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GRAVITAS by Mel Rundle

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Understandably, this Friday night's game between Melbourne and Port Adelaide will not carry the same gravitas or have the capacity to draw the attention of the masses as would a clash involving perennial AFL power houses of the ilk of Carlton or the Western Bulldogs which have dominated that blockbuster fixture so far this year, I dare say that, despite the misgivings of those at AFL House or the media gurus at the Seven Network, I believe it might still turn out to be a contest worthy of being played out on a big stage.

In the first place, it’s one of those much-vaunted eight point games with the winner to remain well placed in the race for a top four placing and the loser to join a pack of teams contesting for a place in the finals. It’s that important for both teams.

In that respect, the Power go into the fray with a couple of major advantages. The first is the home ground with a home crowd to cheer on their team against the enemy from interstate and the potential noise of affirmation poised to give them a major break (like the 10-2 start Collingwood had from the maggots over Melbourne in its last start). Of course, the factor that negates home ground advantage is that the 2018 Demons have a far better win-loss ratio when they play away from the MCG. Indeed, their only defeats for the year have been on the hallowed turf that they call their home. 

The Power are however, on a little bit of a streak at Adelaide Oval having beaten both Richmond and the Western Bulldogs at that venue after a narrow loss away to the Hawks. Their form line is pretty good but so was Melbourne’s until the Queens Birthday disaster,  a 42-point loss to Collingwood on the long weekend prior to the bye which put an end to it’s six-game winning streak. This has given the team plenty of time to muse over their sudden change of circumstances.

The game will also provide some interesting clashes between players who are not the second hand hacks we’re used to in the blue and white navy blue guernseys that usually grace our screens on a Friday night. The match up between Max Gawn, possibly still smarting after his clash with Brodie Grundy (I thought they broke even but Pie fans reckon their man finished on top), takes on Paddy Ryder in a duel that could well shape the outcome of the game.

In recent weeks the Dees have not controlled the contested possessions as much as they did in the middle of their winning streak but the midfield remains strong and the clash between schoolboy buddies Jack Viney and Ollie Wines will also be worth looking at closely. 

*** Scroll for More including Prediction ***

THE GAME Melbourne v Port Adelaide on Friday 22 June, 2018 at 7.50pm at the Adelaide Oval

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Port Adelaide 19 wins, Melbourne 13 wins

At the Adelaide Oval Port Adelaide 2 wins, Melbourne 1 win

Past five meetings Port Adelaide 3 wins, Melbourne 2 wins

The Coaches Hinkley 0 wins, Goodwin 1 good win

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7, Fox Footy Channel Live at 7.30pm

RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne  13.10.88 defeated Port Adelaide 9.11.65 Round 18, 2017 at the MCG

The Demons dominated the first half and led by as much as 44 points before they were slowly reeled in to finish winners by 23 points after some hear fluttering moments in the final quarter. Jack Viney was outstanding and Jesse Hogan and Jake Melksham booted three goals each. 

THE TEAMS  
 
PORT ADELAIDE 

B: Riley Bonner, Tom Jonas, Dan Houston 
HB: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Clurey, Jasper Pittard 
😄 Steven Motlop, Ollie Wines, Jared Polec
HF: Travis Boak, Justin Westhoff, Chad Wingard 
F: Sam Gray, Charlie Dixon, Robbie Gray 
Foll: Paddy Ryder, Tom Rockliff, Brad Ebert 
I/C: Dougal Howard, Todd Marshall, Sam Powell-Pepper, Lindsay Thomas 
Emg: Jack Hombsch, Aidyn Johnson, Jack Trengove, Jack Watts

In: Tom Jonas 

Out: Jack Hombsch (omitted)

MELBOURNE

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

In: Tim Smith Dom Tyson

Out: Cam Pedersen (omitted) Charlie Spargo (omitted)

Melbourne has a few problems coming into this game. The Demons’ last game was a seven goal defeat and they are coming off the bye. Recent history shows that teams in that situation do not perform at their best.

There is also the argument that, after 13 rounds, Melbourne has beaten no one - the only team in the AFL’s top 10 to lower their colors to them this season is North Melbourne and that was way back in Round 3. On the other hand, Port Adelaide has the scalps of two of the top three teams in their bag after beating Richmond and Sydney so far this season.

That thought has not been lost on Simon Goodwin who during the week stated -

"We're not oblivious ... the noise is that we can't play in these types of games, so it's another opportunity for us to grow."

And that’s the big question. The best way of showing how grown up this Melbourne team really is will be for it to rebound from the Queens Birthday debacle and return to the form it displayed against that other South Australian team a few weeks ago. The changes to the teams will work in their favour.

Melbourne by 14 point

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