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FOCUS by The Oracle

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There’s been a lot of talk about noise lately. 

Simon Goodwin spoke about it recently when he emphasized how important it was to ensure that his players did not permit external noise to distract them from their main focus of winning games on the march to the finals and hopefully, beyond.

But the noise never stops in the football industry. 

Collingwood President Eddie McGuire is currently making his own brand of noise by jumping in and claiming a share of the home ground advantage for the Queen’s Birthday blockbuster games which he has hitherto magnanimously granted exclusively to Melbourne (never mind that his own club has a lion's share of other fixturing advantages that other clubs don't have). 

This is simply another case of Eddie doing what he does best – making some noise to create a distraction in the lead up to the important game that will end the AFL's middle round of the season – Melbourne v Collingwood: two teams each staking a claim for a place among the competition’s top echelon.
 
It wouldn't be Collingwood if there wasn't noise about how well the team has been traveling lately with wins over Brisbane (7 points), St Kilda (28), Western Bulldogs (35) and Fremantle (61) in between a 21 point loss at the hands of Geelong. 

The message from their fans is loud and clear - the Pies are coming.
 
And the Magpie fans are also quick to jump in and tell us that it was their team that prevented the Demons from grasping the opportunity to join the competition's elite sides in the finals by beating them in the last round of 2017, a memory that sits heavily in the minds of many at Demonland.
 
There has also been noise from the pundits who expect Melbourne's fortunes to slide as a result of the season-ending injury sustained by Jake Lever which is no doubt a major blow but, of itself, is a long way off being fatal to the club's aspirations for the season. Let's not forget that the Bulldogs lost Robert Murphy to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament early in 2016 which ultimately caused him to miss his club's premiership win later that year. Or that the Demons have a long list of potential replacements lining up to fill the void including a few who have been patiently knocking on the door and for who, the opportunity is about to come.
 
There is so much noise around that it seems to be overshadowing the fact that what we are seeing an emerging Melbourne playing a brand of football that is a point of difference to every other club in the competition - a competitive beast of a group that has overcome their early season doubts with the reintroduction of Jack Viney, Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw who were all missing in the opening games adding to dominance of Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Jesse Hogan and the eclectic mix of young and old that makes up this team. 
 
The simple fact of the matter is that the Demons have been steeled by the events of the recent past and no amount of noise can cause them to lose focus on what lies in front of them.

THE GAME 
 
Melbourne v Collingwood at the MCG Monday 11 June, 2018 at 3.20pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Overall Melbourne 83 wins, Collingwood 147 wins, 5 drawn
 
At the MCG Melbourne 63 wins, Collingwood 80 wins, 3 drawn
 
Last Five Meetings Melbourne 4 wins, Collingwood  1 win
 
The Coaches Goodwin 1 win, Buckley 1 win
 
MEDIA
 
TV -  Channel 7, Fox Sports Footy Channel, live at 3.00pm
 
Radio -   Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand 
 
LAST TIME THEY MET
 
Collingwood 14.15.99 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83 at the MCG in Round 23, 2017
 
The Magpies had very little to gain while the Demons were playing for a finals berth but it looked the other way around as they dominated the opening term to skip away to a 32 point lead at the first break. Melbourne came back and, while they came close to bridging the gap, as it turned out they finished in arrears by two goals more than they would have wanted.
 
THE TEAMS  
 
MELBOURNE

B: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta
HB: Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis
😄 Bernie Vince, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones
HF: Bayley Fritsch, Tom McDonald, Clayton Oliver
F: Charlie Spargo, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham
Foll: Max Gawn, James Harmes, Christian Petracca
I/C: Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith
Emg: Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Jayden Hunt, Harrison Petty

In: Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith

Out: Jake Lever (knee), Tim Smith (omitted)

COLLINGWOOD

B: Brayden Maynard, Lynden Dunn, Jack Crisp
HB: Levi Greenwood, Matthew Scharenberg, Tom Langdon
C : Steele Sidebottom, Scott Pendlebury, Tom Phillips
HF: Jordan De Goey, Brody Mihocek, Will Hoskin-Elliott
F: Josh Thomas, Mason Cox, Jaidyn Stephenson
Foll: Brodie Grundy, Daniel Wells, Adam Treloar
I/C (from): Taylor Adams, Josh Daicos, Jeremy Howe, Chris Mayne
Emg: Flynn Appleby Ben Crocker, Sam Murray, Rupert Wills

In: Jeremy Howe

Out: Flynn Appleby (omitted)

A funny thing happened to the Demons on their way to Etihad Stadium last Saturday. They turned up to their game against the struggling Bulldogs holding the distinction of being the competition's highest scorer and ranked number one in the competition in centre clearances for the season but at around 20 minutes into the first quarter, it was they who were under the pump.

At that stage they were goalless, trailed by more than three goals and were being dominated at the stoppages, despite being a clear winner in the ruck duels thanks to the ever-reliable Max Gawn. Moreover, they had key defender Jake Lever off the field due to what turned out to be a season ending, knee injury and damaging playmaker Jake Melksham was hobbling around with a turned ankle. It wasn't exactly panic stations and in the event, Melbourne turned things around to record a handsome victory, but it was perhaps an early warning against complacency for a team that was in unfamiliar territory after five wins on the trot.

The early scare could not have come at a better time for the Demons coming up against the Magpies who are themselves going through a strong patch of form and demolishing all that come before them and with a dominant ruckman of their own. Indeed, the match up between the in form Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy and their respective midfields promises to be the clash of the ages and of themselves worthy of drawing an expected crowd of 80,000 plus. Imagine the likes of Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw pitted against Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Adam Treloar and Tom Phillips? No wonder that Eddie McGuire is salivating about the idea of stealing the booty from hosting such a fixture.

And that my friends is one of the main points of difference between these two rival clubs and of the attitude directed from the very top of the organisation. For the Collingwood boss, this is all about business and why not because that's what the game is first and foremost to the McGuires of this world but for this Melbourne combination nowadays, it's something more that keeps them focused.

This team of Demons spent months on end after their final game of 2013 - an unexpected loss at the hands of the Magpies that saw them tumbling out of the finals race at the last hurdle - brooding over what might have been. They have strengthened themselves all around the ground and have such a potent forward line that, as they proved last week at Etihad, even if they don't dominate in the engine room, they are still capable of racking up a winning score.

Melbourne to expertly and without making any noise put the big freeze on Collingwood on MND Day and to win by 31 points.

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