AAP AFL

Demons learn from harsh AFL lesson of ‘17

By AAP Newswire

Melbourne's players don't need reminding that any slip-ups in the run to the AFL finals can prove costly.

The sixth-placed Demons will attack the final seven rounds of the home-and-away season with the same win-loss record (9-6) as last year at the same stage.

Simon Goodwin's men were fifth at the same point last year, but suffered upset losses to non-finalists North Melbourne and Collingwood as they went on to miss out on the finals by under half a percentage point.

Melbourne's drive to their first finals appearance since 2006 continues on Saturday when they host the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.

The Dogs are languishing in 14th and will be without a host of stars, including Marcus Bontempelli who underwent emergency appendix surgery on Tuesday.

Goodwin is respectful of the challenge the Bulldogs will present, but it's really more about how the Demons are travelling at this point.

"Our responsibility now is to keep improving," Goodwin said.

"We were in the same spot last year at 9-6 and now is the chance for us to really progress forward as a footy club and improve and take our game to a new level.

"... I've said this to the players and I'll continue to say it 'The team that continues to improve from right now to the end of the year will be the team that really comes into that stage of the season with the best shot of winning it'."

Veteran midfielder Bernie Vince is a good chance to end his exile in the VFL when round 17 teams are announced on Thursday.

The Demons snapped a run of three losses with a 54-point win over Fremantle in Darwin at the weekend.

They kicked a wasteful 13.24 in warm, slick conditions but Goodwin isn't concerned the wayward display is the start of a trend.

"We've functioned really well as a forward line for most of the year," he said.

"We've been fairly efficient once in there, but clearly it's an area where we still want to get better.

"If it becomes a trend we'll probably address it in a more formal manner."