This was the goal that tied things up with 41 seconds to go
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin spoke to the media after the game…
Q: Simon, what did you make of the finish. What did you make of the result I guess in the end?
A: Obviously the finish was a bit surreal. Obviously a drawn game with no crowd. It was flat atmosphere. In terms of the game I thought we’re pretty disappointed with how we played. We got high expectations of how we like to play. Certainly our intensity and urgency in the areas that we really want to build our football club on, probably weren’t at the level. Even though the numbers looked good. I thought Hawthorn certainly out-tackled us, they out-worked us in the scrimmages in the area that we value. That’s disappointing. We had enough opportunities. We probably just didn’t play the way that we wanted to play for long enough.
Q: That atmosphere at the end, is that as flat as a draw can be when there’s no crowd there?
A: I haven’t had too many flatter atmospheres. It was weird, no question. Home game. No crowd. Our supporters and fans give us so much. With a drawn game that made it flatter at the end. I’m not going to take anything away from Hawthorn. They were sensational. They came to play. They’re coming off a poor result last week. I thought they took it up to us. A lot of numbers look OK for
us. I don’t think that tells a story about the game. I thought the game told a story they were hungrier and worked harder than us.
Q: Was that particularly frustrating Simon considering you had the best win of the season last week?
A: Look it is. It’s something you want to be really, really good at as a club, you want to be consistent the way you play. Every time you step out on the field. You want to play the same way. For the large part of the season we’re able to do that. But there’s been patches in the last month where we have fluctuated in that. It’s another lesson for us in terms of what’s required to continually win all the time. It’s about building a winning culture. Something we’ve been hard on trying to develop. We just weren’t ruthless enough tonight in the areas that we really value.
Q: ‘Clarko’ just spoke about taking away run and carrying and intercept marking at half-back. Do your players like adjust quickly enough. Or they were too good in executing I guess most of the night. How did you see that sort of area of the ground I guess?
A: I think Hawthorn in the last month played a really good forward half game and have been able to score on the back of blocking the ball in. Once again tonight they kicked seven goals from our turnovers in the back half of the ground. We probably didn’t execute as well as we would have liked from our defensive half from the ground. They capitalise in those turnovers. They were a big part of the game. Something we need to get better at.
Q: When you speak about the last month and some of the other losses you’ve had, the teams that probably aren’t playing finals. Is there anything you can connect with those games that feels like a trend to you or did tonight feel different?
A: We respect the competition. I’ve said this a lot. Every team we play against is a challenge. We sit where we sit because we’ve been able to execute that for a lot of the year. There’s no question that our best games have come against the top-eight teams. Some of the attempts that we expected to win haven’t quite got the results. I’m not too concerned what that looks like. What I am concerned about is how we play and become unconditional in how we play week after week. That’s what builds a really strong footy team. That’s the challenge for us. That’s the way we operated. That’s the way we continue to get better and better. Those opportunities present week after week. This competition is really tough.
Q: You’ve had Ben Brown back in the team for a couple of weeks now. How have you viewed the functionality with the forward line and Ben and Luke Jackson and the guys up there?
A: It’s harder to tell tonight. We had our opportunities tonight, we had 58 entries. We had 20-odd scoring shots, enough supply without kicking a winning score. Inaccuracy cost us tonight. Functionality of forward line is starting to function well. Ben certainly was lively early in the game. Gave us a good target. I think the more Ben plays with the team and the more he’ll feel comfortable and will continue to get better. I didn’t see that as big issue in terms of getting opportunities.
Q: Harrison Petty looked like he was grabbing his hamstring. Went down to the change room and came back out and looked fine. Any update there?
A: Look, he had a test on his hamstring. Bit worried he’s a bit tired. I thought he was one of the better players. He came back on. Had some intercepts. Played the game out strong. He’ll be fine heading into next week. So he’s continuing to develop and improve his game.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson spoke to the media after the game…
Q: You must have been proud of the way your boys fought back. Early in the second quarter the Dees looked like they were on top. You were putting on pressure. You must have been proud how it ended up.
