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Demonland

INJECTORS by George on the Outer

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Probably not a word that sits well around the Essendon Football Club, but it was the injection of youth, skill and old fashioned toughness that saw Melbourne eventually run out easy winners at the old nemesis stadium at the Docklands.

The addition of Charlie Spargo was a breath of fresh air as his first half efforts saw him with a pair of goals in his first game of AFL, but it was also his natural football abilities which will see him have a promising future. Eighteen touches, including nine contested, in his first game at 88% disposal efficiency was exactly what Melbourne has been missing in the past couple of weeks. While he needs to build his body to endure, he has the football smarts and skills so lacking in others currently getting a run.

The return of Tom McDonald also injected that much needed strength and surety both in the backline, ruck and up forward that has also been missing. And similarly, ten contested possessions from a big man was telling.

Jordan Lewis returned and the two week recovery period suited him well, and he was able to compete at a much better level than earlier in the season.

Bayley Fritsch and Mitch Hannan were the icing on the cake for the Demons, each scoring three goals, but it was their work around the packs in the forward line, with Fritsch particularly injecting both marking and disposal efficiency, that also had been so lacking in his absence up forward.   Their return will make it nearly impossible for the likes of Tom Bugg and Jeff Garlett to press for a senior spot, at least in the short term, barring any injuries. 

It is absolutely telling just to look at the goal-scorers this week with those 4 (Fritsch, Hannan, Tom McDonald and Spargo) being responsible for ten of the 16 goals scored.  

What a difference that made to the team and the result!

But it wasn’t all going one way.  At least not in the first half. The Demons trailed at both breaks and had amassed a paltry four goals to half time, but fortunately only trailed by a goal at that stage. This was in part due to the backline, which also showed signs of return to the form of 2017.  Nev Jetta blanketed McDonald-Tipungwuti, while Oscar  McDonald completely destroyed Daniher, who could only managed three behinds for the whole game.  

Michael Hibberd resumed his sweeping role, and his penetrating kicks downfield broke the Essendon lines time and time again. 

Then in the third quarter Nathan Jones decided that enough was enough and he simply ploughed his way through the opposition with 9 touches.  Helped by Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver, suddenly the ball was being kicked out of the centre and around the packs, putting pressure on the Essendon defence.  

With T McDonald, Hogan and Weidemann as targets, and Melksham, Fritsch, and Hannan crumbing successfully, suddenly Melbourne piled on seven goals to a solitary Essendon major.  Even big Max got in on the act and put through a couple of ripper boundary banana’s that upset the Bomber fans no end.  Pity he has been unable to kick straight when in front, or he would have had four for the game instead of the two he finished with.  Still, for a ruckman who had 42 hitouts, this was fair output for the afternoon. 

And while the Demons lapsed in the final minutes to gift Essendon a couple of goals after being eight up, the end result was still a six goal win.  

The injection of talent had a dramatic effect, and will have a huge effect with confidence going in to next weeks game against St.Kilda.  

However, there were still too many non-contributors, particularly Alex Neal-Bullen, James Hames and Dom Tyson who all still do not spread or get involved with the play when in their vicinity.  

Harmes keeps getting caught, when he tries to barge through instead of kicking the ball forward.  Tyson remains glacially slow and continues to turn the ball over and kick to contests instead of to the teams advantage. ANB just trots up and down the field, and a meagre eight disposals for the game will guarantee Christian Petracca, recovering from his dog bite, a spot for next week. 

The team returns to Etihad for next week’s encounter with St Kilda, and while it might sound trite, this is yet another must win game for the Demons who are sitting in the middle of the pack on 12 points, with only one top eight team in the on the same number.  To put it another way, the team is already a game behind the majority of the teams in the top eight and its percentage is not all that flash. This cost them a finals appearance last year, a lesson that does not yet seem to have been learned.

If Melbourne is to progress it must must win its next two games in order to put space between it and the teams in the bottom half of the ladder. After the past couple of weeks, the club finally took a small step in the direction of that much talked about injection of confidence and faith necessary to build a winning culture. A small step, but nevertheless, a positive one ...

Melbourne 1.3.9 4.7.31 11.10.76 16.12.108

Essendon 2.3.15 5.7.37 6.9.45 10.12.72

Goals 

Melbourne Fritsch Hannan 3 Gawn Hogan T McDonald Melksham Spargo 2

Essendon Stringer 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti Smith 2, Laverde, Stewart, Zaharakis

Best

Melbourne Gawn Salem Hannan Hibberd Fritsch O McDonald T McDonald

Essendon Merrett Zaharakis Ambrose Hurley McGrath Smith

Injuries

Melbourne Hogan (right ankle)

Essendon Nil

Reports Nil

Umpires Foot, Rosebury, Williamson

Official crowd 35,964 at Etihad Stadium

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