The Last Post sounded out in memory of the fallen around a packed MCG at the Anzac Eve match against Richmond. The silence of the crowd assembled was in tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But the Last Post was also an appropriate symbol of the finals aspirations now gone for the Melbourne Football club, after a mere six rounds of the 2019 Season.
How far has this team fallen!
From a Preliminary final contestant barely six months ago, to cellar dweller in 2019. From a trumpeter sounding out the Grand Old Flag as victory beckoned, to a bugler sounding out the end of day, or no return for the fallen.
The match opened hopefully for the Demons, and they led at the first break. Michael Hibberd moved into the centre to tag Martin was a brilliant move and he held him to a mere 17 possessions for the match when he is normally a game breaker. Jake Melksham moved up the field to get his hands on the ball. Tom McDonald to defence to bolster that area, Nathan Jones into the forward line.
All positive moves which proved successful. But not for long, as the now recurring problems in the forward line again raised their ugly head. Tim Smith coming off the rookie list, provided more of a target up front, but the lack of contribution from Weideman and Garlett was again telling. Not just from the scoring perspective, but the willingness to run, chase and tackle to keep the ball in the forward half.
When Vlaustin and Houli have 60 disposals between them, there is something seriously deficient with the efforts from their opponents. And this was done in the absence of Rance.
The coaches fell into the trap again of stealing either Smith or Weideman to do ruck duties, which left the forward line bereft of a tall.
Little wonder that Melbourne (save for a doubtful 50m penalty paid to Fritsch in the final quarter) would have scored a solitary goal in the remaining 3 quarters of the game!
Worse still was the simple turnovers/clangers/critical errors across the ground. Eighty-one from Melbourne, and while Richmond caused 62 of their own, the difference just becomes telling in a match where only 18 goals are scored.
While managing to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again, the Demons were only a 8 points down at ½ time and 16 points at ¾ time. Not all that far away, but then badly fell away in the last.
Once again the spaces opened up as Melbourne players, particularly those around the ball didn’t cover their man, and incredibly once again we found outselves with no players on the outside covering the opposition mids. This is why we were opened up in previous matches, and when the same happened in this game, the floodgates lifted.
Max Gawn gave his best, yet again. Incredibly among such a talented group of mids from both sides, he amassed 13 contested possessions and 7 clearances! This in addition to his 48 hitouts.
Again on the backline, Christian Salem was a standout with 17 touches most of which are drilled down a Melbourne players throat. Without his input the situation would have been seriously dangerous. More so, when Jordan Lewis spent most of the night slipping over and squandering opportunities, as the body simply is not responding to what the mind is telling him to do.
The addition of Tom Mac helped cover plenty of holes down back as well, but the poor bloke cannot run and is obviously carrying an injury. What is there to do? Not much when we give the ball to the opposition on such a regular basis.
Not much when we bring ANB and Garlett back to discover, yet again, they run around plenty but can’t get to where the ball is at. Not much when the two important defenders are another month or more away.
Not much until the forward line starts putting in some serious work around their opponents to stop the rebounding.
And that it has to be bolstered by a player from the Rookie list, as there are no other options. Until then the Last Post should be played at many more of the remaining games for the Club.
Melbourne 4.1.25 4.2.26 5.5.35 6.6.42
Richmond 3.1.19 5.4.34 7.9.51 12.13.85
Melbourne Fritsch Gawn Hunt Lockhart Neal-Bullen T Smith
Richmond Castagna 3 Baker Ellis Riewoldt 2 Lynch McIntosh Martin
Melbourne Gawn Melksham Oliver Brayshaw T McDonald, Stretch
Richmond Vlastuin Houli Prestia Lambert Baker Riewoldt
Melbourne Neal-Bullen (hamstring) Viney (shoulder)
Richmond Astbury (ankle) Riewoldt (knee)
Umpires Rosebury, Williamson, Fleer
Official crowd 72,704 at the MCG