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TGR

Must address in pre-season

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1.  Goodwin does not rate leg-speed enough.  This must change.  We have an over-supply of one-paced tractors.  Hunt, Garlett and Frost were stamped for Casey until he had his hand forced with the latter.  Our wings yesterday were Tyson and Jones FCS.  Wingmen surely must be able to cover the ground.  Also Lewis as our +1 in defence slows an already sluggish team.

2. Due in some small part to factor 1, WE DONT SWITCH EVER.  We predictably kick down the line hoping that Gawn will bring it to ground.  With Frost and Hibberd back we should be switching at least to keep the opposition guessing, and forcing their attack to hang back and leave more room for our mids.

3. We can’t play tempo at all.  As Roos says, we are 100% ballistic.  We are nervous when we need to control the pill.  The Hawthorn last quarter proved this beyond doubt.

 

 

Yes, it was a gettable flag, but we have cracks under the wallpaper to patch.  A credit to our players for doing so well despite this.

 

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Don't disagree on point 1 but Garlett and Hunt reinforced in todays VFL GF that they are way off being the answer. Its a shame neither Stretch nor Kent couldn't get an injury free run second half of the year. 

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If anyone said we would make a prelim at the start of the year and lose to WC in Perth you would have taken that in a heart beat not withstanding the loss was a poor way to go out.  

Our best players are all under 24 and continue to get better every year. Oliver and Brayshaw are absolute stars.    We have the best ruckman in the comp and our most important player (Viney) and new gun recruit (Lever) missed the majority of the season.

No big changes needed.  

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3 minutes ago, TGR said:

1.  Goodwin does not rate leg-speed enough.  This must change.  We have an over-supply of one-paced tractors.  Hunt, Garlett and Frost were stamped for Casey until he had his hand forced with the latter.  Our wings yesterday were Tyson and Jones FCS.  Wingmen surely must be able to cover the ground.  Also Lewis as our +1 in defence slows an already sluggish team.

2. Due in some small part to factor 1, WE DONT SWITCH EVER.  We predictably kick down the line hoping that Gawn will bring it to ground.  With Frost and Hibberd back we should be switching at least to keep the opposition guessing, and forcing their attack to hang back and leave more room for our mids.

3. We can’t play tempo at all.  As Roos says, we are 100% ballistic.  We are nervous when we need to control the pill.  The Hawthorn last quarter proved this beyond doubt.

 

 

Yes, it was a gettable flag, but we have cracks under the wallpaper to patch.  A credit to our players for doing so well despite this.

 

Sounds like you're still tired and emotional @TGR

I agree with the sentiment on point one, and completely disagree on the latter two points.

Point 1... If Stretch wasn't injured, I'd dare say he'd be the winger. Tyson I feel was insurance for the contested ball as well, and yes he's not a winger. 

Point 2 - Watch the Geelong and Hawthorn game... the team constantly goes on little 45 kick forays to open up space...this happens week in week out...  If you mean switching RIGHT across the ground... we do it from time to time, but remember - our game style did get us to a prelim...so for what purpose does bringing in more switching mean? Part of our success has been able to get the pill to our players relatively straight in front...and the system seems to be about doing it more so from the centre of the ground, rather than within 60 metres and centering it.

Point 3 - Watch how we iced games after the Geelong loss....particularly the Geelong and Hawthorn final... the last 10-12 minutes of each game was ALL about tempo football.

 

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All 3 points are valid. The player that melbourne most needs is a fast midfielder or 2. And we look to be chasing May ?????? Jordan Lewis lost me yesterday. He played like a bloke who didn't want to play another game for the year.

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21 minutes ago, dl4e said:

All 3 points are valid. The player that melbourne most needs is a fast midfielder or 2. And we look to be chasing May ?????? Jordan Lewis lost me yesterday. He played like a bloke who didn't want to play another game for the year.

We need a decent chop out for Gawn also. He gets shagged out at seasons end and if he goes down there’s no reasonable replacement. No way to plan to win a flag with a tired ruckman or no replacement. 

Edited by america de cali
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I'm not convinced we never switch, I think we do ok in that regard but it comes when our backline is on top so are actually driving the ball out. If the backline are under the pump they lose their confidence.

Fritsch and Vanders on the wings would actually be switching weapons. Both really good size and strong in the air. You'd look up at half back and back them in to win it if you kicked to advantage. Adding another wing is certainly a priority so we have depth and quality.

Tyson and Jones are getting the games because they cover the ground in an endurance fashion. It's endurance that our mids need. Certainly pace is required too but we need that hard gut running. You can't just throw a fast guy on the wing, they need the tank.

Viney, Oliver and Gus getting fitter to spread out for the switches would help.

It's:
1. Wing
2. Proper small forwards - I like Spargo but he's a flanker, similarly ANB is a midfield connector type, not a forward. Hannan if anything is a flanker, he doesn't have the right speed/agility tackling mix
3. Key defensive upgrades if possible
4. A skilled back flanker to replace Lewis
5. Ruck depth to ease the load for Max

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2 minutes ago, DeeSpencer said:

I'm not convinced we never switch, I think we do ok in that regard but it comes when our backline is on top so are actually driving the ball out. If the backline are under the pump they lose their confidence.

Fritsch and Vanders on the wings would actually be switching weapons. Both really good size and strong in the air. You'd look up at half back and back them in to win it if you kicked to advantage. Adding another wing is certainly a priority so we have depth and quality.

Tyson and Jones are getting the games because they cover the ground in an endurance fashion. It's endurance that our mids need. Certainly pace is required too but we need that hard gut running. You can't just throw a fast guy on the wing, they need the tank.

Viney, Oliver and Gus getting fitter to spread out for the switches would help.

It's:
1. Wing
2. Proper small forwards - I like Spargo but he's a flanker, similarly ANB is a midfield connector type, not a forward. Hannan if anything is a flanker, he doesn't have the right speed/agility tackling mix
3. Key defensive upgrades if possible
4. A skilled back flanker to replace Lewis
5. Ruck depth to ease the load for Max

What’s the use of having endurance players who are permanently chasing 5 metres behind their opponent, getting caught with the ball and lay only one tackle between them? It was obvious Tyson and Jones were an identified liability against the WC outside run. 

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Just now, america de cali said:

What’s the use of having endurance players who are permanently chasing 5 metres behind their opponent, getting caught with the ball and lay only one tackle between them? It was obvious Tyson and Jones were an identified liability against the WC outside run. 

I'm not saying they are good, just they are (possibly) the better option than having guys who fatigue and are then completely useless.

Vanders, Tyson and Jones got the job done because our inside mids won against the Hawks and Cats.

The Eagles outside mids are Masten, Sheed and Redden. None of them are speedsters. Yeo, Shuey and Hutchings won it on the inside, that's what killed us. Plus the Eagles forwards got real pressure on when our forwards couldn't, and the Eagles half forwards kept bobbing up in to space where our half forwards ran in to each other.

If we had proper wingmen we could've extended the game out more and worked away from the contest, so it's certainly a needs area, but we went with the midfield that was doing the job when play A - win the ball in tight worked.

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28 minutes ago, Danelska said:

 If you mean switching RIGHT across the ground... we do it from time to time, but remember - our game style did get us to a prelim...so for what purpose does bringing in more switching mean?

It makes teams work harder to defend instead of sitting down the line.  A bit of extra fatigue to open up hole and also deny teams the ball when they get a run on.

We didn't do this at all early yesterday when WC got a run on.  

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Definitely agree on point 1. We need some wings with pace. Fritsch, Stretch and Hunt are probably the only current options on the list. Must go to the draft on this. A quick small forward is also essential in this trade/draft period

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I feel confident that it is not so much a case of having cracks under wallpaper, simply because the coaches would be fully aware of what we need to add. This isn't an 'oops we forgot to sort that out' moment, it is just time to get that next step done.

Will be interesting to see how Spargo, Hannan, Fritsch and Stretch progress next year. Even if they aren't outright speedy, they certainly aren't one-paced plodders.

With the half-dozen places likely to open on our list, and a draft that seems to me (only on reading, no claims to real knowledge) to have a great many speedy smalls, the 2018 draft might just be Jason Taylor's personal Grand Final.

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I disagree completely with your first two points. I just think that you are flat out wrong on them.

Goodwin certainly rates speed highly and this has been shown in selection and also in recruiting. 

