MELBOURNE will learn from Saturday's preliminary final thrashing, according to coach Simon Goodwin, after West Coast stripped the Demons of their contested ball 'one wood' and sent them into a first-half tailspin that they never recovered from.
After leading the AFL for contested possession differential this season, the Demons were well beaten in the key indicator in the first half (87-73), with their midfield game breaking down as a result.
Eventually losing the contested ball 159-144, and the match by 66 points, Goodwin said the loss had highlighted to the Demons the importance of delivering on what you stand for as a club.
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"You either win or you learn, and we learned a big lesson today in the way we played," the coach said.
"All year we've stood up for contested ball. It's not everything in the game, but it's a big part of the game and it's a big part of the way we've built our club.
"In finals, you want to bring your one wood to the game. You want to bring your big strength.
"That's the biggest learning for our group, because when you go down fighting you want to go down doing it your way. We weren't able to do that."
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Melbourne was kept to 0.6 in the opening half, kicking the lowest first-half score in a final since 1960 and becoming the first team to go goalless in the opening half of a final since 1927.
As well as the contested ball loss, they were exposed by repeated turnovers and fell down in defence as Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling combined for six first-half goals.
They were thrashed in the tackle count, despite having fewer disposals (337-264), with their 34 tackles less than half their season average of 69.2.
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Goodwin was confident the belting would not leave mental scars, with his team proving it could come back from adversity following last year's heartache, missing the finals by just 0.5 per cent.
"Really the message for us was that we need to learn from it, just like we did last year in terms of round 23," the coach said.
"We've had enormous growth as a footy club, which we recognise, but at the same time we certainly want to continue to drive this footy club forward.
"We don't think it's the end in some ways, we think it's the start. But we need to learn from today.
"I don't think there'll be any scars. We just need to get back to work and have a great summer again."
Goodwin said his team, which delivered the club's first finals win since 2006, had enjoyed a season of "huge growth" in 2018, with more improvement to come from the young core.
"I think we've got a great group of players who have really taken huge strides for this footy club," the coach said.
"In a lot of ways, I'm really proud of the strides they've taken. I still think we've got a group that is young enough to improve as a group.
"From a personnel perspective, I couldn't be happier with the group of players I've got.
"They've built a really strong connection with one another, which I'm really proud of, and I think that will hold us in a great position for the years ahead."