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MATCH PREVIEW AND TEAM SELECTION - Round 16

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RETROMANIA by JVM 

There are two ways that things can go for the Melbourne Football Club in the wake of last Friday’s embarrassing loss to Sydney, the Tomas Bugg punch and suspension, the continuing injury crisis and revelations about sanctions against four players after they ignored a directive not to drink alcohol after a Casey match.

Up or down.

The club was on a ten year high less than a week ago and then it hit the wall against the Swans with its insipid performance. Simon Goodwin's job of orchestrating the club's fifth winning game on end and thereby securing it a top four position was made so much more difficult for being hamstrung by the unavailability of the four players suspended from playing in the AFL on Friday night. Three of them had strong credentials for selection in team that was obviously weary in the face of their fourth game in 18 days.

Dean Kent would have made the perfect fill-in for the injured Jeff Garlett but in his absence, the decision was made to replace him up forward with Jayden Hunt. Although Hunt managed to mark and goal in the first quarter, his game tally of   seven possessions was the lowest of his 33-game career and only the second time he has failed to reach double figures. His presence in the backline was sorely missed.

Jay Kennedy-Harris and Ben Kennedy were both in scintillating form for Casey and the presence of at least one of them would have been a boon for a team labouring under the strain of a succession of six day breaks and an interstate trip. 

And one cannot estimate the effect of all this on the psyche of the remaining players knowing that the stupidity of their teammates had left them in a position where the best team could not be selected for an important game.

So now Melbourne faces Carlton for the second time this year - the third if you count JLT pre season games. If the team had available to it the personnel of those earlier games, my prediction about the outcome of this match would have been a no-brainer. The Demons by the length of Bourke Street.

Now I'm not so sure.

In truth, even the 22-point victory scored by Melbourne when the two sides met in Round 2 this season unimpressive. The young Blues have been inconsistent but have acquitted themselves admirably at times. They beat Adelaide and GWS Giants earlier in the season and gave Adelaide a run for their money last week. On that basis, their current form is much better than that of the embattled Demons who are moving in a retrograde motion for what is the Retro Round.

I'll give them one chance and once chance only.

Melbourne by 1 point.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Carlton at MCG Sunday 9th July, 2017 at 3.20pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Overall Carlton 117 wins Melbourne 90 wins Drawn 2
 
At MCG Carlton 50 wins Melbourne 50 wins
 
Past five meetings Carlton 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins
 
The Coaches Bolton 0 wins Goodwin 1 win 
 
MEDIA
 
TV - Channel 7, Fox Sports 503 live at 3.00pm
 
RADIO - TBA
 
THE BETTING

Carlton $2.30 to win - Melbourne to win $1.63

 THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 13.10.88 defeated Carlton 9.12.66 at the MCG Round 2, 2017

The Demons looked in control early but seemed to stop midway through the second quarter and some undisciplined acts and poor play saw them hand the lead over during the third quarter. The team regrouped in the last but the 22 point win flattered them. Clayton Oliver and Dom Tyson were the team's best.

THE TEAMS

CARLTON 

B: Sam Docherty, Liam Jones,  Lachie Plowman 
HB: Simon White, Jacob Weitering, Dale Thomas 
C: Kade Simpson,  Patrick Cripps, David Cuningham 
HF: Jack Silvagni, Levi Casboult, Sam Kerridge 
F: Zac Fisher, Charlie Curnow, Matthew Wright 
FOLL: Matthew Kreuzer, Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy 
I/C: Jed Lamb, Harrison Macreadie, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Ciaran Sheehan
EMG: Ciaran Byrne, Nick Graham, Harry McKay        

IN: Jed Lamb, Harrison Macreadie, Sam Petrevski-Seton

OUT: Ciaran Byrne (omitted), Caleb Marchbank (shoulder), Liam Sumner (omitted) 

