After snapping a 57 year premiership drought, Melbourne will be looking to go back to back and deliver a premiership in front of their loyal fans at the MCG. Can the Dees handle the pressure of being the hunted?
Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while PuntingInDanger and his crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates!
Melbourne Demons Season Preview
In: Luke Dunstan (Delisted Free Agent), Jacob Van Rooyen (Pick 19), Blake Howes (Pick 39), Taj Woewodin (Pick 65)
The Demons added some midfield depth by picking up Luke Dunstan who will be a valuable back up if Melbourne have any injury troubles. The Dees had an excellent draft snaring swingman Jacob Van Rooyen as well getting Blake Howes at pick 39, despite being projected to go in the first round. Melbourne could be the first club ever to field the exact same 22 that featured in a premiership, in round one of the following season.
Melbourne shocked the AFL going from ninth in 2020, to premiers in 2021 in one of the most dominant finals campaigns in AFL history. The Dees had talent, but in 2021 Simon Goodwin was able to implement a system which took the Dees to the next level, built on their defence. Melbourne were the number one ranked defence last season, conceding just 62 points per game. Steven May and Jake Lever were both All Australians in a dominant defence that not only kept opposing sides at bay, but created attacking opportunities.
Melbourne had an outstanding attacking game to pair with its defence, with their surge mentality football seeing them rank 1st in tackles, 2nd in scoring, 3rd in disposals and 4th in clearances in 2021. Their ability to retain the ball inside their forward fifty allowed their defence to set up behind the ball, allowing them to be aggressive in creating outnumbered contests.
Melbourne’s midfield of Gawn, Oliver, Petracca, Viney, Langdon and Brayshaw were incredible last season, and still shape up as the premier midfield in the AFL. With Luke Jackson beginning to garner more opportunities in the ruck, the Dees midfield could be even more dynamic - a scary prospect for the other seventeen clubs.
The Demons list is primed to be successful for a long period of time, The average age of the Dees premiership side was 25 with 16 players aged 26 or younger. The side also featured seven players with less than 40 games experience. With the likes of Adam Tomlinson, Sam Weideman, Jake Melksham, Jayden Hunt and Joel Smith missing out on a premiership last year, there’s still plenty of depth to drive Melbourne in 2022.
Breakout Player: Tom Sparrow
It’s difficult to pick a breakout player from a side that just won the premiership, however given how young the Dees list is, there’s a few players that could go up a level in 2022. After solidifying his spot in the team in the second half of 2021, Tom Sparrow played a crucial role in Melbourne’s premiership side. Sparrow averaged 14 disposals per game across the last seven games of 2021, in a half forward role. Sparrow will see a few more opportunities in the midfield this season, which should allow his game to grow. Entering his fourth season in the AFL having played 16 of his 23 career games last year, Sparrow is having an outstanding preseason and will be full of confidence coming into this season.
What Do The Demons Need To Do In 2022?
There’s very little for Melbourne to improve on in 2022 after their spectacular campaign in 2021. The evolution of their younger players will be fascinating to watch this season. Can the likes of Luke Jackson, Kozzy Pickett, Trent Rivers, Tom Sparrow, James Jordan and Jake Bowey elevate their games to another level? The development of these players will be critical to Melbourne’s ability to remain at the top of the AFL this season.
2021 will be a tough act to follow but with where the Dees list is at, they are in a perfect position to go back to back. They’ve got the best midfield and the best backline in the AFL, as well as a brand of football that stands up in finals. Their forward line despite being viewed as a weakness was the second most prolific in the competition last season and with Ben Brown building more continuity after his first season for Melbourne, the Demons forward line will be a handful to contain in 2022. Given the season finished outside of Victoria last season, Melbourne will be hungry to win a premiership in front of their home crowd at the MCG - there shouldn’t be any concerns about if this side has the hunger to go back. The Demons are the most complete side in the AFL and will be back at the pointy end once again this season.