Melbourne Demons, Bayley Fritsch, horror shot on target, Collingwood Magpies, qualifying final loss, Max Gawn, inaccuracy, within 50, record

Melbourne set an unintended AFL record in Thursday night’s qualifying loss to Collingwood when it had many shots on target.

The Demons finished the game with 69 inside the 50s, compared to 37 for the Magpies at the MCG – but managed just seven goals in the seven-point loss.

That +32 within 50 difference is now the highest in a losing final, as Melbourne alone had 20 within 50 last season but failed to secure victory.

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Demons captain Max Gawn said those numbers left a “sour taste” in assessing the game after the loss.

“The numbers that are on the board taste a bit sour… it’s almost a Melbourne-style loss,” he said.

“We had +30 within 50 seconds, we won the competition, got the expected score and still haven’t crossed the finish line.”

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Kysaiah Pickett finished the evening on a 1.3 and was out in the last period with less than three minutes left.

But it was team-mate Bayley Fritsch who scored the most shocking shot of the night as he fired his set shot from a slight angle from 40 yards straight on target.

“Oh no! He just missed the ball!” Commentator Brian Taylor commented on the set shot.

“It just caught the Nike or Adidas logo on the edge.

“He almost missed it!”

Fritsch scored 2.2 that night, including Melbourne’s final goal just minutes from the end of the game – but even that came with some risk as he dribbled the ball through from 15 yards out.

“That kick (from Fritsch in full) was a real emotional disappointment for Melbourne at the time,” said Fox Footy’s David King.

“They left a few out there.”

It was a disappointing night for Fritsch considering he’s usually a reliable scorer with 114.46 from his 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Fox Footy’s Jon Ralph said the Dees “set the Footy on fire in a big way,” while Jason Dunstall said the team “should win” with such a one-sided inside-50 count.

“They create opportunities, they just have to find a way to make them a little bit better,” he said.

Former Saint Leigh Montagna said Melbourne’s attacking inefficiency had been her “Achilles’ heel” all season – and it cost her any chance of a win against Collingwood.

“It’s a phenomenal difference (within 50 seconds) that Collingwood’s defense can keep up,” he said.

“Simon Goodwin has spoken about her vulnerabilities being exposed in the finals – her vulnerability to hitting a high within the 50s and not being able to convert cost her tonight.

“They didn’t take their chances – and they had a lot of them.

“They lacked a little composure.

“Even some misses from Bayley Fritsch, who ranks among the top scorers in the competition, had a bad night.

“You have to make the best of it (within 50 dominance).

“That’s been their Achilles’ heel in the past… something they need to work on.” Melbourne Demons, Bayley Fritsch, horror shot on target, Collingwood Magpies, qualifying final loss, Max Gawn, inaccuracy, within 50, record

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