Unlikely hero Turner steers Demons past Richmond

Anna Harrington |

Melbourne’s Daniel Turner (2nd right) celebrates a goal with teammates against Richmond.
Melbourne’s Daniel Turner (2nd right) celebrates a goal with teammates against Richmond.

Coach Simon Goodwin won’t call Daniel Turner the answer to Melbourne’s attack, but is delighted the Demons’ risky call to pick the untried forward paid off in their victory over Richmond.

Typically a defender, Turner kicked three goals, the first of his four-game career, to help Melbourne kick away for a 43-point win on Wednesday night and keep the Demons firmly in the AFL top-four race.

Turner, nicknamed ‘Disco’, celebrated each of his majors with aplomb in the 13.7 (85) to 5.12 (42) win at the MCG.

“We put Daniel forward in the VFL and we liked what we saw and we had a really good discussion about it this week,” Goodwin said. 

“And it really was about some of the attributes that he brings that could help us as a team. He brings an aerial game, he brings air to ground speed and he had impact tonight. 

“So for our coaching group, it was a brave call to make and we got our rewards tonight but Daniel knows he’s got a lot of work to do. 

“He hasn’t played too many games as a forward. So there’s still a lot of growth in his game and hopefully we’ve found one there.”

Both teams left plenty to be desired skills-wise in a patchy affair in front of 72,840 fans.

“It was a pretty scrappy affair. Anyone watching the game, some of the turnovers – it was extraordinary, to be honest,” Goodwin said.

“Made a few people laugh in the box and certainly down on the bench – that’s just pretty unlike us in terms of where we were turning the ball over and how easy we were turning it over.

Max Gawn
Demons’ Max Gawn, sporting the ‘Checker’ Hughes Medal, takes the congratulations from fans. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“But one thing we’ve worked really hard on is how we stay optimistic and positive in situations that are stressful.

“I’ve seen games like that before when you execute with the ball like that where you get beat. 

“But our players stayed to the now, they stayed positive, they stayed optimistic and they worked their way through it and in the way they came away with a good win.”

Richmond coach Adem Yze is hopeful midfielder Jacob Hopper has avoided a serious left hamstring injury.

Hopper, who had just returned from knee surgery, is set for another stint on the sidelines after leaving the field in distress.

Jake Lever (15 intercepts, 26 disposals) and Steven May (12 marks) were typically prolific in setting up Melbourne from defence.

For Richmond, Maurice Rioli Jr (two goals) impressed, while Hopper racked up plenty of the ball before his exit.

Marlion Pickett applied a hard tag to Christian Petracca while Toby Nankervis had an entertaining ruck duel with Max Gawn, who was named best on ground.

Pickett could come under match review officer scrutiny for hitting Clayton Oliver in the stomach, causing the star Demon to drop to the turf just before quarter-time.

Melbourne trailed by a point at halftime but kicked 10 second-half goals to move to 5-2 and sneak inside the top four ahead of the rest of the round’s games.

“To our boys’ credit, I thought our effort and intensity was strong throughout the game, it was just our execution,” Yze said. 

“Their polish in front of goal and their skill execution was just better than ours and they got reward for effort and we didn’t.”

Melbourne face Geelong at the MCG next Saturday while 17th-placed Richmond (1-6) host Fremantle next Sunday.