Early in the season Tyson was in the VFL and had to fight his way back because he didn't like the balance of the team. Late in the season he brought in J Smith because of his excellent pace. He picked and brought back Hannan because of his pace, despite his ordinary form. He kept Jeffy and Hunt longer than he should have. He had shown that he is willing to drop class (Tyson, Fritsch) for peace and competitiveness.

He likes pace not so much for the ability to win the ball out wide and run the footy like it's the WAFL, but because speed creates contests, which allows our contested guys to go to work. That's why he didn't pick Frost, because he didn't trust him to make a contest. That's also why Jeffy and Hunt didn't play .... because they couldn't be trusted to make enough contests. 

Our game is about creating and winning contests. So we pick competitors and guys with pace. Lever's absence but us significantly in defence because he had pace and makes contests.

You're looking at a group of players that missed and seeing 'players with pace', but you're not labelling then directly. You should be looking at them as 'players who don't consistently make contests'.

Also, your view of wingmen is very outdated. Wingmen aren't what they used to be. They're just midfielders that don't start in the centre bounce nowadays. 

Edited by Axis of Bob
Saw the wrong "you're". Hmphh.
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Agree mostly with all 3, although on 2 our game plan calls for centering / switching and we do it most if the time until we're under pressure, and then we stop

For the how, i think we need to

1. SPEED

- Identify our current speed, and play them in appropriate positions

- BRING IN SPEED

2 & 3 KICKING

- Get some really good kickers (a la Hawthorn of past 10 years), if you look at our mids/flankers tell me who are the elite kickers? Who don't you worry about when they're kicking on the 45 degrees to attack? I don't think we have any elite (a few good ones) but mostly average kickers

- Lift focus on kicking precision - it's a learned skill and our good kickers can improve a bit, and the average ones a lot

 

Our recruitment has been great for hard ball getters, I'm not criticising this at all because it was desperately needed and got us to this years result but next steps are outside speed and precision

I reckon we have 8 spots available on the list due to these outs...

Retired 2: Balic and Vince

Delist/Trade 4 (uncontracted): Bugg, Johnstone, One of (King, Filipovic), One of (Pederson, T. Smith)

Trade 2 or 3 (contracted): Garlett, One or Two of (Tyson, Hunt, Kent, .... others?)

 

This means we need to re-sign:

AvB, JKH, Keilty, McKenna, Two others (e.g. King, Pederson)

 

Big task for the list managers without much in the way of picks... In fact I've probably gone overs calling for 8 changes (??)

Edited by Graeme Yeats' Mullet
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1 minute ago, Axis of Bob said:

Also, your view of wingmen is very outdated. Wingmen aren't what they used to be. They're just midfielders that don't start in the centre bounce nowadays. 

Would have agreed on this 2-3 years ago. However I think the role of the hard running wingman who pushes hard back and creates the central connection and then dashes forward as an option is back in vogue. If it was just another mid then wouldn't Tyson and Jones be able to play the role close to as aptly to how they play in the pivot? We desperately need to develop them on our list (Stretch, Baker, Hannan, Fritsch, Kent) or go and bring some in. 

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28 minutes ago, DeeSpencer said:

1. Wing
2. Proper small forwards - I like Spargo but he's a flanker, similarly ANB is a midfield connector type, not a forward. Hannan if anything is a flanker, he doesn't have the right speed/agility tackling mix
3. Key defensive upgrades if possible
4. A skilled back flanker to replace Lewis
5. Ruck depth to ease the load for Max

Nailed it.

At Casey today it was never more evident of the serious need for a backup ruckman. Pittonet had 55 hit outs and Box Hill 80 to our 22,  resulting in winning clearances and giving mids an armchair ride. Pederson and Smith are not ruckmen. If Preuss wants to come to Melbourne then get him. I suspect King and Filipovic won't stay on

I feel the need for speed. West Coast and Pies have blistering speed and run.

We were 1 tall short yesterday in finals conditions as WC marked everything

Jones on one wing and Tyson on the other with Lewis down back leaves us susceptible to pace and teams that switch quickly out of defence

It is a great effort to get to the prelim but to improve and maintain momentum there are lots of gaps open.

It will be interesting exit interviews this week 

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Just now, big_red_fire_engine said:

Would have agreed on this 2-3 years ago. However I think the role of the hard running wingman who pushes hard back and creates the central connection and then dashes forward as an option is back in vogue. 

A few things.

Firstly this is the role of the half forwards now. The midfielders are now around the footy in defence and that's why we have guys like Hannan, Melksham and Petracca forward of the footy to link up with pace in transition.

Secondly, you can talk about the mix of midfielders but the wings are just past of that equation. 

The leading uncontested player in the ground yesterday easy Redden, who couldn't pull skin off custard. Then Duggan at hair back, Dom Shred (who may be slower than Redden!) and Cripps, who is a half forward.

Or game is about winning contested footy. If you get well beaten in the staple of your game then you're always going to look slow 

We have slow players, but the idea that Goodwin doesn't rate and value speed is just nonsensical.

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49 minutes ago, DeeSpencer said:

I'm not convinced we never switch, I think we do ok in that regard but it comes when our backline is on top so are actually driving the ball out. If the backline are under the pump they lose their confidence.

Fritsch and Vanders on the wings would actually be switching weapons. Both really good size and strong in the air. You'd look up at half back and back them in to win it if you kicked to advantage. Adding another wing is certainly a priority so we have depth and quality.

Tyson and Jones are getting the games because they cover the ground in an endurance fashion. It's endurance that our mids need. Certainly pace is required too but we need that hard gut running. You can't just throw a fast guy on the wing, they need the tank.

Viney, Oliver and Gus getting fitter to spread out for the switches would help.

Time that our supporters started judging us as a team, and players as individuals, against the quality fit teams in harsh environments.

 

How many switches v. Richmond?  None.

How many switches v. West Coast yesterday? None that I remember, but I was sitting on level 5.

 

How many v. Collingwood? None or 1???

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Wings of Baker and Stretch, plus one additional fast outside mid with kicking skills

at least one, if not two, xfactor small forwards

at least 1, if not 2, relief rucks (Bradtke as one of these?)

2 understudy midfielders for injury cover

petty to develop, lever back in.

on the block: king, flipper, McKenna, Bugg, Pedo, 

at high risk (trade or exit):  Tim Smith, JKH, Tyson, Johnson (can he be nev understudy?), Kielty (will need to debut next year)

serious conversations : Lewis and Jones.  

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, Axis of Bob said:

A few things.

Firstly this is the role of the half forwards now. The midfielders are now around the footy in defence and that's why we have guys like Hannan, Melksham and Petracca forward of the footy to link up with pace in transition.

Secondly, you can talk about the mix of midfielders but the wings are just past of that equation. 

The leading uncontested player in the ground yesterday easy Redden, who couldn't pull skin off custard. Then Duggan at hair back, Dom Shred (who may be slower than Redden!) and Cripps, who is a half forward.

Or game is about winning contested footy. If you get well beaten in the staple of your game then you're always going to look slow 

We have slow players, but the idea that Goodwin doesn't rate and value speed is just nonsensical.

You don't seem to have answered my query rather answer ones that I didn't even pose. Your wings don't need to be quick but they need to be able to run hard and carry well. The option to be quick is a bonus but not if you cant repeat run or if you turn it over on connection. Think Sidebottom and Gaff (the 2 All Australian wingman), neither are fast but run themselves into the ground and still connect with quality. You have confirmed though that midfielders who play in the middle also need to get uncontested ball and started to get that right balance over the last 6 weeks but clearly not yesterday. 

Note I am not saying that Goodwin doesn't rate speed. I just don't think it has been a priority over the contest and he has not had reasonable ones without flaws at his disposal.

 

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17 minutes ago, Older demon said:

I believe I read today that Tim Smith has been offered a 1 year contract that is yet to be announced

Apparently he had poor pre-season preparation due to injury which meant 2018 was always a behind the 8 ball year.  He does need to get his shite together though, hopefully he turns into a Mihocek, stops playing the list clogger role.

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I agree we need to add more pace but let’s not over correct on this. Leg speed is great to have but I think equally important is fine tuning and executing our game plan better. Speed of ball movement is just as important and the fastest way to move the ball will always be this way with the odd run and carry.

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45 minutes ago, TGR said:

Time that our supporters started judging us as a team, and players as individuals, against the quality fit teams in harsh environments.

