The Melbourne Demons are enjoying one of their most successful seasons in a long time. They currently sit at $1.05 to make the AFL Finals and $7 to win the flag. You’d surely be mad to back them at either of those prices, given the current Top 8 makeup and a less than ideal run home…
Deja Vu Demons
When Round 23 came around last season, the equation for the Melbourne Demons was simple – beat the lowly ranked Collingwood and play finals; lose and 2017 will be seen as another missed opportunity. History tells us that the up and coming Demons were disappointing on the last weekend of the home and away season and headed to “Mad Monday” earlier than they would have liked. Surely lightning can’t strike twice? Or maybe it will?
Never before has there been such a logjam on the AFL ladder with three games to play. Fourth and eighth placed are only separated by percentage, while ninth and tenth are one game back with easier draws heading towards September. A thorough analysis of the final three rounds of the season and the subsequent permutations would require a PhD in mathematics, but needless to say there will be some hard luck stories come seasons end. Of the more fancied teams, Melbourne a $7 Premiership chance with Palmerbet appear one of the more precariously placed with a tough run home.
The Demons will host the Sydney Swans, and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG over the coming weeks, with a trip to Optus Stadium to play the West Coast Eagles in between. Three wins and they will secure a coveted top 4 position, two wins and they play finals (maybe still top 4) and one win leaves fans nervous, relying on other results. Lose the lot and it is another year wasted.
Injuries to key players at the wrong time have left coach Simon Goodwin cursing his bad luck. Joel Smith has joined key defenders Jake Lever and Michael Hibberd on the sidelines, leaving the Demons undermanned in defence. Star midfielder Jack Viney is another notable absentee, and is unlikely to play during the regular season when the Dees need all hands on deck.
A win this week and momentum could swing towards a successful September. A loss could see the curtains start to draw.
The Run Home
Sydney Swans @ MCG – Never has the expression “must win” been more apt. The Swans’ form has been indifferent over the last few weeks, but they bounced back to win a thriller against Collingwood last weekend. Buddy Franklin made the most of an injury to Darcy Moore to inspire the Swannies with 6 goals. Injuries to the Dees tall defenders could prove telling here. Sam Frost will need to play a blinder to stop Franklin, if he can’t stop him the Demons are in a world of pain. The Swans have had the wood over Melbourne in recent times, winning the last 6 encounters.
West Coast Eagles @ Optus Stadium – Perth was the scene of Melbourne’s greatest triumph last season where they won with the last kick of the night. Prior to that, things had not been so good, with the Eagles winning 9 straight between the teams. The West Coast will not be short on motivation either, playing for a top 2 spot and a chance to host a home final. This will be a tough ask for Melbourne.
Greater Western Sydney @ MCG – The Giants are the form side of the competition winning 8 from their last 9 including a victory over flag favourites Richmond. The GWS enjoyed some success on a rare visit to the MCG earlier this season, with a victory over Collingwood, and as their playing list matures, so too does their ability to win away from home. It’s likely the Giants will be playing to sure up a top 4 spot, or alternatively the chance to host a final so the stakes will be very high. The Giants tall forwards will stretch Melbourne making it hard for Simon Goodwin’s men.