Melbourne defender Steven May said he was proud of how youngster Trent Rivers performed in the club’s crucial five-point win over the GWS Giants at the Gabba.
The 28-year old told AFL Nation post-match that Rivers, who is in his debut season with the club, stood up when the game was there to be won.
“I’ve been riding Trent pretty hard about his defensive stuff because we know his offense is really good, but we need him to be strong defensive player,” May said.
“Both of his goals came from closing down his man and winning the ball back… I told him that’s what happens when you work hard and play your role.
“I’m super proud of him and that should give him a lot of confidence.”
The 19-year old kicked the penultimate goal of the match that put the Dees 10 points ahead and sealed the match, despite a late Brent Rivers major.
Rivers was drafted with Pick 32 in last year’s AFL Draft and has played seven matches since making the move from Western Australia.
The former Gold Coast Suns captain said his backline persisted and held tough despite some difficulty throughout the match.
“Our mids and forwards, they certainly look to the back half and our body language determines a lot,” he said.
“A few of the boys’ heads went down but we’re pretty tight knit in the backline.
“What I was stressing to the backline was ‘boys, you might have lost a few critical contests, but we still need you, we’re still alive, so I just need your best five minutes and we’ll reassess from there’.”
May said he was impressed with the effort and output of the playing group as a whole in such a crucial game for the club.
“We had a very good team performance,” he said.
“Jake Lever, I thought he was good in the last quarter, he came back strong.
“Joel Smith he had a couple of moments but he came back and certainly Bailey Fritsch, he had the job on Nick Haynes, probably the best intercept defender in the league.”
Melbourne sit in eighth position on percentage ahead of the Giants and the Western Bulldogs and face a do-or-die clash next Saturday against Essendon at Metricon Stadium.
May laughed at how the controversially rescheduled match would now determine the Dees’ finals hopes.
“It is funny how it works out,” he said.
“We joked that it would be funny if it came down to that game, it’s not so funny now."