 

How many switches v. Richmond?  None.

How many switches v. West Coast yesterday? None that I remember, but I was sitting on level 5.

 

How many v. Collingwood? None or 1???

Whilst I agree you have to judge teams against the best sides I think it's fair to count the finals wins against Geelong and Hawthorn and not just the games we lost. 

Switching or no switching we moved the ball very well against the Eagles and Giants late in the year, and against the Cats (first quarter and all game out of the backline) and the Hawks.

Our ball movement was good when the midfield held up. The 3 biggest losses for the year (Hawks, Pies, Eagles) were all midfield beltings. We have to improve the outside personnel, I'm in agreement there, but that can be true and it can also be true that we did about as well as we could've done this year trying to maximise our inside midfield power and midfield running.

Also look across the competition at the wingers in the best sides:
Eagles - Masten, Sheed, Redden
Coll - Mayne, Phillips
Rich - Grigg, McIntosh, Graham
Hawks - Smith, Henderson

It's big body endurance runners, only one of which is Smith is super quick and not many who are very skilled. And even Smith would rotate to half forward or half back to find more space.

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We no longer need to go into raptures about young draftees stepping up to the plate for round one because that simply isn’t going to happen. The younger recruits will all be given plenty of time. However, there are three (perhaps four if you add former Collingwood VFL player Marty Hore) ready-made potential additions to the team who have arrived from other clubs to add strength to Melbourne’s 2019 campaign. The added depth will certainly put pressure on the veterans like Jones and Jordan Lewis - that sort of pressure being another plus for teams that want to go places in this tough competition.  The addition of another club’s captain to your list is something that doesn’t happen often so my first observation is that Steven May from the Suns looms as a significant addition to the ranks. That was made clear from my first sighting of him on the track - he cuts a very imposing figure out on the ground and one can’t escape the feeling that his move to Melbourne is one that will be a great one for his career and for the club. Imagine him and Jake Lever as additions to the defensive structure of the side that took part in last year’s finals. Imagine another revitalised former Sun in Kade Kolodjashnij and a fit and re-energised Jayden Hunt and/or Billy Stretch added to that mix tearing down the flanks or the wings. At 206 cm and 109 kg Braydon Preuss is a big man and it’s hard to reconcile why North Melbourne let him go. True, Todd Goldstein had a good season last year and Ben Brown and Majak Daw (before his tragic issues) were considered adequate pinch hitters in the ruck but Preuss is a monster who promises to provide major headaches to opposing clubs that struggle now to counter Max Gawn. With the new rules coming in this season, pity their ruck divisions at centre bounces and pity the defences having to counter resting talls.  Speaking of pity, I want to go back to the rehab group for a moment and talk Jack Viney who set the tone for the rest of the players in this group with his steely determination and toughness. Back in the day, it was generally considered that being on the injured list gave players the opportunity to slack off a bit at training. Pity anyone with that view when Jack Viney’s around! Late in the session, he was doing repetitions around the boundary with Brayshaw and Lever and he attacked them with brutality. It was understandable that he was able to beat off the latter but, by the end, he had Angus gasping in his wake. Viney was restricted to only 10 of a possible 25 games due to those nagging foot injuries and was rarely able to play at his best when he was on the field. On that basis, you could almost consider a fully recovered Viney as a “recruit” in 2019. The other players who impressed at training were 2018’s big improver James Harmes and the youngster who could take that improver’s mantle, Bayley Fritsch who seems to be relishing his first full AFL pre season.  Then there’s Christian Petracca. I’m looking for him to really break out this year. Imagine that!

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    THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS by Whispering Jack

    Melbourne atoned for the heartbreak of its frustrating finish to the 2017 season by, at long last, making the finals and then disposed of two highly credentialed and experienced teams in Geelong and Hawthorn before it capitulated meekly to eventual premier West Coast in the Preliminary Final in Perth. The club’s progression has been forward and upward since it finished 2013 with two wins and appointed Paul Roos as coach. The number has increased to four, seven, 10, 12, and now 14 games. The Demons made the finals for the first time in a dozen years and are now tracking for their first premiership in five and a half decades.
     
