Max Gawn of the Demons walks off injured.
Max Gawn of the Demons walks off injured. TRACEY NEARMY

Watts' heroics for Demons not enough as Cats notch win

JACK Watts has never been a specialist ruckman and likely never will be.

At 196cm, he's played forward, halfback and even on the wing.

But when Max Gawn was struck down with a hamstring injury halfway through the second term against the Cats on Saturday evening, Watts had to fill the breach.

If Melbourne was to triumph, he had no choice. There was no one else. And competing in the ruck against Zac Smith - who stands at 206cm - was only half the battle.

Gawn's presence around the ground would also be missed, but how much was up to Watts.

Gawn's injury concerns: Demons v Cats
Gawn's injury concerns: Demons v Cats

"We know he's a great ruckman, the most dominant ruckman in the competition, but he's a major part of their press. That's the Melbourne mode of scoring," two-time North Melbourne premiership player David King said on Fox Footy.

Despite the Cats getting home by 29 points, and regardless of Smith's dominance in the hitout department (38-10), Watts demonstrated that he has more ticker than what some give him credit for.

He had just two three-minute spells on the bench in the second half and offered support at ground level throughout, notching 23 disposals and booting two majors.


A fight breaks out between Joel Selwood of the Cats (right) and Bernie Vince of the Demons during the Round 3 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Melbourne Demons at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Saturday, April 8, 2017. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A fight breaks out between Joel Selwood of the Cats (right) and Bernie Vince of the Demons. TRACEY NEARMY

In years gone by, Gawn's injury may have been the reason for the Demons defeat. This was not the case on Saturday, with Watts holding firm in a largely unfamiliar position.

When the final siren rang, the former No.1 pick was out of breath like an Olympic swimmer post-race. Gasping for air, he bowed his head towards his toes as Geelong players filtered past him to shake hands. Placing one foot in front of the other while walking off looked to be a challenge in itself.

Alas, his efforts will allow him to hold his head up high for the next week, albeit in the hope that in Round 4 he can again play second fiddle to Jake Spencer while Gawn recovers.

This was a valiant performance that won't go unrecognised internally at Melbourne. And nor should it be dismissed externally.