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  1. After last week’s horror defeat at the hands of bottom of the ladder Collingwood in Alice Springs, Melbourne turned its season around last night with a heart-thumping six point victory over Brisbane at Casey Fields. The result came after selectors swung the axe in response to last week’s showing and the fact that this was yet another six day break after a fortnight on the road. The Demons were inspired by a return to form by skipper Daisy Pearce who led the charge with two goals as her team opened proceedings with a now familiar early domination that has seen the opposition kept scoreless in the first quarter for three weeks in a row. The inside 50 advantage at that stage was 11 to 3 in Melbourne’s favour. Predictably, it was the home side’s inaccuracy in front of goal that kept the second placed Lions in the hunt. By half time, the Dees led by just 11 points despite having 80% of the scoring shots and dominating most of the game’s statistics. Brisbane was not to be denied and kept coming back hard after the main break thanks to Sabrina Frederick-Traub whose banana kick for goal reduced Melbourne's lead to just six points halfway through the third quarter. Tegan Cunningham returned the compliment with a goal of her own to put the Demons in a strong position at the final break. Not long after, Cunningham suffered a nasty collision with an opponent and consequently played no further art in the game. Brisbane played its best football of the evening in the last quarter, reversing Melbourne’s forward dominance but strong defence in the end ensured that the club song would be sung on the final siren. The strength of the team was the team’s leading trio of Karen Paxman (24), Elise O'Dea and Daisy (23 each) who dominated the disposal count with Kate Hore, the heroin with the team’s only final quarter score - a goal out of a pack midway through the term. Frederick-Traub put the visitor’s back in with a chance after seeming to push her opponent out of a ruck contest near goal, but time ran out for the visitors who finished a six points in arrears as the Demons pressed home their finals prospects after a heavy week of introspection. They have a break of eight days before facing the Blues at Ikon Park in the penultimate round on Sunday week. Melbourne 2.3.15 2.6.18 3.10.28 4.10.34 Brisbane 0.0.0 1.1.7 2.2.14 4.4.28 Goals Melbourne D Pearce 2 Cunningham Hore Brisbane Frederick-Traub 3 Gibson Best Melbourne D Pearce Paxman O’Dea L Pearce Smith Hore Brisbane Frederick-Traub Lutkins Ashmore Anderson Zielke Injuries Melbourne Cunningham (head knock) Brisbane Hildebrand (head knock) Reports Nil Umpires Dore Buwalda Atkins Crowd 2,100 at Casey Fields, Cranbourne
  2. ON A PLATTER by The Oracle At this time of the year, when the battle for the finals heats up, every game involving one or two of the contenders can be dramatic. By the time, Melbourne's turn comes to defend its current top eight placing, all five matches played either on Friday night or at some time on Saturday will have had an influence on the prospects of the teams playing for a finals finish or a top four spot (although admittedly, the Hawks' late bid may well be over before their game starts). The fact that we will have better knowledge of how the club is placed in its quest for its first finals appearance since 2006 will not however, have an effect on what it has to do against the the 18th-placed Lions. Success is never served on a platter given away by others. The challenge for Melbourne is to win this game and then the next. If it does that, it won't have to depend on others to make the finals which is what it's all about - the capacity to be responsible for one's own future. The challenge of winning this particular game also requires the team to step up in a crunch game where it starts as the favourite against a much lower ranked side. On four occasions (against Fremantle, Hawthorn and North Melbourne twice), the Demons have turned up expecting the four points to be served up on that platter only to stumble and fall by narrow margins. There is not much use in crying over spilt milk but a simple glance at the ladder will tell you that had they won half of those close games, they would have been in top four contention instead of fighting with three or four others for a place in the eight. The Brisbane Lions have hit some form recently so they can't be taken lightly. Melbourne has much more at stake and simply cannot afford to lapse in this game. If it does so this time, then a large number of its fans, including yours truly, will be cheesed off. And on that note, I hope that the players are not distracted by the fare of cheese, avocado, prosciutto which one Melbourne supporter feasted on last week at the Saints game. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 19 August, 2017 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 23 wins, Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 13 wins, Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 2 wins, Brisbane 3 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins, Fagan 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.00pm Radio - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne $1.17 to win, Brisbane $5.25 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 19.17.131 defeated Brisbane 9.14.68 at the MCG, Round 9, 2016 The Demons don't often win games by more than 10 goals but they did just that the last time the two teams met 15 months ago. Jesse Hogan booted five goals, James Harmes four and Tomas Bugg finished with 31 touches. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jordan Lewis, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt C: Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca F: Jeff Garlett, Cam Pedersen, James Harmes FOLL: Max Gawn, Bernie Vince, Jake Melksham I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Mitch Hannan, Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner EMG: Ben Kennedy, Corey Maynard, Sam Weideman IN: Jesse Hogan, Billy Stretch OUT: Jack Viney (foot) Sam Weideman (omitted) BRISBANE LIONS B: Daniel McStay, Harris Andrews, Daniel Rich HB: Darcy Gardiner, Josh Walker, Sam Mayes C: Hugh McCluggage, Dayne Zorko, Ryan Bastinac HF: Lewis Taylor, Michael Close, Claye Beams F: Ryan Lester, Eric Hipwood, Jake Barrett FOLL: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams I/C: Jacob Allison, Rhys Mathieson, Nick Robertson, Alex Witherden EMG: Tom Cutler, Ben Keays, Sam Skinner IN: Alex Witherden OUT: Cedric Cox (omitted) Brisbane has a poor record against Melbourne at the MCG having won there only three times (although that figure might have looked better had the Demons not sold home games to play at the Gabba in the Lions' halcyon days). Their last win at the G was by 41 points in Round 1, 2012 which was Mark Neeld's first game as coach. Things are far different for both sides these days but a loss to the Demons on Sunday would be far more devastating than the one from 5½ years ago that marked the beginning of the former coach and his team's long ride on the "reality bus". A loss at home to the last placed team in the competition would signal that Melbourne simply does not merit a berth in the finals. Fortunately, the team does have the experienced heads who can lead it through the pressure of a must win game starting with co-skipper Nathan Jones who has dedicated his football lifetime to be in reach of the September action he last saw when his career was in its infancy. With him is Jordan Lewis who has seen it all in his time as a four-time premiership player and is now on the brink of yet another finals campaign. The Demons have won most of their games when these two have been in the team together and the leadership of the club's wise old heads will be critical over the weeks to come. And with them is a young team with a lot of talent that plays a high possession game, wins the contested ball and has an All Australian ruckman who is smart enough to learn and adapt his technique after the issues he had with the umpires in the game against the Saints. The Lions have improved greatly in the second half of the season and had a great win last week against a club in crisis after the sacking of their coach. This week they face a club with a mission and the boot will be on the other foot. Melbourne by 45 points.
  3. Demonland

    ON A PLATTER by The Oracle

    At this time of the year, when the battle for the finals heats up, every game involving one or two of the contenders can be dramatic. By the time, Melbourne's turn comes to defend its current top eight placing, all five matches played either on Friday night or at some time on Saturday will have had an influence on the prospects of the teams playing for a finals finish or a top four spot (although admittedly, the Hawks' late bid may well be over before their game starts). The fact that we will have better knowledge of how the club is placed in its quest for its first finals appearance since 2006 will not however, have an effect on what it has to do against the the 18th-placed Lions. Success is never served on a platter given away by others. The challenge for Melbourne is to win this game and then the next. If it does that, it won't have to depend on others to make the finals which is what it's all about - the capacity to be responsible for one's own future. The challenge of winning this particular game also requires the team to step up in a crunch game where it starts as the favourite against a much lower ranked side. On four occasions (against Fremantle, Hawthorn and North Melbourne twice), the Demons have turned up expecting the four points to be served up on that platter only to stumble and fall by narrow margins. There is not much use in crying over spilt milk but a simple glance at the ladder will tell you that had they won half of those close games, they would have been in top four contention instead of fighting with three or four others for a place in the eight. The Brisbane Lions have hit some form recently so they can't be taken lightly. Melbourne has much more at stake and simply cannot afford to lapse in this game. If it does so this time, then a large number of its fans, including yours truly, will be cheesed off. And on that note, I hope that the players are not distracted by the fare of cheese, avocado, prosciutto which one Melbourne supporter feasted on last week at the Saints game. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 19 August, 2017 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 23 wins, Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 13 wins, Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 2 wins, Brisbane 3 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins, Fagan 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.00pm Radio - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne $1.17 to win, Brisbane $5.25 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 19.17.131 defeated Brisbane 9.14.68 at the MCG, Round 9, 2016 The Demons don't often win games by more than 10 goals but they did just that the last time the two teams met 15 months ago. Jesse Hogan booted five goals, James Harmes four and Tomas Bugg finished with 31 touches. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jordan Lewis, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt C: Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Jesse Hogan, Christian Petracca F: Jeff Garlett, Cam Pedersen, James Harmes FOLL: Max Gawn, Bernie Vince, Jake Melksham I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Mitch Hannan, Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner EMG: Ben Kennedy, Corey Maynard, Sam Weideman IN: Jesse Hogan, Billy Stretch OUT: Jack Viney (foot) Sam Weideman (omitted) BRISBANE LIONS B: Daniel McStay, Harris Andrews, Daniel Rich HB: Darcy Gardiner, Josh Walker, Sam Mayes C: Hugh McCluggage, Dayne Zorko, Ryan Bastinac HF: Lewis Taylor, Michael Close, Claye Beams F: Ryan Lester, Eric Hipwood, Jake Barrett FOLL: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Dayne Beams I/C: Jacob Allison, Rhys Mathieson, Nick Robertson, Alex Witherden EMG: Tom Cutler, Ben Keays, Sam Skinner IN: Alex Witherden OUT: Cedric Cox (omitted) Brisbane has a poor record against Melbourne at the MCG having won there only three times (although that figure might have looked better had the Demons not sold home games to play at the Gabba in the Lions' halcyon days). Their last win at the G was by 41 points in Round 1, 2012 which was Mark Neeld's first game as coach. Things are far different for both sides these days but a loss to the Demons on Sunday would be far more devastating than the one from 5½ years ago that marked the beginning of the former coach and his team's long ride on the "reality bus". A loss at home to the last placed team in the competition would signal that Melbourne simply does not merit a berth in the finals. Fortunately, the team does have the experienced heads who can lead it through the pressure of a must win game starting with co-skipper Nathan Jones who has dedicated his football lifetime to be in reach of the September action he last saw when his career was in its infancy. With him is Jordan Lewis who has seen it all in his time as a four-time premiership player and is now on the brink of yet another finals campaign. The Demons have won most of their games when these two have been in the team together and the leadership of the club's wise old heads will be critical over the weeks to come. And with them is a young team with a lot of talent that plays a high possession game, wins the contested ball and has an All Australian ruckman who is smart enough to learn and adapt his technique after the issues he had with the umpires in the game against the Saints. The Lions have improved greatly in the second half of the season and had a great win last week against a club in crisis after the sacking of their coach. This week they face a club with a mission and the boot will be on the other foot. Melbourne by 45 points.
  4. Demonland

    THE LAST TIME THEY MET

    It was 15 months ago and a dreadful game and, despite their lowly position on the ladder, the Lions are not to be taken lightly MELBOURNE B: Billy Stretch, Tom McDonald, Tomas Bugg HB: Josh Wagner, Colin Garland, Bernie Vince C: Clayton Oliver, Dom Tyson, Viv Michie HF: Dean Kent, Jack Watts, Jeff Garlett F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Ben Kennedy FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jayden Hunt, Alex Neal-Bullen, Oscar McDonald EMG: Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes IN: Dean Kent, Alex Neal-Bullen, Ben Newton, Oscar McDonald OUT: Neville Jetta (suspension), Cam Pedersen (illness), Christian Salem (omitted), Dom Tyson (illness) BRISBANE LIONS B: Ryan Harwood, Daniel Merrett, Jackson Paine HB: Daniel Rich, Daniel McStay, Sam Mayes C: Ryan Lester, Allen Christensen, Tom Bell HF: Pearce Hanley, Lewis Taylor, Nick Robertson F: Trent West, Josh Schache, Ryan Bastinac FOLL: Stefan Martin, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson I/C: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Ben Keays, Rhys Mathieson EMG: Josh Clayton, Eric Hipwood, Jarrad Jansen IN: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Daniel McStay, Rhys Mathieson, Jackson Paine, Nick Robertson, Trent West OUT: Clay Beams (groin), Dayne Beams (knee), Rohan Bewick (groin), Darcy Gardiner (finger), Josh Green (omitted), Marco Paparone (omitted), Josh Walker (omitted) NEW: Rhys Mathieson (Geelong U18
  5. Demonland