    In the women’s game, the club’s second season of AFLW competition was dogged throughout by inaccuracy in front of goal causing it to again just miss out on grand final honours finishing third after losing 4.7.31 to 5.3.33 to rivals and eventual premiers, the Western Bulldogs in the final round. The Demons were well led by Daisy Pearce and had a star player in  Karen Paxman. They will miss their skipper Pearce, who will be out of the forthcoming season on maternity leave - a first for the womens competition. The Demons started their men’s campaign with a win in their section of the novelty AFLX competition, then won their two JLT  Community Series games against North Melbourne in Hobart and St Kilda at Casey Fields, the latter in unconvincing fashion after building a big lead early.  The opening round AFL match against Geelong resulted in a disappointing loss after a missed shot from Max Gawn in the final thirty seconds ceded a 3 point loss. The club won its next two matches, again unconvincingly although their round 3 win against North Melbourne broke a long run of defeats going back over more than a decade. A poor game against Hawthorn and a final term collapse on Anzac Day Eve against the Tigers had Melbourne down with a 2 - 3 record.  The revival began against Essendon and continued over the ensuing weeks as the Demons stretched their winning run to six games culminating with big wins against Carlton and Adelaide at Alice Springs and a solid victory over the Bulldogs. At the halfway mark of the season they were challenging for a top four spot on 8 wins and 3 defeats. The improvement had come from the return of injured pair Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw, the dominance of Max Gawn in the ruck and the strong form of Clayton Oliver and the young midfield. Jesse Hogan was consistently in the goals. Jake Lever who had taken a while to get his bearings but was solid during the six game winning spree sustained an ACL injury in round 11 and it took a while for the defence to recover from his loss, regroup and consolidate. In the interim, the experimentation in this area was partly the reason for a poor month that saw a  three-game losing streak including a disappointing loss to lowly St. Kilda. Earlier defeats to Collingwood on Queens Birthday and away to Port Adelaide might have been expected but the  loss to the Saints hit hard and possibly cost the team the coveted double chance.  Melbourne might have lost its star recruit, Lever, in midseason but the club did unearth two young players in Bailey Fritsch and Charlie Spargo who were both drafted in the 30s and established themselves as regulars for much of the year although they understandably ran out of steam a little at the end of the season. The Demons regrouped after the slump. The back line steadied when Sam Frost returned to help the improving Oscar McDonald in a key defensive role but, after returning to the winning list against the Dockers in Darwin and the Bulldogs at the MCG, they suffered some disappointing losses involving an after-the-siren goal to Zach Tuohy in the return game against Geelong and a home upset against   Sydney after some shocking inaccuracy in the first quarter and a half kept the Swans in the game. The injuries were mounting and the loss of Hogan at that point in time appeared devastating to a team that had yet to record a win against a top eight side. All that changed dramatically over the next four games starting with the Eagles in Perth and followed with a big win over the Giants that saw Melbourne finish in fifth place with a percentage of 131%. Then followed the emotion of a return to finals football and sound victories against seasoned playoff teams in Geelong and Hawthorn in front of crowds that gave majority support to the perennial underdog buoyed by the return from injury of co-skipper Jack Viney and the emergence at last of young key forward Sam Weideman who more than amply filled Hogan’s shoes.  Not for the first time in the modern history of the club, the wall was hit out west. The Demons looked spent in the early moments of their preliminary final in Perth against West Coast and much like last year’s lapse at the final hurdle against Collingwood, this one game is likely to inhabit the players’ collective memory over the summer and into the new season. Many players excelled and grew in 2018 and the depth of the club revealed itself when injuries struck. Max Gawn won the ‘Bluey’ Truscott’ medal and led an emerging midfield including the co-skippers Nathan Jones and Viney, a resurgent Angus Brayshaw (3rd in the Brownlow), Christian Petracca and Christian Salem and the incredibly improved James Harmes who stepped up several levels in the course of a season. The forward line was the best in the competition as many avenues were opened up to goals, breaking down only in that last final. The disappointment of that performance will surely act as a spur for even further improvement in 2019. That improvement is expected to come from a defence bolstered by the recruitment of former Gold Coast skipper Steven May and the expected return of Jake Lever in the first month or so of the season. They join some solid performers in defence including Michael Hibberd and the indefatigable Neville Jetta - a star both on and off the field. The Demons also picked up a handy defender from the Suns in Kade Kolodjashnij and a big ruck back up for All-Australian ruckman Gawn in Braydon Preuss. The club drafted a bevy of youngsters who will all take time to develop at Casey. Melbourne farewelled Jesse Hogan, Dom Tyson and Dean Kent to other clubs via trades and Tom Bugg found a new home through the draft. Former club champion Bernie Vince retired late in the season after a meritorious 100 game career at his second club. Vince will not be entirely lost to the Demons as he has returned to the club in a part-time leadership and ambassadorial role for 2019.  The loss that will hurt deeply is that of retiring CEO Peter Jackson who has overseen the six year progression from a team that won only two games in 2013 to become a preliminary finalist in 2018. Gary Pert has stepped into the breach to finish the task of leading the club to the promised land and a premiership.

