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FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE by the Oracle

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Apart from the AFL Tribunal side show, all of the talk this week has been about injuries and how the Demons are going to deal with their third successive six day break. The theory is that things might not work out so well in the light of the absence of a significant number of their more valuable players and the weight of fatigue as a consequence of the team's recent heavy workload.

But I'm not worried in the slightest.

You see, I follow the patterns and rhythms of life and Melbourne's form line is pointing extraordinarily more towards an upswing this week. The Demons had an ordinary game last week by most measures but they disguised it well with that magnificent, withering finish capped off by Tom McDonald's great goal that gave them their last-minute victory. The rare win out west was one for the ages because behind the victory stood the fact that the team lost in many key performance areas and yet, it was still ahead on the scoreboard that mattered at the end of the night.

The Demons did not dominate as they did the week before against the Bulldogs. They did they win the possession count but only barely won the clearances (even with the return of Max Gawn) and they had less inside fifties than the Eagles. What they did do is the thing they are now very good at - they imposed great pressure through strong football.

We all know that fortune favours the brave and it was thanks to the bravery of the team led by Jack Viney that the team got over the line against the Eagles and I expect them to end the financial year in the same vein on Friday night against the Swans.

THE GAME Melbourne v Sydney Swans at the MCG Friday 30 June 2017 at 7.50pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 92 wins Sydney Swans 111 wins 2 drawn

At MCG Melbourne 49 wins Sydney Swans 42 wins 2 drawn

Last 5 meetings Melbourne 0 wins Sydney Swans 5 wins 

The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Longmire 0 wins

MEDIA
 
TV -   Channel 7 Fox Footy Channel Live at 7.30pm
 
RADIO - SEN
 
THE BETTING
 
Melbourne $2.08 to win Sydney Swans $1.78 to win 
 
THE LAST TIME THEY MET Sydney Swans 12.14.86 defeated Melbourne 4.7.31 in Round 13, 2016 at the SCG
 
The stronger-bodied Sydney Swans strangled a young Demon team that couldn't handle the conditions when torrential rain hit the harbour city. The Swans applied an AFL-record 155 tackles, kicked eight goals to two in the second half and Lance Franklin's four goals matched the Demons' entire tally for the game.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta 
HB: Jordan Lewis, Sam Frost, Jayden Hunt 
C: James Harmes, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince 
HF: Billy Stretch, Cameron Pedersen,  Christian Petracca 
F: Clayton Oliver, Tom McDonald, Alex Neal-Bullen 
FOLL: Max Gawn, Jake Melksham, Jack Viney 
I/C: Tomas Bugg , Mitch Hannan, Josh Wagner, Mitch White  
EMG: Dion Johnstone, Jack Trengove, Sam Weideman

IN: Josh Wagner, Mitch White

OUT: Jeff Garlett (hamstring), Christian Salem (hamstring)

SYDNEY 

B: Nic Newman, Heath Grundy, Nick Smith 
HB: Zak Jones, Dane Rampe, Jake Lloyd 
C: Isaac Heeney, Josh P. Kennedy, Callum Mills 
HF: George Hewett, Lance Franklin, Kieren Jack 
F: Gary Rohan, Sam Reid, Tom Papley 
FOLL: Sam Naismith, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker
I/C: Oliver Florent, Jarrad McVeigh, Lewis Melican, Dean Towers 
EMG: Jordan Foote, Jeremy Laidler, Callum Sinclair 

IN: Zak Jones, Jarrad McVeigh 

OUT: Will Hayward (foot), Callum Sinclair (omitted) 

FRIDAY OFF OUR MINDS 

Melbourne has been a stranger to Friday night football for far too long, having been completely deprived of the lucrative prime time home fixture for five years - and for the good reason that the team was simply not good enough to showcase its wares in front of national television audiences on the sport's biggest night of the week.

The most recent Friday night games have generally turned into disasters for Melbourne like the "bruise-free" match against Carlton or the time the Hawks crushed an embarrassing, lifeless Demon combination into complete submission. That effort was probably the last straw that caused their banishment from the Friday scene by the AFL from 2012 until now. 

The Friday night wins have been few and far between, the most recent being the time they got their act together against the Bombers in 2011 under Dean Bailey but that was an Essendon home game. You have to go back a lot further to the last Friday night MCG home win which came in round six, 2006 when Melbourne scraped home by a goal in the rain against an inaccurate Geelong. A fortnight later that Demons beat Hawthorn there by 75 points as the "visiting" side. Ironically, the Hawks' list at the time included two youngsters in the early stages of their careers - Buddy Franklin and Jordan Lewis. Both were missing through injury that night and both returned the following week. The rest is history for them and the Hawks but coincidentally they will line up on Friday night in opposing teams.

Both sides pinched narrow victories in their last up starts and both have strong midfields (Demons are ranked equal third in the competition for clearances: the Swans are ninth). Franklin is the one true game-breaker among the two sides and he will be extra dangerous for fact that last Friday night he was held goalless. That doesn't happen very often. 

But Melbourne doesn't rely on any one individual. The strength of the team comes from its evenness and a statistic that does not lie - Demons are the AFL's highest disposal team in 2017, averaging 412.3 per game. They have won the disposal count in 12 of their 13 games while the Swans are ranked 13th in this area. 

The consequence is that for the long-awaited return to the game's centre stage on Friday night, the world is going to see plenty of the red and blue on the wide expanses of the MCG. With Max Gawn back to start the dominance from stoppages, I'm tipping a Demon win by 10 points. 

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