Dour Demons better than last year, says coach

Melbourne vs Geelong..
Caleb Windsor shone among Melbourne’s fleet of young talent as coach Simon Goodwin says the Demons are ahead of where they were last season. Picture: Michael Klein

Melbourne’s forward line remains a work in progress but coach Simon Goodwin has the Demons ahead of where they were last season after grinding down Geelong at the MCG.

Goodwin said the eight-point win on was the “arm wrestle” he had wanted, and thought the Demons continued to look more dynamic in their front half despite failing to kick the Cats out of the game when they had the chance on Saturday night.

The winning score of 10.14 (74) was similar to the output which had left the Demons vulnerable in their last two finals series, but Goodwin said they still had “enormous growth” in the front half of the ground.

He pointed to the presence of young players including Daniel Turner and Caleb Windsor, who kicked an important goal in the final term and had 18 disposals and six tackles in the best game so far in his debut season.

Windsor is set to spend more time across half-forward in coming weeks as the Demons look for room to fit Lachie Hunter back into their side.

AFL Rd 8 -  Melbourne v Geelong
Kysaiah Pickett (left) and Bayley Fritsch were the heroes with five goals between them as Melbourne claimed an eight-point win over Geelong at the MCG. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“I think offensively we’re certainly improving, there’s no question about that. We’ve also got enormous growth in our personnel,” Goodwin said.

“We had five guys with less than 10 games who are really starting to contribute to our footy club … I think that’s one part of it that you sit here tonight really excited about the growth throughout the year.

“This was a step in that direction tonight, and for those guys to be able to be exposed and stand up in a game like tonight is great for our footy club moving forward.”

Bayley Fritsch (3.1) and Kysaiah Pickett (2.2) broke the game open for the Demons with clean finishing in the second half after Goodwin said an extraordinary goalless second quarter (0.5 to 0.4) had put him on edge.

“Their understanding of each other’s better, our connection is slowly getting better, they’re moving in a way that is quite dynamic and hard to play against,” he said.

AFL Rd 8 -  Melbourne v Geelong
Jack Viney overcame a painful knock to his shoulder early in the game to be an important contributor to Melbourne’s win on Saturday night. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“Our efficiency is starting to improve and looking more dangerous, and that was against a really high-quality, stable defence that Geelong have set against you.”

Goodwin said captain Max Gawn was “fine” and a concussion test had not been deemed necessary after the ruckman was kneed in the head by a leaping Rhys Stanley at a stoppage.

He said there was also no concern for Jack Viney after the former skipper lay on the ground curled in pain following a collision in the first term.

“(Viney’s) all good as well. He gets the odd stinger in his shoulder every now and then, he’s had that for a few years now and it’s probably the first time it’s popped up this year,” Goodwin said.

“It comes good after about a minute, he keeps telling me, so I’m happy to roll with that.”

The coach said several fringe players would be held out from Casey’s VFL game on Sunday in case they were needed off the five-day break ahead of another MCG blockbuster on Thursday against Carlton.