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Home / Latest News / AFL 2021 LIVE updates: Gawn kicks five as Demons march into first grand final in 21 years with win over Geelong

AFL 2021 LIVE updates: Gawn kicks five as Demons march into first grand final in 21 years with win over Geelong

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin spoke to the media after the game…

Congratulations. You’re into a grand final. How does it feel?

Yeah look, I think it feels terrific for our footy club. We’ve worked incredibly hard to be involved in these games and significant games. I sit here and I think of all of our supporters back home. I think of all the hard times they’ve been through and we get an opportunity now to do something really special and we’ve earnt that right and I think this level of excitement but there’s a level of still job to do and we will progress that way.

What did you make of Max Gawn’s efforts tonight, especially that third quarter when he kicked those four goals?

I think he typified tonight why he’s the skipper of the footy team. He played his heart out. Wasn’t just his impact on the scoreboard. I thought his ruck work was strong. But the thing that stood out for me was the chase down tackle of Gary Rohan in that third quarter. I think that is the way we want to be seen as a footy club, the team that never gives up, continues to play the right way for as long in the game as possible. Max demonstrated that as did all of our leaders. So he was incredible. He impacted the game in a lot of ways and he’s a big character and a big figure in our footy club.

To win by such a margin, like to dominate the way you did, what does that do for everyone heading into a grand final?

I think it reaffirms a lot of belief we have got in the way we play. Clearly we base our game around our contest and our ability to defend. I think there is a potency in the way we attack and we can hit the sktd. So I think tonight we build belief again. We understand we handled the moment well and the moment was about being ourselves and making sure people saw who we were and being true to ourselves and we were that tonight. But you know, we’ve still got work to do. There is a really big challenge that is sitting right in front of us and we want to make the most of it.

What is the initial prognosis on Steven May?

Steve’s just got a tight hamstring. Clearly he came back on the ground for a period of time. But we think it might be back related. He could still move. So we will assess that over the next few days but we’re quietly confident that he will be OK. But it is back-related sort of tightness in the hamstring so we will have to assess that and see what it looks like over the next few days.

Mindful you would have managed that really carefully tonight, what was the thinking about bringing him back on, given the initial injury is there a risk you exacerbated that or are you comfortable with that decision?

The game was still in the balance. He’s an important player to us. He felt like it was OK. They felt like it might have been back related. So at that stage of the game, it was worth taking the risk. He got a little bit tighter as the game went on so we didn’t want to take the risk and we obviously subbed him out of the game.

Does the two weeks between now and the grand final help him? Do you give him extra time off, is it difficult to manage and how do you manage him over that two weeks?

Look, it certainly won’t hurt, that is for sure. Gives him a chance to really rest and recover in the next three or four days, as will our whole group. We will do a very similar program to what we had heading into this game and take three or four days away from the game and reset ourselves and build ourselves up come the back end of this week. So that will help Steve, there is no question about that. He’s a full pro now and he will look after his body and give himself every chance.

From the end of the qualifying final to the grand final, a month would have gone past and you would have played one game of footy. How tough is that to manage compared to the normal workload of your players?

Yeah, I’m not concerned one bit. That is what training’s for. Our players have had great continuity and they have got a great level of fitness amongst them as a playing group. We will train hard over the next eight to 10 days. That is how we do it as a footy club and we will prepare as best we can. So that doesn’t – that won’t hinder us at all. We have our whole playing list here, we will be able to get some match simulation here and get as much as training as we can.

Nathan Jones has got twins due fairly shortly, what are the considerations there, will he go back home or stay with the group?

That is a decision that will be left with Nathan. Obviously he’s really close to selection, it is a really tough situation. He’s so proud of his footy club right now. He’s given so much. And he’s in a really tough situation. His wife is due with twins and obviously could come at any stage. So we will continue to liaise with Nathan and his wife about what that looks like. But he is close to selection, he’s pushing his case and he certainly wants to be a part of it.

Geelong captain Joel Selwood spoke to Channel Seven after the game…

It certainly wasn’t the performance nor the result that you were hoping for tonight.

No, definitely not. If we could rewind six hours, it would be nice. But they were outstanding tonight. They gave it to us to from the word go and we expected it. To our boys, I mean, we just – I’m so proud of them to be honest. They’ve been up for so long. And, yeah, we would have all loved to have played better but it wasn’t the case.

Where was the breakdown for you tonight? Obviously the Dees were so dominant around stoppage and when they were able to get speed on the footy, they were so hard to stop.
Where did you highlight those areas?

Contests they were really good, outside the contest they were also good. They beat us all over the ground to be honest. Forward, back half, through the middle. I mean, they have got class. They are going to be really hard to beat next week.

As you just said, you are so proud of this group, another prelim final, you’ve been up for a
very, very long time. But how do you summarise the season?

