AFL 3 years ago

How should we judge Melbourne's forwards in 2015?

  • How should we judge Melbourne's forwards in 2015?

Coach Paul Roos said positive things about Melbourne's forward line after the Demons' NAB Challenge victory over the Western Bulldogs. Crumbers Jeff Garlett and Jay Kennedy-Harris kicked two goals apiece, while talls Chris Dawes and Jesse Hogan each kicked one.

Roos spent most of 2014 installing a new defensive mindset into the lowly Demons. Now he needs to re-school their forward line. What will constitute a pass mark?

In 2014, Melbourne's leading goalkickers were Chris Dawes (20), Dom Tyson (16), James Frawley (14), Cam Pedersen (14), Jack Watts (13), and Bernie Vince (13).

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Not since 1919 has Melbourne's leading goalkicker scored fewer than 20 goals. Even as a premiership-winning Magpie in 2010, Dawes only kicked 30 goals from 20 games. He will never be a 60-a-year power forward.

Yet he's a barometer at the Demons. During their hoodoo-breaking Adelaide win in round 7 of 2014, he kicked three goals and gathered 20 disposals. If he can push towards an average of 1.5 goals per game, Melbourne should lift along with him.

Dawes will enjoy the introduction of newbie Jesse Hogan, who will keep defenders busy and allow Dawes to find more one-on-one contests. Hogan himself will be judged more on his ability to crash packs than his goal-scoring. If he can contribute 15 goals in the season, that's enough of a return.

If Hogan can create contests, small forwards Garlett and Kennedy-Harris will reap the benefits. In his prime, Garlett averaged over two goals per game. He will probably be Melbourne's leading goalkicker for 2015 - although anything around 30 goals will be enough to make "Roosy" happy.

Kennedy-Harris kicked nine goals from 14 games in his debut year, but could definitely kick more with natural improvement and more time spent as a crumber. A 20-goal contribution would be wonderful.

The Demons will still rely on their midfield to contribute goals too. They'll hope that Dom Tyson, who ranked second for goals in 2014, will remain around the mark. Perhaps Jack Watts could become a forward first and midfielder second, and push towards 20 goals. They should also expect more from half-forward Dean Kent and ruckman Max Gawn.

Even in the doldrums of 2012 and 2013, Melbourne were kicking more goals per game than in 2014. They've fallen from 10 per game to nine to eight. Their leading goalkickers have also fallen, from Clark's 29 in 2012, to Howe's 28 in 2013, to Dawes' 20 last year.

Maybe this is the season to turn it around.

How will you judge Melbourne's forward output in 2015?

 

Follow Antony Scholefield on Twitter at @A_Scholefield.

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