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    DRAFT STORY: THE BYSTANDERS by Whispering Jack

    It was an eerie feeling, like floating on air high above the events taking place on the ground below. This was the New Draft, a two day festival of little importance to Melbourne supporters on the first night and seemingly, of little consequence on the following day. It was as if we were the bystanders of the 2018 AFL National Draft. From the time the Demons traded away their first round selection in this year’s event as part of the deal to secure Jake Lever more than 12 months ago, it was always likely to turn out this way. A little over a month ago, the club held picks 36, 46, 54, 62 and 65 which, once transposed into a world of potential priority picks and father-son and academy bidders, meant that its first choice would be pushing close to a pick near number fifty. It was akin to leaving you standing three city blocks away from Marvel Stadium and well outside the Jack Lukosious zone in draft night calculations. Even when the trades improved things somewhat marginally to a starting point of 23 and 28 (eventually 27 and 33), it meant you had just moved from William Street to King Street but the entrance to the venue was still on the distant horizon. It was probably just as well that we were that far away because opening night was excruciatingly painful, producing a clumsy and almost unwatchable production compared with the American counterparts in the NFL and NBA which it shamelessly sought to emulate. Gillon McLachlan produced a fitting highlight when he pounced onto centre stage only to discover he had nothing to announce despite the sounding of all the bells and whistles but for us - nothing. Not even the prospect of a live trade managed to keep us in the game.  When the show was over, Sam Walsh, the precocious Croweaters, the King brothers (we drafted the wrong big Max King a few years ago) and a bevy of others were gone. The Swans pulled a swifty trade to get a great deal for their next academy sensation and the Blues did nicely to steal the 2018 Morrish Medallist from the Tigers. Those who were previously uninformed of the new format were left baffled and confused that the Demons weren’t selecting on the night. By the rising of the sun on day two, we were virtually on the promenade at Marvel Stadium, hoping for a little action now that we were a matter of a few picks away from pole position. The AFL had sneakily changed the starting time from 10.00am to noon but even then we were hardly bashing down the doors to get in despite the dreary conditions outside. But when the draft restarted, we somehow remained the bystanders. The months (and for some, the years) of following potential draftees, the national championships, junior competitions, TAC Cup finals, draft combines, phantom drafts, power rankings, teams of the year and the late speculation all flashed past our eyes to produce ... on the face of it ... not a great deal. On top of that, there were no bolters, no All-Australian sliders who somehow mysteriously drifted into our laps, nor even any players finding their way to us from a list of so-called hidden gems” that was floating about. In the end, Melbourne took an inside midfielder in South Australian Tom Sparrow with pick 27 after making an unsuccessful bid for the Bulldog’s father-son prospect Rhylee West. Then came a real bolter in Oakleigh Charger James Jordon at 33, another South Australian, Aaron Nitschke, at 53 and a mature aged defender in Collingwood VFL’s Marty Hore with 56. If there was any icing on the cake, it came when the club was not required to bid for Next Generation Academy dasher Toby Bedford who was taken late at pick 75. The return to type came with the selection of Kade Chandler in the rookie draft. I should make it clear that this is not a criticism of the selection decisions but rather I’m pointing to the low profiles of those picked. As with any draft decision made, the proof of their value is never determined on the night but well down the track, often years into the future. The apparent left-of-centre approach to the draft may well pay dividends in the future for a club with a young team on the ascent  - the players selected are not shrinking violets. They are all aggressive ball-winners known for their relentless attack on the football. In that respect, none of them are bystanders.

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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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