Christian Petracca maintained his All-Australian pace, and then some, with another dominant showing in which he was consistently involved, and almost always for the better. After a rough 2019, Sam Weideman has also regained his touch, kicking three telling goals.
And the extra puzzle pieces garnered since that thrilling September run also improved the Melbourne picture. Steven May was as good as once advertised in defence, with his stellar showing capped off with a third term hanger. Down the other end, Bennell finished tidily during the first half romp while Kozzy Pickett’s dancing feet caused chaos and infectious energy.
Only briefly did the Dees revert to type. They allowed Hawthorn a sniff with a shocking start to the third quarter, a period marred by horrendous ball use and players spoiling each other in defence. The Hawks cut the gap to three goals and trouble briefly loomed. But Gawn settled his side, showing composure and strength when it was needed, and by three-quarter time the Dees were seven goals up and home.
What then of Hawthorn? They arrived in the Harbour City a couple of weeks ago with a 3-1 record and looking well and truly in the mix for the top eight, if not the top four. Three games later and they appear middling at best, having endured the least successful stint in Sydney since that of Marie Jose Perec.
Captain Ben Stratton is flagging, Tom Scully’s presence is barely being felt, and even Shaun Burgoyne is starting to make some uncharacteristic errors, kicking a first term floater and being run down by Mitch Hannan. Second-gamers Josh Morris and Will Day showed promise but increasingly it appears Hawthorn are going rather than coming. Their pain was worsened by an early ankle injury suffered by leaper Tim O’Brien, who looks set for a stint on the sidelines.
COOL YOUR JETTS
Hearts were in mouths late in the game after a desperate lunge from Neville Jetta left both the Demons defender and Hawks forward Chad Wingard worse for wear. Both players headed for attention on the bench but soon returned.
BAYL HIM OUT
Bayley Fritsch is doing a lot right as a marking forward for the Dees. In a low-scoring year he’d just about be a Coleman Medal chance if he could consistently kick straight for goal. Two early misses took his record for 2020 to an unflattering 6.10 but he kicked a couple of majors by game’s end.
MELBOURNE 3.2 7.3 11.6 14.7 (91)
HAWTHORN 1.2 2.3 4.6 7.6 (48)
GOALS – Melbourne: Weideman 3, Pickett 2, Fritsch 2, Hannan 2, Jackson, Melksham, Bennell, Petracca, Viney.
Hawthorn: Gunston 3, Wingard 2, O’Meara, Morris.
BEST – Melbourne: Gawn, Petracca, Viney, Oliver, May, Weideman, Hannan
Hawthorn: Sicily, Henderson, Hardwick.
VENUE: Giants Stadium.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter