Demons’ top-four boost in MCG romp
MELBOURNE knows the power of percentage.
It was 0.5 per cent that cost the Demons their first finals appearance in 11 years last season.
Sunday's flogging of a rudderless Gold Coast at the MCG secured fourth spot on a highly competitive ladder.
And the 5.5 percentage boost gives the Demons a decent shot at staying there.
Football has always been a numbers game, but some are more important than others.
The Demons started Sunday in eighth place with a percentage of 127.3 per cent. By quarter time they were fourth and sitting at 130.4 and at the final siren it was 132.8.
It was largely thanks to Clayton Oliver, who, like the Demons' improving number, continues to take his game to the next level.
He had 11 touches and kicked two goals in the opening term.
Oliver showed his contested ball prowess, bouncing off a Sun to clear the ball for the Demons from the back pocket.
His first goal, he gathered the ball after a stoppage and snapped from the goal square.
Oliver is fun to watch. He's so up and about, it's like he's just downed a Red Bull before rushing to the MCG dancefloor.
When Oliver found himself at full forward, his smarts were the difference.
At one stage he led from the square, sprinting for 20m before marking out in front. What can you do?
He set up teammates too, drilling a beauty to Charlie Spargo who was deep inside 50m for a goal.
Max Gawn was a bit off by his standards. Just by a few percentage points.
The highlight was the barrel he launched from the centre square that found Tom McDonald deep in attack.
But Sunday was easy for Melbourne, so it didn't matter that Max was a touch diminished.
If the Demons are going to be serious contenders, they'll need growth from more of their players.
Christian Petracca is almost symbolic of the Demons. As Paul Roos put it, he's been solid, but not spectacular.
While Oliver and Max Gawn are bona fide stars, Petracca is the potential.
He could be the difference between the Demons winning the flag or not.
Imagine him kicking four goals from a flank, taking marks and mopping up others' dropped ones.
And then being thrown into the guts and busting up packs and driving the ball forward with Dusty-like precision.
He can do it. He started forward, he showed smarts to kick from the pocket backwards where Oliver marked and kicked his second goal.
Petracca kicked a brilliant ball 50m to hit up Jeff Garlett, who passed off to Jesse Hogan to score the Demons 11th goal. He also laid two brutal tackles.
He is building. Just like the Demons' percentage and their premiership claims.