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MATCH PREVIEW AND TEAM SELECTION - Round 18

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ON THE ROAD AGAIN by Whispering Jack

The highway to Geelong has long been a well travelled road for Victorians, used for a variety of purposes ranging from trade, commerce and industry, education, leisure and entertainment. One could include sport as part of the last category but, for fans of the Melbourne Football Club, trips down that road have rarely reached any definition of the word "entertainment". Rather, they have often been equated with horror stories ending in long, silent and forlorn wintertime trips back to the city and home.

Those days are over now with the Demons on the cusp of their first finals appearance in a dozen seasons. That's not to say the flakey up and down Cats will be easy meat on their home turf this week at GMHBA Stadium but they are now better rounded, more experienced and are traveling the road to Sleepy Hollow on a mission.

Melbourne has been bruised many times at this venue in the past. Even as its teams were on the improve and coming out of their dark times, they would sometimes get ahead of themselves and falter. When they last ventured down that highway, in Round 23, 2016, they were massacred by 111 points only weeks after beating the then reigning premiers Hawthorn. 

The Demons are therefore well aware as they journey on the road again that they will definitely  have to leave at home the accolades and adulation they have been receiving as a result of that blistering third quarter against the Western Bulldogs with its highlights reel  on constant rotation of big Max slapping the ball down to his young midfielders toying with Doggie on ballers and spearing the ball forward at will. Such moments are rare in football.

They have fallen for the hype on one or two occasions already this year but this time they know they have to focus on Geelong, its strong midfield and defence, the narrow ground and on overcoming the advantage a feral home crowd gives to the Cats and to be able to play their game on their terms.

I'm confident Melbourne can do this. The players are demonstrating a strong belief in each other and trust in themselves. These are elements that make a team capable of taking on the big challenges ahead of them, the first of which they face on Saturday night at the end of the highway.

THE GAME
 
Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 21 March 2018 at 7.25pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Overall Geelong 129 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws

At  GMHBA Stadium Geelong 38 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw

The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Scott 2 wins Goodwin 0 wins
 
MEDIA
 
TV - Channel 7 live at 7:00pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:20pm

RADIO -  Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand
 
LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 14.13.97 defeated Melbourne 13.16.94 at the MCG in Round 1, 2018

The game will best be remembered for that missed shot at goal by Max Gawn in its last minute but the Demons lost it in the last ten minutes of the second quarter when they let four goals slip past to give the Cats a stranglehold on the game.
 
THE TEAMS
 
GEELONG

Tom Stewart, Jake Kolodjashnij, Zach Tuohy 
HB: Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Jack Henry 
😄 Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood 
HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Brandan Parfitt 
F: Quinton Narkle, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel 
Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan 
I/C: Jed Bews, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly 
Emg: Ryan Abbott, Jordan Murdoch, Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow 

In: Jordan Cunico, Lachie Henderson

Out: Wylie Buzza (omitted), Sam Simpson (omitted)

MELBOURNE

B: James Harmes, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta 
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis 
😄 Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, N at han Jones 
HF: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch 
F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo 
Foll: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Bernie Vince 
I/C: Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Joel Smith 
Emg: Oskar Baker Cameron Pedersen Josh Wagner Sam Weideman

In: Joel Smith, Dom Tyson 

Out: Mitch Hannan (jarred knee), Michael Hibberd (quad) 

There’s been a lot written and spoken about the inconsistency of the Cats in recent times but the reality is that they have recorded just one victory since their last game at GMHBA Stadium when they beat North there in Round 12. That one win was against the Swans in Sydney and might appear to have been impressive but given the question marks about that club, one wonders. Geelong has dropped games in the past couple of months to clubs out of the top eight in Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide and it wasn’t all that long ago (Round 10) that a late surge saved them them from football’s ultimate humiliation in 2018 - a home defeat at the hands of a woefully inaccurate Carlton.

By comparison, it could be said that the Demons seem to have shed their three game mid season slump after recording consecutive wins in impressive style against albeit weaker opponents (noting that two of the losses during that “slump” were by less than two goals in games that were controversial for some of the umpiring decisions that went against them). All that said, the questions confronting Melbourne are whether it is capable of claiming a big “scalp” and whether its recent uptick in injuries will hurt the club in the tough lead up to the finals.

In assessing this game, the midfield battles will - as they always are these days - be crucial. The Demons have the competition’s outstanding ruckman and a young emerging midfield while the Cats have those seasoned campaigners in their engine room. Clearly, the winner in that contest is the one most likely to take the spoils.

And then there is also the battle between Melbourne’s attack which averages 105 points per game and is ranked first in the competition and the Cats’ defence which has conceded just 56 points on average from five matches at GMHBA Stadium although that figure includes games against the Blues, the Saints and GWS when the Giants were decimated by injury. 

For this game, much will depend on the key forwards. If one of Jesse Hogan, Tom McDonald or Tom Hawkins have a big night out, that could be decisive.

I think the Demon ship has been steadier and this, plus the team’s greater depth will get it home in the end for a narrow win on the road.

Melbourne by 8 points.

 

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This match should be a beauty, must win for both clubs. My prediction is the dees by 8 points.

My Preferred Team

B: J.Lewis, O.McDonald, Jetta

HB: Hibberd, Frost, Salem

C : Fritsch, Oliver, Jones

HF: Neal-Bullen, Hogan, Petracca

F: Garlett, T.McDonald, Melksham

FOLL: Gawn, Brayshaw, Harmes'

IC: Spargo, Hannan, Kennedy Harris, Vince

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Posted (edited)

Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Edited by stevethemanjordan
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44 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Agree. You forgot to add the antics of Selwood and the umpires into the scenario. Geelong arn't a good side though but they nearly always play their best down there. As Hardwick said last year they have a hell of a home ground advantage. Geelong by 60.

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Watched the second half of round 1 last night. We are a vastly better side than that. 

Wagner - aside from that magnificent tackle on Selwood that nearly broke his leg - was poor. As was Maynard. Hunt looked pretty good.

We should have won that game no doubt - not just because of Max's miss. Guys like Melksham and Hannan weren't great and Oliver has improved a lot since then. Salem was average as was Garlett. Lost count of the marks that Pederson dropped.

What Geelong did well was control the footy with short kicks. They smashed us in number of marks and really controlled the tempo of the game. They were down on rotations with Taylor out early with an ankle. Hawkins was poor and Menzel had a day out (altho he missed a sitter from 12m in the last) 

We can win this and really make a statement to the comp..

