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Oppo analysis: R4

Last Time We Met: Melbourne R7, 2017 Check out the highlights from the last time we played the Demons.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Jordan Lewis of the Demons and Ben Stratton of the Hawks chat during the 2017 AFL round 07 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Hawthorn Hawks at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 07, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Lewis will come up against his former teammates for just the second time this Sunday.

The line up 

B: Christian Petracca, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta

HB: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Bernie Vince

C: James Harmes, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis

HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Sam Frost, Tom Bugg

F: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent

Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver

I/C (from): Angus Brayshaw, Billy Stretch, Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman, Jayden Hunt, Jeff Garlett, Josh Wagner

In: Brayshaw, Stretch, Hannan, Weideman, Hunt

Out: Dom Tyson

Read: Six names added to Round 4 squad

What to expect

Melbourne is arguably the number one team inside the contest in the competition. 

They rank second throughout the league in contested possessions, and fourth for tackles and clearances; the Gold Coast Suns are the only other club to rate inside the top four in all three categories.

The Demons have backed up a 2017 season in which they began to emerge as a midfield powerhouse on the back of Clayton Oliver’s rise to become one of the elite midfielders in the game.

Where they have made improvements on last year is in their ability to evolve this on-ball prowess into scoring power.

In 2017, they sat seventh in the league for both inside 50s and points for.

But in 2018, they have graduated to league leaders in both categories, becoming the attacking force of the competition.

They have also moved to third in the league for marks inside 50, after rating 11th in the statistic last year. 

With many of the Hawks’ developments on last season stemming from the midfield contingent as well, the midfield battle will weigh heavily on the outcome of this game.

 

Players to watch 

The Demons’ on-ball brigade has been the difference for them in the opening three rounds of their season. 

Ruckman Max Gawn has tightened his grip on the mantle of being the game’s number one big man. 

The 208cm giant leads the league in the hit-outs department, averaging 48.3 taps per game, while also gathering 16 touches, 3.7 marks and three tackles.

His battle with Ben McEvoy should prove to be a fascinating duel with Gawn and McEvoy number one and two in the league for hit-outs to advantage.

Read: McEvoy prepares for biggest challenge of 2018

Clayton Oliver is another primary reason for the Dee’s midfield dominance. 

The 20-year old ranks sixth in the league for contested possessions with 15 of his 27.7 touches per game so far being contested. 

He is also sitting fourth in the competition for tackles (eight per game) and tenth in clearances with seven per game, with no other player in the league averaging 15 contested possessions and more than six tackles.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs