Dees have 'confidence that they can go the whole way'
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Dees have 'confidence that they can go the whole way'

Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn was not surprised by his club’s stunning performance in its first final in 12 years last Friday night, and believes the Demons are now more confident they can win the premiership this year.

Melbourne blew Geelong off the park in the first quarter of their elimination final at the MCG, opening up a 31-point lead at the first change and maintaining control for the remainder of the match to run out convincing 29-point winners.

Growing confidence: Max Gawn says the Demons have belief.

Growing confidence: Max Gawn says the Demons have belief.Credit:AAP

Gawn has felt for a while that the Demons belonged in the finals, despite the club’s lengthy September drought, but he didn’t dwell on the impressive victory over the Cats for too long.

“I’ve had confidence all year, but in terms of some people in the group, I reckon after the West Coast game and then that one (against Geelong), they’ve probably got a fair bit more confidence that they can go the whole way,” Gawn told RSN on Tuesday morning.

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“I’ve been relatively bullish with some of our performances this year that we can play and can play well in finals, but those last two or three games have probably put an exclamation mark on it.

“I lived in the now in that point and you forget that you were a bad club for a long time when you’re out there, I thought that I belonged and post-match I thought about the win and then thought about the Hawks almost straight away.

“I didn’t have time to take it all in, that could happen in October or November potentially when you’re looking back on the season, but it’s finals, that’s what we’re in, that’s a ‘we deserve to be here’ sort of feeling.

“I didn’t know there’d be 70,000-odd Melbourne fans, that was crazy. We’ve got 45,000 members, so we doubled that for a crowd – Geelong helped, there were obviously Geelong supporters there as well – but the MCC was packed and that was as loud as I’ve heard them for a while.”

Melbourne’s next assignment is Hawthorn in a blockbuster cut-throat semi-final at the MCG on Friday night, with the winner booking a trip to Perth the following week to face West Coast in a preliminary final at Optus Stadium.

The last time the Demons and Hawks met, Hawthorn scored a thumping 67-point win in round four as they booted 15 goals to one after trailing by 12 points at quarter-time.

But Gawn said Melbourne learnt a lot from that humbling defeat and is adamant that they are a different team from the one that played in that game, and the following game, which they lost to Richmond by 46 points on Anzac Day eve.

“Our midfield got smashed in both games and we sat down and it wasn’t quite ‘home truths,’ but it was a really honest conversation post the Richmond game and the Hawthorn game as well,” Gawn said.

“We’ve been a different side since then. We did go on and win six in a row straight after that Richmond game for some instant success, but then there’s been some ups and downs throughout the whole year but we’ve sort of stuck to the same thing throughout the year and we’ve been a different side to what we’ve been in those first five rounds.

“I’m excited to see what we’ve got now as a club can stack up against Hawthorn at their best.

“Sometimes with a contested ball team that’s been trained to win the hard ball and keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it, you can just get really focused on that and there’s so much more to an AFL game and that’s what the Hawks are really good at.

“They’ve got a couple of bulls on the inside that can really stand up in contested footy and then some of their guys on the outside like Isaac Smith and Luke Breust and (Jack) Gunston and guys like that who also can win a ball on the inside.

“But their ability to work the perimeters and really kill you when the ball gets on the outside, that smashed us in that 60-point loss to the Hawks, smashed us against Collingwood (on Queen’s Birthday) and those are things we’ve had to work on throughout the year.”