It’s now or never for the underachieving Melbourne Demons.
After several seasons of failing to reach high expectations, the Melbourne Demons will be seeking to legitimise their reputation as one of the strongest AFLW sides.
With the re-injection of fearless leader Daisy Pearce, a reliable coaching panel and an overall strong line-up, Melbourne must deliver this season.
The proposition of a maiden finals appearance is a dangling carrot in front of the Demons – if they can find a balance between their signature slick ball use and increased on-ball aggression, there’s no reason they can’t achieve great things.
What did we learn from last season?
Mick Stinear’s side displayed promising signs in their 2019 campaign with four wins and two narrow losses. Yet, a colossal loss to Adelaide in the final round was a reality check for the Demons.
After finishing third-last in their conference, it became clear Melbourne were not quite at the level where they could match it with the league’s top sides.
The tone for the Demon’s season was set in their Round 1 clash with Fremantle. Whilst they were always around their opponents’ mark, a late 3-goal surge to the Dockers stole the victory from the red and blue.
Seem familiar? Melbourne were travelling along nicely all season – not setting the world on fire, but staying comfortably in contention. Cue a demoralising thumping from the Crows in their last match, and all finals hopes were out the window.
Whilst it could be argued this game did not appropriately reflect the Demons’ 2019 performance, grasping big games with mental and physical strength will be a key challenge in 2020.
Much of Melbourne’s past finals heartbreak also stemmed from poor goal kicking accuracy. Throughout the past 3 seasons, they have been sitting at just 40-50 percent in front of goal.
When considering the Demons missed finals based on percentage, this is an area which could use some attention.
It’s an adage as old as footballing time, but ‘playing your role’ may have somewhat worked against Melbourne last year. Simply because, they arguably had too many people playing the same role, with similar skills.
Having several talented players with a flair for ball use is by no means a bad thing. Yet, it’s important to balance this out with hard-at-it inside players who use grit and strength to surge the ball forward – an area Melbourne may be somewhat lacking.
Yet, as star midfielder Lily Mithen tells us, it’s this heartbreak that’s driving her side in 2020.
“There’s plenty of learnings out of our past few seasons,” she says.
“We definitely have missed out on finals and what not but that’s been no one’s fault other than our own.
“There’s definitely plenty of room for improvement and hopefully we go one better than what we have previously.”