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Every Demon rated from the preliminary final

Highlights: West Coast v Melbourne The Eagles and Demons clash in the second preliminary final

Angus Brayshaw – 6
Brayshaw did not stop trying and finished with a team-high 29 disposals. But when the game was at its hottest he had a couple of critical fumbles at key moments and was not as assured as he usually looks.

Sam Frost – 2
Dropped an easy early mark that set the tone for the day in a battle with Josh Kennedy who proved to be far too good. Frost appeared to be rushed and, like a lot of teammates, lacked composure when the footy was in his hands – a couple of turnovers from his hands and boot hurt.

EAGLES' DEE-MOLITION JOB Full match coverage and stats

Max Gawn – 4
Melbourne needed Gawn to be at his best for the team to cause an upset, and unfortunately for Demons fans he wasn't. Took just three marks and, although he had more hit-outs than Scott Lycett and Nathan Vardy (36-28), Gawn's impact on the game was minimal. A missed set-shot from a gettable position late in the game summed up his afternoon.

It wasn't Max Gawn's day. Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Hannan – 4
Wasn't helped by Melbourne's abysmal ball use, but often found himself competing against two or three Eagles in the air. Hannan kicked a nice goal on his left boot in the third term but did not offer much else. Mishandled a couple of ground balls early in the game in traffic.  

James Harmes – 6
Went to Luke Shuey early in the game, but given the sizeable deficit, Melbourne quickly dropped the hard tag. Was combative with 13 contested possessions but the polish unfortunately wasn't there. Took a high-flying mark in the final quarter and went back to slot a set-shot from outside 50 to get a late consolation prize.

Like his teammates, Harmes couldn't find space on Saturday. Picture: AFL Photos

Michael Hibberd – 6
Probably Melbourne's best player in the first half. The defender got some work done on his troublesome right quad early in the game. His use by foot wasn't sensational, but he at least tried to take the game on. Played better than what a normal 14-disposal game looks like. 

Neville Jetta – 4
Close to Melbourne's best player over the finals series, the preliminary final was not one of Jetta's high points. Opposed to Mark LeCras and Jamie Cripps at stages, he let his opponents get goal-side too often. Was not helped by Melbourne's shocking turnovers.

Nathan Jones – 3
The senior leader had no impact on the game, with just two disposals at quarter-time emphasising the Demons' shaky mindset and their style of play. Worked his way into the contest in the second half, but the game was already over. Melbourne needed more from its co-captain.

KENNEDY BLOWS COBWEBS AWAY Five things we learned

Jordan Lewis – 1
The most experienced finals player on Melbourne's list failed to set the right example for his teammates. In the first quarter alone, he gave away a free kick for an off-the-ball punch in the stomach and then gifted the ball to Josh Kennedy with a terrible turnover by hand with a panicked handball in defensive 50. A very disappointing performance from a player who should have known better. 

Oscar McDonald – 3
The younger McDonald's form has been better late in the season but he was well beaten by Jack Darling on Saturday. Looked slow when chasing his opponents, made errors and was not strong enough in the air on a couple of occasions. Had 13 one-percenters to save some face, but it was a game to forget.

The Eagles' forward pressure was too much for Oscar McDonald and the Demons' defence. Picture: AFL Photos

Tom McDonald – 3
Was thrown behind the ball to stem the tide when the Eagles had the ascendancy early in the game. After a cracking finals series, McDonald was rarely sighted as a target up forward for Melbourne. Took just five marks and was a victim of the Demons' atrocious efficiency going inside 50.

Jake Melksham – 3
Got McGovern's measure when the teams faced off in round 22, but could not repeat the dose in Saturday's preliminary final. Melbourne did not help itself with how it moved the ball, but Melksham was consistently competing against taller opponents. Kicked two goals late in the contest, but the game was well and truly gone by then.

Alex Neal-Bullen – 3
The ball wasn't on the deck enough for Neal-Bullen to have a scoreboard impact up forward for the Demons. But the high half-forward never really looked likely to break the play open. A brain fade when he played on from outside the boundary line was a low-light.

WATCH Three moments that mattered

Clayton Oliver – 6
The usually sure-handed Oliver was a reflection of his team's struggles early, having trouble gaining clean possession and using his elite hands to advantage. Won the first clearance of the second half and then got Melbourne on the board with a shot on the run to open Melbourne's account. Unfortunately had little impact when the game was on the line.

 

Christian Petracca – 5
For Melbourne to win, Petracca is the type of player who needed to have a blinder. The forward struggled early, but got better the longer the game went and when the heat came out of the contest. Had 21 touches (13 contested) and at least threw his body in when some of his teammates wouldn't. 

Christian Salem – 5
Was typically efficient with 19 disposals at 73.7 per cent efficiency. Like all of his teammates he was under the pump a lot and he did his best to help withstand the Eagles' onslaught. Salem's run-and-carry ability has been important across the finals series, but the way the game went meant he never really had the opportunity to produce similar moments in Saturday's game.

ANALYSIS Bitter end to Demons' season of promise

Joel Smith – 3
Brought into the side at the expense of Bayley Fritsch. Outpointed by Jack Darling in the first quarter. Bounced back to take a strong intercept mark but was not 'one-touch' enough when the ball hit the ground. Was moved forward in the second half and got on the scoreboard with a 'joe the goose' handball over the top.

Charlie Spargo – 2
The youngster looked overawed in the heat of the cauldron that is Optus Stadium. Failed to make his opportunity count to get Melbourne on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a shaky shot at goal. Had just one tackle but will be better for the experience.

Dom Tyson – 2
Had just three kicks and 11 handballs in what can only be classed as a poor performance. He fumbled early and slipped over at a critical moment in the middle of the ground, although that could probably be attributed to Spargo's poor handball. Doesn't look as suited to a wing as he does in the middle of the ground, so may go searching for another club in the trade period. 

Aaron vandenBerg – 6
VandenBerg's size and bulk to put his nose over the footy stood out early, but he faded out of the game in the second half. Finished with 19 touches and six inside 50s and at least showed some poise under pressure. The same could not be said for just about every one of his teammates.

Jack Viney – 6
The co-captain was limited to just three touches by Mark Hutchings in the first quarter and at that stage the game was just about gone. He released the ball a bit too easily on a couple of occasions under immense pressure. Battled manfully, as you would expect, to finish with 21 disposals and 11 clearances. Would have been disappointed with his efforts when the game was up for grabs.

Sam Weideman – 2
A non-factor, Weideman kicked a late goal but just seven touches as one of Melbourne's key targets was not a great return. Had a breakout game at the start of the finals series against Geelong but will be striving for greater consistency the longer his career goes. Well beaten by Barrass.