Oh, I mean, like I do most, it’s just one that I would rather be a part of a club that just keeps knocking on the door and having a go at it. The final four again this year. Some people look at it as why don’t you just drop back and go back to the start, but I would rather be in a club that fights tooth and nail right to the end. That is what I’ve got. A group of guys around me and especially a coaching staff, I mean, we’re obviously all going to cop it but I can’t thank the work that they’ve done and the extra staff that we’ve had, not only this year, but last year too. It’s been a huge 18 months that we’ve gone through. So just so proud of the club to be honest which might sound funny right now.

Another challenging year. You’ve been on the road, you’ve got family, friends, supporters, members back home in Victoria. I’m sure you’ve got a pretty big message to them?

I do. Loved ones obviously. We will get home before we wanted to, but we will look forward to getting home and seeing them. But sponsors, members, they came again and they helped us out big time, especially when they couldn’t get to the footy and crazy year that it’s been, but let’s just hope next year is a little bit different and we can all get back to a bit of normal.

The Melbourne Football Club, the game’s oldest and holders of the longest stretch without a premiership, have never had such a team since that last flag under the great Norm Smith in 1964.

It is a team that has been brilliantly assembled over several years, and which has the kind of prodigious talent that could produce multiple premierships, although those of the red and blue hue will be happy with just one in a fortnight after so many letdowns, false dawns and failures.

Click here to read the full match report.

Max Gawn celebrates with teammates.

Max Gawn celebrates with teammates.Credit:Getty Images

Christian Petracca was one of Melbourne’s best as usual, and he spoke to Channel Seven…

Congratulations. I want to starts with Max Gawn. We were just having a laugh about you laughing at Max during that third quarter.

It was a different one. I just couldn’t believe it the whole time. He just led from the front the whole way. He’s such a special player, special teammate. Right from the start in pre-season, he hasn’t taken a backwards step and to step up in the third quarter where I think we were up by 30 points at half-time, it is still a very gettable margin in this game so to put them away early and him to be on the front foot just leads us all.

So just for the record, you were laughing at how good he was in that third quarter.

We were all just speechless to be honest. Something I’ve never seen on the field for to be honest. Someone dominating that much in such a short period of time.

It was ridiculous. Congratulations. Can I talk to you about your relationship with Clayton Oliver? You are obviously good mates, you hear out on the field sometimes you are giving each other strong feedback but you seem to know where each other are. Talk us through that.

We’ve been playing footy with each other since 2015. We played under-12 state footy together when we were 12 years old. But he’s a great friend on and off the field. We are constantly building that relationship with each other. I feel like we do balance each other out really well. He’s such an aggressive person, aggressive player which I love playing with. I felt like our balance at stoppages, not just him, but I thought Jack Viney played an unbelievable game too, and guys like Tom Sparrow, James Harmes, allowing myself and Clayton to play our role.

You knew you were playing the grand final from midway through the third quarter. Mentally do you start drifting to the big dance?

Yeah, I’m not going to lie, a little bit to the honest. I got taken off early in the fourth. So yeah, I feel like if you want to be in that position, I think, but at the same time, our whole mantra this year has just been staying in the present, staying in the moment and not worrying about the future. It’s hard to sort of focus on the future but we did a really good job this week in the second half just playing our way, being really honest with the footy defensively and offensively, we came out winners.

So your game tonight, incredible, 32 disposals, a goal, we know Max’s role, it was incumbent on all of the leaders to be strong tonight. You clearly set yourselves for that task and everything went your way from the very start.

Yeah, I was nervous before the game. I think I fumbled it a fair few times in the first couple of minutes so defensively what I pride myself on in terms of getting myself into the game, just that tackling pressure and from there, I felt like I got more comfortable as the game went on, I thought the heat was on really early and we pride ourselves on contested possession and being around the footy. Just kept telling myself try to get as many contests as I can and I got myself into the game.

You really pride yourself on driving out of the stoppage.

Yeah, I do. Yeah. I feel that’s a strength of mine and Clayton Oliver is driving contest and tackle and I felt like Geelong is such a great tackling team, so if we contest the tackle, open them up on the outside, we would have space to run into.

What about what’s ahead now. Two weeks in Perth, it must be a good feeling knowing you don’t have to travel. Although we know you would love to be home at the MCG obviously. But to have the full house here, firstly on the crowd, what about having 60,000 here tonight for a prelim?

Oh, it’s special. Melbourne-based team and all our fans are in Melbourne, I want to give a shout out to all the fans outs there who can’t come to WA, it is really frustrating, my family, all my mates who are Dees supporters, everyone who has been waiting since 1964, so it’s frustrating but the support we had from Melbourne fans tonight was unbelievable. I didn’t really expect it to be honest. I thought it was going to be a neutral crowd but to have the majority of it Melbourne was pretty special. Secondly, we’re out of quarantine which is good. Huge win. So good to get to a beach or cafe which will be awesome. So the last two weeks, the next two weeks will be really important with our preparation. We did a really good job in the semi-final. Getting it right and we had a match seven days before it. So we will probably take the same preparation.

