In a game that leans on statistics so often to measure individual performances, it’s the intangible energy of a player like Kysaiah Pickett at Melbourne that remains unquantifiable, yet undoubtedly powerful in its ability to lift an entire football club in pursuit of victory.
It certainly felt that way on Friday night at Giants Stadium as the number 12 pick from the 2019 draft yet again inspired the Demons in a remarkable third quarter performance that turned a four-goal deficit into a one-goal lead at the final break which was then transferred into a 22-point win to lock away flag favouritism and top spot on the table for yet another week.
There may have been better players over the course of the game for Melbourne.
Christian Petracca was scintillating in the midfield yet again, Clayton Oliver too had a dominant, bullocking second half while Max Gawn was magical in the ruck once more for all four quarters.
Steven May led the defence after halftime to provide the platform for attack but no spark was as electric as ‘Kozzy’ Pickett’s and none transfers to the stands and among the supporters quite like the impact of Melbourne’s forward dynamo.
His three second half goals invigorated both his teammates and their fans who made an intimate neutral venue crowd seem intimidating amid their second half blitz.
“You can feel it. We had a great support here tonight and when ‘Kozzy’ gets near the ball you can just hear the crowd get involved in the game,” said Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin.
“And he brings that energy to the team even during the week at training and in games he applies pressure, he gives you spark and his ability to impact and finish in the game is sensational.”
“He’s a really important player for us and he’s a special person and someone we’re going to continue to develop and grow,” Goodwin continued.
20-year-old Pickett made his AFL debut last season. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
The Demons boss is now hoping the pleasant surprise of the New South Wales based faithful can assist his team once more next Monday when they take on Collingwood in the traditional Queens Birthday clash, this time at the SCG, which again doubles up as the fight MND fundraiser.
“It’s going to be a big game, we’re looking to get the crowd the game deserves,” he said.
“It’s a special occasion for Neale Daniher and raising as much money and awareness as we can in that space. To see the crowd here tonight it was just brilliant. I didn’t realise we had so many Dees supporters in Sydney so we’re looking to fill the SCG come next Monday, it’s going to be awesome.”
The Demons will go into that game at the top of the ladder thanks to a dramatic defensive transformation that provided the base for the midfield and forwards to overpower the Lions.
Early on, Eric Hipwood was running the Melbourne defence ragged as was Zac Bailey, with three of his four goals coming before halftime, as the Lions led by 20 points at the main break.
“I thought our backs early in the game were beaten pretty convincingly. Really it was up to them to respond, our defensive method didn’t change too much at all,” Goodwin said.
“Our ability to win contests behind the ball was the thing that changed. May started to back himself to mark the ball. Petty as well. Salem, Rivers and Hunt all won contested ground ball and that was a big part of shifting the momentum of the game.”
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