SCG win shows how far Sparrow, Demons have come

Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

A year ago, Melbourne probably would have lost their round-24 match against Sydney.

Their ability to claw back momentum and beat the Swans at the SCG two Sundays ago was instructive about what has changed at the Demons ahead of this AFL finals series.

They will play minor premiers Collingwood at the MCG in Thursday's qualifying final a much healthier and sharper side than the one that spluttered into last September.

After a red-hot start to the season, the Demons ran out of gas and their premiership defence ended in straight-sets ignominy.

Sydney led by 17 points in the third term at home, with Melbourne losing in-form forward Jake Melksham to a season-ending knee reconstruction.

Not many visitors win from that position at the SCG, but Demons onballer Tom Sparrow said it is a product of what they have learned from last year's fadeout.

"We saw Sydney get three goals in five minutes in the third quarter and it looks like they're going to run away with this," Sparrow told AAP.

"But (it's) the team's ability and the coaches' ability to really get centred and say 'nup, that's already happened, stay in the now, what's our process? How do we attack it from here?' We trust that will allow us to win this game.

"The weekend showcased that. We didn't change anything, we just kept playing the same as we've been told and we've been playing for the whole year.

"The thing is, our game style holds up in big games and we saw that (against Sydney), which is really reassuring."

Of course, now they come up against a team whose ability to win from anywhere is now the Magpies' trademark.

"You watch in awe sometimes at how they do it," he said of Collingwood's comeback ability.

"You think it's a bit of a fluke here and there, and then they do it so many times. They obviously have a really good mindset about being behind and they just play the same way, no matter what.

"Coming up against a side like that, it's going to be really important for us to make sure we can't waver in our ability to perform against (Collingwood)."

Sparrow, 23, has become an integral member of the Demons midfield, headlined by stars such as Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney and Angus Brayshaw.

He has played at least 21 games for the last three seasons and was a member of their drought-breaking premiership team.

While Sparrow clearly relishes contested work, his two-way running makes him a danger when he goes forward.

"I don't know - (me) flying under the radar, it's maybe externally," Sparrow said.

"But internally, the things I can bring to the table, it's something the club values."