 

Dees by 17

 

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55 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

. For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Did you see Geelong play last week? Their defence was mistake-riddled when rebounding and their forwardline looked one-dimensional. Their much talked about midfield has lost contested possessions and clearances most of the year. I just came from the 'Mr Jones' thread. The negativity about our own players is incredible. Jones and Viney bagged and now Hogan can't lead. I think most here think a team can only win a premiership with 22 super stars. Plenty of role players with obvious flaws have tasted premiership success. We're a pretty handy team that is getting better. Sure we have a few deficiencies and a few players who can turn it over but so does every team. We also have the most impressive contested ball winning midfield in the league, two quality key position forwards and the form ruckman of the competition. We might just be ok.

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11 minutes ago, dl4e said:

Agree. You forgot to add the antics of Selwood and the umpires into the scenario. Geelong arn't a good side though but they nearly always play their best down there. As Hardwick said last year they have a hell of a home ground advantage. Geelong by 60.

Agree Geelong by 10 goals.

And a return to DL at its best. Withering demands for Rolling Heads.

Hope to be proven wrong.

 

At least Le Tour will be in the hills so we can switch over to that.

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I’ll never forget a game Dad and I attended at Kardinia. I would have been in my early teens at the time (so comfortably over 20 years ago now). We had been down at Airies Inlet for the weekend at my uncles house (he goes for Geelong of course), we had had a great weekend of spear fishing, walks on the beach and mountain bike riding through the back blocks up on the hill.

We were standing on the gravel hill on the Moorabool St side of the ground, amongst a bunch of Collingwood’esk type supporters of the hoops. Now, as anyone knows, when faced with such surroundings, it is prudent to keep things pretty cool and not get carried away with your supporting. This we did and were very civilised all game. Unfortunately we lost the game and were stollling across the oval after the game had finished to get to the car park only to be affronted half way across by another Dad and his son (who would have been about 8-10years at the time). This Dad was clearly in a rage about something and was hurling some seriously obscene abuse in our direction from about 10m away, Dad gave a little bit back but but was very reserved probably taken aback that a bloke with his young son would be so eager to use the c, f, s words and every other profanity you can mention at full voice. One can only assume that he had some sort of problem and was struggling with something that we can only imagine. We still talk about it today and shake our heads in disbelief. That young boy would be in his late 20s to early 30s today and I wonder what would have become of him. Would he follow in the footsteps of his Dad and use footy as an outlet for his inner rage or would he have realised that his Dad was a [censored] and have disowned him years ago?

Who knows.

What I do know, is that in years gone by I always dreaded playing Geelong anywhere, but especially at Kardinia. But this year, I am not the least bit concerned about playing them there, instead I’m glad it’s there and not at the G. Time will tell if my confidence was misplaced.

Please Melbourne, bring your A game and get the job done. You’ve put us through many years of pain and suffering, now it’s time to realise the potential and shut that bloke from 20 years ago up!

🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, Goodvibes said:

Did you see Geelong play last week? Their defence was mistake-riddled when rebounding and their forwardline looked one-dimensional. Their much talked about midfield has lost contested possessions and clearances most of the year. I just came from the 'Mr Jones' thread. The negativity about our own players is incredible. Jones and Viney bagged and now Hogan can't lead. I think most here think a team can only win a premiership with 22 super stars. Plenty of role players with obvious flaws have tasted premiership success. We're a pretty handy team that is getting better. Sure we have a few deficiencies and a few players who can turn it over but so does every team. We also have the most impressive contested ball winning midfield in the league, two quality key position forwards and the form ruckman of the competition. We might just be ok.

Yes, I watched their entire game. 

I'm going off of what we've seen to date.

Geelong lost to a fired up Adelaide away from home and are now in jeapody of losing their position in the 8. Do you believe they won't respond? 

I'm the realist anonymous Melbourne supporter you'll meet. If I think we're a good bet, I'll say so. And I'm simply saying that I can't see us winning this weekend given my reasoning. Which is backed off an entire season of results and trends in our play. We're yet to take a scalp. We're yet to win a prime time game. And we're yet to make a statement. 

Also, there's a difference between "Can't" lead and "leading to the wrong spots far too often". And if you don't agree, I suggest you watch how often Hogan and McDonald get in the way of each other during games. 

I admire what Goodwin has done since his takeover. It's nice to know that we're one of the best contested possession sides in the AFL, even 'the' best. But maybe unlike you, I don't get carried away with those positives due to the good work that comes undone so often in games. 

In short, if those areas of our game are even a little off, we're an extremely vulnerable side because of our inability to stop opposition scores once inside our defensive 50. All the top sides know this. And they've beaten us by outcoaching and outsmarting us. 

 

Edited by stevethemanjordan
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Massive Massive Game.  Geelong almost back to full strength, will they bring back Henderson and Taylor?

We are setting ourselves for this one and I am confident we will play hard and either win well or it will be very close. Geelong's bottom 10 are inexperienced and average imo.

I'm fired up!!

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24 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Yes, I watched their entire game. 

I'm going off of what we've seen to date.

Geelong lost to a fired up Adelaide away from home and are now in jeapody of losing their position in the 8. Do you believe they won't respond? 

I'm the realist anonymous Melbourne supporter you'll meet. If I think we're a good bet, I'll say so. And I'm simply saying that I can't see us winning this weekend given my reasoning. Which is backed off an entire season of results and trends in our play. We're yet to take a scalp. We're yet to win a prime time game. And we're yet to make a statement. 

Also, there's a difference between "Can't" lead and "leading to the wrong spots far too often". And if you don't agree, I suggest you watch how often Hogan and McDonald get in the way of each other during games. 

I admire what Goodwin has done since his takeover. It's nice to know that we're one of the best contested possession sides in the AFL, even 'the' best. But maybe unlike you, I don't get carried away with those positives due to the good work that comes undone so often in games. 

In short, if those areas of our game are even a little off, we're an extremely vulnerable side because of our inability to stop opposition scores once inside our defensive 50. All the top sides know this. And they've beaten us by outcoaching and outsmarting us. 

 

@stevethemanjordan - you're bang on. It's an uncomfortable truth, that's for sure. 

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Narrow ground has been made narrower as a result of the Ziebell on LED fence injury which - in theory - should help our zone defence and cluster forward formation

I’m not remotely confident but am mildly optimistic 

Hannan out for Tyson the only change I’d look at at this stage, and even that I’m on the fence over

Puddy Tatts by 13 points 

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There's a reason Geelong are below us on the ladder.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, WERRIDEE said:

This match should be a beauty, must win for both clubs. My prediction is the dees by 8 points.

My Preferred Team

B: J.Lewis, O.McDonald, Jetta

HB: Hibberd, Frost, Salem

C : Fritsch, Oliver, Jones

HF: Neal-Bullen, Hogan, Petracca

F: Garlett, T.McDonald, Melksham

FOLL: Gawn, Brayshaw, Harmes'

IC: Spargo, Hannan, Kennedy Harris, Vince

Good margin. The AFL website predicts Geelong by 8 points (however I am travelling down the Geelong Road in anticipation of the Dees prevailing)! Dees by 8 points!