    CRISIS? by the Oracle

    This week sees the Demons face yet another club in crisis, one which has progressively over a number of years transferred its identity from becoming the Brisbane Lions at the turn of the century back into the Brisbane Bears. The irony of course is that while Melbourne has already had its share of contests against clubs in strife during the season, the club itself has lurched through the past decade as the epitome of a club in crisis. While we have watched the young Demon side show us some positive, exciting glimpses to hold out some promise that it will step out of the mire at some time very soon, it continues to give fans its moments of despair so that a home ground contest against an ailing Bears club that was thrashed a week ago by Collingwood at the Gabba can be looked upon them as problematic - even when they are raging favourites to win. The game looks winnable from every aspect. Max Gawn is coming along nicely in his rucking role and he continues to give teammates at his feet a good ride at stoppages. The Melbourne midfield is improving in quality and depth. For the first time in living memory the Dees were credited with employing an innovative tactic. The only problem is that the "Diamond Pattern" or "Diamond Defence" didn't quite work when employed against the Bulldogs and if it was employed when they played the Bombers and the Saints, then it was an abject failure. Hopefully, it will be a case of back to the drawing board this week when the team faces the Bears because it really can't afford to lose another game to a club in crisis. It's not that last week's loss to the Bulldogs was comparable to the losses to Essendon and St Kilda. The Doggies are a competent well drilled outfit that more the ball quickly with precision. They have managed to get themselves out of "crisis mode" in quick time and based upon what we saw last week, they are definite contenders this year. Many of us hoped that Melbourne would follow a similar path this year but unless it can shake off the inconsistent tag, it will languish between the middle and lower half of the table. Winning against Brisbane at home on Sunday will help but it will remain one small step in the process necessary to avert the next crisis. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 22 May, 2016 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 22 wins Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 12 wins Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 1 win Brisbane 4 win The Coaches: Roos 1 win Leppitsch 1 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.00pm Radio - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne $1.18 to win Brisbane $4.75 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 8.12.60 defeated Brisbane 4.12.36 at the MCG, Round 16, 2015. The Lions kicked only one goal for the entire first half while the Demons managed only one in the second half in a putrid skill free exhibition of ineptitude. Jesse Hogan was the shining light with four goals. TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Billy Stretch, Tom McDonald, Tomas Bugg HB: Josh Wagner, Colin Garland, Bernie Vince C: Clayton Oliver, Dom Tyson, Viv Michie HF: Dean Kent, Jack Watts, Jeff Garlett F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Ben Kennedy FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jayden Hunt, Alex Neal-Bullen, Oscar McDonald EMG: Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes IN: Dean Kent, Alex Neal-Bullen, Ben Newton, Oscar McDonald OUT: Neville Jetta (suspension), Cam Pedersen (illness), Christian Salem (omitted), Dom Tyson (illness) BRISBANE LIONS B: Ryan Harwood, Daniel Merrett, Jackson Paine HB: Daniel Rich, Daniel McStay, Sam Mayes C: Ryan Lester, Allen Christensen, Tom Bell HF: Pearce Hanley, Lewis Taylor, Nick Robertson F: Trent West, Josh Schache, Ryan Bastinac FOLL: Stefan Martin, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson I/C: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Ben Keays, Rhys Mathieson EMG: Josh Clayton, Eric Hipwood, Jarrad Jansen IN: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Daniel McStay, Rhys Mathieson, Jackson Paine, Nick Robertson, Trent West OUT: Clay Beams (groin), Dayne Beams (knee), Rohan Bewick (groin), Darcy Gardiner (finger), Josh Green (omitted), Marco Paparone (omitted), Josh Walker (omitted) NEW: Rhys Mathieson (Geelong U18)
  6. If you think life's tough for Melbourne fans then spare a thought for those who follow Brisbane. The Lions have been down and out in 2015, suffering from lots of injuries to important players and winning only two matches for the season to date. As a consequence, they are deemed irrelevant by the football world and, with their fellow Queenslanders, the Suns, they hold up the AFL ladder from its bottom reaches. Lately, they have shown much improved form against strong opposition as some of their injured players have started returning. On Sunday, they are likely to get suspended ruckman and former Demon Stephan Martin back in the team and this week, their luck could just be turning because they come across an opponent in Melbourne that is well versed in losing games when they are favoured to win. And for the second week in a row, Melbourne is the favourite to win a match even though nobody in recent history can remember them saluting in such circumstances (if you discount games against franchise teams in their early days). The Demons couldn't crack it for a win last week when they played against the injury-depleted Bombers even after dominating the ruck duels and centre clearances, particularly in the first half of that game. And it was the second time this year that Essendon had visited humiliation on them because they couldn't beat the Dons' non-injected by any mysterious unknown substances "B" team during a NAB Challenge game in March. So now it's on to Brisbane in an MCG game which is also a rarity because, in the past decade or so, a number of Melbourne home games against them have been played at many venues elsewhere - like the Gabba, TIO Stadium Darwin and at Etihad last year. The last MCG home game against the Lions was however, a case in point on the issue of favouritism. The club ushered in the Mark Neeld era in 2012 with an season opener opposed to Brisbane and was strongly supported by the bookies and betting agencies. However, after a reasonably even first half, the team was blown off the park by ¾ time with the home crowd starting booing their team well before the game was over. The good news for Demon fans is that the Mark Neeld introduction game was the only occasion since 2000 that Brisbane has beaten their team at the G. If they can maintain that domination then it might be too much for Brisbane to bear and would put an end to their hoodoo of losing games after starting out as favourites. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 19 July, 2015 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 21wins Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 11 wins Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane 5 wins The Coaches: Roos 0 wins Leppitsch 1 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel at 1.00pm (live) Radio - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Melbourne $1.57 to win Brisbane $2.40 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane 11.8.74 defeated Melbourne 6.15.51 at Etihad Stadium, Round 19, 2014. Melbourne was promising to finally break its Etihad Stadium hoodoo when it held a lead of more than two goals early in the final term when a surge by the Lions saw them kick six goals to one to record a comfortable victory under the roof. Stefan Martin was best on ground and picked up the three Brownlow votes in this game against his old side TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta HB: Jeremy Howe, Tom McDonald, Billy Stretch C: Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Heritier Lumumba HF: Aaron vandenBerg, Chris Dawes, Jeff Garlett F: Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Dom Tyson EMG: Jack Grimes, Mark Jamar, Aidan Riley No change BRISBANE LIONS B: Justin Clarke, Daniel Merrett, Harris Andrews HB: Daniel Rich, Marco Paparone, Sam Mayes C: Dayne Zorko, Dayne Beams, Lewis Taylor HF: Jack Redden, Daniel McStay, Allen Christensen F: Stefan Martin, Brent Staker, Jed Adcock Foll: Matthew Leuenberger, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley I/C: James Aish, Ryan Harwood, Nick Robertson, Mitch Robinson EMG: Hugh Beasley, Rohan Bewick, Mitch Golby IN: Ryan Harwood, Stefan Martin, Mitch Robinson OUT: Rohan Bewick (omitted), Jordon Bourke (omitted), Darcy Gardiner (shoulder) Let's face it. Let's face it. Melbourne was poor last week when it was expected to beat Essendon with ease given the Bombers' capitulation to St Kilda by 110 points a week earlier. The Demons could have won but the excuse was poor kicking for goal which was in fact the case but the game should never have been close had they taken advantage of the early ruck dominance of Max Gawn. It's a mystery how, despite the enormous advantage in clearances at centre bounces and the other stoppages, that the scores were locked at 1.3 apiece at quarter time. That came before the really woeful kicking for goal that transpired later. This week's opponent has been hit hard by injury but observers would have probably noted that as the date for their game against Melbourne approached, there were some sudden and dramatic changes happening. The Lions form rose from ordinary to respectable as a number of their key players have begun turning. A win on the MCG would have been virtually unthinkable a month or so ago, but now it's on the cards. In their past three games, they have extended Adelaide, Fremantle and Sydney for three quarters. With their midfield building up to close to their best, they will threaten the Dees even on their home turf. They have Tom Rockliff back and in form and Pearce Hanley is ready to provide the run and carry they have lacked for most of the season. The Demons will be relying on Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince to provide the drive and movement forward to nullify them. Hopefully, the youth around them will add to the blend of hard work and running necessary to bring home the four points. Melbourne - just.
