Having locked up a top-four spot on Monday night Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin will look to rest “sore” to ensure his side is at its physical peak and ready to play its best football when the finals series starts.
Breaking the longest premiership drought in the AFL is a dizzying proposition for the Demons, who withstood a delay for lightning and then a late West Coast surge to beat the Eagles by nine points in Perth on Monday night.
The win came in wet, slippery, physical conditions before the players hopped the red-eye flight back to Melbourne ahead of a clash with 17th placed Adelaide this weekend.
Goodwin wants to continue building a winning culture at the Demons that can be maintained beyond this season.
But he knows that with a double chance in the finals now secured, immediate aims could mean more focused planning.
“We just want to keep building a winning culture; that‘s what you do as a footy club,” Goodwin said.
“We want to create the habits that last you a long, long time as a footy club. It‘s important we continue to push that.
“In saying that, we certainly won‘t continue playing guys who are playing sore if we don’t need to. But we want to continue playing the right way.”
The Monday night game was delayed by almost 30 minutes in the final quarter while the bad weather cleared. The Eagles bounced back from 33 points down at the forced interval to almost cause a boilover, but the Demons held on for a crucial win.
They end round 21 in top spot on the AFL ladder, two points ahead of the Western Bulldogs, Geelong and Port Adelaide, who all have 15 wins.
Importantly, the fifth-placed Brisbane are 10 points behind the Demons, with only two games to play.
The Lions can’t catch them.
For the first time since 2000, the Demons will end the home-and-away fixtures in the top four, with a double chance in the first round of finals.
The feat isn’t lost on Goodwin.
“It is really important for our football club to cement that spot in the top four,” he said. “We know in that position you give yourself the best chance come the season end.