Edited by CBDees

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Posted (edited)

Wagner? what the hell has he done all year?! (I didn't watch Casey last week)

Goodwin can't keep going down this road though, in/out/in/out/in/out -- Tyson, Weid, T Smith, Tyson, Stretch etc

Edited by MSFebey
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Geelong lost to the baby Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago then beat Sydney at the SCG: conclusion like us they are wildly inconsistent so pretty much any result is possible

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10 minutes ago, sisso said:

Geelong lost to the baby Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago then beat Sydney at the SCG: conclusion like us they are wildly inconsistent so pretty much any result is possible

Think you have to persist and persist against them and eventually they will crack. They're not the side of a couple of years ago. Last week I think they had a shot at goal to go 4 goals ahead early in the game but Adelaide persisted and eventually got over the top of them. They will relish any drop off in intensity, need to bring it for 4 quarters.

 

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1 hour ago, loges said:

There's a reason Geelong are below us on the ladder.

Yes, they haven't played us enough

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35 minutes ago, MSFebey said:

Wagner? what the hell has done all year?! (I didn't watch Casey last week)

Goodwin can't keep going down this road though, in/out/in/out/in/out -- Tyson, Weid, T Smith, Tyson, Stretch etc

The mind boggles. No thanks to Tyson and Wagner.

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3 hours ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Geelong are nowhere near a top side

demons by 187

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The one thing in the Cats' favour is that it's at their home ground where they are a 5-6 goal better side on most occasions.

However, their ground is narrow and smaller than the G, which plays into our hands in terms of the contested style of footy we like to play.  The Cats are not the gun side they once were, and if you can shut one or two of their good players out of the game like the Crows did last weekend, then you go a long way to beating them.

Outside of Hawkins and the 'tin arse' Menzel, their forward line does not scare me in the slightest.  I know Danger will spend time there, as will GAJ, but I think we have the players (eg. Jetta, Vince) who are big enough and smart enough to hold their own in each contest.  Lewis has been terrific as the general while Frost, outside of the odd mistake, has been pretty good as well.

Gawn should give us first use of the ball and we know that our midfield can easily hold their own against the Cats midfield.  Our forward line is dangerous, and if we move the ball quickly enough then we can kick a winning score.  I feel as though we used it much better last weekend, and with Garlett and Spargo roaming around we had less players going up for contests and more staying down to get the crumb and/or put the pressure on the opposition.

I see no reason at all why we can't win this match, but at the same time, the Cats won't be pushovers.  

Dees by 15 points.

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1 hour ago, timbo said:

Yes, they haven't played us enough

If you choose to think so.

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53 minutes ago, Roost It said:

Geelong are nowhere near a top side

demons by 187

I was there (and stuck fat til the end). I don't like to be reminded of it. Despite my post of a week ago, I am going to venture the 20km up the road, buoyed by our performance of the last two weeks.

They really are a feral bunch of supporters, especially coming from 6 hours of drinking in the Barwon Club.

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    THE KID - A TRIBUTE TO COLIN by Whispering Jack

    There are some truly endearing memories that I have of the Kid, one or two of them off the ground and others on the field of play. It seemed to me that at every club function I attended, one of the constants was the sight of the much-loved Colin Sylvia, face smiling and friendly, surrounded by admirers, young and old, male and female. There was the promotional clip (Foxtel, I think) with Colin in the locker room beside skipper David Neitz draped in towels and joking. It was as if, from the very beginning, the new boy on the block was being typecast as a larrikin, albeit a lovable one who, in our hopes, would one day  become a hero. And that was the problem for the recruit from Merbein which, during my childhood produced another star Demon in Hassa Mann, a shy country lad who went on to captain the club, played in a few premierships and was a solid citizen off the field. The new kid from Merbein simply kept getting into trouble.  There were problems with a girlfriend, he broke team curfews, missed the odd recovery session, left the scene of a car accident (it’s unclear if he was the driver). He was often in the wrong place and the wrong condition at the wrong time but we all still loved him. After all, he was going to be our hero. On the field, he was something else. The first time I saw him was in a practice match for Melbourne’s then affiliate Sandringham, at the Beach Road Oval, ironically named after another blond larrikan Trevor Barker who also passed at far too young and age but from cancer. There was one brief moment that defined Sylvia’s potential as a contender when he gathered the ball near the centre, swiveled past an opponent and barreled the ball from 70 metres out. Years later when I recalled that piece of play with him at a club best and fairest night, he laughed and said he remembered it but thought the kick was “from closer to 80 metres out”. It took a year or so to get his career going and it built slowly but surely within a few years during which time he grew in stature to the point that it wasn’t necessary to call him by his surname. He was Colin and we loved him. The tough break for Colin was that Melbourne went into decline just as he was approaching his prime. Most supporters would agree that his best game came on Sunday, 24 May, 2009 on the MCG in front of almost 40,000 fans against Hawthorn when he amassed 24 kicks, 13 handballs, 9 marks and 4 goals that were just not enough to get the Demons across the line.  He continued to play good football for the year despite the fact that the club was regularly accused of tanking its matches and again into 2010 but at around that time, the injuries in the form of groin and shoulder problems came, the team was performing miserably as the veterans left while other young saviours who were replacing them struggled. The contender was also struggling to live up to his potential status as a hero; he was failing and the fun had gone. After 157 games and 129 goals, the Kid departed for Fremantle at the end of 2013. Things didn’t work out in the West and, amid ongoing controversy about his attitude and behaviour under Ross Lyon, Colin managed six more games that were mostly unremarkable. Career over before his 29th birthday with life after football bringing further challenges for a young man who found retirement from the game at its top level a tough gig.  Colin was working to get his life on track when his car collided with another vehicle last Sunday afternoon at the intersection of Nineteenth Street and Benetook Avenue in the Mildura suburb of Irymple. He died on the scene and will be buried today. We loved him to death - our deepest sympathies go to his family. “I'm the kid who has this habit of dreaming
    Sometimes gets me in trouble too
    But the truth is I could no more stop dreaming
    Than I could make them all come true” - Buddy Mondlock  

