Melbourne defender Jake Lever expects the Demons to address a worrying trend of blowing strong starts after Friday night’s fadeout loss to Collingwood.

The reigning premier has lost three of its past five matches – to Geelong, Western Bulldogs and the Magpies –despite leading two of those by about four goals in the first half and the other by 11 points early.

Melbourne dominated Collingwood in inside 50s, clearances and centre clearances, especially in the opening two quarters, but never led by more than 23 points and was run down in a seven-goals-to-three second half.

The Demons also coughed up match-winning advantages in defeats to Fremantle, Sydney and the Magpies in rounds 11 to 13, so it’s not a new problem.

“We’re very disappointed that we lost (on Friday night). I was extremely disappointed the next day – probably as flat as I’ve been after a game,” Lever said.

“I thought that we played some good footy in the first half and it has been a little bit of a trend at the minute of us starting well and then not being able to finish.

“I’m sure we’ll touch on it but we’re pretty disappointed. But to Collingwood’s credit, they just found a way.”

Lever suggested the unenviable record might owe to Melbourne falling into a bad habit of thinking more about the result than the process as they try to lock in a top-four berth in the next fortnight.

“We didn’t take our chances and we’re sitting here without the four points and we’ve got a pretty important couple of weeks coming up,” he said.

“It’s obviously pretty important (to make the top four) – I think history suggests that. But the good thing is it’s kind of in our own hands now.

“I haven’t done the maths, but I think that if we win the next two, we probably finish top four, so that’s super important for us.”

The Demons face Carlton (MCG) and Brisbane (Gabba) in the final two rounds, with the Blues’ two-headed forward monster of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay presenting a significant challenge.

But Lever said it was an “exciting” opportunity for he and his fellow defenders, particularly after the Pies’ hectic ball movement brought them unstuck last week.

“You look at their names up there and they’ve got some serious talent,” he said.

“I think Charlie’s kicked 60 goals this year, and Harry wouldn’t be far behind, so we know that they’ve got a lot of scoring power up there.

“But, for us, and especially with guys like Steven May, ‘Hibbo’ (Michael Hibberd) and Harry Petty, they thrive off that sort of stuff … we’ll be looking forward to the challenge.”

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