  7. THE LION KINKS by The Oracle Melbourne wrapped up this low scoring game against a very kinky bottom-of-the-ladder Brisbane Lions in the first quarter when it kicked five goals, three of them off the boot of Jesse Hogan, the Demons' brightest shining light on the horizon in several years. In fact, 20-year-old Hogan who kicked his fourth in the last quarter is more than just on the horizon - he's getting close to taking over centre stage. Given that the Lions also scored a major in the opening stanza, half of the game’s paltry total of twelve goals had been kicked by quarter time, leaving plenty of time for boring, defensive and ugly football in what was certainly not an exhibition of the finer points of the great Australian game. Fortunately, the administrators of our indigenous sport can also point to the fact that on the same ground, on the night before, the best exponents of the world game, produced a similarly lifeless and scoreless effort. It's probably gone largely unrecognised because the Demons haven't exactly put enough results on the board but the past month or two have seen some definite signs of improvement. Leaving aside, the last 40 minutes of the game against the Eagles in Darwin, the Melbourne has been in winning positions in all of its games since the Queens Birthday clash against Collingwood. Last week, it was a burst of accuracy by the Bombers in the third quarter (and inaccuracy all day by the Dees) that cost it the game, a few weeks before that, a defensive brain fade in the dying moment that deprived them of the points at Etihad against the Saints. In light of that, who could argue with an ugly 24 point victory against an opponent kept to only four goals? (in fact, the team has kept its opposition down to just 8 goals in 7 of the last 8 quarters played) This defensive mindset is reminiscent of last year but it's certainly becoming more effective and efficient. How long before a breakthrough sees the team record another significant win like that against Geelong four weeks ago? The selectors persevered with the same side that lost to the Bombers and are giving more game time to their young players while signaling to the likes of Mark Jamar and Jack Grimes that their time may still come. The young kids tried and showed promise and, of course, Hogan was the standout but the kudos from this game will go to the likes of Jeremy Howe who excelled in defence in what might have been his last chance before a stint at Casey. Bernie Vince and Jack Viney were the pick of the midfielders but there really wasn’t much excitement in the club’s engine room. Max Gawn is winning in the ruck on a weekly basis but the men at his feet are still not capitalizing on his dominance. Apart from in the first quarter, Brisbane won at the clearances and stoppages and hence, the struggle on the part of the team to score after the first break. Its little wonder therefore that in the post-match press conference, Paul Roos said that the aim is to recruit an A list midfielder into the ranks for next year. That’s wonderful but Dangerfield and Treloar appear out of his grasp so, unless he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Roosy might have to rely on some of the youngsters in his own ranks to continue to improve and for Jack Trengove and Christian Petracca to make full recoveries from the injuries that kept them out this season. Next week, Melbourne takes on St. Kilda which continues to be impressive although, like the Dees, isn’t getting enough wins on the board for the effort expended. A victory would see the team on course for its highest placed finish in four years, perhaps a springboard for the future. Melbourne 5.4.34 7.7.49 7.10.52 8.12.60 Brisbane Lions 1.2.8 1.5.11 3.8.26 4.12.36 Goals Melbourne Hogan 4 Garlett McDonald 2 Brisbane Lions Andrews, Christensen, Robinson, Zorko Best Melbourne Howe, Gawn, Hogan, Viney, Cross, vandenBerg Brisbane Lions Christensen, Zorko, Taylor, Beams, Andrews Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Hanley (hamstring) Substitutions Melbourne Alex Neal-Bullen replaced Jay Kennedy-Harris in the third term Brisbane Lions James Aish replaced Pearce Hanley in the third quarter Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Bannister, Harris, McInerney Official crowd 25,149 at the MCG
  8. HOW MUCH CAN BRISBANE BEAR? by JVM If you think life's tough for Melbourne fans then spare a thought for those who follow Brisbane. The Lions have been down and out in 2015, suffering from lots of injuries to important players and winning only two matches for the season to date. As a consequence, they are deemed irrelevant by the football world and, with their fellow Queenslanders, the Suns, they hold up the AFL ladder from its bottom reaches. Lately, they have shown much improved form against strong opposition as some of their injured players have started returning. On Sunday, they are likely to get suspended ruckman and former Demon Stephan Martin back in the team and this week, their luck could just be turning because they come across an opponent in Melbourne that is well versed in losing games when they are favoured to win. And for the second week in a row, Melbourne is the favourite to win a match even though nobody in recent history can remember them saluting in such circumstances (if you discount games against franchise teams in their early days). The Demons couldn't crack it for a win last week when they played against the injury-depleted Bombers even after dominating the ruck duels and centre clearances, particularly in the first half of that game. And it was the second time this year that Essendon had visited humiliation on them because they couldn't beat the Dons' non-injected by any mysterious unknown substances "B" team during a NAB Challenge game in March. So now it's on to Brisbane in an MCG game which is also a rarity because, in the past decade or so, a number of Melbourne home games against them have been played at many venues elsewhere - like the Gabba, TIO Stadium Darwin and at Etihad last year. The last MCG home game against the Lions was however, a case in point on the issue of favouritism. The club ushered in the Mark Neeld era in 2012 with an season opener opposed to Brisbane and was strongly supported by the bookies and betting agencies. However, after a reasonably even first half, the team was blown off the park by ¾ time with the home crowd starting booing their team well before the game was over. The good news for Demon fans is that the Mark Neeld introduction game was the only occasion since 2000 that Brisbane has beaten their team at the G. If they can maintain that domination then it might be too much for Brisbane to bear and would put an end to their hoodoo of losing games after starting out as favourites. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 19 July, 2015 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 21wins Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 11 wins Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane 5 wins The Coaches: Roos 0 wins Leppitsch 1 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel at 1.00pm (live) Radio - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Melbourne $1.57 to win Brisbane $2.40 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane 11.8.74 defeated Melbourne 6.15.51 at Etihad Stadium, Round 19, 2014. Melbourne was promising to finally break its Etihad Stadium hoodoo when it held a lead of more than two goals early in the final term when a surge by the Lions saw them kick six goals to one to record a comfortable victory under the roof. Stefan Martin was best on ground and picked up the three Brownlow votes in this game against his old side TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta HB: Jeremy Howe, Tom McDonald, Billy Stretch C: Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Heritier Lumumba HF: Aaron vandenBerg, Chris Dawes, Jeff Garlett F: Angus Brayshaw, Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Dom Tyson EMG: Jack Grimes, Mark Jamar, Aidan Riley No change BRISBANE LIONS B: Justin Clarke, Daniel Merrett, Harris Andrews HB: Daniel Rich, Marco Paparone, Sam Mayes C: Dayne Zorko, Dayne Beams, Lewis Taylor HF: Jack Redden, Daniel McStay, Allen Christensen F: Stefan Martin, Brent Staker, Jed Adcock Foll: Matthew Leuenberger, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley I/C: James Aish, Ryan Harwood, Nick Robertson, Mitch Robinson EMG: Hugh Beasley, Rohan Bewick, Mitch Golby IN: Ryan Harwood, Stefan Martin, Mitch Robinson OUT: Rohan Bewick (omitted), Jordon Bourke (omitted), Darcy Gardiner (shoulder) Let's face it. Let's face it. Melbourne was poor last week when it was expected to beat Essendon with ease given the Bombers' capitulation to St Kilda by 110 points a week earlier. The Demons could have won but the excuse was poor kicking for goal which was in fact the case but the game should never have been close had they taken advantage of the early ruck dominance of Max Gawn. It's a mystery how, despite the enormous advantage in clearances at centre bounces and the other stoppages, that the scores were locked at 1.3 apiece at quarter time. That came before the really woeful kicking for goal that transpired later. This week's opponent has been hit hard by injury but observers would have probably noted that as the date for their game against Melbourne approached, there were some sudden and dramatic changes happening. The Lions form rose from ordinary to respectable as a number of their key players have begun turning. A win on the MCG would have been virtually unthinkable a month or so ago, but now it's on the cards. In their past three games, they have extended Adelaide, Fremantle and Sydney for three quarters. With their midfield building up to close to their best, they will threaten the Dees even on their home turf. They have Tom Rockliff back and in form and Pearce Hanley is ready to provide the run and carry they have lacked for most of the season. The Demons will be relying on Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince to provide the drive and movement forward to nullify them. Hopefully, the youth around them will add to the blend of hard work and running necessary to bring home the four points. Melbourne - just.
  9. Whispering_Jack