So the red and the blue. We know of all of the hearts in this room that beat true, yours I think is perhaps right up there. You love this jumper. This is a moment you’ve dreamt of since you arrived at the club. Just tell us now, you’re in the grand final, what does that mean to you?

Oh, it’s probably hasn’t really sunk in yet. We just won the prelim, went through to the granny, but I’ve been here since 2014, and I came at a good time I didn’t see those dark days like Nathan Jones has, his demeanour at this footy club has been unbelievable. He can be frustrated but the way he’s shown his personality through the group has been unbelievable. His influence on the younger boys has been awesome around the group. So yeah, for my point of view, I haven’t been here in those dark days but from my journey, it has had its ups and downs but mainly up. It has been frustrating. We have been inconsistent. But this all started back from pre-season day one where we sat down and every club puts words to paper and we wanted to sort of have those as actions as well. To sort of show it on the game and to sort of show our consistency throughout the year and to just play finals footy and our DNA stacks up in finals footy, it is awesome.

You might have the Brownlow in the mix next Sunday night as well. There’s a bit to think about coming up?

Not at all mate. Purely on the grand final. Clayton has got it. It’s exciting two weeks. We’ve got to enjoy this journey. We’ve never been here before. We have got to embrace every single day. We’ve all never been here before. So it’s an exciting time, new to us, but like we have all year, we’ve embraced every situation that’s come in this COVID situation, so who knows. But yeah, it’s an exciting time for the footy club.

Oh, well. Looks like May will be playing in the grand final. No need for a medical!

Star Melbourne defender Jake Lever spoke to Channel Seven after the game…

Big congratulations. You are locked in. You are going to contest a premiership in a couple of weeks’ time. It was an incredible performance. How proud are you of the boys?

Thank you very much. I think that once that Brisbane game finished, we really turned our focus to obviously with the week off, it is such an advantage. But the footy club did such a great job considering the circumstances, we’re over here in Perth, locked down for 14 days, I thought the club and the boys, the attitude, not only of the 23 that played today, but the guys that come along with us, we brought our whole squad and our training session last Friday really set the tone for the week. What you saw in the first half especially, I thought that that was really built on the week that we had.

There was a real concern around Steven May obviously with that hamstring in the opening quarter. It was great to see him come back out on the ground. But defensively, to hold Geelong to one goal in a half of footy in that second half, not just your back six, but from a whole team perspective, it was just unbelievable.

It was amazing. I think that that’s what we have prided ourselves on all year, our defence. Two years before that, I think that we were one of the worst in the comp. You work on it for a couple of years and it seems to come out in the big stages. Losing Steve early but I thought he was done for the day but second quarter, he rolls around and he come back out for us. So once again, with 60, 70 points, it was a great decision to take him off, he won’t be able to play golf this week, so he will be able to get it right and he will be there next Saturday.

Up the ground as well, your midfield did what they do best. They were sensational. But in the forward line as well, 10 individual goalkickers, Max Gawn with five, yes, Kozzy Pickett with three, but it must be so nice to have so many different avenues to goal and having so many people really share that workload.

Absolutely. I think that that is, again, what we pride ourselves on all year. There is not really been a dominant goalkicker in our forward line and I think what you saw tonight, you know, Maxy lined up and said he’s kicked five goals, I cannot believe it. It was fantastic effort from him. But when you’ve got Ben Brown attacking the ball like he did tonight, Tom McDonald just competes hard all day, and when you bring the small guys into the game, it’s a pretty dangerous game.

Lastly, we can all see it and we can absolutely all feel it, but the bond of the connection that this group has, just talk to us about that quickly.

Yeah, I think it is something that we felt especially over the pre-season this year, but it’s been two or three years. I think that the way that we just want to play for each other, not really worried about stats, goals, disposals, whatever it is, I think it is really evident on the big stage. It stands up.

Jack Viney was sensational tonight as well, and he spoke to Channel Seven too…

Jack Viney, 35 disposals in a prelim final. You’re into a grand final. How good does that feel?

Unbelievable. Playing in front of, I would say, predominantly Melbourne crowd, the boys played so well tonight. On a big occasion. Puts us through to a grand final. So I don’t think it is quite sunk in just yet. Still hyped up from the game. But unbelievable performance and I’m sure everyone back home at Melbourne really enjoyed it as well.

Halfway through that third quarter, you knew you were playing in a grand final. What was the mindset?

It was just to keep going. To be ruthless. To not change, really. We had a really handy lead and it is easy in those situations to go away from the game plan, but we just wanted to keep executing, so we’re proud of how the boys played.

You have got Dees fans all over the country. What is your message for them?

I hope you guys are just enjoying the ride with us. So great to have a crowd here tonight. I know there’s so many Dees fans back home cheering from their living rooms. So one more to go. Hopefully we give you guys plenty more to smile about in the coming weeks.

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