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART TWO - NO CHOICE There was a time before he even played a single game at AFL level that Jesse Hogan was regarded as the player who would lift Melbourne from the bottom of the ladder. He’s been at the club since he was selected in the 2012 mini-draft but circumstances caused him to wait two seasons before making his AFL debut. He achieved Rising Star status in 2015, kicked more than 40 goals in three of his four seasons, had his disappointments with injuries, illness and personal issues with the loss of his father and yet, Hogan the Saviour seemed forever absent for the club’s most triumphant moments.  Hogan is now a Docker after the Demons traded him for national draft picks 6 and 23 on the final day of the AFL's trade period. This is despite the fact that he was contracted to Melbourne for 2019 and would have earned good money. There’s no doubting his quality as a footballer but he wanted to go home and the likelihood remained high that he might be gone after another season filled with unwelcome distractions of an uncertain future at the club. And not for the first time. When expectations are high for the future after making it to a Preliminary Final, full commitment to the cause beyond the now is paramount. In the end, there was no choice. Moving on to the future, the three players introduced to the Melbourne Football Club  have the attributes of commitment, willingness to work hard and the ability to fill needs. Former Gold Coast co-captain Steven May, a hard-at-it defender has a five year contract. The skillful Kade Kolodjashnij who brings run and carry to the table and mature ruckman Braydon Preuss both join the club with three year deals.  There is no certainty in the business of sport but Melbourne appears to have done well in a trade period that also saw it upgrade its draft position to a point where it now has two picks in the 20s. There is still a lot to do at the draft table, some rookie upgrades and possible acquisition of delisted free agents to fill the eight vacant places on the club’s lists. Where does this all leave the Melbourne Football Club? Age journalist Peter Ryan summed up the Demons’ trade period in At a glance: Assessing each club's 2018 AFL trade period when he wrote  “At a glance: Going for the flag”. Of course, it’s too early to make a reasoned analysis of the trade period because the outcome is never determined in the moment. Time will tell for all clubs and in 2018 there were so many different agendas and strategies. There were clubs that used it to dump the burden of high salaries, some wanted better draft position while others aimed to fulfill certain needs. In the end 42 players changed clubs by way of trades but by draft time at the end of November, there will be many more new faces at every club. The completed trades - Trade Tracker

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    THE TRADING CHRONICLES 2018 by Whispering Jack

    PART ONE - BETWEEN RUCKS AND HARD PLACES Melbourne has been rather pragmatic in its approach to the off season Free Agency and Trade period. After methodically releasing a larger than usual number of players through delistings, it has also traded away a couple of others who it clearly regards as being surplus to the requirements of team focused on a top four finish in 2019 and to this date, acquired a big ruckman to accompany its All Australian Max Gawn in that campaign. The Demons’ lists have undergone a major refit since the final siren sounded on Preliminary Final day. At that point, we knew of the retirements of Harley Balic and Bernie Vince and soon after the announcements came of Tom Bugg, Dion Johnstone, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen and rookie Lachie Filipovic. On Friday, the trades of Dean Kent (to St Kilda) and Dom Tyson (North Melbourne) were signed off, bringing the number of departures to double figures.  The Kangaroos traded Brayden Preuss to the Demons to give Melbourne the competition’s most potent ruck combination.  If things were going well for Melbourne’s football manager Josh Mahoney, they certainly went sour with the news late on Friday that Fremantle had withdrawn its interest in securing forward Jesse Hogan by way of a trade. The decision threw the Demons’ plans of securing Gold Coast defender Steven May along with a raft of other potential trades depending on the outcome of those deals. The Dockers have been chasing WA native Hogan for some four years and last week they paraded him through their headquarters. After it was announced that Hogan had passed his medical, it was thought to be a formality that a trade would be arranged after the obligatory bargaining period.  Fremantle General Manager of Football, Peter Bell, just two weeks into the job, announced - “We have been undertaking a due diligence process as part of a possible trade to secure Jesse Hogan. “As part of that process, we have had discussions with Jesse, the player’s management and Melbourne. “While discussions were proceeding it became clear that what Melbourne would be seeking for a trade would not be possible for our club to meet. “As such, we have informed Melbourne and Jesse’s management that we will not be continuing further with the due diligence process.” This was Bell’s reaction to Melbourne’s refusal to accept his club’s offer of National Draft Pick 11 and a future second-round pick with the Demons expecting two early selections including # 5 that the Dockers would be expecting in a deal with Brisbane for Lachie Neale (Bell is reportedly expecting two first round picks). The reaction might have come as a surprise but it needs to be looked at in the context of what is happening at the very top at the Fremantle Football Club. In August, its list manager Brad Lloyd departed for Carlton and the task of dealing with the free agency and trading was taken over by CEO Steve Rosich in concert with Bell after his appointment. They are certainly doing things differently in a trade period during which all of the other clubs have been businesslike in their approach — the Freo pair’s dealings over Hogan, Rory Lobb, Neale and a clumsy approach to Geelong’s Tim Kelly who wants to go to the Eagles have raised scorn and disdain throughout the football fraternity and their own fans aren’t happy either! This has left Hogan back with the Demons for the time being as he plays out the final year of his contract in 2019 (unless the Dockers have a change of heart in the next few days). Mahoney has made it clear that the club is not in a position to follow up a trade for May without completing a deal for Hogan.  The bonus for the club however, is that it can go into the pre season with a quality key position forward approaching the prime of his career while the team is in the premiership window. Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, the Dockers are likely to languish, living with a dysfunctional recruiting structure and scorned by the rest of the football community. Good luck with that! Docker shocker as Freo pull pin on Hogan pursuit This is the full list of trades after five days: • Reece Conca joined Fremantle as a free agent. The Tigers don't get any compensation.
    • Richmond signed Tom Lynch as a restricted free agent. Gold Coast opted not to match the offer. The Suns got pick No.3 as compensation.
    • Luke Dahlhaus joined Geelong as an unrestricted free agent. The Western Bulldogs got a round two pick as compensation (No.27).
    • Scott Lycett joined Port Adelaide as a restricted free agent after the Eagles decided not to match Port's offer. Port got pick 20 as compensation.
    • The Cats traded Lincoln McCarthy, pick 55 and pick 58 to the Lions. In return, the Lions sent over picks 43 and 61.
    • Richmond sent Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles and a future third round pick to the Suns for a future third round pick.
    • The Blues used one of their special assistant pre-draft picks to send Nathan Kreuger to Geelong in exchange for pick 43.
    • The Lions and the Suns did a pick swap. Brisbane ended up with 32, 41, 44 and 77. Gold Coast got 24, 58 and 79.
    • Mitch McGovern and a future third round pick made their way from Adelaide to Carlton. Carlton sent back Shane McAdam (their second pre-draft special assistance pick) and a future fifth round pick.
    • Sydney sent pick 13 to the Crows. In return, they got pick 40. They also got picks 26 and 28 from Carlton.
    • Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard moved to North Melbourne from Port Adelaide. Also sent over: pick 48. In return, Power received pick 11 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Sydney's Gary Rohan was traded to Geelong for pick 61.
    • The Swans sent pick 61 to North Melbourne in exchange for Ryan Clarke.
    • St Kilda traded Tom Hickey, pick 60 and a future fourth rounder to the Eagles. In return, the Saints got pick 39 and a future fourth round pick.
    • Alex Fasolo joined Carlton as an unrestricted free agent. Collingwood got pick 57 as compensation.
    • Gold Coast signed Josh Corbett (Werribee) and Chris Burgess ( West Adelaide) as two of their special assistance picks.
    • Port Adelaide and Fremantle swapped picks: Power got pick six and a future third round selection, and sent picks 11, 23, 30 and 49 to the Dockers.
    • Sydney Swans have traded Dan Hannebery and its Rd 2 selection, currently number 28 (on traded from Carlton) to St Kilda for its Rd 2 selection, currently selection number 39 (on traded from West Coast), and its Future Round Two Selection.
    • Melbourne have traded Dean Kent to St Kilda for its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 65.
    • Melbourne have traded Dom Tyson to North Melbourne for Brayden Preuss and its Rd 4 selection, currently selection number 62 (on traded from the Sydney Swans).
    • GWS Giants have traded Will Setterfield and its Rd 4 (71), to Carlton for its Rd 3 (43), and Future Round Two Selection.

