SIMON Goodwin says Melbourne won't "jump at shadows" about its form dip.

But after a six-week stretch that has seen the Demons starved of scores, Goodwin's side has dropped to third on the ladder and is in the fight for a top-four berth.

Goodwin was buoyed by what he saw in Saturday night's loss to the Western Bulldogs, but there were still alarm bells that continued a recent trend.

So what's gone wrong for the side that looked the runaway leader for the minor premiership at the halfway point of the season? Where's Melbourne's mojo?

Simply, Melbourne hasn't been able to score. From rounds 1-12, the Demons averaged 90.6 points a game, ranking them fourth in the AFL. Over the past six weeks, which has netted them two wins and a draw, they have kicked on average 69.3 points. In four of those games, they have kicked nine goals or less.

The Demons' hot first half of the year saw them be the kings of scores from turnover, ranking first in the AFL and amassing nearly 10 goals a game from that source. But since back-to-back wins over fellow flag contenders the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane in rounds 11 and 12, Champion Data statistics show the Demons sit 12th in that area.

Recruit Ben Brown kicked 2.2 against the Dogs last round and was solid but out of key forward trio Tom McDonald, Luke Jackson and Brown – as well as Sam Weideman, who has been used intermittently – only McDonald has managed a three-goal game (in the impressive round 17 win over Port Adelaide) in that block.

Ben Brown rues a missed scoring chance in round 19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

After the loss to the Bulldogs, Goodwin said he wasn't concerned about his side's scoring because it was generating opportunities. But the Demons have been wasting those, too. Their shot at goal accuracy ranks worst in the AFL for the past six weeks and their goal per inside-50 percentage is second last in the competition in that timeframe.

Gun midfield pair Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver remain in brilliant form, with both dynamic again facing the Bulldogs. But across the board the Demons have dipped at the stoppages, going from a clearance differential of +0.7 between rounds 1-12 to -4.2 in the past six weeks.

So what have they changed or, perhaps more precisely, what have the opposition forced upon them since their early-season form spike?

Their passage to goal is different and they are clearly going to the boundary less out of their defensive 50. In the first three months of the season they ranked second in the AFL for heading to the boundary out of their backline (58 per cent of the time). But that has shifted significantly in the past six weeks whereby they are ranked 14th in that category over that time.

Defensively the Dees have stacked up. They have conceded the second-fewest points across the season (behind Geelong) and the AFL Player Ratings highlights how.

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Of the five Demons who played against the Bulldogs to have increased their average ratings points – and hence impact – between rounds 13-19 on their average between rounds 1-12, three – Jake Lever, Steven May and Jayden Hunt – are defenders.

The other two are Bayley Fritsch and Alex Neal-Bullen. Goodwin will be looking for more of his charges to join them over a crucial four-week run into their first finals appearance since 2018.


Rd 1-12


Rd 13-19


Points For





Scores from Turnover





Clearance Diff.





Boundary from D50 %





Kick Inside 50 retention rate





Shot at Goal Accuracy





Goal per Inside 50%