Christian Petracca detail called out as Nathan Buckley rips Demons over 'terrible' scenes

Petracca has been singled out after Sunday's AFL shocker for Melbourne.

The Melbourne Demons have come under fire across the AFL world after Sunday's diabolical 92-point thrashing by Fremantle in Alice Springs. Collingwood great Nathan Buckley described the Demons' display as "terrible" and dual Kangaroos premiership legend David King suggested a move for superstar Christian Petracca could be on the cards after the embarrassing performance.

The 22.9 (141) to 7.7 (49) drubbing was Melbourne's third loss in four games, the heaviest defeat under coach Simon Goodwin and sees them tumble out of the top eight. The Demons were smashed in every way, including a 68-37 inside 50 count against them as well as 48 lost clearances to 23. They also lost the disposal count by 78, contested footy stats by 42, made 46 less marks and even came out second best in the tackle count against the Dockers.

On the right is AFL great Nathan Buckley and Melbourne's Christian Petracca on the left.
Nathan Buckley described Melbourne's display against Fremantle as 'terrible' after another AFL great floated a positional change for Christian Petracca. Pic: Getty

The alarming numbers led plenty of AFL analysts to declare the Demons were simply not a top-four side in 2024, having been one of the competition's most consistent performers in recent seasons. Buckley said Goodwin and his Demons side have some massive questions to answer and the fact they had just 37 inside 50s against Fremantle was the latest worrying development for the club.

“Three weeks ago they only got 36 inside 50s against West Coast. In between that was a win against the Saints, but there are some real questions to be asked," Buckley said on SEN Breakfast. “The game plan makes sure you have bodies where you need them in the doses you need them... but then those bodies need to win the contest that needs to be won. And neither of those two things happened for Melbourne."

The former Collingwood coach says he thinks a lack of fitness is hurting the Demons after savaging their performance on Sunday. “There was vision after the game... all I’ll say is looking at the Melbourne rooms after the game, they don’t look as hard and fit as I would expect a top four AFL team to look. And they don’t have a lot of injuries,” Buckley added.

“From the vision I saw of their warm down... you have to call it as you see it, there were some players there I thought didn’t look in the condition that you would expect them to be in if you’re going to be coming up against the AFL’s best teams and expecting to win them. The performance was terrible and they just don’t look hard and fit... You just don’t have a performance like that if there’s not something underneath the surface that isn’t quite right."

Hawthorn great Ben Dixon told Fox Footy’s First Crack on Sunday night that the contested output from the Demons was simply not good enough. And he said the fact Melbourne allowed the Dockers to record their best clearance numbers (+24) in 10 years was a "disgrace" when Melbourne have superstars like Petracca and Clayton Oliver in their side.

“Freo have just helped themselves to their best record in 10 years... they threw the towel in a long way out, so they didn’t fight through it," Dixon said. "That’s a disgrace when you’ve got the likes of Petracca, Oliver and the A-graders through that middle of the ground – unacceptable, and I would be filthy if I was Simon Goodwin right now.”

The Melbourne Demons finished second best in just about every key stat area against Fremantle in the AFL. Pic: Getty
The Melbourne Demons finished second best in just about every key stat area against Fremantle in the AFL. Pic: Getty

Kangaroos great King agreed and said Melbourne had to come up with answers and fast - floating the idea of a positional shift for Petracca. “Is it Christian Petracca full time forward? They’re the discussions that they’re going to have,” King said. “They’ve got issues that they have to address immediately; this is not a mulligan, given they are a great contested possession team.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen them as casual with ball in hand in the backline – and (missing) easy kicks. They’re just so casual, and it didn’t look like it really meant anything, didn’t look like there was any investment in the game... I don’t know where Simon Goodwin starts.”


The Demons coach said the thrashing by Freo was "completely unacceptable" and admitted he has a big job to arrest his side's form slump. "There's inconsistencies in our game. That trend has been there for a little while now," Goodwin said. "We understand there's elements within our method that aren't right. But inconsistencies from week to week are concerning... We can't play to the level that we have in (areas) that we value incredibly highly. There's method, there's intent, there's role execution. We'll dig into the 'why', but we need to fix our inconsistencies."

with AAP