Fox Footy’s On The Couch on Monday night showed vision that exposed the Cats ruckman’s brain fart in allowing Demons star Max Gawn to take the decisive mark that led to the after-the-siren victory.
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Demons legend Garry Lyon described it as a “really bad mistake” after video replays tracked Stanley running side by side with Gawn as they entered the forward fifty in the seconds before the Demons pulled the trigger on their final play to steal the game after coming back from 44 points down.
In the dying seconds, defender Jake Lever kicked from outside 50 and connected with his captain, who lined up for a shot at goal as the siren sounded.
New vision from behind the goals shows Stanley dropped off Gawn to retreat back to the goal square, leaving Gawn without a direct opponent 20m from goal.
Stanley appeared to be called back to the goal line by a teammate under the assumption Lever was going to take a shot on goal from outside 50m.
Instead he cleverly spotted Gawn inexplicably alone. Gawn was given a walk up start and only had one Cats player to contest the marking contest.
Lyon and Brisbane legend Johnathon Brown said Stanley had to know better than leaving the most dangerous player all alone.
“Rhys Stanley would know this better than anyone,” Lyon said.
“He’s my man. Not one finger nail on him. One little bump. Rhys has just made a really bad mistake.”
Brown said: “It’s footy IQ. It doesn’t matter, he has to understand that he has to be there beside Gawn. It’s your responsibility. It wasn’t (Tom) Hawkins’ responsibility. He was running side by side... and you’ve got to have the footy smarts or the footy intelligence to know that it’s going nowhere but Max Gawn.”
It was one of many things that contributed to the Cats coughing up top spot on the table, and slumping to finish third.
The loss sets up a qualifying final with Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval, while Melbourne hosts the Lions in Adelaide.
Finishing atop the AFL ladder would have been a similarly surreal feeling for the Melbourne faithful; the side hasn’t won the minor premiership in 56 years.