Melbourne’s nightmares becoming reality

It’s every Melbourne fan’s worst nightmare. As finals beckon, the Dees are faltering.

The flag favourites have lost two of their last three and are in a scoring rut, failing to kick 10 goals for a third consecutive game in their nine-point loss to GWS.

Between rounds one and 12 the Dees kicked at least 10 goals in each game they played as they skyrocketed to the summit of the AFL ladder.

Simon Goodwin said he was left “frustrated” by his side’s inability to hit the scoreboard and take the most of its chances, particularly during a second half onslaught of inside 50s.

When the Dees were full throttle in the final term in search of an unlikely come from behind win, they had 18 inside 50s but could only muster a miserly two goals.

Their early season potency, which blew the likes of Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane away, looks completely lost.

“It’s frustrating for the playing group as much as it is the coaching group and supporters because you’ve got momentum of the game and you can’t capitalise on it,” Goodwin said of his side’s inability to kick a score in the second half.

With high-profile recruit Ben Brown languishing in the VFL alongside the highly rated Sam Weideman, Goodwin must make a call on whether the addition of either, or both, can steady the ship.

“It’s certainly something we’ll look at, there’s no question about that,” he said. “If you look through the history of the season, I think we’ve lost two games playing three talls and one game playing two talls.

“But we’re not naïve to the fact we need to execute better inside 50 and we need to score a little bit more.”

The issues for Goodwin and Melbourne aren’t just inside 50 either.

Despite boasting the premier ruckman in the competition, Max Gawn, Goodwin’s midfield has been battered in recent weeks, losing the clearance battle by 10 against Collingwood, and 15 against GWS. In the same games they lost centre clearances by five.

Clayton Oliver is one of the premier clearance players in the AFL and averages seven per game, but to halftime against GWS hadn’t registered one.

Sides appear to be putting extra work into the All-Australian candidate, and his struggles against the Pies and Giants have resulted in midfield dominance for the respective clubs.

Goodwin labelled his side’s performance around the ball as “very average”.

“That’s an area we’ll keep working on, it’s not where it needs to be,” Goodwin said.

“Clearance and centre bounce were issues today. It’s how you connect with your ruckman, it’s your method around the contest and the guys off the square too.”

Goodwin said despite the loss and worrying form line, his side was in a good position.

“We came out of the bye and played a strong game last week, and we didn’t play to the level we’d like in the first half this week,” he said.

“But I thought we’re playing a good side, AFL footy is tough.

“We don’t sit here thinking we can’t get better, and that’s our challenge. The results and the process will take care of themselves.”

Jack Buckley appeared in agony after suffering an injury in the first quarter. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Unlucky Buckley

Leon Cameron says GWS is fearing the worst for young key defender Jack Buckley, who injured his knee in the Giants’ nine-point win against Melbourne.

Buckley was going back with the flight of the ball when a collision with James Harmes wrenched the 23-year-old’s left knee in what appeared to be an ACL injury.

Cameron said the emerging star had been sent for scans but the injury had left the club’s heart broken.

“I saw him at halftime and we probably fear the worst for him, he’s off at the hospital at the moment having scans,” Cameron said.

“It’s heart breaking sometimes when you see these injuries, especially for a kid who’s put so much into his footy in the last few years.

“He’s come from nowhere really to become a bona fide AFL footballer who holds down a key position.”

The Giants’ win was in no small part down to the last quarter Tom Green played.

The 20-year-old collected eight touches and laid two big tackles to spur his weary teammates on as Melbourne pushed hard for a comeback win.

Cameron said Green, who spent the last few weeks playing in GWS’ VFL side, was capable of playing “special footy”.

“He’s a fine young kid who is playing some really strong footy at the moment,” he said.

“He probably just went off the ball for about three weeks. That’s going to happen for young kids.

“He responded really well and clearly today he showed he can play some special footy. He had some really big moments and that experience just for him will be invaluable. We’re wrapped with his progression.”

Shane Mumford went toe-to-toe with Max Gawn and nullified the Dees’ skipper, but Cameron said the veteran big man was still a week-to-week prospect for the Giants.

“Mummy’s back’s been playing up and his knees, so he had three weeks off between efforts,” Cameron said.

“It doesn’t sound right because clearly you like to play your ruck back-to-back-to-back, and he may get up for next week, but I’m also mindful (Matt) Flynn is working his craft with young (Kieran) Briggs as well.

“Getting games into them knowing Mummy is at the back end of his career too, we juggle that every week.

“I thought he was terrific today against the best ruckman in the competition, he just finds a way.”

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