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DARWIN DREAMING by George on the Outer

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TIO Stadium in Darwin, the location of Melbourne's match against Adelaide on Saturday, was an absolute picture.  With the sun setting over the bay behind the grandstand and the temperature in the low 20’s the conditions were perfect for football.  Don’t let anyone perpetuate the myth about humid conditions: they simply weren't there and there will be no effects from this trip.

But in the Land of The Dreaming, for the Demons to have any pretensions about beating league leaders Adelaide, it was truly too much of a stretch to expect anything other than the result which eventuated. The Crowd were at full strength, while Melbourne were without arguably six or seven of their top 22 players, and were certainly lacking considerably in the midfield without the likes of Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Christian Salem. and Dom Tyson.  To replace them we had Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Alex Neal-Bullen and Jay Kennedy-Harris, all who had barely played a  much footballing in that area at the start of 2017.

And so it showed with the stronger Adelaide bodies taking control from the first bounce and continuing on to have a six goal lead at quarter time.  It was to be a difference that remained to the end.  

In past years this sort of start would have led to a 100 point blow out  but not the current Demons side, however undermanned they have been.  Slowly they pegged the lead back over the next two threatening to sneak an unlikely win.  

But it was all to much and the bigger bodies of the Crows against the tiring bodies of the young Demond side eventually saw them with a 46 point victory as they topped the game off with a couple of junk time goals.

It was a strange game to watch live as the crowd have no idea of what is happening on the field, since it is more of a social gathering.  Eyes were fixed on the big screen more often than not, and most of the “not” time was on their small screens or taking a trip to the beer stands or just catching up with friends.  If you come up next year to watch the football, get yourself a seat, as the locals won’t give you the chance to watch it in peace otherwise.  

However, the 12,000 socialites who turned up did turn it into a worthwhile event for the MFC as a home game, because this was a sellout match, probably a first for that arena.  More were turned away, as they expected to roll up and buy entrance at the gate, and couldn’t do so.

On field for the Demons there were also those who didn’t turn up in time.  Jesse Hogan was hopelessly outpointed and while returning from difficult times for himself, he is simply not playing good football as a forward.  Positioning behind the defenders simply gave them first dibs at the ball as it came forward and Ottens and Lever had a field day.  Then combined with shocking kicking and dropped marks, he truly had a night to forget.  

Max Gawn came up against Sam Jacobs who ran him ragged.  It is good to have Max back and he was able to get his hands on the ball plenty of times, but around the ground his fitness was lacking.  Without him being able to get to marking contests, we simply are behind when we are looking for that tall target.  Then Adelaide have a surfeit of talls in Jacobs, Jenkins, Lynch and Ottens and Lever, so it became even more pronounced.  

Bernie Vince will be spending time with the MRP again and can look forward to more time away from the game with an almost certain suspension for a hit on Betts.  

Tom McDonald was almost unsighted this week and likewise Cam Pedersen.  With Hogan making up our tall forwards, they simply failed to provide anything of value and a solitary goal between the 3 of them represented their total output.  

The mids did their best and Jordan Lewis probably played his best game for the Red and Blue with 33 touches, while Oliver and Jay Kennedy-Harris contributed 27 and 28 respectively.  They gave the forwards enough chances and even up to ¾ time Melbourne had more inside 50 chances.  

The backs were magnificent all night.  There are no longer questions around Oscar McDonald with 10 1% ers and 3 rebound 50’s, more than double anyone else in the side.  Michael Hibberd continued his courageous form with 32 touches and his general toughness in tight situations is telling. Josh Wagner played brilliantly and is complementing the rest of the backline with his dash, while Hunt almost pulled off the play of the day with a 60m kick after the ¾ time siren to bring the Demons back within striking distance.  

It is a dream to make finals this year and that is still a strong possibility.  But to fulfil that dream we need the players to do the job, and it just seems to get harder.  Dean Kent popped a shoulder and will not play next week, Bernie will be suspended again and we can only hope for the return of Jack Watts and Dom Tyson.  One step forward and yet one back.  

Can the dream be revitalized?  Maybe, and maybe the opponents in the final weeks of the season will give us the necessary wins.

But as this game showed, without a respectable midfield the story of the 2016 season may just become the by-line of Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle ... "tell them they are dreamin' …”

Melbourne 1.3.9 5.3.33 9.7.61 10.10.70

Adelaide 7.2.44 11.6.72 12.11.83 17.14.116
Melbourne Melksham 3 Gawn Hunt Kent  T.McDonald  Neal-Bullen Oliver Petracca
Adelaide Walker 4 Lynch 3 Betts McGovern Mackay 2 B.Crouch Jacobs Jenkins Knight
Melbourne Hibberd Vince Lewis Kennedy-Harris Hunt Neal-Bullen
Adelaide B.Crouch Walker Lynch Laird M.Crouch Cameron
Melbourne Nil
Adelaide Nil
Melbourne Dean Kent (left shoulder)
Adelaide Rory Sloane (concussion) Jake Lever (hamstring)
Melbourne Bernie Vince for rough conduct on Douglas in the second quarter
Adelaide Nil
Umpires Donlon, Rosebury, Ryan
Attendance 12,104 at TIO Stadium
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