Robinson: Demons’ prelim choke will leave scars
SADLY, it was the king of all chokes.
And the dream Grand Final for Victoria was laid to waste by a rampant and unrelenting West Coast in Perth.
The premiership will be decided between Collingwood and the Eagles at the MCG on Saturday, two teams who at the start of the season had questions thrust upon them about their coaches - Nathan Buckley and Adam Simpson - and their team's potential to succeed.
Now, both teams are the envy of the competition.
The winner will be the fourth different winner of the Grand Final in the past four seasons.
It was an incredulous weekend of domination and desolation.
We didn't think we could witness the unthinkable again after the Magpies systematically dismantled the reigning premier on Friday night.
It was perfect football from the Pies in the first half. The Eagles might've been even more precise.
At least the Tigers had kicked two goals by half-time in their encounter. Melbourne had just six behinds.
It prompted a search of history books for lowest scores in preliminary finals and of the dictionary to suitably describe the ineptitude of the performance.
At half-time, the score was 10.9 to 0.6 on the back of Josh Kennedy's four goals, his team's crisp and quick ball movement and, staggeringly, Melbourne's inability to cope with the occasion and their opponents.
The second half offered improvement, but it meant little.
The final score was 121-55.
Again, the first 60 minutes of the second preliminary final was stunning.
The Eagles weren't flat track bullies, a term they were labelled with before this season, they were hometown terminators.
The Demons will ask themselves for some time what happened.
Clearly, It's horrible to tag a team as chokers, for Melbourne has earned the respect of all football fans in the past five weeks, but it's difficult to find an alternative.
In Round 22, the Demons won their way into the finals by beating the Eagles in Perth.
Saturday, they were beaten into submission.
The Eagles kicked four goals in the first quarter and six goals in the second quarter - all unanswered - as Melbourne fumbled and stumbled in the heat of Perth and the heat of a preliminary final.
It was an embarrassing performance.
In the first quarter:
THEY were -9 in contested possessions which was their worst quarter this season.
THEY had a handball efficiency of 65 per cent, which was their fourth worst efficiency in a quarter this season. In layman's terms, they were pathetic by hand.
THEY conceded 31 points from turnovers, which was their second most conceded in a quarter this season.
Still, and if you could believe it, their second quarter was worse.
THEIR pressure rating at half-time was 151, which was their lowest in an opening half for the season
THEY were -14 contested possessions at the half, which was their worst result this season at half-time.
THEY were -16 groundball get, which was their third worst result in an opening half.
THEY laid just 19 tackles, which was the lowest in an opening half this season.
THEY conceded 56 points from turnovers, which was their most in a half this season.
It could go on and on, but why labour the point.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin has said many times this season, moreso after a loss, that football is a learning experience and Saturday will be the same. The difference is the mishaps through the season don't scar the mind like a preliminary final shellacking.
It might prove to be a catalyst for next season, and most fair-minded people would agree, but it also might not because there's no promises in football.
Many Melbourne players would be desperately disappointed.
At half-time, 12 Melbourne players did not lay tackle. Across the four quarters, they laid just 33 tackles, their lowest tally in a game since Round 17, 2008.
The reason why was a combination of a lack of application and the Eagles not allowing them to play the game on their terms.
West Coast's mark-and-kick game subdued Melbourne's pressure game.
As questions were asked of the lacklustre Tigers on Friday night, the same queries will be asked of the Demons, namely of the leaders such as Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis and Jack Viney and what happened to the zest and adventure of the kids.