    GAME DAY - Round 16

    It's good to be back at a home MCG game, our first since the Queens Birthday clash against Collingwood (for last week's game, we were the "visiting" team to the Bombers whose "home" ground is Etihad Stadium but go figure?). This is the Lions' only game for the season on the MCG and they are boasting that they will be fielding their strongest team for the season today so it will be another challenge for Paul Roos and the coaching panel. Roosy has stuck to his guns with team selection and persevered with the same 22 from last week, despite the consensus that the result was a bit of a debacle. He's clearly giving the younger members of the side who were a bit down on their form, plenty of opportunities to get AFL game time into their legs which will provide benefits in the future even if not in the immediate short term. The weather should be good for football - no excuses today.
  10. Demonland

    LAST TIME THEY MET

    Had them early in the last quarter and then meekly surrendered. MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Lynden Dunn, James Frawley, Jeremy Howe C: Dean Terlich, Bernie Vince, Jordie McKenzie HF: Rohan Bail, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Viney F: Luke Tapscott, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Sam Blease, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Dean Kent, Aidan Riley EMG: Daniel Cross, Max Gawn, Matt Jones IN: Dean Terlich OUT: Jack Grimes (hamstring) BRISBANE LIONS B: Darcy Gardiner, Matt Maguire, Justin Clarke HB: Joel Patfull, Daniel McStay, Ryan Harwood C: Ashley McGrath, James Aish, Sam Mayes HF: Lewis Taylor, Michael Close, Josh Green F: Dayne Zorko, Daniel Merrett, Jed Adcock FOLL: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley I/C: Claye Beams, Rohan Bewick Jack Crisp, Ryan Lester EMG: Jordan Lisle, Zac O'Brien, Nick Robertson NO CHANGE
  11. That was very hard to watch. Watching us get overrun by bog ordinary teams is not getting any easier to stomach. Very ready for this season to end now.
  12. It was about nine minutes into the final term and Melbourne was ahead by 14 points with almost twice as many scoring shots as the Brisbane Lions (6.14 to 5.6). A thought bubble rose over my head suggesting that I should be prepared to excuse the ugliness of this virtually unwatchable game. The mistakes, the turnovers, the poor skill sets from both sides were there clearly on display but the odds were that if the Demons would continue doing what they had done for more than three quarters then it would all be worth it because there were four premiership points on offer to be won that would lift the club ahead of another two AFL teams to establish a gap between themselves and the wooden spoon position. At that very point the Lions went onto the attack knowing that the only way they could win a low scoring scrap in which the teams had thus far scored a mere eleven goals between them. At the same time, the Demons, perhaps believing that a 13 point lead in such a game was there to be saved rather than won, went super defensive. Therein lay the problem. At times, it was an odds on certainty that with so many players down back, the opposition would simply belt the ball forward enough times to break through, especially if any of those players would commit an error which they did on cue and often enough to allow the Lions to break the wall of the dike and overrun the home team with a withering 20 minute and six goal burst. The suggestion from the coach was that the team is haunted by the past but I reckon it's more a case of haunted by the present. It was what the Demons deserved for bungling so many golden opportunities in the first three quarters and then shutting up shop far too early. For half a game between the beginning of the second quarter until siren time in the third they squandered countless opportunities to score goals. In the end, they got what they deserved. Nathan Jones led the Demons as he always does but even he was not immune to committing the odd blooper. Dom Tyson gave him great support in the middle but he too was wasteful at times. Jeremy Howe and Tom McDonald defended well while James Frawley was solid in attack and he certainly couldn't do it on his own - but all of them committed errors when Melbourne was well on top. There are too many in the team for who the practice has become commonplace. If your kicks and handballs miss the target, if you drop the football or fail to chase, then consider yourself lucky if you're on the list by the end of the year. Melbourne 3.3.214.8.32 5.13.43 6.15.51 Brisbane Lions 3.3.21 4.3.27 5.6.36 11.8.74 Goals Melbourne Kent 2 Bail Frawley N Jones Tyson Brisbane Lions McStay 3 Close 2 Adcock Beams Hanley Harwood Merrett Taylor Best Melbourne N Jones Howe Jetta Frawley Tyson Kent Brisbane Lions Bewick Rockliff Hanley Martin McStay Adcock Changes Melbourne Jack Grimes (hamstring) replaced in the selected side by Dean Terlich Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne McDonald (ankle), Pedersen (nose) Brisbane Lions Maguire (foot) Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Daniel Merrett for striking Cam Pedersen in the fourth quarter Umpires Donlon Harris O'Gorman Crowd 18,079 at Etihad Stadium
  13. Whispering_Jack

    GAME DAY - Round 19

    It's been more or less seven years since we last won a home and away game at Etihad Stadium although I think it might have been called something else then. At least today, I reckon the roof might be open and the players may not remember that it's the place where they've stuffed up on numerous occasions. Actually, when I think about it we should have won twice there this year. The first time we were decimated of ruckmen and key forwards, lost two players early and kicked 10 behinds in a row and the second time, the result could have gone either way after we suffered some early lapses. We want 100 minutes (or however many there are in a game these days) to win it today.
  14. PARDON THE INTERRUPTION by JVM The interruption to the season by means of the second bye for the year has somewhat quashed the momentum gained by Melbourne in its thrilling performance against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval when it came within a minute or two of snatching a famous victory for the club. Not only does the momentum seem to have dissipated but with so many events taking place on the world stage both on and off the sporting scene that the Demons' strong efforts in that match have been almost forgotten. Deadly wars and plane crashes, the removal of the carbon tax, Wimbledon, the British Open, Tour de France and the riveting flow of gold, gold and more gold from the Commonwealth Games have all seen to that. So much so that I can recall so little of Melbourne's last game that I has to check the record books twice to confirm that it actually took place. And to make matters worse, the Demons' opponent in this week's game - the Brisbane Lions - took all the limelight at the weekend with their brutal hatchet job against the Gold Coast Suns in Brisbane. For a side supposedly lamenting near the bottom of the table, Justin Leppitsch's mob took the honours of the round with Stefan Martin continuing his rich vein of form in the ruck and Tom Rockliff and Pierce Hanley breaking the record books by racking up in excess of forty disposals each in their midfield demolition of the hapless and Ablettless young Suns whose finals aspirations were virtually snuffed out in one fell swoop. Meanwhile, Demon fans were at least left to celebrate one piece of big news - the extension of Paul Roos' contact by another year to the end of 2016. It's not often that fans of a team will celebrate the addition of an extra year to their coach's tenure when his team has a 25% win/loss ratio but perhaps all that was forgotten due to the long break in the football. In any event, it has been well worthwhile when one considers that on top of its four wins to date, the team has been in front during the final quarter of five other games which suggests that Roos has lifted his team significantly in a short space of time. Now, if only they can learn to win on a regular basis ... THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at Etihad Stadium Sunday 3 August 2014 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 21wins Brisbane 19 wins At Etihad Stadium: Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane 1 win Last Five Years: Melbourne 1 wins Brisbane 4 wins The Coaches: Roos 0 wins Leppitsch 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel at 1:00pm AEST Radio - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Melbourne $1.65 to win Brisbane $2.25 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane 13.16.94 defeated Melbourne 11.9.75 at the TIO Stadium, Darwin in Round 10, 2013 On a damp and slippery night the Demons held their own for a long time but lacked the class to take up the fight for the full four quarters. TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Lynden Dunn, James Frawley, Jeremy Howe C: Dean Terlich, Bernie Vince, Jordie McKenzie HF: Rohan Bail, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Viney F: Luke Tapscott, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Sam Blease, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Dean Kent, Aidan Riley EMG: Daniel Cross, Max Gawn, Matt Jones IN: Dean Terlich OUT: Jack Grimes (hamstring) BRISBANE LIONS B: Darcy Gardiner, Matt Maguire, Justin Clarke HB: Joel Patfull, Daniel McStay, Ryan Harwood C: Ashley McGrath, James Aish, Sam Mayes HF: Lewis Taylor, Michael Close, Josh Green F: Dayne Zorko, Daniel Merrett, Jed Adcock FOLL: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley I/C: Claye Beams, Rohan Bewick Jack Crisp, Ryan Lester EMG: Jordan Lisle, Zac O'Brien, Nick Robertson NO CHANGE What can Melbourne do to turn around its current run of five successive losses? What can Melbourne do to turn around its run of four consecutive defeats at the hands of the Brisbane Lions? What can Melbourne do to turn around its seven year run of defeats at Etihad Stadium? So far this year the Demons have put paid to one of its hoodoos being its long run of defeats in Adelaide but that was achieved at the Adelaide Oval and not AAMI Stadium where most of the damage had been done over the years. The team even got close to making it a double at its last start where it stretched Port Adelaide a fortnight ago. It did so with a team not dissimilar to that which succumbed meekly to top four aspirants Fremantle and Geelong in games where it could do no better than score a measly five goals. This week the team takes on the Brisbane Lions which returned to form in the Q game last week when they slaughtered the ailing Gold Coast Suns whose form has collapsed since Garry Ablett's shoulder injury. The Lions will be brimming with confidence after such a strong showing but Melbourne's performance away from home in Adelaide was no less impressive. Despite the loss of co-captain Jack Grimes, Melbourne's defence looks strong and the midfield continues to show improvement as the stocks of Nathan Jones and Dom Tyson continue to rise. The result might well depend on whether it's run with players are able to hold the surging Lion midfield headed by Rockliff, Hanley and Zorko. I believe that they will do so and on the back of that a few Melbourne hoodoos will bite the dust. Melbourne by 4 points.
  15. Demonland