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    CHANGES 2018 by The Oracle

    PART 1 - UPHEAVAL AND CHANGE Every year, as soon as the grand final siren sounds, the 18 AFL clubs enter into a new season that lasts for two months and ends in the drafts. This is the time of transition and sometimes upheaval for the clubs as their lists change in the hope for each of them that they can regenerate their lists to the point where they can challenge for a premiership flag. The official proceedings start today with the opening of the restricted free agency offer and unrestricted free agency period starts and on Monday, the NAB AFL Trade Period kicks off. The coming off season of change is looming large at the Melbourne Football Club in comparison with last year when the club farewelled only six senior list players (including one, Heritier Lumumba, who had retired before that season even began) and one rookie. Their replacements came via trades and the draft, leaving the 2018 Melbourne Football Club player list (with new players in italics) as follows - PRIMARY LIST: Oskar Baker Harley Balic Angus Brayshaw Tomas Bugg Bayley Fritsch Sam Frost Jeff Garlett Max Gawn Mitch Hannan James Harmes Michael Hibberd Jesse Hogan Jayden Hunt Neville Jetta Dion Johnstone Nathan Jones Jay Kennedy Harris Dean Kent Mitch King Jake Lever Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Tom McDonald Pat McKenna Jake Melksham Alex Neal-Bullen Clayton Oliver Cameron Pedersen Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Christian Salem Charlie Spargo Joel Smith Billy Stretch Dom Tyson Aaron vandenBerg Bernie Vince Jack Viney Josh Wagner Sam Weideman  ROOKIE LIST: CATEGORY A Lachlan Filipovic Declan Keilty Corey Maynard Tim Smith  As in the past, the process has been going on for months and even longer in the case of the assessment of younger talent. The 18 clubs have all been working feverishly looking for potential trades and for which some players on their lists are moved on.  The Demons have already added two Category B rookies who will shortly commence their apprenticeships at the club. The changes were being foreshadowed even before season’s end when two Demons - Harley Balic and Bernie Vince - had also announced their retirements.  The floodgates were opened almost as soon as the final siren sounded at Optus Stadium on Preliminary Final day. The first delistings included Tom Bugg, Mitch King, Pat McKenna and Cam Pedersen, who announced his retirement, and rookie Lachie Filipovic. Yesterday, Dion Johnstone was added to that group.  Then there are those being mentioned in despatches as being on the trade table from Dean Kent who almost has his foot in the door at St Kilda, to Jesse Hogan, seemingly bound for Fremantle delisted) and others such as Dom Tyson and Aaron vandenBerg said to be exploring options for various reasons. This means a potential of a dozen new faces including names such as May, Kolodjashnij, Preuss and many more in the club’s new period of upheaval and change ...

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    HEARTBREAK WEEKEND by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons led the 2018 Grand Final from the beginning until the 13 minute mark of the final quarter of the VFL Grand Final at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon but were overrun in the finish by the Box Hill Hawks. The defeat was the team’s second in a season-decider in three seasons and marked yet another heartbreaking climax to a year of many highlights for the club. The Demons had opened the game in promising fashion moving the ball with great speed and converted four times to take a 25 point lead in the early going. They were ferocious with their tackling with 20 in the first term alone and by half time had shown up the effort of their senior counterparts by exceeding their total tally of tackles from the day before. Casey dominated proceedings in most facets of the game for almost all of the opening half but some crucial shots at goal from easy range. One of the few statistics where they were bested was the free kick count - one of the factors that seemed to keep the Hawks in the game. When the siren sounded to signal the start of the long break the Demons led by 23 points but an after-the-siren goal to Box Hill reduced the lead and gave the Hawks great hope leading into the final half.  The rejuvenated Hawks lifted their game after the break and they gradually clawed back at Casey’s lead, assisted by their complete dominance in the ruck where they smashed the undersized Casey ruck division through the agency of Pittonet who amassed an enormous 57 hit outs and took 7 big marks. This division has been problematic for the Demons all season and was exacerbated of late by the poor form of Mitch King who was not selected for the finals and the injury to young Lachie Filipovic. In their stead, Cam Pedersen, Tim Smith and Mykelti Lefau who were gallant in the preliminary final, simply struggled this week. And so, when it came to the final term of the biggest match of the season, Casey faltered and was unable to produce one of those stirring finishes that got it through a number of the 12 consecutive victories of earlier in the season. Some of its name players were unable to produce: there were far too many passengers and a number will no doubt be forced to look elsewhere in 2019. Bayley Fritsch was an exception. He provided plenty of run off the back line and showed great application and heart to prove the judgement of the senior Demon selection panel off key when they omitted him from the team that went to Perth.  The defensive work of Declan Keilty and Harry Petty was excellent in the first half and both have potential as key position defenders. Bernie Vince was solid and creative in his swan song game and Tom Bugg worked hard for four quarters.  The Casey listed crew were mainly underwhelming. Corey Wagner worked hard as did Jay Lockhart while Jimmy Munro tackled strongly as usual.  Unfortunately, they weren’t as effective or consistent as they have been for most of the season.  The scoreboard when the final siren sounded heralded yet another disappointment in the Demons’ Heartbreak Weekend. There’s always next year. Peter Jackson VFL 2018 Casey Demons 4.4.28 5.9.39 8.11.59 8.14.62 Box Hill Hawks 1.1.7 3.4.22 7.8.50 10.12.72 Goals   Casey Demons Bugg Kennedy-Harris Lefau Lockhart Machaya Pedersen Scott T Smith  Box Hill Hawks Moore 3 Jones Hanrahan Lovell  Moore O'Brien O'Rourke Ross  Best Casey Demons Fritsch C Wagner Petty Keilty Vince Bugg Box Hill Hawks Mirra Moore Pittonet Hanrahan Cousins O'Brien Statistics  Tomas Bugg 1 goal 15 kicks 9 handballs 24 disposals 5 marks 7 tackles 114 dream team points
    Tom Freeman 10 kicks 4 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 4 tackles 67 dream team points
    Bayley Fritsch 1 behind 13 kicks 7 handballs 20 disposals 8 marks 1 tackle 83 dream team points
    Jeffrey Garlett 1 behind 3 kicks 2 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 3 tackles 27 dream team points
    Mitch Gent 4 kicks 4 handballs 8 disposals 1 mark 3 tackles 36 dream team points
    Jayden Hunt 7 kicks 5 handballs 12 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 33 dream team points
    Jack Hutchins 2 kicks 3 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 22 dream team points   
    Declan Keilty 7 kicks 6 handballs 13 disposals 3 marks 5 tackles 53 dream team points
    Jay Kennedy Harris 1 goals 1 behind 13 kicks 5 handballs 18 disposals 3 marks 6 tackles 89 dream team points
    Mykelti Lefau 1 goal 4  kicks 2  handballs 6 disposals 4 marks 1 tackles 6 hit outs 32 dream team points
    Jay Lockhart 1 goals 1 behind 10 kicks 3 handballs 13 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points 
    Pat McKenna 1 behind 2 kicks 1 handball 3 disposals 1 mark 1 tackle 17 dream team points
    Cory Machaya 1 goal 1 behind 5 kicks 5 handballs 10 disposals 5 marks 3 tackles 53 dream team points
    James Munro 1 behind 5 kicks 6 handballs 11 disposals 2 marks 12 tackles 78 dream team points
    Cameron Pedersen 1 goal 7 kicks 3 handballs 10 disposals 4 marks 5 tackles 12 hit outs 72 dream team points
    Harry Petty 5 kicks 7 handballs 12 disposals 5 marks 42 dream team points
    Angus Scott 1 goal 6 kicks 3 handballs 9 disposals 5 marks 4 tackles 62 dream team points
    Tim Smith 1 goals 1 behind 11 kicks 5 handballs 16 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 6 hit outs 95 dream team points
    Cory Stockdale 2 kicks 1 handballs 3 disposals 2 tackles 10 dream team points
    Bernie Vince 3 behinds 18 kicks 1 handballs 19 disposals 4 marks 7 tackles 99 dream team points
    Corey Wagner 1 behind 15 kicks 6 handballs 21 disposals 2 marks 7 tackles 87 dream team points
    Josh Wagner 8 kicks 6 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 61 dream team points
    Mitch White 9 kicks 5 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 59 dream team points  

