Max Gawn and his Melbourne teammates look disappointed as they leave the field

AFL Round-Up: The Melbourne demons are back and Freo is ready to pounce

We are in the second half of the 2022 season and things are starting to get really interesting. As Melbourne slipped again, freo hype is now impossible to ignore.

Welcome to the AFL Round-Up, where we spent the week that was.

A cause for concern about the Melbourne demons?

Two weeks ago, we threw ourselves into the next four Melbourne matches at the Round-Up and indicated that the biggest demon test of the season was approaching.

In fact, we said the coming month would offer “the final verdict on how far Melbourne is ahead of the pack.”

The Dees are only in the middle of this run, but an early verdict has already been reached. They’re probably not as far away as we thought.

Max Gawn almost dragged Melbourne across the line.(Getty Images: Quinn Rooney)

And maybe it’s not even the demons going back to the pack, although without the cold hand of Steven May, who was driving the ship in the back, he definitely looks like another beast.

The big difference may be the steps taken by teams like Fremantle and Sydney, both of which have now recorded a definitive victory over Melbourne at MCG.

At the beginning of 2021, the Swans had an engaging victory over reigning champion Richmond, which saw the full capacity of their young offensive arsenal. It was similar, only the show needed to be even more coherent and mature.

It was difficult to divide the teams by looking down at the statistics, but what stood out was Sydney’s big victory in the number of matches that ended in 75:53.

Tom Papley spread his arms in celebration
Sydney at their best is as fun to watch as any team in the league.(Getty Images: Michael Willson)

There was a determination to match Melbourne in this competition – it was not easy, especially when Max Gawn played the most dominant game of his season so far.

Sydney’s ability to attack and move with the ball in open space has not been discussed. But it is this paved edge that raises the ceiling of the Swans for the second half of the year.

What about Melbourne? No need to panic. But if they are now fighting for two weeks in a row against teams that can match them and attack at pace and taste, they will have to find quick improvements for the matches against Collingwood and Brisbane.

Flagmantle, honey

If you were to identify the two hallmarks of this Fremantle team – one that has fans who dare to dream and amass thousands of Flagmantle preventive tattoos – it would be a defensive structure and complete, unwavering intransigence.

You have no time off against Fremantle. They won’t even take a quarter to get your breath back. They come with the same heat, the same poor defense, four quarters.

Bailey Banfield screams with joy as he is surrounded by disappointed Lions players
Bailey Banfield kicked four in Fremantle’s win over Brisbane.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

In the first half, they played rope-and-dope foot against Brisbane. The Dockers did not fire many shots with an offensive game, and the Lions definitely held control in terms of possession of the ball and possession of the field.

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