Melbourne win by 26 points
Goalkickers: David Neitz 5, Brad Green 3, Stephen Powell 2, Adem Yze 2, Steven Armstrong 1, Nathan Brown 1, Travis Johnstone 1, Andrew Leoncelli 1, James McDonald 1, Russell Robertson 1, David Schwarz 1, Matthew Whelan 1
3 - David Neitz
2 - Travis Johnstone
After a disasterous 2001 season, and a disappointing pre-season campaign, the Demons went in as heavy underdogs against a Hawthorn side which had played finals football the year before.
With Hawthorn injuries giving him the luxury of playing on the 16kg lighter Mark Graham, David Neitz had a day out with eight marks and numerous assists and five goals - including early contender for goal of the year where he laid a big bump on Luke McCabe then recovered to kick a goal. The bump put McCabe out of the game early and stretched the already undermanned Hawthorn defence even further. Brad Green also helped kick start the day with two first quarter goals, and in 28 degree temperatures Jeff White dominated the centre as he rucked solo in the absence of the suspended Darren Jolly.
Stephen Powell, who had missed the entire 2001 season with osteitis pubis and fellow injury victim Travis Johnstone provided 12 of the 50 Demon inside 50's and from the 22 minute mark of the first term to the eight minute mark of the third Melbourne piled on ten unanswered goals to open up a 52 point lead. Suddenly White's domination disappeared under a two-pronged attack from Shaun Rehn and Nathan Thompson and Hawthorn kicked eight goals in 14 minutes to lead by a goal. Melbourne's cause hadn't been helped by Nathan Brown giving Jade Rawlings two goals for the price of one by dumping him after a kick.
With the three-quarter time break to refresh, having finally got the measure of White in the middle and with six more scoring shots for the match it seemed the Hawks would run over the top in the last quarter but Melbourne managed to stop the landslide before levelling the scores through James McDonald and drawing in front thanks to a Neitz goals. They went on to kick seven goals to two in the last term to get the comfortable win that it looked like they were going to score 45 minutes earlier.
Best were Neitz, White and Johnstone. Neitz suffered a corked thigh and Shane Woewodin a concussion.
Neale Daniher said "They had a crack and they had a go and there were some really good signs today. Hawthorn are a very good side and they were always going to come at us, but I was very happy that they kept their belief in what they were doing and kept their belief in themselves and finished off the game very well. We had 20 minutes there where Hawthorn just totally dominated the play and we'll go away and learn from that. They didn't panic."
Age - 02/04/2002
afl.com.au - 02/04/2002