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THE EQUATION by Whispering Jack

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The equation is really simple now. Win the game and you finish in seventh place and face a trip to either Adelaide or Sydney in the first week of the finals or lose and sweat it out until Sunday night when the result of the West Coast v Adelaide game is known.

It's a situation of the club's own making, the result of a failure to win games against lesser credentialed teams and/or failure to apply the blowtorch when you're in full control in games like Port Adelaide or last week against the Brisbane Lions when the lead was by 32 points at the 5 minute mark of the final quarter.

But it's water under the bridge now and all that stands between Melbourne and the finals is the old arch nemesis in Collingwood.

There are no excuses either.

There's an air of desperation about the Magpies. There's confusion, uncertainty and doubt about the coaching position. Eddie seems to no longer be the golden haired saviour who could be relied upon to find a way to revive their flagging fortunes. The club seems to be on its knees.

The Melbourne injury list appears to be more or less under control, give or take a Jack Viney and a few players who provide depth and for once, the Demons face a side that has far more top players sidelined with injury. Bernie Vince and Jack Watts have both escaped possible suspensions from the weekend's games and Christian Salem is back after doing his penance for a week.

The selectors have available to them, close to the best material to enable them to pick a winning team to lift the club out of the pit of misery it has occupied for more than a decade.

What could possibly go wrong?

THE GAME

Collingwood v Melbourne at MCG Saturday 26 August 2017 at 1.45pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Collingwood 146 wins, Melbourne 83 wins 5 drawn

At the MCG Collingwood 79 wins, Melbourne 63 wins 3 drawn

Last Five Meetings Collingwood 1 win, Melbourne 4 wins

The Coaches Buckley 0 wins, Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy Channel, live at 1.30pm.

Radio - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand

THE BETTING

Collingwood $2.30 to win, Melbourne $1.62 to win

LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 15.14.104 defeated Collingwood 15.10.100 at MCG in Round 12, 2017

The Demons were staring defeat in the face at half time when the Magpies held a 23 point lead but they dug deep and turned their game around in the second half. When Jack Watts kicked the sealer, the home crowd erupted.

THE TEAMS

COLLINGWOOD

B: Brayden Maynard, Lynden Dunn, Tyson Goldsack
HB: Jeremy Howe, Tom Langdon, Jack Crisp
C: Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams, Tom Phillips
HF: Josh Daicos, Darcy Moore, Callum Brown
F: Jamie Elliott, Mason Cox, Will Hoskin-Elliott
FOLL: Brodie Grundy, Josh Thomas, Adam Treloar
I/C: James Aish, Tim Broomhead, Kayle Kirby, Matthew Scharenberg
EMG: Jarryd Blair, Jackson Ramsay, Josh Smith
 
IN: Tyson Goldsack, Brodie Grundy, Kayle Kirby
 
OUT: Jarryd Blair, Josh Smith (omitted), Ben Reid (soreness)

MELBOURNE

B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta 
HB: Nathan Jones, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt 
C: Jordan Lewis, Christian Petracca, Christian Salem 
HF: Clayton Oliver, Jesse Hogan  Jake Melksham 
F: Jeff Garlett, Cameron Pedersen, James Harmes 
FOLL: Max Gawn, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince 
I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Jack Watts 
EMG: Declan Keilty, Corey Maynard, Josh Wagner

IN: Christian Salem, Jack Watts

OUT: Billy Stretch (omitted), Josh Wagner (omitted)

Melbourne and Collingwood are both known for being hard at it, high disposal teams that are usually unable to sustain the pressure for the full 100 minutes of a game. They are therefore inconsistent both between games and within them. 

However, the seventh-placed Demons have everything to fight for in this match while the Magpies are limping towards the line after what has been another disappointing season. They haven't completely given up the fight but they do go into the final-round clash without some of their stars who gave their season a boost soon after these teams met in mid-year. They are missing skipper Scott Pendlebury, Jordan De Goey, Alex Fasolo, Levi Greenwood, Travis Varcoe and Daniel Wells and yet have given some of the top sides plenty of trouble over the past month or so.

Melbourne which has this week selected possibility its strongest possible side bar the injured co-skipper Viney, struggled last week to hold off the bottom side, the Brisbane Lions, and not long ago lost for the second time this year to the other wooden spoon contender, North Melbourne. On that basis, it's a wonder that the Demons are still in contention and if they lose to another team outside the top 8 in Collingwood, then they truly are not yet ready for finals football.

The ruck duel between Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy shapes up as one of prime importance. The Demon midfield and forward line looks capable of besting the Pies, particularly if Jesse Hogan and Cam Pedersen can emulate last week's form and if the Jack Watts of the middle part of the season turns up to play.

There are a lot of ifs in this game but with the equation down to a very simple win or lose scenario, I expect Melbourne to end its finals drought and win by 20 points.

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