Was one of many Hawks who faded badly after a strong start. Didn’t have much influence and appears to be out of touch. Just 12 disposals post quarter time.

James Sicily

As mentioned above, Jayden Hunt did a great job curtailing the combustible Hawk and although Sicily’s stats look ok (18 disposals @83%, six rebound 50s) his half hearted marking attempts and fumbly efforts over the ball were glaring. Sicily seemed completely off the pace and appeared unwilling to attack the contest with his usual ferocity.

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