Depleted Demons hold on against Hawks

·3-min read

Melbourne have dodged two bullets -- first COVID-19 and then a determined challenge from Hawthorn -- to extend their AFL winning streak.

The depleted Demons needed their trademark third-quarter surge to beat the Hawks by 10 points in Saturday's twilight game at the MCG.

Hawthorn kept the reigning premiers goalless in the last term, but Melbourne had the game under control and won 13.13 (91) to 11.15 (81).

It was the highest score against Melbourne throughout their 14-game winning run, which started in round 20 last season.

COVID-19 meant the Demons were without coach Simon Goodwin and premiership players Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett, Tom Sparrow, Harrison Petty and Alex Neal-Bullen for the match against the Hawks.

When Neal-Bullen was a late withdrawal on Friday, stand-in coach Adem Yze admitted there were concerns about losing even more players for the match.

"There was a risk with all of that," Yze said.

"We thought we got through it all when we went to our captain's run and then finding out that Alex Neal-Bullen was a late out as well, that just magnifies the whole risk of the next 24 hours as well.

"We think we've gotten through that."

Yze noted Jack Viney and Jake Lever returned from COVID-19 for Saturday's encounter.

"We've had, I think it ended up being six or seven players who were impacted for this game," Yze said.

"So that's what we're proud of, that we could deal with that ... and we end up having a solid win."

This is the sixth time an assistant coach has had to take over a team this season because of COVID-19 and Yze continued their perfect strike rate.

Melbourne's stars led the way, with captain Max Gawn and on-ballers Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca showcasing their class.

Key forward Ben Brown also was prominent with four goals.

Hawthorn led at quarter-time and were within touching distance early in the second half.

The third term is known as the premiership quarter and the reigning premiers dominated again with six goals to three.

It was critical, given the Hawks kicked three goals to none in the last.

Melbourne have outscored their opposition in the third quarter for all seven games this season.

Dylan Moore was best for Hawthorn and Jacob Koschitzke kicked four goals, while late inclusion Finn Maginness impressed with his shutdown role on in-form Demons wing Ed Langdon.

Hawks coach Sam Mitchell was left with mixed emotions.

"It's a bit of a missed opportunity ... there's a level of pride in the performance and the effort," he said.

"But by the same token I'm extremely disappointed, for the boys in particular, because they just left it all out there.

"We actually restricted a lot of their key players today but they still find a way to put us away."

Melbourne defender Joel Smith hurt his ankle and Hawthorn's Conor Nash is nursing a quad injury.

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