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JALAPEÑO, LETTUCE AND TOAST by Tassie Tom

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After a long drought, the Melbourne Football Club finally emerged triumphant in a full length match against North Melbourne at the Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania in the JLT season opener in what must be considered a good omen for the season to come. 

But then it might not, because as we know JLT games being glorified practice matches made for television audiences, don’t mean much. 

What we also don’t know is what JLT stands for so I’ve improvised with my title. Even if jalapeño, lettuce and toast is not quite right, we do know that “toast” is what the Demons made of the Roos in this game after a withering third quarter  (that’s the premiership quarter folks, but I’m not supposed to be getting ahead of myself, am I?). It was good to beat them after such a long losing streak going back to 2006 and even better in the knowledge that it was the second time in 8 days if you count the AFLX nonsense.

The Demons were out of the blocks early and dominated the contest in the opening term with their swift movement of the ball and attacking play. They soon established a two to three goal buffer which could have been greater but for the fact that they were caught on the rebound a couple of times with costly turnovers that led to some over-the-back goals. North actually fought back into the game late in the first half but a timely goal from big improver, James Harmes, restored an 11 point lead at half time.

After that it was a procession with the team combining with a dominant midfield and strong defence to give its diverse group of forwards plenty of opportunities to skip away to a big win. The party started in the ruck where Max Gawn gave his on ballers first use of the ball with emerging midfielder Alex Neal-Bullen busy from the get go. 

Given their rout at the hands of the Tigers in the other JLT game of the day, the Bombers must be ruing the fact that they let Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham off the hook. The former was already back in All Australian form across half-back while the latter has stepped up this year and set up a number of goals and kicked one himself. The forwards ran riot with a dozen players kicking goals including newcomer and opportunist Bayley Fritsch who must really like playing against North because he has now kicked three goals against them twice. Jesse Hogan matched that number and looked good either up forward or on the ball.

The Demons’ other newcomer, former Crow Jake Lever, had a good start in the red and blue and will be an asset for his new club. He combined well with Hibberd and emerging defensive tall Oscar McDonald. 

Otherwise, the Demons are developing good depth and have the ability to mix players from the midfield to the forward line with good effect. Still, it’s early days ... the main thing was that, apart from what was hopefully some minor tightness in Jordan Lewis’ calf, the team emerged from JLT1 unscathed.

The other omen from the game was from the crowd number - 1,957. Melbourne won a flag in 1957 which was in the middle of its golden era of the past and hopefully a similar period of success awaits. On the other hand, the low number cannot be seen as a portent of anything positive for Tasmanian football which has been under the hammer lately. 

Melbourne’s next JLT game will be against St Kilda under lights at Casey Fields on Thursday March 8.

Melbourne 6.3.39  8.3.51 15.8.97 19.10.124 

North Melbourne 3.1.19 6.4.40 7.4.46 11.5.71

Goals 

Melbourne Fritsch Hogan 3 Bugg Harmes Neal-Bullen 2 Gawn Hannan T McDonald Maynard Melksham Petracca Vince

North Melbourne Brown Hartung Waite 2 Cunnington Larkey Turner Ziebell Zurhaar

Best

Melbourne Melksham Neal-Bullen Hibberd Harmes Petracca Salem Fritsch

North Melbourne Hartung Cunnington Williams Vickers-Willis Ziebell

Injuries 

Melbourne Lewis (calf)

North Melbourne Nil

Reports Nil 

Umpires Donlan, Meredith, Foote, Fisher

Official crowd 1,957 at Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania 

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