A: Definitely strong game. They’re a good side. The polish of their side early on. Probably over the course of the night, the polish as you expect, the composure that you gather as you get more experience in this game. Different stages they hurt us with the chains of possession. High quality midfielders. By and large over the course of the game the pressure they were able to apply that Melbourne were unable to get that free-flowing game going with their chains through the middle of the ground which they like to play with. They gave us a chance to be right in the contest. We allowed them to get away to a bit of a start. It was eight scoring shots to two or three or thereabouts at quarter- time. For us to outscore them for the rest of the game, win the rest of the game, win three of the quarters, albeit the last quarter was by a point, it’s a real credit to our guys to allow a top-of-ladder side to get away from us for a start and then pull them back. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win. But we gained a hell of a lot of our game for our younger players to know they can come up against a high-quality opponent like that and stay in the contest which was beneficial for their footy going forward.
Q: Alastair you mentioned the composure there a little bit. It did feel in the second half perhaps you guys were sort of able to narrow the focus a bit with the ball movement rather than kick it to intercept guys. Was that a message at half-time?
A: We prepared our players obviously it was going to a slippery night. Probably over-prepared them in the sense for just getting the ball forward. As the game sort of unfolded, I’m not sure there was a share of rain at all through the course of the night given the day we had today, I thought there would be scattered showers. As the game wore on you could actually use the ball and compose your possession a bit better than what we did. We were a bit rushed in the first half. We did get better in the second half. We gave ourselves a chance with some change of ball movement in the second half, it allowed us to score more freely. It was a tough contest. We out-tackled the Melbourne side tonight which is pleasing for a younger side to be able to apply that sort of pressure. It gave us some
chance on turn over which is pleasing. The disappointing part is we had over 80 tackles and only three holding-the-balls, didn’t get rewarded for our super effort in that space. Having said that maybe the reward came just because we’re in the game and in the contest and got us to draw. We would have liked to think with the effort we applied in terms of our tackling we would have got more reward on some of the free kicks.
Q: You have spoken a lot through the season about not only yourself becoming familiar with some of these young players but the players becoming familiar with each other playing out in the field. When you’re coming up against the team that is a premiership contender are there particular teams that you look for or stand out to you whether it’s the appetite for the contest or composure that you mentioned. Certain aspects how the players stand up in that game that you look for?
A: Yeah, obviously there’s probably three guys in the Melbourne side. Lever, May and Salem, that are highly likely to be all-Australian at the end of the year. Another three in Gawn, Oliver, and Petracca and probably Langdon who will be All-Australian midfielders. They’ve got a couple forward of the ball that have had really good seasons. The exposure our young fellas to play on these types of guys is first-class. I haven’t looked at the stats but at different stages there the game’s tally of our front half, I think they’d be lucky to be 50 games amongst the different stages of the game. Certainly when Luke Breust is off the ground having a spell, he was the only one of our forwards that had significant game tally. The rest of them were just pups in terms of AFL footy. For us to be able to compete and kick a score gets us 12 goals and gets us a draw. It’s just enormous experience for those guys to play on really talented All-Australian defenders in some cases. To be able to compete, we didn’t do anything startling in our front half. We did enough to force the contest on enough occasions for us to kick a score and trouble the Melbourne defence. And allow us to draw a game of footy against top of the table team.
Q: The draw in general I guess they always ask this question, for you guys where you’re at and you spoke about the positives you take out of it. What does it feel like when the siren goes at the draw. Do you take some satisfaction from this or do you feel like you’ve left something on the table?
A: Enormous satisfaction. I wouldn’t think there’s so much satisfaction in the Demons camp. When you’re in the finals it does separate them from every other team in the eight. Because they’ve got a draw by their name now. It’s not based on percentage or whether they finish top or wherever they finish. Somewhere down the track it might benefit Melbourne. With us, we’re a young side. We’re coming up against top of the ladder sides. We gave them a three or four goal head start. Halfway through the second quarter it was six goals to two. For us to get ourselves back into the contest and give ourselves a chance to win late in the game was a real credit to our boys. It’s not about the wins and loss for us right now. It’s about competing and getting exposure to our young players, playing senior footy. And whether we won or loss was not in the equation for us tonight. It’s getting the exposure and competing. We’re proud of our team tonight. They tried so hard. Whether it was
youngest bloke playing early games of footy or whatever, it was one of our oldest guys like Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara and Ben McEvoy’s leadership, some of our guys down the back coming up against seasoned opponents. Tim O’Brien did a good job. He had a job to do on Tom McDonald. Tom McDonald is one of those guys that is in All-Australian contention for the end of year. Tim O’Brien is learning his craft, he’s played most of his career as a forward. We tried him down back this week, we wanted Mitch Lewis to come into the side. He kicked a couple of goals and straightened us up a bit. Tim O’Brien did a good job down back. We’ll continue to try a few things in the last five games of the season. See where it places us for position ourselves next week.