    PARDON THE INTERRUPTION by JVM

    The interruption to the season by means of the second bye for the year has somewhat quashed the momentum gained by Melbourne in its thrilling performance against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval when it came within a minute or two of snatching a famous victory for the club. Not only does the momentum seem to have dissipated but with so many events taking place on the world stage both on and off the sporting scene that the Demons' strong efforts in that match have been almost forgotten. Deadly wars and plane crashes, the removal of the carbon tax, Wimbledon, the British Open, Tour de France and the riveting flow of gold, gold and more gold from the Commonwealth Games have all seen to that. So much so that I can recall so little of Melbourne's last game that I has to check the record books twice to confirm that it actually took place. And to make matters worse, the Demons' opponent in this week's game - the Brisbane Lions - took all the limelight at the weekend with their brutal hatchet job against the Gold Coast Suns in Brisbane. For a side supposedly lamenting near the bottom of the table, Justin Leppitsch's mob took the honours of the round with Stefan Martin continuing his rich vein of form in the ruck and Tom Rockliff and Pierce Hanley breaking the record books by racking up in excess of forty disposals each in their midfield demolition of the hapless and Ablettless young Suns whose finals aspirations were virtually snuffed out in one fell swoop. Meanwhile, Demon fans were at least left to celebrate one piece of big news - the extension of Paul Roos' contact by another year to the end of 2016. It's not often that fans of a team will celebrate the addition of an extra year to their coach's tenure when his team has a 25% win/loss ratio but perhaps all that was forgotten due to the long break in the football. In any event, it has been well worthwhile when one considers that on top of its four wins to date, the team has been in front during the final quarter of five other games which suggests that Roos has lifted his team significantly in a short space of time. Now, if only they can learn to win on a regular basis ... THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at Etihad Stadium Sunday 3 August 2014 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 21wins Brisbane 19 wins At Etihad Stadium: Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane 1 win Last Five Years: Melbourne 1 wins Brisbane 4 wins The Coaches: Roos 0 wins Leppitsch 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel at 1:00pm AEST Radio - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Melbourne $1.65 to win Brisbane $2.25 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane 13.16.94 defeated Melbourne 11.9.75 at the TIO Stadium, Darwin in Round 10, 2013 On a damp and slippery night the Demons held their own for a long time but lacked the class to take up the fight for the full four quarters. TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Lynden Dunn, James Frawley, Jeremy Howe C: Dean Terlich, Bernie Vince, Jordie McKenzie HF: Rohan Bail, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Viney F: Luke Tapscott, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Sam Blease, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Dean Kent, Aidan Riley EMG: Daniel Cross, Max Gawn, Matt Jones IN: Dean Terlich OUT: Jack Grimes (hamstring) BRISBANE LIONS B: Darcy Gardiner, Matt Maguire, Justin Clarke HB: Joel Patfull, Daniel McStay, Ryan Harwood C: Ashley McGrath, James Aish, Sam Mayes HF: Lewis Taylor, Michael Close, Josh Green F: Dayne Zorko, Daniel Merrett, Jed Adcock FOLL: Stefan Martin, Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley I/C: Claye Beams, Rohan Bewick Jack Crisp, Ryan Lester EMG: Jordan Lisle, Zac O'Brien, Nick Robertson NO CHANGE What can Melbourne do to turn around its current run of five successive losses? What can Melbourne do to turn around its run of four consecutive defeats at the hands of the Brisbane Lions? What can Melbourne do to turn around its seven year run of defeats at Etihad Stadium? So far this year the Demons have put paid to one of its hoodoos being its long run of defeats in Adelaide but that was achieved at the Adelaide Oval and not AAMI Stadium where most of the damage had been done over the years. The team even got close to making it a double at its last start where it stretched Port Adelaide a fortnight ago. It did so with a team not dissimilar to that which succumbed meekly to top four aspirants Fremantle and Geelong in games where it could do no better than score a measly five goals. This week the team takes on the Brisbane Lions which returned to form in the Q game last week when they slaughtered the ailing Gold Coast Suns whose form has collapsed since Garry Ablett's shoulder injury. The Lions will be brimming with confidence after such a strong showing but Melbourne's performance away from home in Adelaide was no less impressive. Despite the loss of co-captain Jack Grimes, Melbourne's defence looks strong and the midfield continues to show improvement as the stocks of Nathan Jones and Dom Tyson continue to rise. The result might well depend on whether it's run with players are able to hold the surging Lion midfield headed by Rockliff, Hanley and Zorko. I believe that they will do so and on the back of that a few Melbourne hoodoos will bite the dust. Melbourne to win by 4 points.
  16. Demonland

    THE LAST TIME THEY MET

    MELBOURNE Backs Lynden Dunn Colin Garland Dean Terlich Half backs Tom McDonald James Frawley Mitch Clisby Centreline Jimmy Toumpas Jack Trengove Jack Grimes Half forwards Colin Sylvia Jack Watts Shannon Byrnes Forwards Aaron Davey Chris Dawes Jeremy Howe Followers Max Gawn Jack Viney Nathan Jones Interchange Sam Blease Jack Fitzpatrick Matt Jones Dean Kent Emergencies Jordie McKenzie Cameron Pedersen Jake Spencer In Jack Viney Out Daniel Nicholson BRISBANE LIONS Backs Jed Adcock Matt Maguire Joel Patfull Half backs Ryan Harwood Justin Clarke Brent Staker Centreline Pearce Hanley Tom Rockliff Sam Mayes Half forwards Dayne Zorko Jordan Lisle Rohan Bewick Forwards Josh Green Daniel Merrett Ashley McGrath Followers Matthew Leuenberger Jack Redden Daniel Rich Interchange Sam Docherty Ryan Lester Andrew Raines Elliot Yeo Emergencies James Polkinghorne In Sam Docherty Jordan Lisle Elliot Yeo Out Jonathan Brown Mitch Golby James Polkinghorne
  17. Whispering_Jack