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    NO CONTEST by George on The Outer

    This was the first finals series the Melbourne Football Club has participated in a dozen years and its first Preliminary Final for 18. The club got here in 2018 because it built its reputation on contest, but in the end the game against West Coast was no contest as the Eagles ran out winners by over ten goals. The match itself was really over by quarter time, as the young Demons were simply swamped by a side that was bigger, stronger and ultimately had more intent on achieving its goal.  The game, while disappointing from an outcome perspective, should motivate the Demons in the same way that the Round 22 match against Collingwood did last year.  It was what finals football was all about and while they had performed admirably in winning their past 2 matches to progress to the Preliminary, this was when things got serious.   Melbourne was exposed in the same way that Richmond was exposed on Friday night because, to get into the Big Dance, you cannot afford to come into any game half-hearted, injured or with stop gap players. Right from the start the Demons were in trouble, with errant handballs and players slipping constantly at critical moments. While West Coast scored four goals to zip in the first quarter, three of those came directly from Melbourne turnovers. Coupled with some undisciplined acts from Jordan Lewis, the momentum that a young team relied upon to forge forward was completely and utterly deflated.   It didn’t get any better in the second quarter and by half time the Eagles held a ten goal lead, which was to be the final margin. The coach would have been fuming as he watched Melbourne revert to the old style of play of standing back and expecting others to do the work. I heard it mentioned that the Demons had only three tackles to ¼ time and a paltry 30 odd for the whole game - a poor result from a side that prides itself on contest. 
     
    Statistics lovers would think Angus Brayshaw played a good game.  But stumbles, fumbles and miskicks don’t get recorded.  The stat which did get recorded was the eight clangers. The fact that he wasn’t on the ground for a majority of the third term indicates that something was wrong with him, and his grunt and surety was missed, despite the numbers.   All around the ground, we were seeing structures which were not what had been seen in past weeks or months.  Tom McDonald was playing back, Aaron vndenBerg almost full time in the middle, Joel Smith supposedly selected as a backman spent most of the game forward.  When players are being thrown around like this, it can only mean that an attempt is being made to fill gaps.   The result is the was little in the way of forward structure, but then the ball didn’t get down there until the second half of the game, and even then there was no genuine marking target.  How we would have relished Jesse Hogan in front of goal - perhaps next year? The mids were simply destroyed, not from the clearances, but by the outside run which enabled them to deliver cleanly to their forwards in Darling, Kennedy, Cripps and LeCras.  As mentioned last week, when we have Jones and Tyson on the wing, there is no run for us, but importantly, they cannot keep up with the opposition.  Then with Alex Neal-Bullen able to just hit 50% disposal efficiency, it showed that even when we had the ball, we simply butchered it. The forwards had a shocker of a day as well.  Without T McDonald there to provide a target for good parts of the game, the likes of Melksham, Hannan and Spargo rarely had a viable touch, with all of them barely into double figure disposals. Sam Weideman reverted to being unable to hold a mark this week, and Christian Petracca kept trying to give the ball off to others when inside 30m himself. His set shots were nothing to behold again.  Plenty of work needs to be done for him in this area over summer.  The backs were overwhelmed by the amount of ball coming in, but the lack of composure was telling, especially compared with their work-rate last week.  Sadly, Oscar McDonald and Michael Hibberd failed to effect a single tackle, Sam Frost, Lewis and Christian Salem one each. Neville Jetta at least had three.  The mids weren’t much better and their numbers were mostly twos and threes. Overall there were seven players who didn’t lay a single tackle in the game. Simply not good enough in any game, let alone a Preliminary Final. Can the Demons learn from this game?  The coach has already indicated that contest is king and that is particularly the case in Finals, especially when you get to the pointy end. The fans can be proud and happy with the performance during the season, and have seen the results following years of promises and nothing to show but there has to be more. And there is much more improvement to come, simply because the majority of this group is still young. They came up against a side on its home turf which played in a Grand Final just three years ago, finished the home and away  season in second spot and were handed (and took) the initiative in the first ten minutes of the game. They deserve to be Grand Finalists again this year, but we must learn to perform to the standard required to get to the final stage, that they displayed in this game ... an in particular, to always provide a contest. I just can’t wait for the cricket and tennis to be over ...
     
