AFL fury: ‘They’ve gone berserk’
Live: Hawthorn vs Melbourne
The Demons' daring finals run continued with a 16.8 (104) to 10.11 (71) win at the MCG.
MELBOURNE is one win away from a grand final after surviving two Hawthorn challenges - and two controversial umpiring decisions - to win Friday night's semifinal by 33 points.
The Demons controlled the match for most of the night after an even first term but were tested twice by the Hawks in the second half.
Hawthorn kicked the first three goals of the final quarter to close within two goals, benefitting from a pair of below-the-knee free kicks which sent commentators into uproar.
Angus Brayshaw was penalised for making contact with Shaun Burgoyne while diving to win the ball on the ground, despite being left dazed by the contact to his head.
It prompted searing criticism from Wayne Carey and Matthew Richardson. "It's not in the spirit of the game," Richardson said.
The questionable call, which led to a Hawthorn goal, was followed by an almost identical situation soon after which saw Jordan Lewis cough up a free kick.
"They've gone berzerk on this rule, they've gone berzerk," cried Seven commentator Brian Taylor said.
"How is that a free kick?" asked legend Wayne Carey. "They've had two absolute shockers ... if this is game is decided by those two below-the-knee contact ..."
Former stars Warren Tredrea and Nathan Burke joined a chorus of frustration on social media.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said on Fox Footy the rule was currently being discussed by the Competition Committee and the AFL Players Association because of fears players were waiting for opponent's to dive on the ball and then entering the contest feet-first.
Hawthorn took advantage to kick the first 3.2 of the quarter and close the deficit to two goals.
But Melbourne erased the Hawks' gain through two Jake Melksham goals and Tom McDonald's fourth to re-establish a 32 point advantage - and that was all she wrote as the Demons booked a spot in next Saturday's preliminary final against the West Coast Eagles.
The Demons triumphed by 17 points when the two teams met at Perth Stadium in round 22.
Earlier, a costly Jack Gunston miss and a horror Liam Shiels handball combined to almost end Hawthorn's resistance in the third quarter.
Gunston had a snap from about 20m out to reduce the deficit to single figures late in the term but it crashed into the post.
"You could almost see the air come out of Jack Gunston," AFL great Matthew Richardson said.
The Demons went straight down the other end where a Shiels blooper presented Alex Neal-Bullen with the easiest of goals.
It was followed by two more in time-on to Mitch Hannan and Angus Brayshaw as the lead exploded to 32 points with a quarter to play.
Hawthorn will now have to pick up the pieces after a straight-sets finals exit. The absence of key stars Jaeger O'Meara and Ben Stratton explains the result to some degree - and the Hawks' cause wasn't helped when star midfielder Tom Mitchell suffered a heavy knock to his shoulder in the first quarter. He battled on to finish with 24 disposals and 10 tackles.
Greats slam diving Demon
Matthew Richardson and Cameron Ling have criticised rising Demons star Clayton Oliver for taking a dive in the second quarter.
Oliver went down easily after copping a front-on bump from Tom Mitchell off the ball, resulting in a free kick reversal and a shot at goal for Melbourne.
"That's not a good look," AFL great Matthew Richardson said. "There's no way known that drops him to the ground."
Ling agreed with Richardson's assessment, while Collingwood midfielder Taylor Adams suggested the umpire's decision was incorrect.
Aaron vandenBerg missed the resulting shot, but the Demons were still looking good with a 13-point advantage at halftime after holding the Hawks goal-less in the second quarter.
Melbourne added 3.1 to 0.6 in the second stanza as the Hawks failed to capitalise on long periods with the ball in their half of the ground.
Mitchell stung as Hawks can't take a trick
Brownlow Medal favourite Tom Mitchell looks like he'll have to carry a shoulder injury through tonight's game after being stung by Neville Jetta in the first quarter.
Mitchell was getting a quick kick way when the Dees defender crashed into him - forcing the star midfielder from the ground.
He grimaced in pain on the bench and despite returning to the field looks to be quite sore. "That makes life hard," commentator Bruce McAvaney said.
It didn't take Melbourne long to settle after Hawthorn grabbed the initiative early in the first term.
The Hawks kicked the first goal through Ryan Schoenmakers but after a strong opening five minutes the Demons assumed control and answered through Tom McDonald.
McDonald's first goal saw him become the first Melbourne player to kick 50 majors in a season since Brad Green in 2010 and his second - which came from the goalsquare - put the Dees up by six points.
Despite the blow to Mitchell the Hawks hit back, kicking two of the next three goals to level the score at 3.1 (19) apiece at quarter time.
Crazy stat points to Dees flag
Melbourne hasn't won a premiership since 1964 but starved Demons supporters will be buoyed by an unusual statistic that surfaced this week.
An inquisitive Demons supporter asked Twitter stats guru Swamp what the longest streak of improving their win total year on year a team had put together.
Melbourne has steadily improved since bottoming out with just two wins in 2013, doubling its total in 2014 before winning seven in 2015, 10 in 2016, 12 while just missing the finals in 2017 and 15 this season.
Swamp revealed the six year-run did match the record shared by Geelong (1958-63) and West Coast (2001-06).
The icing on the cake? Both those teams won premierships in the sixth year of their streak.
Start dreaming big, Dees fans.