    GONE TROPPO by JVM

    The Melbourne Football Club has certainly made an impression on the Top End of the nation in recent times. The club conducted an intensive preseason lasting a week or so late last year. Players lived and trained in an army barracks, walked through crocodile infested Kakadu in intensely hot and humid conditions and were feted by the local community. More recently some of its players felt even more intense heat in the cockpit of a light plane sweating it out through an emergency landing in circumstances that might easily have been a matter of life and death. Regrettably, none of the bravado displayed in the heat up there has helped avoid embarrassment at the hands of opposition clubs when it comes to playing a game of football. The Demons have been diabolical this season whether home or away but since the departure of Mark Neeld as coach, the players have been given more freedom and were coming out of their shells until they ran into the rampant Cats on their home turf right in the middle of a deluge which left their lighter bodied frames vulnerable to a hiding. The conditions probably saved them from a much larger defeat. This week, in a vastly different climate and on almost the opposite side of the continent, the team comes up against a vastly different opponent but one which was Geelong's last conqueror. Brisbane was languishing a little until recently after brushing all comers aside in the preseason NAB Cup. They trailed Geelong by 52 points close to three quarter time at the Gabba before their resurgence got them home after the siren. They lost to the Hawks the following week but have won two on end including that come from behind win last week against the Roos. In their past four final quarters, the Lions have posted 166 points to their opposition's 79. Given Melbourne's recent final term lapses (remember the Bulldogs game), I don't think I would back the Demons even if they were 10 goals ahead at the final break. As this is the first time for the season that Melbourne comes up against a repeat opponent, it gives us an opportunity to compare performances from the Neeld regime to the one under Neil Craig but I can't see the Demons improving on the 28 point shortfall from Round 5, particularly if Brent Moloney comes up fit. Beamer seems to be on a mission to torment his former fans as if his abysmal output when playing for the club in 2012 wasn't torment enough. You see, if Melbourne has gone backwards in one area in the past month, its been in the midfield which last week was almost invisible at centre square contests leading to the most lopsided inside 50 counts since they started counting them. And that's exactly what's driving us all Troppo! THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at TIO Stadium, Darwin, Saturday 20 July, 2013 at 7.10pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 21 wins Brisbane Lions 18 wins TIO Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins Since 2000 Melbourne 8 wins Brisbane Lions 10 Wins The Coaches Craig 0 wins Voss 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel 3 live at 7.30pm RADIO SEN ABC THE BETTING Melbourne $4.30 Brisbane Lions $1.21 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane Lions 17.20.122 defeated Melbourne 14.10.94 in Round 5, 2013 at the Gabba After an even first quarter, the home side established a narrow lead at half time before Jonathan Brown did in the third quarter what good, strong power forwards tend to do against the Demons. He blew them away. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE Backs Lynden Dunn Colin Garland Dean Terlich Half backs Tom McDonald James Frawley Mitch Clisby Centreline Jimmy Toumpas Jack Trengove Jack Grimes Half forwards Colin Sylvia Jack Watts Shannon Byrnes Forwards Aaron Davey Chris Dawes Jeremy Howe Followers Max Gawn Jack Viney Nathan Jones Interchange Sam Blease Jack Fitzpatrick Matt Jones Dean Kent Emergencies Jordie McKenzie Cameron Pedersen Jake Spencer In Jack Viney Out Daniel Nicholson BRISBANE LIONS Backs Jed Adcock Matt Maguire Joel Patfull Half backs Ryan Harwood Justin Clarke Brent Staker Centreline Pearce Hanley Tom Rockliff Sam Mayes Half forwards Dayne Zorko Jordan Lisle Rohan Bewick Forwards Josh Green Daniel Merrett Ashley McGrath Followers Matthew Leuenberger Jack Redden Daniel Rich Interchange Sam Docherty Ryan Lester Andrew Raines Elliot Yeo Emergencies James Polkinghorne In Sam Docherty Jordan Lisle Elliot Yeo Out Jonathan Brown Mitch Golby James Polkinghorne THE LATE MAIL My late mail delivered by Bill Lawry's carrier pigeon returning after fleeing Lords is that Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby are out of the Brisbane Lions side for the game in Darwin. They join veteran midfielders Simon Black and Brent Moloney on the sidelines for the Lions which probably offsets the fact that former Brisbanite Mitch Clark continues to be missing from the Melbourne line up. Now, if only Mark Neeld was still around, he would no doubt explain the significance of the absence of the Brisbane quartet in terms of raw numbers of experience as expressed in games played. Leaving aside young Golby who has added some grunt to its defence, Brisbane is missing more than 700 games of AFL experience and almost the same number of goals scored. In economic terms they together comprise the equivalent of the gross national product of some South American banana republics and enough to raise even Alan Stockdale's eyebrows. What this means is that the game takes on an entirely different complexion. I don't have the precise figures (actually I don't have any figures at all) but I'm guessing that the differential between age, experience and body strength has narrowed markedly while Melbourne's main advantage over Brisbane (average IQ) would have gone through the roof with the absence of Brown and Moloney. This leaves only two considerations - the weather and the superiority of the opposition midfield. These were the two factors that in my view, led to that embarrassing record inside 50 differential against the Cats last week. I checked the weather report and they're predicting warm, sunny conditions during the day (max 32, min 19) and little or no rain although humidity will be high up to 95%. That means it won't be bucketing down as it did at Simonds Stadium so the Dees will have some respite on the weather front. Unfortunately, the Lions still have the advantage in the midfield even with Black and Moloney missing. Leuenberger should have the edge in terms of experience over Gawn and Fitzpatrick and Rich, Redden and Rockliff are likely to dominate the clearances with Raines sitting on Nathan Jones. Elsewhere, Melbourne needs to capitalise on the absence of Jonathan Brown who always manages to do a number against the unlucky backman who draws the short straw and has to play on him while the forward line should relish the additional opportunities and score more than four goals. Notwithstanding, the Lions late surge to come from over 50 points down at the Gabba last month still resonates and the fact that they fancy themselves as finals contenders is enough to convince me that they have the added incentive to get themselves over the line. Brisbane by 15 points.
  18. Demonland

