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CHOKERS by George On The Outer

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There it was ... the chance to cement a spot in the Finals for 2018. The BCNA ladies had shown the way with their own courage in the face of adversity, and came out in their thousands to show they cared. Hawthorn had removed Geelong from the equation for us. Shortly after the start, the Bulldogs put North out of reach from us as well. All we needed to do was beat Sydney and the Demons were to experience September action ... and they choked!

They choked in front of goal in the first quarter kicking 2 goals 6 to 1.1 for the Swans. Most from set shots, and like we should have learned from other gettable games during the year, you nail those opportunities, and the game is over. But we choked.

We choked even further in front of goal in the 2nd term kicking 1 goal 6, to allow Sydney to stay in the game. It is something you cannot do given the older experienced heads that they have.

And it came when they piled on 6 straight goals in 15 minutes. By now the Demons were well and truly choking, as they watched their finals chances fade away ... surely the story couldn’t finish the same way as it did in 2017?

And all of this was happening while Sydney were 2 down on the interchange after losing Johnson to another knee injury and Smith as well for the game. It didn’t get much better in the 3rd and by the final change Melbourne were nearly 5 goals in arrears. But they managed to stage a sort of come-back and within 15 minutes of the final siren were barely 2 kicks behind. All that was needed was someone to stand up and take command. All that was needed was for someone to take on the responsibility of finishing the work of others.

Instead Melbourne continued to try to pass the ball off, and missed even the simplest of kicks. And again they choked.

Chance after chance was fluffed, fumbled, or straight out given directly to Sydney opponents. ANB and Jones with 8 and 7 clangers for the game set the stage. All that was needed was the Benny Hill music to be played over the MCG speakers to complete the scene. In the end the Demons went down by 9 points.

Another game that should have been won and wasn’t. How costly those chokes we will find in the next 2 weeks. The pity about the loss is that once again it demonstrated the gulf that exists between our bottom 6 players or so, and the rest of the side.

We have shuttled players back and forth through Casey, and while they show plenty in the VFL competition, they cannot perform on the big stage. Today Garlett had 3 kicks for the game and zero tackles! Without forward pressure, the ball rebounds down the other end too quickly and he provided nothing for the team. Jayden Hunt, brought back in to provide run and carry on his first game back from Casey managed only 10 touches. A late injury will probably mean he will avoid the ignominy of being dropped next week.

Charlie Spargo also only 10 touches and unfortunately has to provide something special when as small as he is. Maybe he has a future in the middle, but that won’t be this year. Cam Pedersen fought his way back from Casey, and took a couple of good marks, but then failed to finish the work with 4 clangers from his 10 touches.

With Melksham and Hibberd back next week and Bugg, Kent and Hannan showing something at Casey, there are almost easy changes.

In contrast the backs were fantastic. Frost completely “owned” Franklin and used his superior pace to provide run and chances from the backline in the absence of others. Oscar was unbeaten the whole day, and Neville provided his usual stoic surety, despite being cleaned up again. Surely he is the most battered of our players at the moment, and it is a credit to him that he fronts up each week.

Salem was reliable with his kicking, but is sometimes too unselfish. Just go for goals when inside 50 ... you are the best kick in the side!

The mids fought a classic battle with the Sydney opposition. Tellingly, 4 of the 6 goals that Sydney scored in the 2nd quarter happened while Brayshaw was off the ground for 10 minutes. Pity was that the umpires failed to reward HTB decisions and one umpire in particular paid a solitary free to Melbourne in the whole match.

But then Sydney are masters at holding the ball in and making it look like they are trying to get it out.

Oliver was magnificent again to top the disposals, with Brayshaw not far behind. Harmes held Kennedy for most of the game but Kennedy just started to get the better in the second half. Still 26 touches off his own bat was a fine effort. The wingers in Tyson and Jones, despite lots of touches themselves, simply had no defensive side. Hannebury, Newman and Heeney were allowed to run free and they did much more damage with their possessions.

The Melbourne forwards were crucified by their own players. After the 1st quarter Tom McDonald was finally moved onto Aliir Aliir to stop his aerial dominance caused by Melbourne players kicking the ball to his area. Of all the players he was the one not to kick it to, but we did. The delivery was simply shocking. It was bad enough seeing plenty of the high balls coming in, but worse was the inaccuracy giving Hogan and McDonald little chance time and time again. The forwards had good reason to choke on that sort of service.

vandenBerg popped up for 3 majors and it was good to see him get some reward for his work this week. He can only get better, and will be given the chance in the next 2 weeks.

Hogan unfortunately is playing injured, and his condition isn’t helped by the rubbish coming his way, when the ball gets set on top of his head or out wide or he has to double back.

We are now a game and % above 9th spot. We must win 1 more game to get into the Finals action. Other results have set it up for us. Next week we face West coast in Perth. We won’t get any help from the umpires, and probably a handicap from them, given the history of their home ground advantage for frees. But they are without Natinui, Gaff and Kennedy. Yet they beat Port without them this week.

Once again it is ALL up to us. Will we do it, or choke yet again?

Melbourne 2.6.18 3.12.30 7.14.56 10.18.78

Sydney 1.1.7 7.2.44 13.6.84 13.9.87

Goals

Melbourne vandenBerg 3 T McDonald 2 Garlett Hogan Jones Pedersen Petracca

Sydney Papley 3 Franklin Heeney 2 Cunningham Dawson Hannebery Hayward Kennedy McCartin

Best

Melbourne Brayshaw Tyson Harmes Oliver Salem Frost

Sydney Lloyd Heeney Newman Aliir Franklin Kennedy Hewett

Injuries

Melbourne Hunt (ankle), Jetta (nose), Hogan (foot)

Sydney Johnson (knee) Smith (back)

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Sydney Nil

Umpires Dalgleish, Nicholls, Fleer

Official crowd 51,424 at the MCG

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