Q: I was going to ask about the preparation. Nothing new for you guys. Have to adjust with
different situations today with Conor Nash pulling out. What’s this situation like with your team, the testing you had to do or when you found out he wasn’t able to play, how did that work?
A: In all of this we’re guided by the AFL and the government. And our leadership at the club in terms of the directives that we’re given from above. We try to comply with whatever protocols and whatever strategies that put in place for us to navigate our way through this really difficult dilemma that we face as a game. More widely as a community, a lot of Australia is implicated right at the present time with COVID. Probably even more so, strangely enough than last year. Last year we isolated to different states. One at a time sort of thing. This current one is like you’re implicating nearly all states. That must be an unbelievable challenge for all the governments around the country, of course, particularly for the AFL. Trying to work out where they can play games if they can actually play games. That is going to be ongoing until we see a plateau with some of these numbers. Whether it’s isolation sites or whether it’s actually positive testing of those in the community. We’ll do what is required. With Conor Nash’s case, that meant he had to withdraw from the game today which is unfortunate for him and us. Hopefully once he’s tested – he already had a test late this
Week, it’s shown it’s negative, he needs another one – hopefully he can return into the program as soon as he can to get himself up and going again.
Q: So Conor might not have a fortnight’s quarantine Alastair?
A: Once again we’ll be guided by the authorities, particularly the government, also the league in terms of what’s required in that space. We’ll see where that goes. That will probably take place over the next couple of days to see where that’s at.
Melbourne may have regained top spot on the ladder but the Demons were left stunned after they were held to a draw by a disciplined Hawthorn at an empty MCG on Saturday night. Click here to read the full report.
More reaction to the stunning draw between Melbourne and Hawthorn…
Here’s some more reaction to tonight’s stunning result at the MCG…
Melbourne superstar Clayton Oliver spoke to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: Strange feeling with a draw tonight. You remain on top of the ladder. What did you take out of that experience at the MCG tonight?
A: Yeah, it was a bit of different game. Haven’t played in a draw before. Bit disappointing not to get the win. Probably silver lining with the two points staying on top.
Q: That’s the thing you’re on top of the ladder. The Hawks pressured you up really well tonight.
A: Credit to them. Brought their A-game to us. Played really well. Pressure was great. Got the ball movement forward.
Q: You have two other top-four teams in the run home. It’s going to be a really interesting finish to the year, isn’t it.
A: Yeah. It’s probably a good thing we’re versing [sic] the top-four teams. We play better against the better sides. Hopefully we can bring our best in those games and win a couple more.
Q: The Hawks certainly did their homework. We know how good the Dees are defensively particularly in the air with Lever and May back there for you boys. The Hawks kept the ball at ground level didn’t they and opened up some opportunities to go that way.
A: They went different avenue to goal. Credit to the small forwards and the forwards up there for competing and bringing the ball to ground. Did a good job. Unfortunately for us.
Q: What’s next for you now. Do you hang around tonight. What’s the moves for you guys in the next few days?
A: We’re not quite sure. Obviously with all the COVID stuff going on, yeah, there’s a few other teams at the Gold Coast. Teams everywhere. We’ll see what the coaches and everyone says. I honestly have no idea yet. Go back to the club next couple of days and reassess.
Q: Been outstanding year so far. Look at you play. I see sustained success in the game style and the way things are going. Can you describe what has made the difference this year as a team. Really feels as though as a group you believe as you said you can’t wait to play the top sides. You’ve got a great record.