    DARKNESS COMES EARLY

    DARKNESS COMES EARLY by Mean Gene Earth Hour came early for Demon fans on Saturday when the club was plunged into darkness a good 5½ hours earlier than the official time planned for the environmentally symbolic annual event. It all happened within minutes of the start of the third quarter that the Melbourne Football Club simply switched off against the Brisbane Lions after an even first half in which the game ebbed and flowed until the visitors grabbed a four point lead at the main break. When the lights went off at the MCG for the Demons there was nothing they could do to save themselves. There was no emotion in the way they played despite the fact that they should have been celebrating a lost comrade's departure from the earth. Indeed, it seemed that Brisbane's Irishman Pierce Hanley seemed more emotionally attached to the day than any Melbourne player after he pumped his fists towards the heavens when he booted a long goal from outside fifty. To be sure, the Demons are employing a new and different game plan but the result was no different to some of the worst rubbish they served up last year. It was hard to work out just how the plan was supposed to operate especially when the team was beaten comprehensively in the ruck by Ben Hudson and mauled by the likes of Black, Rich, Adcock and co at stoppages. When they got the ball the gist of it was that you bombed the ball long and high into the forward line hoping someone would take a mark (but it hardly ever happened) or that someone would crumb the ball (but it never happened). Brisbane was able to run and run without much challenge and with far more desperation and determination, greater skills and with purpose. Melbourne looked slow because it was slow. It was an indictment on the team that only first gamer James Magner could hold his head up high after the rest of his teammates produced such an insipid performance. That standard was matched by a coach's box that seemed to have no answers and didn't appear to be interested in cutting off the opposition strengths such as veteran midfielder Simon Black who dominated around the packs. His younger opponents looked so tired and jaded that they didn't even have the strength to blow out a candle. Melbourne 3.3.21 7.4.46 8.8.56 11.12.78 Brisbane Lions 1.4.10 7.8.50 13.13.91 17.17.119 Goals Melbourne Clark Howe Magner 2 Davey Green Martin Trengove Watts Brisbane Lions Banfield Polkinghorne Rockliff 3 Hanley Merrett 2 Adock Leuenberger McGrath Sheldon Best Melbourne Magner, Trengove, Watts, Frawley, Howe, Jones Brisbane Lions Black Rich Hanley Rockliff Adcock McGrath Substitutes Melbourne Sam Blease replaced by Matthew Bate at three-quarter time Brisbane Lions Rohan Bewick replaced by Sam Sheldon at three-quarter time Injuries Melbourne Magner (ankle) Brisbane Lions Nil Reports Melbourne Clint Bartram for executing a completely innocuous sling tackle (please don't get me started). Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Dalgleish, Leppard, Grun Official crowd 33,473 at MCG
  19. Demonland

    IMPRINT

    IMPRINT by Whispering Jack Mark Neeld's initiation as coach of Melbourne was eerie to say the least. In a part of the world known for its theme parks and somewhat curiously dubbed "The Sunshine State", his team braved monsoonal rain conditions and broke even in its two matches played on the AFL's second newest football ground, Metricon Stadium. The day broke with rain belting down laterally on the Gold Coast. I spent the morning shopping for a suitably fashionable poncho and picked up the bargain of my four day rain soaked visit to this place at a seedy looking shop on the highway. It cost me two bucks. Then it was off to the Queensland Demons lunch brilliantly organised by Demondeb and hosted by Chris Connolly. There were Demon fans from everywhere - even as far as drought-striken WA who looked at the rain teeming outside with curiosity and even the arrival of the great Ronald Dale Barassi was not enough to stop the deluge as the Emerald Lakes Golf Club (where the function was being held) threatened to become one giant lake and the 18th green became a major water hazard. As game time neared, I grabbed my belongings, ditched my losing raffle ticket and wondered if I would ever again see the vehicle I left in the car park. The ominous sign at the beginning of the street warning of local flooding didn't make me feel any better. The rain actually eased off a little as I entered the ground having first located my Demon supporting companions. I also spotted Jack Viney's father entering the ground with another former player, Kelly O'Donnell. So many coincidences. We stepped inside south east Queensland's football theme park as the rain started belting down again. I think I've set the scene well for what was to come. The reconditioned ground at Carrara is now thankfully blessed with state of the art drainage systems but it was still impossible for the teams to put on a decent display of footy. Melbourne, already without a handful of its best (including co-skipper Jack Trengove, Liam Jurrah, the exciting young Sam Blease, Jordie McKenzie and Cale Morton) left out some of its better and more experienced players for the second and started Mark Jamar and Brent Moloney in the green substitute vests for the Gold Coast Suns' game. The indications were clear that the result of the game was not particularly relevant. The Demons were nevertheless quick off the blocks with the game's first two goals. The first was from a strong mark by Mitch Clark who provided a long awaited key position target in the forward line, the second a long goal from a busy Nathan Jones after a free kick. Some poor defensive errors let the Suns back in to level the scores at half time. The new Mark Neeld style was evident with more emphasis on defence, strong play at the stoppages and long kicks into attack. In some instances, this brought the team undone but the players kept their discipline. The Suns won the second half through opportunist goals and greater accuracy but Melbourne did unearth some talent apart from the obvious one in Clark. James Magner's ferocity at the football was outstanding at stoppages, Tom Couch not far behind him and Josh Tynan was also impressive fitting directly into Neeld's mould of a hard working no nonsense ballgetter. Jack Fitzpatrick toiled hard in conditions which were very trying for the young ruckman. Matthew Bate got a lot of the football and worked hard to win the footy while Aaron Davey played probably his best football in two years to allay fears that his career was in steep decline. Late in the game he had an opportunity to snap the winning goal from a difficult angle but it just missed. Lynden Dunn missed what, for him, should have been a simple set shot but it too was wayward. Melbourne 0.2.2 3.5.23 Gold Coast Suns 0.2.2 0.4.26 Goals: Melbourne Bartram Clark Jones Gold Coast Suns Hall 2 Fraser Rischitelli Best: Melbourne Clark Jones Magner Bartram Bate Davey Gold Coast Suns Ablett Rischitelli Hall Bock Prestia Weller Injuries Melbourne Nil Gold Coast Suns Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Gold Coast Suns Nil Umpires Stevic McKenzie Gleeson The heavens opened up during the break just as I was in the (uncovered) queue for refreshments. This gave me a fairly good insight into what the players had to endure in the second game against the Lions when Neeld brought in his A team including Jack Grimes, Colin Sylvia, Brad Green, Jared Rivers and Rohan Bail. One would have expected a much better effort given that it was a much stronger side on paper but Melbourne never fails to disappoint and a scoreless quarter (half?) beckoned, punctuated by a James Frawley blooper that was uncharacteristic for him. Later his attempt to soccer the ball was almost the team's undoing but, in between, he was a solid defender. Bate and Magner continued to plug away and Dan Nicholson started coming into the game while Rohan Bail added to the mix with some coolness under pressure. James Sellar was also cool when he converted a free in front of goals but the coolest of them all was skipper Jack Grimes who twice beat his Brisbane opponent all ends up in the dying moments of the game. In the end, it was a mixed day for the Demons who should have won the first game and deserved to lose the second. There were some good signs suggesting that bruise free football is now a thing of the past but the club still lacks a game breaker of Black Caviar quality like Gary Ablett Junior. In the absence of such a player, the rest of the team will need to work harder to develop their game in much the same way that Collingwood did some two or three years ago under Mick Malthouse. You can see Mark Neeld's faint imprint in that style in what he is bringing to the Melbourne. The way the players are having a decent crack at winning the hard ball suggests he is starting to get his message across. Melbourne 0.0.0 2.1.13 Brisbane Lions 1.1.7 1.4.10 Goals: Melbourne Sellar Sylvia Brisbane Lions Banfield Best: Melbourne Bate Frawley Grimes Jones Moloney Howe Brisbane Lions Beams Lester McGrath Black Yeo Golby Injuries Melbourne Nil Brisband Lions Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Stevic McKenzie Gleeson Official Crowd: 5150 at Metricon Stadium Thanks to gsmith for the ticket into the ground. Much appreciated.
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