MELBOURNE has taken a massive step towards playing in this year’s AFL finals after a five-point win over Greater Western Sydney at the Gabba.
The Demons rebounded from their disappointing loss to Sydney last weekend with the 12.7 (79) to 11.8 (74) win, which puts them eighth on the ladder.
The victory lifts Melbourne to 32 points after 16 games, ahead of the Giants and the Western Bulldogs on percentage.
The Bulldogs face Hawthorn on Sunday but Saturday’s win gives the Demons every chance of making the finals if they can win their last home-and-away match next Saturday against Essendon.
GWS, last year’s grand finalists, are now in serious danger of missing out on the top eight, slipping to ninth on the ladder with one to play.
The Giants will now have to beat sixth-placed St Kilda next Friday and hope other results go their way to sneak into the top eight.
First-year player Trent Rivers kicked two goals for the Demons, as did Oskar Baker and Charlie Spargo.
Brent Daniels, playing on the same ground where he kicked a winning goal in a semi-final against Brisbane last year, had three majors for the Giants.
His first was an incredible dribble kick from the right pocket which rolled 50m before curving back to cross the goal-line.
In a mixed night for the 21-year-old, he was also placed on report after catching Demons’ star Christian Petracca high in the third quarter.
Daniels also missed a set shot in the final quarter which could have put his team in front and his finish in the final minute was nothing more than a consolation.
The Giants held a seven-point lead at three-quarter time after both teams were level at halftime but three goals in a row to Melbourne put them on the path to victory.
Christian Salem, Spargo and then Bayley Fritsch did the damage to give the Demons a lead they didn’t relinquish.
Teenager Rivers, who hadn’t kicked an AFL goal before Saturday’s game, secured the win with his second major in the dying minutes.
(C) AAP 2020
MELBOURNE 5.2 7.5 9.6 12.7 (79)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 2.3 7.5 10.7 11.8 (74)
Goals: Melbourne: C Spargo 2 O Baker 2 T Rivers 2 A Neal-Bullen B Fritsch C Petracca C Salem J Hunt K Pickett. Greater Western Sydney: B Daniels 3 D Lloyd 2 Z Williams 2 H Perryman J Cameron J Finlayson M De Boer.
Umpires: Matt Stevic, Ray Chamberlain, Robert O’Gorman.
Official Crowd: 1,204 at Gabba.