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SLIP, SLIDING AWAY by George on the Outer

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SLIP, SLIDING AWAY by George on the Outer

Geelong dedicated the third round match against Melbourne to the 1980’s and, in doing so, featured some of the worst music to come out of that era with their fans stupidly dancing around to Brian Mannix and other such forgettables. It was cringeworthy but has the desired effect because it provided their opposition with another 80’s song as backdrop- Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away".

For those born in more recent times, the lyrics of the song include this line:-

"You know the nearer your destination, the more it slips slides away”...

And that was true for the 19 shots on goal that the Demons had which failed register a six point outcome and included in that were no less than ten set shots from inside a distance of 40 metres that resulted in not a single major! As a consequence of that factor alone, for the Demons, this very winnable game was slip sliding away...

At ¾ time there were a bare three points in the match, but Geelong had scored 14 majors with only two behinds. In the second and third quarters combined, the Cats had kicked nine straight goals to 10.13 - they were in the game because of their accuracy, and the Demons failed to hold a match winning lead because of their inaccuracy.

Tellingly, in the warm-up before the game, Melbourne ran their usual drills.  In contrast Geelong spent the majority of their time with goal kicking.  Etihad stadium is different to the MCG or Kardinia Park and the extra time spent finding out the difference was critical in front of goal for both sides.

For Melbourne the game turned significantly in the second quarter, when Max Gawn left the ground with what the early reports indicate was a hamstring injury. Before that, he was truly fired up and was urging his team to overcome the three goal deficit at the first break. His efforts were working, but unfortunately, he was unable to carry them through as he hobbled from the field. 

Desperate times called for desperate measures and Jack Watts was called upon to ruck against Clarke and Blicavs, a monumental ask. But he responded and while they continued to dominate the taps, the differential to advantage wasn’t great.  He became an extra mid and Melbourne led the clearances out of the centre.

When guts was required, it brought out the best from Nathan Jones, who produced one of his best games with 36 touches and his toughness around the packs was telling, especially when facing off against Dangerfield and Selwood. Clayton Oliver had another 28 touches to keep his star shining brightly, but there was a fairly dim effort from Dom Tyson when we needed more. His 57% kicking efficiency is deplorable, but his unwillingness to run when the opposition mids were streaming forward told in multiple Geelong goals. He must do better and needs to lift soon.

The backs held their own given the height of the Geelong forwards and their ability to drop one of their rucks into the spot as well, once Gawn had departed. However, there were too many occasions when the half backs simply didn’t get back far enough and quickly enough to help out. As a result we often saw Neville Jetta having to try to out mark Hawkins or Blicavs. The coach fortunately gave up on part of the zone defence at half time and stuck Tom Macdonald onto Hawkins, who then kept him quiet. 

Bernie Vince was uninspiring after his return from suspension. Even when thrown forward in the last quarter, he didn’t put in the required effort to have an impact. His position will also be in doubt for the future once more efficient ball distributors like Lewis and Hibberd return. 

The loss of Gawn in itself wasn’t the cause of the loss. The poor kicking and the loss of forward structure when Watts was press-ganged into ruck service left Melbourne severely stretched. Sam Weidman was all at sea, without big bodies like Hogan's around him, and there is a direct comparison to Darcy Moore who hasn’t had a touch since Cloke left Collingwood for Footscray. When younger-bodied players get the best defender they struggle.

This was a game that got away.  

It WAS the game that Melbourne had the opportunity to stamp its mark on the competition to say it had arrived. It didn’t happen, and in one fell swoop, the team has even slipped out of the top eight - a sign of danger is that if the Demons of the recent past resurface, then the season itself will start "slip sliding away ..."

Melbourne 2.4.16 7.11.53 12.17.89 13.19.97

Geelong 5.2.32 9.2.56 14.2.86 20.6.126 

Goals

Melbourne Kent Watts 2 Garlett Hannan Harmes Hunt Jetta Petracca Neal-Bullen T. Smith Stretch

Geelong Hawkins 5 Menzel 4 Dangerfield 3 Blicavs Motlop 2 McCarthy Parfitt Selwood Smith

Best

Melbourne Jones Hunt Watts Viney Stretch Kent Jetta

Geelong Selwood Dangerfield Menzel Hawkins Blicavs Ruggles Parfitt

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Geelong Nil

Injuries

Melbourne Gawn (right hamstring) Kent (cut head)

Geelong Selwood (cut head) Hawkins (corked quad)

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Geelong Nil

Umpires Hosking, Ryan, Mollison

Official crowd 29,733 at Etihad Stadium

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