AAP AFL

Demons win denies Rankine AFL fairytale

By AAP Newswire

Fast-finishing Melbourne have scored a much-needed win to deny exciting Gold Coast debutant Izak Rankine a fairytale AFL start in Sydney.

The Dees kicked the last three goals of Saturday evening's match at Giants Stadium for a 12.8 (80) to 9.9 (63) win - their first victory in three games.

Gold Coast's disappointment at losing first-year sensation Matt Rowell last week to a long-term injury was eased by an eye-catching debut from the 20-year old Rankine.

The No.3 pick in the 2018 draft didn't play a senior game last season because of hamstring and hip problems, but immediately lived up to the hype, kicking 3.3.and helping to drag his team level in the last quarter.

But Melbourne lifted again at the death, with set-shot goals to Sam Weideman, Christian Petracca and Harley Bennell, his first for the club, icing the win.

"I'm incredibly proud of our club. There's been a lot going on over the last three or four weeks in a whole range of different areas," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

"There's been some noise about how we've played but, like every club, we're dealing with a lot.

"To pick up and move to Sydney and have a six-day turnaround, with the scrutiny that we've had, is an outstanding performance.

"We've still got a lot of work to do. It was certainly by no means perfect but, 2-3, our season is rolling now."

Goodwin praised his leaders with ruckman Max Gawn and midfield dynamo Jack Viney excelling, as the Demons slowed their recent frantic tempo.

But many memories of the game will involve livewire Rankine.

He displayed great skill in evading a couple of defenders and swivelling onto his right foot and steering the ball through for a goal with his first kick.

Rankine produced another special moment in the third quarter, toeing the ball through a pack of players before kicking it off the ground for his second major.

The exciting youngster stole a Gawn tap to kick his third and added a behind from wide out to level the scores in the last quarter.

"You see what we have been waiting for. He had such an impact, which we knew he always would," Suns coach Stuart Dew said.

"We want to make sure our supporters get really excited about what he can bring to the footy club."

The Suns made the early running but Melbourne lifted their intensity in the second quarter, having the first 11 inside 50s and piling on 26-straight points.

The Demons led by 18, but the Suns capitalised on errors to kick the last two goals of the quarter to trail by seven at halftime, and were three down at the last break.

"We walk away really frustrated and, in parts, we handed it to them far too easily," Dew said.

Melbourne key forward Tom McDonald will be checked during the week, having gone off in the first quarter after getting poked in the eye.