Melbourne players lift lid on scripted ‘Win the Game’ play that beat Carlton and kept AFL top-two hopes alive
Melbourne players have lifted the lid on the scripted ‘Win the Game’ play that led to Kysaiah Pickett’s match-winning goal over Carlton on Saturday night.
The Blues were less than a minute away from securing an AFL finals berth when the tide turned on a loose ball gathered up by Demons defender Jake Lever on centre wing.
Watch the thrilling finish unfold in the video above
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Lever’s snap towards the square bounced haphazardly and Jayden Hunt’s pick-up, run and blast inside 50 appeared to be little more than a kick in hope.
But from there Melksham and Pickett combined to create a goal from the space around Ben Brown’s crumbs and win the game.
The seeds were planted by Melbourne’s seven-point loss to Collingwood last week, with the Dees watching final 10 minutes on repeat in the aftermath.
“We studied it a lot,” Max Gawn told Channel 7 on the ground.
“You saw some good stuff in that last 10 minutes (against Carlton). We held our nerve. Yeah, they got some goals, but gee it was good footy.”
Jake Melksham first hinted at the game plan early in his own interview in the rooms.
“There is a lot of emotion down here at the moment,” he said.
“For us to stick to tasks like we did at the end, we executed our ‘Win the Game’ play.
“Kozzy (Pickett) kicks a great goal and we’re standing here talking about how good it was. It was awesome.”
Melksham then revealed the scoreboard dictated what the Melbourne forwards would do in the event their midfield won the ball.
“When you’re down, as forwards we all just pulled back,” he said.
“You would have seen that on the screen – we just opened the forward line up, put them under the pump, try and win your one-on-one and score.
Wide camera angles showed a paddock had formed inside 50 until the moment Hunt let rip, with Melksham, Ed Langdon and Jack Viney converging on Carlton defenders preoccupied by Brown and Pickett.
Melksham would be the man to secure the ball on the ground before nudging it out to Pickett.
“I think it was a knock-on. They’re just the little moments,” he said, referencing a match review led by Mark ‘Choco’ Williams.
“It is actually what we focus on at the club … ‘Choco’ Williams presents a video tape of our smothering, tackling. It’s called ‘Tackle and Tough’. It’s all the little one-percenters that we drive.
“That’s actually been a massive difference for us the past 18 months, the little things we focused on. We’ll see that ‘Tackle and Tough’ tape on Monday. He gives out a Precision Footy, which is one of his footies that he patented. It’s just great.”
While a comfortable win would have been ideal, Dees coach Simon Goodwin said it was a much-needed pressure test so soon after the loss to Collingwood.
“It was an important night for us to win a close game of footy, we haven’t done that all year really, and to show enormous character as a group,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“It’s the type of win that this group can embody and continue to move forward.
“They’re important because you can draw on these experiences as you go forward and we’ve needed to be on the better end of one of these experiences.
“It was a great game of footy and either team could’ve won, but in the end this is the type of grit and character that you need to show.”
Melksham’s role in the win continues his resurgence after managing just one goal in three games prior to a recall sparked by Tom McDonald’s injury.
He has now hit the scoreboard in five straight games, with Saturday night’s four majors helping shape tactics Gawn described as “forward-half footy”.
Goodwin said: “(Melksham) grew up through the middle part of his career executing that role incredibly well. It’s something that we’ve drawn back on in the last six or seven weeks, and he’s embraced it.”