    Melbourne 0.3.3 0.6.6 5.9.39 7.13.55 West Coast Eagles 4.8.32 10.9.69 15.10.100 18.13.121 Goals  Melbourne Melksham 2 Hannan Harmes Oliver  J Smith Weideman West Coast Eagles Kennedy 4 Cripps Darling LeCras 3, Hutchings Redden Rioli Ryan Venables Best  Melbourne Harmes Oliver vandenBerg Petracca J Smith Viney  West Coast Eagles Kennedy Redden Cripps Hurn McGovern Sheed LeCras Injuries  Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Reports Melbourne Nil  West Coast Eagles Nil Umpires Nicholls, Meredith, Chamberlain  Official crowd 59,608 at Optus Stadium

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    MATHEMATICAL POSSIBILITY by Whispering Jack

    For well over a decade, Melbourne fans have been sitting back at various times during the football season (more often than not in the early parts), contemplating the AFL ladder and pondering on the mathematical possibilities available to their team of making the finals or winning the premiership. Rarely have they been equally or better placed than the others except when this particular event was taking place at the very beginning of the year or possibly after a the opening round of the season.  This week, at long last, things are different.  When Preliminary Finals week comes around, there are four teams left in the contest for the premiership flag. All four of them face a task which only one of them can successfully achieve and that is to win both remaining games. The mathematics are simple - each club has a 25% chance of making it to the Holy Grail. Nothing could be more simple than that, could it? Except that in Melbourne’s case, it has to win its first contest outside of its home territory. That being the case, while Richmond, Collingwood and West Coast players will be waking up in their own beds on the morning of their game (well, hopefully), the Melbourne team will be waking in some hotel room after having flown a distance of approximately 2,722.36 kilometres from their home town to play in front of a crowd made up of mainly rabidly hostile natives. The prospect would be a daunting one but for another interesting mathematical equation. In past years, an out-of-town trip to anywhere else in the country spelled doom and gloom for Melbourne and the loyal fans who traveled with the side. Interstate wins were as rare as hen’s teeth. In real terms, the mathematical possibility was as close to zero as you could possibly get. But not this team and not this year.  The Demons have played seven home and away games - almost a third of the season - outside of their home State and won all but one of those contests (and you could mount a strong argument to say that even the Port Adelaide game was a victory of sorts in every aspect except on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard) which gives you a very healthy 85.7% win/loss ratio. In those games, it was Melbourne that dominated most of the statistical data such as clearances, contested football, inside 50 entries and shots at goal*.  To emphasize the point, you only have to look back a little over a month to Round 22 when the Eagles and Demons clashed at Optus Stadium in which the visitors prevailed by 17 points to understand that the idea of traveling across the continent holds little fear for the Melbourne of 2018 which has an away record that is the envy of all others in the competition. Not even the Tigers who are everybody’s favourite at very strong mathematical odds to win this year’s flag, can boast a victory against this team at this venue this year. Indeed, they had to wait until Round 21 against the ailing Suns at Metricon Stadium to record their only interstate win of the season.   The fight for the flag is an even money proposition and Melbourne’s mathematical odds are as good as those of anybody else left in the race. THE GAME West Coast v Melbourne at Optus Stadium Saturday 22 September 2018 at 3.20pm. HEAD TO HEAD Overall West Coast 33 wins Melbourne 17 wins At Optus Stadium West Coast 0 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings West Coast 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Simpson 0 wins Goodwin 2 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7, Fox Footy Channel, Live at 2.30pm RADIO - Triple M SEN 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 16.12.108 defeated West Coast 14.7.91 in Round 22, 2018 at Optus Stadium The Eagles were reeling at the time, having recently lost Nick Naitanui and the Andrew Gaff incident was still very fresh in the mind. They were also without Josh Kennedy and their other tall marking forward, Jack Darling, was out off the game with concussion after only ten minutes. As a consequence of the Demons taking full advantage of the situation, they were four goals in front in the blink of an eye. With the home crowd behind it but not as much noise of affirmation as usual, West Coast gradually fought its way back into the contest and momentarily took the lead by a point in the final term before Melbourne showed its mettle and kicked the game’s last three goals.  THE TEAMS   WEST COAST EAGLES  B: Shannon Hurn, Tom Barrass, Will Schofield 
    HB: Thomas Cole, Jeremy McGovern, Lewis Jetta 
    😄 Dom Sheed, Luke Shuey, Chris Masten 
    HF: Mark LeCras, Jack Darling, Mark Hutchings 
    F: Willie Rioli, Josh J. Kennedy, Jamie Cripps 
    Foll: Scott Lycett, Elliot Yeo, Jack Redden 
    I/C: Liam Duggan, Liam Ryan, Nathan Vardy, Daniel Venables  
    Emg: Brayden Ainsworth, Brendon Ah Chee, Oscar Allen, Jackson Nelson   In: Will Schofield Out: Brad Sheppard (hamstring) MELBOURNE  B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
    HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd
    😄 Mitch Hannan, Nathan Jones, Angus Brayshaw
    HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, James Harmes
    F: Aaron vandenBerg, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen
    Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney
    I/C: Christian Petracca, Joel Smith, Charlie Spargo, Dom Tyson
    Emg: Bayley Fritsch, Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Tim Smith In: Joel Smith  Out: Bayley Fritsch (omitted) Melbourne dropped a bombshell at selection when it omitted first year player Bayley Fritsch who has surprised all and sundry with an excellent debut season in which he filled a number of roles for the team. One has to feel sorry for the kid but he will have lots of opportunities in the future and, of course, can’t be ruled out of a place if the Demons make it to this year’s Grand Final.  However, the fact that the selectors have taken the ballsy option of making a decision that is considered controversial and risky is the very thing that sets the Melbourne of 2018 apart from the Melbourne of past days.  These days, the Demons stand tall; they are prepared to take the game and any opponent on with their high risk, boisterous, crisis style of play. It’s a feature that was evident earlier in the season and has only solidified in later days. When they last traveled across the Nullarbor, they did so knowing that their place in the finals was not yet booked and that in order to make it, they needed to achieve something they hadn’t done all season - beat a top eight side.  In the case of the Eagles that meant winning in unfamiliar territory in a noisy cauldron with 50,000 hostile fans willing them on to their doom. That they came out of the game with a stirring victory achieved after fighting back when the Eagles took the lead for the first time in the last ten minutes of the game and then have backed that effort up against top eight sides another three times speaks volumes.  In physical and mental terms the achievements that have led them here is already far in excess of the mathematical distance of approximately 2,722.36 kilometres that the players have traveled to get to Saturday night’s game. In terms of development of the team over the past five years, its more akin to traveling in space at the speed of light and a foreign ground, the noise of affirmation, the return to the opposition of their twin towers are all powerless to stop this team’s forward surge. Melbourne by 27 points. * the Adelaide game was an exception by one inside 50 and a few shots at goal due to a late flurry in the wet but the Demons were the stronger side on the night.

