AFL: Melbourne ‘exposed’ for continued below-par play, says coach

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Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says Brisbane ‘exposed’ ongoing deficiencies in the Demons’ game as their winning run screeched to a halt at the MCG on Thursday night.

Goodwin was pleased by how his side rallied with five final-quarter goals but said the Lions were harder and hungrier as he conceded a relentless schedule may have taken its toll.

It was Melbourne’s third game in 13 days leading into its round 6 bye, but the coach said fatigue was not an excuse for how the opposition dictated terms for most of the 22-point defeat.

“It probably didn’t look like us tonight in all phases of the game … three games in 13 days is a lot, obviously with some travel involved as well, but I wouldn’t want to put that out as an excuse for us and take anything away from the Lions,” he said.

“I thought they were terrific – every team goes through their little challenges within their season and a fixture that you’re provided with, and you can’t use those things as excuses … when you rock up, your job is to perform as a footy club and we didn’t do that tonight.

“(The Lions) are a pretty talented group in there … they punished us tonight around the ball, I thought they were certainly harder, they tackled better, they won the spilt ball better, and that gave them the territory that they needed, especially early in the game.”

Goodwin said the loss of Christian Salem to a hamstring strain early in the third quarter had hurt, and he expected the experienced defender to miss some time.

“He’s an experienced player in the back half of your ground, so he’ll be out for a little bit of time. Obviously a hamstring, so we’ll get a good idea of what that looks like,” Goodwin said.

“Clearly missing a guy like that in your back half, you become pretty inexperienced behind the ball.”

Goodwin said the result and 3-2 record was reflective of where the Demons were at in terms of their performance this season.

“We’ve also acknowledged internally for a few weeks now that we’re probably not playing to the level that we think we’re capable of,” Goodwin said.

“Even though we were sitting (3-1) coming into tonight, we always knew that we had work to do, and tonight we got exposed.”

Switching Trent Rivers with a spent Clayton Oliver for the final term had been a catalyst for the improved final quarter performance, Goodwin said.

“We pulled the trigger on a few things to try to change the look of the game. Rivers going into the midfield, Clayton going to halfback,” he said.

“Really at three-quarter time it was about, ‘let’s just try and play our best quarter of footy’. To the players’ credit, they responded again, and you can never doubt that about this playing group.

“They weren’t happy with how the game was sitting, and they had their best quarter of footy for the night in the last quarter, which was pleasing to get something out of the game.”

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