MELBOURNE 

B:  Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta 
HB: Jordan Lewis, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince 
C: Jayden Hunt, Christian Petracca, Mitch Hannan 
HF: James Harmes, Cameron Pedersen,  Alex Neal-Bullen 
F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Tom McDonald 
FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jake Melksham 
I/C: Dean Kent, Joel Smith, Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner, 
EMG: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jack Trengove, Sam Weideman  

IN: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent, Joel Smith

OUT: Tomas Bugg (suspended), Dom Tyson (knee), Jack Viney (foot), Mitch White (omitted)

I HAVE YOUR NUMBER by Sam the Stats Man

They talk about lies and damn statistics but the analysis below tells us that the Demons have been hit hard to both key and depth players this season.

1. Jesse Hogan MFC games 4, goals 9 This hasn't been his year. Suspended for two matches in Round 2, then missed a week mourning the loss of his father  and then diagnosed with cancer. 

2. Nathan Jones MFC games 12, goals 10 The tough skipper led from the front but is now out for a month with a groin. 

3. Christian Salem MFC games 12, goals 5 Has raised his game a level whether playing in midfield or defence but is currently out with a hamstring injury. 

4. Jack Watts MFC games 12, goals 20 After a less than encouraging pre season period, Watts hardly put a foot wrong as a forward or back up ruckman until he injured his hamstring against the Bulldogs. 

5. Christian Petracca MFC games 14, goals 20 Has made good progress and is living up to his high draft selection. 

6. Jordan Lewis MFC games 11, goals 4 A great acquisition for the club, providing inspiration and leadership but with one major blemish being his suspension for 3 matches  after a brain fade in Round 2.  

7. Jack Viney MFC games 15, goals 5 Made a slow start to the season and was coming back to his damaging best when injured against the Swans. Now expected to be out for a month. 

8. Heritier Lumumba Retired without making a start to the pre season. 

9. Jack Trengove CD games 11, goals 2 The question all year has been whether he will ever get another opportunity to play at the highest level? 

10. Angus Brayshaw MFC games 2, goals 1, CD games 3, goals 1 Troubled by concussion issues and his short term future remains in doubt. 

11. Max Gawn MFC games 5, goals 1 Injured in Round 3 and underwent hamstring surgery after the game, the All Australian ruckman's presence in the ruck was sorely missed. Will be an important player now that he's back. 

12. Dom Tyson MFC games 7, goals 1 Form was a little inconsistent but he's been really important when up and running. Another of the currently injured brigade. 

13. Clayton Oliver MFC games 14, goals 2 The young midfielder is having an outstanding second season. Is probably leading the club's best and fairest and even spoken of as a possible All Australian but super important now that the midfield has been decimated. 

14. Michael Hibberd MFC games 10, goals 1, CD games 2, goals 0 A prolific ball winner with great delivery skills and a good stopper in defence. Already an important player with the Demons after missing the early games with injury.                   

15. Billy Stretch MFC games 7, goals 3, CD games 6, goals 2 After a good start, his form dropped off ever so slightly and he found himself out of the side. Seems to be struggling at the moment. 

16. Dean Kent MFC games 4, goals 6, CD games 8, goals 6 Has paid the price for poor form and an off field misdemeanour and must now wait for his next chance.

17. Sam Frost MFC games 11, goals 1 Came back from some pre season injury worries as a much improved player in defence. 

18. Jake Melksham MFC games 11, goals 4, CD games 2, goals 4 Had some good moments and has shaken off a suspension incurred at Casey to become a regular in the AFL team. 

19. Mitch Hannan MFC games 13, goals 18 Has been good in his debut year at the club and well and truly earned his spot in the side.       

20. Colin Garland Suffered an ACL injury before the start of the season. Sidelined for 2017.

21. Cameron Pedersen MFC games 9, goals 9, CD games 2, goals 3 Has worked hard against tough odds and taller opposition as a fill in ruckman/forward.