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    THE GRAND PLAN by KC from Casey

    The Casey Demons braved a tough afternoon in front of a hostile crowd and in mainly inclement weather to win a hard fought battle by 8 points against Essendon VFL at Stannards Stadium, Port Melbourne on Saturday to advance to their second grand final in three years.   Over the course of the afternoon, players and spectators alike experienced sunshine, gloomy overcast skies, gusty winds and pouring rain; conditions that suited the Demons as their hard-bodied experienced relished the intensity of finals pressure.   Casey went into the game with two changes that added to the team’s depth - experienced campaigners Bernie Vince (back from an AC joint issue) and Jay Kennedy Harris gave them a list of 12 current AFL players. They again left out Mitch King and went with an undersized ruck combination that served them well given the conditions despite being well beaten on the day in tap out numbers.   The Demons opened strongly with Jeff Garlett’s mark and goal against the wind but the Bombers fought back as the lead seesawed for much of the opening term and Casey held the narrowest of leads at quarter time.  The Bombers nudged in front immediately after the break but the Dees gained the ascendency to lead by 11 points after Mitch Gent’s goal at the 20 minute mark of the second term. The margin would have been greater but for poor kicking for goal.    It was at that point that Essendon fought its way back into the game with two goals against the wind to allow them to go into the sheds at the half time break with the teams locked together at 39 points each. On the other side of the main break, with the rain pouring, it was the Bombers who took advantage of the wet weather conditions. They were quicker to the fall of the ball and manufactured two goals, one off the ground in the first minute and dominated the first 20 minutes of the term until Cam Pedersen stepped to turn the tide in as he has often done this season.   With his team trailing by 13 points, having been led to the ball and outplayed on both sides of half time, Pedersen hauled in a huge mark in front and converted. Moments later, Garlett screwed one through over his shoulder and suddenly, it was game on again. A lapse at a boundary throw in gave the unattended Bomber ruckman a free shot a goal but that was cancelled out when Pedersen was freed in front of goal after an Essendon defender’s brain fade in running through a deliberate point. The margin was a solitary point in favour of the Bombers at the final break.   With the wind at their backs, it was the experienced Demons who led the team home with their persistence and strong tackling.  First it was Jimmy Munro who kicked truly just 37 seconds into the final term to restore the lead which Casey held onto for the remainder of the game. They pushed forward time after time, inspired by veteran Bernie Vince who finished with 22 possessions, 13 of them contested. Pedersen was indefatigable In the ruck against taller opponents and Munro, with  21 tackles to match his disposal count, was simply magnificent in the hard slog. Tom Bugg and Jay Kennedy Harris were strong while Joel Smith defended stoutly and his goal saving smother when the Bombers threatened was a highlight. The Wagner brothers, Corey and Josh belied their northern state origins and were important players and handled the ball well in the greasy conditions. Garlett booted his third as time on ticked by to give his team a game high lead of 14 points before a late Bomber goal saw the siren sound moments later with Casey home by a margin of eight points.    Peter Jackson VFL Coach of the Year, Jade Rawlings worked hard to vindicate the decision of the selection committee and lead his charges into the VFL grand final next Sunday at Etihad Stadium. In his time as a player and coach, he has never experienced premiership success but if things go according to plan, that will all change in seven day’s time.   Peter Jackson VFL 2018   Casey Demons 3.4  5.9  8.10.58 10.13.73   Essendon VFL 3.3  6.3.39 9.5.59 10.5.65   Goals   Casey Demons Garlett 3 Pedersen 2 Gent  Lefau Munro Vince C Wagner    Essendon VFL Lazzaro 2 Clarke Draper Heppell Hind Hocking Merrett  Stewart Younan      Best  
      
    Casey Demons C Wagner Munro Kennedy Harris Vince Bugg Garlett   Essendon VFL Clarke Ridley Lazzaro Mutch Long Heppell   Statistics     Tomas Bugg 14 kicks 8 handballs 22 disposals 2 marks 9 tackles 98 dream team points
    William Collis 3 kicks 1 handball 4 disposals 1 mark 5 tackles 28 dream team points
    Tom Freeman 5 kicks 1 handball 6 disposals 2 marks 5 tackles 25 dream team points
    Jeffrey Garlett 3 goals 8 kicks 3 handballs 11 disposals 3 marks 1 tackles 62 dream team points
    Mitch Gent 1 goal 1 behind 10 kicks 3 handballs 13 disposals 3 marks 1 tackle 50 dream team points
    Jayden Hunt 12 kicks 2 handballs 14 disposals 2 marks 10 tackles 83 dream team points
    Jack Hutchins 2 tackles 9 dream team points
    Dion Johnstone 4 kick s 2 handballs 6 disposals 5  tackles 33 dream team points
    Declan Keilty 3 kicks 1 handball 4 disposals 2 tackles 19 dream team points
    Jay Kennedy Harris 1 behind 10 kicks 10 handballs 20 disposals 1 mark 11 tackles 94 dream team points
    Mykelti Lefau 1 goal 3 kicks 2 handballs 5 disposals 2 marks 6 tackles 9 hit outs 58 dream team points
    Jay Lockhart 2 behinds 9 kicks 7 handballs 16 disposals 1 mark 6 tackles 64 dream team points
    Cory Machaya 1 behind 4 kicks 7 handballs 11 disposals 1 mark 4 tackles 48 dream team points
    James Munro 1 goal 3 behinds 15 kicks 6 handballs 21 disposals 21 tackles 151 dream team points
    Cameron Pedersen 2 goals 6 kicks 5 handballs 11 disposals 5 marks 10 tackles 31 hit outs 121 dream team points
    Harry Petty 7 kicks 7 disposals 4 marks 3 tackles 33 dream team points
    Joel Smith 6 kicks 6 disposals 4 marks 8 tackles 62 dream team points
    Tim Smith 2 behinds 8 kicks 8 handballs 16 disposals 3 marks 4 tackles 8 hit outs 72 dream team points
    Cory Stockdale 4 kicks 1 handball 5 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 21 dream team points
    Bernie Vince 1 goals 15 kicks 7 handballs 22 disposals 2 marks 2 tackles 76 dream team points
    Corey Wagner 1 goals 14 kicks 6 handballs 20 disposals 12 tackles 105 dream team points
    Josh Wagner 18 kicks 5 handballs 23 disposals 4 marks 5 tackles 92 dream team points
    Mitch White 10 kicks 2 handballs 12 disposals 2 marks 4 tackles 54 dream team points 

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