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The stats files: Is the Demon dream dying?

Peter Ryan  August 1, 2017 7:02 AM

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Time for the Demons to shake off their not-quite-dry July

MELBOURNE faces its biggest month of football in more than a decade.

It has an opportunity to make finals that it must not let slip.

Sitting seventh on the ladder with four games to go, the Demons are higher than they have been this time of the year since they were fifth after round 19, 2006.

But they're wobbling. The four-point loss to North Melbourne was their third loss in the past six weeks, as the Dees go on a win-loss-win-loss-win-loss streak.

Jack Viney misses a tackle as the Demons slump to a 17th straight loss against North Melbourne on Saturday. Picture: AFL Photos

Since round 14, Melbourne's statistical indicators have dropped. The Demons have failed to kick 100 points in a game in that time, going from the fourth-highest scoring team across the first 13 rounds to the fourth lowest in the past six games.

At that point after round 13, they had won 30 of 48 quarters (62.5 per cent) but they have won 11 of 20 quarters (55 per cent) since round 14.

There are reasons for the recent drop-off.  

Co-captain Nathan Jones has missed all six weeks while Jesse Hogan, Bernie Vince, Jack Watts and Jack Viney have each missed more than one game in that time.

The Dees have been the AFL's fourth lowest scorers in the past six games. Picture: AFL Photos

But the time for looking for reasons has ended, because the Demons – even without Hogan – have a job to do.

With games against Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda, the Brisbane Lions and Collingwood remaining, they can make finals for the first time in 11 years.  

That would be a superb result for the club, which has shown great improvement under first-year coach Simon Goodwin after three years under Paul Roos in which the list was rebuilt.

A focus on winning contested ball will help, with Nathan Jones, who has played 227 games for just 65 wins since he took part in the club's most recent finals performance, a handy addition in that area.  

The time has come for ill-discipline to end, for team aspects to prevail over individuals attempting – with good intentions – to win games with acts of brilliance.

Last year was the first time since 2007 that the Demons won two of their final four games, and they haven't won three of their last four home and away games since 2005. 

They last won all four of their final home and away games in 2000 when they played in the Grand Final, starting the run from round 19 sitting fourth on the ladder with 10 wins (same number as this season).

That's one for the dreamers but why shouldn't Melbourne dream?

It's the first time since 2006 that the club has been in the mix when the whips started cracking.

August is here and the Demons need to come alive.

#freekickhawthorn

Remember that hashtag? If it's dying a quiet death, that might be because the Hawks have received the fewest free kicks in 2017. They're the only team yet to receive 300 free kicks.

One 73-year-old record that's up for grabs

Adelaide's remarkable draw with Collingwood on Sunday means the top three teams on the ladder have all played in draws this season.

The last time that happened at the end of the home and away season was in 1944, when the top four teams all played in draws during that season.

How Mitch McGovern's goal changes the record books

Adelaide forward McGovern became the seventh player to kick a goal after the siren to force a draw, and the first since the Brisbane Lions' Daniel Bradshaw kicked a goal from the square against Essendon in round 19, 2009.

With Cat Tom Hawkins also becoming just the third player in history to force a draw by kicking a behind after the siren, it makes 2017 the first season in which draws have resulted from both a goal and a behind being kicked after the siren

Sam the unstoppable

North Melbourne running machine Sam Gibson will have played the third-most consecutive games from debut when he plays his 127th on Saturday night against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.

He remains 68 games behind Sydney premiership player Jared Crouch, who played 194 games straight after his debut, and 32 behind Fitzroy champion John Murphy (father of Carlton's Marc) who played 158 games straight for the Lions after making his debut.

Gibson's effort to join former Demon Dick Taylor on 127 games this week is remarkable given he made his debut aged 26 in round 12, 2012.

Gibson is also on the longest current active streak in the game, ahead of former Blue Zach Tuohy, who has been excellent in his first season for Geelong and has now racked up 108 consecutive games.

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