22. Aaron Vandenberg Yet to take the field during the regular season due to a heel injury. 

23. Bernie Vince MFC games 13, goals 1 Played some great tagging roles and was terrific on Rory Sloane. Needs to take a further step up this week.

24. Jay Kennedy-Harris MFC games 3, goals 0, CD games 8, goals 4 Had an unimpressive three match stint after a long period out through injuries and found himself back at Casey where he's starred. Drinks with the boys cost him a return last week.

25. Tom McDonald MFC games 14, goals 14 Strong leader in defence who has also gone forward and played on the ball during the club's ruck crisis. Kicked a match winning 5 goals at Domain Stadium recently against the Eagles. 

26. Sam Weideman MFC games 6, goals 3, CD games 6, goals 9 Dropped from the team after the club's loss to North Melbourne and has been unable to fight back in despite a six goal haul at Box Hill a fortnight ago. 

27. Liam Hulett CD games 9, goals 5, CD DL game 1, goals 0 Struggling in the Development League at the moment - sure sign that his future at the club is doubtful. 

28. Oscar McDonald MFC games 12, goals 0, CD games 2, goals 0 His form was patchy early but has shown great improvement after a brief stint in the VFL. 

29. Jayden Hunt MFC games 14, goals 5 Having a wonderful season highlighted by his blistering pace, adventurous running and athleticism. 

30. Alex Neal-Bullen MFC games 11, goals 7, CD games 2, goals 2 Had is moments this year and starting to establish his place in the team. 

32. Tomas Bugg MFC games 10, goals 7, CD games 1, goals 5 His career is on the brink after a reckless punch against the Swans saw him suspended for 6 matches. 

33. Jake Spencer MFC games 2, goals 0, CD games 4, goals 0 Waited a long time to get an opportunity at AFL level but suffered a shoulder injury in just his second game. Now back at Casey. 

34. Mitch King CD games 8, goals 0, CD DL games 1, goals 1  King is a developing player coming back from an ACL and is being given time at Casey. 

35. Ben Kennedy CD games 10, goals 6 Struggling to gain a spot at Melbourne, Kennedy has been working on his game down at Casey and was close to MFC selection before his involvement in the after-game drinks.

36. Jeff Garlett MFC games 13, goals 29 Dangerous forward having a terrific season and finally gaining recognition for the value of his role to the team. 

37. Dion Johnstone CD games 11, goals 3 Speedy forward who can lay a tackle is learning the trade in the VFL.

38. Tim Smith ® MFC games 2, goals 1, CD games 3 goals 1 Unlucky to suffer a broken rib in his second game which was followed by a navicular bone injury just as he returned.

39. Neville Jetta MFC games 14, goals 3 Steady as a rock playing the small defender's role. 

40. Patrick McKenna A hamstring tear has prevented him from playing at either AFL or VFL level. 

41. Mitchell White ® MFC game 1, goals 0 CD games 9, goals 2 Rewarded for his hard work as a defender at Casey with promotion off the rookie list and a game v the Swans. 

42. Josh Wagner MFC games 5, goals 0, CD games 3, goals 1 Had some injury woes in the pre season and his form has been up and down ever since. 

43. James Harmes MFC games 9, goals 9, CD games 3, goals 0 Lost his place in the Melbourne team but bounced back with a strong performance at Casey last week. 

44. Joel Smith ® MFC games 1, goals 0 CD games 1, goals 0 Was going along nicely in defence on debut when he suffered an injured shoulder and missed most of the first half of the season. Made a strong first up return at Casey last week. 

45. Declan Keilty ® CD games 11, goals 3 Rookie spare parts man getting experience as a back up ruckman with key position roles in the VFL. 

47. Lachlan Filipovic ® CD DL games 5, goals 0 Project ruckman was getting game time in the Development League with the Casey Demons but has been out recently with a hip flexor injury. 

48. Corey Maynard ® CD games 9, goals 2 Apart from a fortnight off after concussion has been doing well and performing better than expected in the Casey midfield. 

