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Melbourne Demons captain Max Gawn's frustrations boiled over against Collingwood during their Queen's Birthday clash after he copped an agonising knee to the back.
It's been a difficult few weeks for the Demons, who forfeited top spot on the AFL ladder after the Magpies handed them their third defeat in as many weeks on Monday.
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The Demons were without defender Steven May and midfielder Jake Melksham after the pair were involved in a fight last weekend, with May suspended and Melksham requiring treatment for an infection as a result.
Gawn struggled against the Magpies after he caught a knee from Collingwood rival Mason Cox in a marking contest, however the bearded ruckman seemed to have other frustrations while on the field.
As he came from the field shortly after the painful contest with Cox, Gawn stopped to direct a spray towards several players on the Collingwood bench.
Among them was Magpies young gun Jack Ginnivan, who has shown no signs of backing down from his enigmatic playing style so far in his short career.
The nature of Gawn's exchange with the Magpies bench left commentators perplexed, with Gawn typically seen as one of the more laid back characters in the AFL.
Fox Footy commentator Jason Dunstall speculated as to whether someone had 'gobbed off' to Gawn has he came from the field, while fellow commentator Jordan Lewis suspected the Demons captain wanted the last word over something.
— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) June 13, 2022
“I think it was out of character for Max to come off like that,” Lewis said.
“Someone must’ve said something as he was coming off and he thought he needed to say something to finish off the conversation.”
The 12.10 (82) to 8.8 (56) upset meant Melbourne slipped to second on the ladder and their flag defence is in danger of being derailed if they cannot arrest the slide.
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An AFL investigation into the May-Melksham brawl is ongoing as the Demons search for ways to turn their form around, but Goodwin denied the off-field distractions had a negative effect on his players against Collingwood.
"It was a big week for our footy club and we would've loved to have walked away from here with a victory and changed the week that was, but the case is we didn't," Goodwin said.
"We played with heart, we played with spirit and we had a group of players that wanted to do well for their footy club, but our method wasn't quite to the level.
"That's AFL footy, but yeah, it was a big week for our footy club and we would've loved to have walked away with a win."
May's absence through injury and suspension has hurt, with the problem exacerbated against Collingwood by injuries to Gawn, Harrison Petty and Daniel Turner.
Gawn (back and ankle) played through soreness, as did Petty (shoulder and shin), who was also tested for concussion, while debutant Turner (concussion) had to be substituted out.
"From a talls perspective we were under a fair bit of pressure in that third quarter, so we need to get (May) back," Goodwin said.
"We need to get him back in our team, we need to get him playing well and get our team playing really cohesive again.
"It's not surprising that when you don't have cohesion teams can struggle, so we need to get that back."
Goodwin conceded second halves have "definitely" been a concern over the last three weeks, with the Demons outscored 6.16 (52) to 25.9 (159) collectively by Fremantle, Sydney and Collingwood.
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