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Melbourne Demons reach AFL finals for the first time in 12 years

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Published By Lucie Bertoldo, 20 August on sportingnews.com

They’ve done their waiting. Twelve years of it.

The Demons secured a long-awaited finals berth following a 17-point victory over the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium.

It was the first time Melbourne beat a team in the top eight this year.

The Eagles’ loss of crucial playmaker Jack Darling to concussion early in the first quarter offset what would be a closely contested match.

Melbourne ran out to a 27-point lead during the third quarter, before the Eagles kicked four goals to close the margin within two points.

With Jake Melksham and Dean Kent scoring pivotal goals deep into the final term, the Demons overcame the home side 16.12 (108) to 14.7 (91) to seal their finals return.

Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones is the only Demon who played in the club’s most recent finals campaign in 2006.

“Obviously there’s been heaps of criticism, but I’m that proud of the club under pressure,” Jones told Channel Seven in a post-match interview.

“At some point we were going to have to take on that challenge head-on. I reckon we’ve had a crack at it and we’ve made a few blues and haven’t been able to get over the line.

“But today we came here with a clear plan… to get it done today was bloody incredible.

“We’ve given ourselves another chance. We’ve done that over the last month, just keep trying to give ourselves a chance. At some point we were going to learn from all those times and go and execute. Today was something special.”

The Demons’ victory over West Coast marks their 13th win of the season and their percentage of 129.8 has cemented their position within the top eight. Simon Goodwin’s men head into round 23 in seventh place and will take on GWS Giants – who are in sixth position – in front of a home crowd.

A victory over Greater Western Sydney could potentially see the Melbourne outfit snare a place in the top four in the weeks to come.

With Collingwood, Hawthorn and Sydney sitting only two points ahead of the Giants and Demons, round 23, being the last regular round, is crucial in deciding the final standings.

Melbourne will match up against the Giants at the MCG next Sunday, August 26 at 3.20pm AEST.

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