MELBOURNE has rallied for a crucial five-point win over Hawthorn that gives their beleaguered AFL season a pulse.
After looking in big trouble during the first term, the Demons made an impressive comeback to beat the Hawks 11.13 (79) to 11.8 (74) on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.
It is the second win for last year’s preliminary finalists, who have looked badly out of sorts this season.
Hawthorn were pressing forward with seconds left when Chad Wingard fumbled a sharp chance at half-forward and Melbourne shut down the game to confirm the win.
The lead changed twice in the last quarter, with the Hawks kicking four goals to two.
But majors to youngster Jay Lockhart and James Harmes gave the Demons a match- winning break.
Sam Frost’s defensive effort in the last couple of minutes, keeping the ball in front of him when a turnover would have been devastating, was another massive moment.
Harmes gave away two 50m penalties that resulted in Hawthorn goals, including one in the frenetic last quarter, but he was outstanding with his tagging role on Hawks midfield ace Jaeger O’Meara.
Jack Gunston and Luke Breust kicked three goals apiece for Hawthorn.
Melbourne started brightly enough, kicking two goals to one, but the Hawks went up a gear and the match looked like following a familiar script.
Hawthorn went on a three-goal run and it should have been four, with Gunston’s shot on the quarter-time siren hitting the post.
The Hawks led by 14 at the first break and, again, the Demons looked flat-footed and lacking answers.
But a goal early in the second term settled the Demons and they worked their way back into the game.
While Melbourne kept making mistakes, they also could not be faulted for effort in a grinding, trench-warfare second term.
The Demons kicked two goals to one to put themselves back in the contest.
As Melbourne kept pressing, out-of-form key forward Tom McDonald took a big mark early in the third term.
McDonald, who returned to attack for this game, also kicked a goal shortly after and Melbourne’s self-belief was returning.
They went on a run of a five goals to one that gave the Demons a 19-point lead.
Gunston’s outstanding shot from an acute angle gave the Hawks a badly needed reply as they trailed by 14 points at the last change.
MELBOURNE 2.3 4.5 9.10 11.13 (79)
HAWTHORN 4.5 5.8 7.8 11.8 (74)
Goals: Melbourne: J Hunt 2 A Brayshaw A Neal-Bullen B Fritsch B Stretch J Garlett J Harmes J Lockhart N Jones T McDonald. Hawthorn: L Breust 4 J Gunston 3 J O’Meara J Roughead L Shiels M Lewis.
Best: Melbourne: J Harmes C Oliver M Gawn N Jones A Neal-Bullen. Hawthorn: J Gunston J Worpel L Shiels L Breust.