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Gawn to be skipper and be BOG.  He'll knock/punch far and wide to avoid the inside at clearances and we'll account for the average Blues by 3 goals

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I would take that one point win.

Carlton are not brilliant, but consistent.  We are inconsistent, but when our best is on display, brilliant.  Our best is going to be hard to produce with a significant number of our leaders and first 22 out.

Our last game against them felt like a real struggle for us.

This week:

Max to rediscover some of his mojo

Hunt back to the HB, to cut and carry us forward

Have a forward structure, and not simply bomb it to outnumbered players.

Even up the marks (been thrashed the last two weeks) and contested ball

Be able to kick in after a point without it coming straight back. (i.e., dont always kick it to Max)

  Run, not jog. Spread like Flora, stick like Clag.

I think we will have enough patches to get over the top of them, say 13 points.

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TV also on 7

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We need some luck for a change, just to even up the ledger a bit.  If Lady Luck smiles on us for once, we might just win!

Oh crap, I just remembered that we must also eliminate stupidity and selfishness. That makes it harder!

Dees by a point, based on loyalty without logic!

 

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We can beat them if we can field a half decent side. They look to have a few outs as well. Max will hopefully find his match fitness, and keep going after half time. The Boos however seem to have this way of dragging teams down to their level, so there will be a few slow quarters at least. Dees by 22. Im expecting it to be spiteful.

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With Viney, Jones and probably Tyson all missing, we do have three ready made replacements who can step into a full time midfield role over the next few weeks - Lewis, Vince and Melksham.

While all three have had a run in there recently, they are players who have plenty of experience playing in the midfield and they can bring a little class, bigger bodies and ball winning ability with them to support guys like Oliver and Petracca.  I'm not saying that they will totally fill the void, but I think discussions around our midfield being smashed are a little premature.  This isn't 2014 Melbourne that has little depth, this is 2017 Melbourne that has much more of it.  We can still match them in there IF these three can really step up to the plate and improve somewhat on their output so far this year.

Fingers crossed we can add Hogan and Garlett back to the mix, while it would be terrific to see Hunt in the backline again alongside Hibberd.

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I have no idea how we are favorites with the bookies (can't be a good sign on past history, but I hope we are beyond that).

Not writing us off by any means as I think the team has generally found some maturity, consistency and beleif this year, but if we win, it will be a victory of system over talent and ability, which is kind of tough to be saying against Calscum.  To be down those two or three key players out of our engine room will make things very tough.  If we can't do a good shutdown job on Crisps, I think we are stuffed and he could tare us a new one.  In my view, we are probably down to only Oliver as being an in form and established mid in his second year of footy.  Lewis and Vince can play valuable roles, but my suspicion is that their bodies are not upto bearing the lion's share of the load in the guts anymore - they need support from our up and comming, developing players like Harmes, ANB, Stretch and Hannan.  Huge opportunity for Melksham to prove his worth to the side.

Not sure that Max will have an easy task against Krusier either.

I have full confidence in our forwards and backs to play their part and probably even dominate their opponents, but generally games are won in the midfield and that's the area we are most venerable right now.

Edited by Rodney (Balls) Grinter

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23 minutes ago, Rodney (Balls) Grinter said:

I have no idea how we are favorites with the bookies (can't be a good sign on past history, but I hope we are beyond that).

That's odd. We're certainly not without a chance but we are staring down the barrel of 3 of our best 5 mids out and our best forwards either staying sidelined or returning from injury. Carlton should be favourites. Maybe that will be reflected in the odds come Sunday.

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Carlton have proven difficult to beat in recent weeks and the final margin flattered us in Round 2 - they also might come out fired up after the Hogan/Lewis incidents (although shouldn't need that to get them going).  Having had a good record against us they will fancy their chances, particularly given our injuries. 

