Goodwin urges Demons to be humble in AFL

·3-min read

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin wants to avoid a repeat of the sledging war when the Demons face the Brisbane Lions in a sudden-death AFL semi-final.

The reigning premiers overwhelmed the Lions in every area of the game when the teams met in a fiery end to the home-and-away season three weeks ago.

Melbourne demolished Brisbane by 58 points in a commanding display at the Gabba, in a match that will be best remembered for brutal verbal barbs being thrown from both sides.

Lions captain Dayne Zorko left Melbourne defender Harrison Petty in tears with a sledge he later apologised for, but also claimed he was provoked.

The controversial incident led to fierce criticism of Zorko's leadership and his opposing captain, Demons star Max Gawn, was one to call out the veteran.

But Goodwin is urging Melbourne to focus on winning the contested ball rather than worrying about winning the sledging stakes.

"We've got enormous respect for their (Lions) ability to win the contested ball, they're a physical side and that's how we play as well," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We don't go out there seeking to be more physical than the opposition, that's just who we want to be and how we want to play."

Goodwin admitted he spoke to the group after the fiery last clash with the Lions.

"We don't want to be in a position where we play our footy like that," Goodwin said.

"We want to be a team that's known for playing the game the right way, playing hard footy and respecting our opposition and playing in a really humble way.

"Our focus (on Friday night) is on our footy, performing at our best in front of our supporters at the MCG.

"There's no better place to play in a final at the MCG."

Melbourne enter the match as hot favourites, despite their surprise defeat to Sydney in last week's qualifying final.

They are the only team to smash the Lions this season, and they have done it twice.

Melbourne triumphed over the Lions by 64 points at the MCG, before steamrolling them again by 58 points eight weeks later.

The last encounter was over midway through the second quarter as the Demons piled on 13 first-half goals to the Lions' two.

But Brisbane were able to bounce back from that humbling loss, knocking Richmond out last week in a classic elimination final win at the Gabba.

The Lions have made four changes from that match.

Darcy Fort replaces concussed ruckman Oscar McInerney, while Cam Rayner and Noah Answerth return from suspension.

Last week's sub Callum Ah Chee has been named in the 22.

Hard nuts Mitch Robinson and Rhys Mathieson were dropped, along with Jaxon Prior.

Melbourne named an unchanged line-up, meaning they will carry several wounded stars into the contest.

Norm Smith medallist Christian Petracca will play through the discomfort of a hairline fracture in his leg and a corked calf, while Charlie Spargo is still dealing with bruised vocal chords.

Prolific goalkicker Bayley Fritsch has been dealing with a knee issue but will take his place in the under-fire Demons forward line.

Fit-again spearhead Tom McDonald was overlooked for a second straight week.