Melbourne win by 17 points
A win over the Hawks vaulted the Demons into the top five for the first time all year, a result nobody could have seen coming when they started the year 0-3. Ron Barassi was up to his old mind-games before the bounce, having David Cordner named in the side and run out onto the ground before not playing. He had been under a fitness cloud all week and was probably never going to play anyway but the master coach used his young forward as a decoy to confuse the Hawks.
With the chance of jumping into the five on offer, Barassi played mind games on the defending premiers before the bounce. David Cordner had been under an injury cloud all week and was thought unlikely to play but he was named in the side and ran onto the ground pre-match before being withdrawn.
Victory was set up by an eight goal to four second quarter with the aid of a strong breeze. The Hawks shaved a goal off the lead in the third quarter to go into the final term 17 down, and as they’d spent the season crushing teams in 20 minute bursts of imperious football they were still considered a chance of running their opposition down. Especially one that had been prone to last quarter collapses for years.
The match was still in the balance when Smith was assassinated, but even with his hard tag on Matthews removed the Demons hung on to break even in the last quarter and win. There was no ill-effect from their fourth match in 12 days, they were full of confidence and sent the red and blue part of the crowd into a frenzy. Spirits lifted even further when news came through that both Collingwood and Richmond had lost, landing Melbourne in the giddy heights of fourth position.
Speaking about the Smith incident, Barassi said Matthews played hard but fair, but was had been known to do “these sort of things”. For his part Smith tried to play it down, suggesting Matthews “just got frustrated”, but suggested he “paid the price for tagging someone so closely”.
Melbourne 17.16.118 d. Hawthorn 11.11.77
Goals - Fisher 4, McCarty 3, Hutchison 3, Ward 2, Boland 1, Hughes 1, Howard 1, Kol 1, O'Donnell 1
Best - Fisher, Boland, Wright
Hawthorn 18.14.122 d. Melbourne 7.9.51
Goals - Payne 2, Cheung 2, Lane 1, Marra 1, Edwards 1
Best - King, Marra, Peter McCarty