However, if we bring the right style of play, trying to move the ball forward quickly with run and carry rather than bombing to the likes of Marchbank, Simpson, and Docherty, we can definitely knock them off.  I saw Carlton live against Richmond two weeks ago and how they got within 8 goals is beyond me.  Richmond were a bit quick for them and made their defenders accountable by chipping short to leads on their half-forward line.  Carlton did well against Adelaide but remember that the Crows also kicked the first 4 goals against them and really should have gone on with it from there but are struggling for form themselves.

Carlton obviously defend really well but they do struggle to score, so that should help to keep us well in the game.  Their first choice midfield is the key - Kreuzer and Gibbs are in career best form, and Cripps always seems to tear us a new one, so quelling his influence will be critical.  Then of course you have Murphy.  Their depth beyond that in the midfield isn't that great so if we can keep two of their big guns quiet, and Max can hold his own against Kreuzer, I still think we can win.  Having Garlett and Hoges back will help.  Not expecting big numbers from Jesse first game back but if he can provide a target up on the wings and bring the ball to ground in the forward line, he'll be invaluable.

Dees by 15 points. 

 

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Hibberd says they've moved on quickly from the loss: http://www.melbournefc.com.au/video/2017-07-06/looking-ahead-michael-hibberd

I thought this an interesting contrast to Pedersen's comments in this article regarding the Neeld era: http://www.aflplayers.com.au/article/players-voice-cam-pedersen/, particularly this:

The morale is great. Gone are the days when the feeling fluctuates depending on whether we win or lose, which is a great sign of where the club is going.

If we lost it was almost like a funeral and the meetings would go for three times longer and we’d dissect everything. Now, the weeks look the same whether we win or lose.

Hibberd said they didn't spend much time on the review.  Lewis said on AFL360 a while ago that it's totally counterproductive for athletes to dwell on losses too much because of the negative effect it has on your psychology going in to the next game.  Goodwin, Jones and other club leaders are often repeating the words, "the way we want to play".  The message coming out of the club is consistent: we know this match didn't represent the way we want to play, there's no point going over it repeatedly, let's focus on how we prepare for to ensure we play how we want to play against Carlton.

There's the chance that circumstance will conspire against us and we can't get it done - nonetheless I am still optimistic about this match.  If we don't, I'm confident those driving this club today will still have done everything they could to get the right outcome.  

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Like every week if we are not switched on which we will know in the first 5-10mins then we will lose. 

We cannot afford to drop this game despite our injuries. 

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47 minutes ago, P-man said:

That's odd. We're certainly not without a chance but we are staring down the barrel of 3 of our best 5 mids out and our best forwards either staying sidelined or returning from injury. Carlton should be favourites. Maybe that will be reflected in the odds come Sunday.

They are slowly coming in Carlton were almost $3 start of week now into $2.30 and depending on our ins tonight I would expect them to be a lot closer come Sunday 

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I see Carlton harder to beat than Adelaide. They will try and slow us down to their level and get us rebounding.

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3 minutes ago, Nasher said:

You suck.

True.

2 minutes ago, Ethan Tremblay said:

Unliked.

Harsh, ET.  I thought you would appreciate it!

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2 minutes ago, Wiseblood said:

Harsh, ET.  I thought you would appreciate it!

I'll admit it did give me a good laugh. 

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27 minutes ago, Wiseblood said:

Corey Maynard set to debut!

Exciting stuff!!

Are you sure?  That link goes to You Tube.

...and I can't see an article on mfc or afl website...I'm missing something.

 

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1 minute ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

Are you sure?  That link goes to You Tube.

...and I can't see an article on mfc or afl website...I'm missing something.

 

You have to watch the entire YouTube video, it's announced at the very end.

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5 minutes ago, Lucifer's Hero said:

Are you sure?  That link goes to You Tube.

...and I can't see an article on mfc or afl website...I'm missing something.

 

Oh LH, you are too innocent for your own good! :)

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