A: We obviously had a good chat in the last year and couple of good chats throughout the pre-season. We talked as a team. We got a really good baseline for what we needed to play for and play for the team. May talked about a couple of times how we play with each other. Executing our roles. Playing for our teammates. Makes it a lot easier. Stacks up against when we need to.
Q: I thought tonight your overlap run was outstanding in your own game. Particularly late in the game when you were trying to come home and win. Are you fitter than you’ve ever been with your running. You seem to be covering the ground so well.
A: Credit to Darren Burgess. Everyone at the Dees are the fittest we’ve ever been. Best second-half teams. Credit to the strength and conditioning staff. Those sides. They’ve made everyone at the club as fit as they can be. Not many injuries. Ticking along pretty well.
Q: We can hear the disappointment in your voice. No doubt about that. But it has been a pretty big week at the football club as well. Lots of excitement with Simon Goodwin announcing you’ve broken the membership record. You’re also sitting in a really good position inside that top four. It must be a nice place to be in season 2021.
A: Yeah. Obviously it’s awesome to break the membership record. 52,000. Pretty excited we got that news. We’re playing good football at the moment. A bit inconsistent. Hopefully get back to the best and playing good footy.
Of course, that was the second draw of the season following on from North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney’s stalemate in Round 13 down in Tasmania.
And it was also the first ever draw played out between Hawthorn and Melbourne in 167 meetings.
Here’s some more reaction to tonight’s thrilling draw…
This was the goal that tied things up with 41 seconds to go
Tom Mitchell was sensational tonight, and would be hard-pressed to be denied the three Brownlow votes. He spoke to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: It’s a tough one. Such an amazing effort from young team tonight to draw with the Dees. You get that close it’s almost disappointing that you don’t win, isn’t it?
A: It is a little bit. Obviously the effort was pleasing. When it’s nail-biter like that you love to win. That was one of the weirdest games I’ve been part of. No crowd. No-one know what to think after a draw anyway. It was dead silence after the game.
Q: Tommy talk to us about your midfield tonight. It really seemed to click didn’t it. You once again amassed a massive 39 disposals. Between Worpel and O’Meara I thought it really worked well for you guys tonight.
A: It did. Liam Shiels is another one who rotated through there and James Cousins who came into the team tonight. We try and spread the load through there every week. All our mids contributed. Obviously Melbourne’s midfield is arguably the best in the comp. Viney, Petracca, Oliver, Gawn. We had our work cut out for us. The boys did well.
Q: Tell us about some of the young players and in particular Grainger-Barras down back. Only in his third game of footy tonight. Feels like he’s played about 50 games already.
A: Denver, he’s really tough. The way he attacks the ball in the air he’s like James Sicily. When we get them back we’ll have both of them looking forward to the combo.
Q: What about big Ned Reeves. Came back in for his third game of AFL footy tonight Tommy. ‘The big noodle’ like you call him down there at the Hawks. It’s encouraging to see this next wave and big ruckman at that getting the opportunity at senior level.
A: Big noodle. Been banging the door down all year. Great to see him get another chance tonight. Not sure where he ranked on tallest player in the game. He’s up there. He’s second. He’s got the
height. He’s still developing. He’ll be a good player.
Q: Tommy what about when you went forward tonight. Seemed like a plan to get it to ground level. When you did it looked dangerous at ground level. You’re able to out-hunt them a bit in the forward half when you got it that way. It’s not easy to score against Melbourne, we know that.
A: I was inspired by your Instagram stories Richo. Playing your highlights from your heyday. Thought I’d try and sneak forward and take a leaf out of your book. Obviously Tyler Brockman is another young guy who has a lot of spark. Reminds me of Chad Wingard, Cyril Rioli and talent. Luke Breust always does his thing. The talent is up there and hopefully get it down there more often.
Q: It feels like massive step forward for your young team tonight. So much inexperience. You must feel great where the club is heading given the effort tonight.
A: 100 per cent. You look at the players we had out, our starting back line arguably could be out with Jiath, Hardwick, Sicily, Day, Scrimshaw, these types of players. The young guys had to step up tonight. Hopefully we found a few more players for the future. Exciting for the next five weeks to see what we can do.