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I havent looked at a single comment on DL before writing this, and will probably be brave enough to venture back shortly to witness the carnage. Instead I thought Id write my own report, call it catharthis. Tonight was clearly disappointing. An underwhelming performance at best, truly dispiriting at worst. I havent yet seen the press conference by Roos, but I have seen fleeting comments through twitter and one in particular stands out, the difference between our best and worst is pretty dramatic. Roosy, youre not wrong. Despite promising signs early, the Dees slumped in to old habits, seemingly brought on by pressure. One gets the feeling that the boys have built their confidence around slick ball movement while unopposed at training, yet forgot that in games there is an opposition thats trying to stop you. Decision making is a serious concern and when that is coupled with at times suspect skills, you have the makings of a train wreck. Unfortunately, tonight, like so many nights before it, thats exactly what happened. Those two factors defined the last 2.5 quarters, while the first 1.5 appeared to be tainted by an inability to put the ball through the sticks when it appeared the easiest option. Thankfully, I think this is rectifiable. Garlett is a god-send, he is so vital to this team now. However we need one other, and that is something we will have. Both Kent and JKH have shown an ability to sniff an opportunity, so come round 1, heres hoping some of those bouncing balls find their home off their feet. Tonight also highlighted something else we all hoped wasnt true, Hogan is young. He is inexperienced and will take time to develop. I dont think anyone doubts his talent, the bloke will be a star. But not yet. Its as if at the back of all our minds we secretly hoped hed kick 6 goals the day he walked in. Our very own Wayne Carey from day dot. Sadly, not. A few other players stood out for different reasons: · Frost is a very handy pick up. Personally, I liked the look of him down back but I understand what theyre trying to do. In the ruck however, he is super raw. He was beaten time and time again and it allowed the opposition to get on top in the clearances. · vandenBerg was a shrewd pick up, and is a lock for Rd 1. · Sadly, I think the man expendable when Vince comes back, is Toumpas. I still hold hope that he can fill a role, but when you look at the team and where Bernie slots in, its on the wing or HHF. Sorry Toump. · Viney is all heart, but he makes bad decisions and his foot skills are dubious. Talk of him as a future star is premature to me. A wonderful clubman he is, but future A grader mmm, I just dont know. · For the second game running, I was pleased with what Grimes put out there. Thought he was one player in our defensive 50 who showed a bit of poise and his disposal was much improved. He had 19 disposals tonight at 100%, bet you never thought youd hear that. · Watts looks ripe for a good season. He has definitely filled out and now looks a man, rather than a lanky boy. He did some really good things tonight, knows how to kick a goal and covered a hell of a lot of ground as well as making lead after lead. There are plenty of others we can speak of, but I fear its been heard. Our tackling was disappointing tonight, this is a little concerning and hopefully doesn't represent a backwards step from last year. its a major factor in a game. Without it, you dont get momentum and it can affect everything. So, Im hoping a lot of what happened tonight can be put down to psyche around it being NAB Cup and not wanting to get injured. Well see. My team for Round 1? FB: Jetta Dunn Garland/Howe (fitness dependent) B: Salem McDonald Grimes C: Vince N Jones Lamumba HF: Watts Frost Garlett FF: Gawn Hogan JKH Foll: Jamar Tyson Cross R: Viney, Kent, M Jones, vandenBerg Sub: Toumpas · Im not comfortable with Frost at CHF, but with Dawes there, what do you do. Im open minded about Pedersen on form. If he comes in I move Frost back to the resting ruckman, but Jamar takes the workload and Cross/Dawes provide the chopout until Frost works out what hes doing. · I persevere with Toumpas as the sub, he has to grow comfortable on this stage. Its like he gets stage fright. · I find Garland underwhelming at the moment. There were a few times tonight where we looked like we had a bit of class, but its baby steps. You look at the team above and its clear were a better side than last year, vastly better? Maybe not, at least not yet. Baby steps.
When I think back over the years, it's rather surprising the number of times the Demons have played in pre season matches up here in Queensland. I remember Jim Stynes coming up here for a game and wearing a cap to shield him from the harmful rays of the sun. I recall some steamy games in FNQ including one against the Lions that was played in cyclonic conditions and another occasion when I stood in the outer at Cazaly Stadium in Cairns one evening and was serenaded by the croaking of cane toads. Last year, I drove four hours to the Gold Coast through pouring rain to witness some horrible football played on a soaked Metricon Stadium. Despite the difficult conditions I never saw a team throw in the towel. This year's NAB Challenge game was played in hot steamy conditions under the noonday sun that was made solely for mad dogs and Englishmen. While I don't like making excuses, it didn't help Melbourne's cause to come out against a near full strength Suns outfit with a team bereft of its best key backs and forwards, a number of its midfield prospects and a few others of value and then go into a game in energy sapping conditions with a smaller bench and less rotations. Losing Colin Garland to a knock in the head didn't help matters either. Still, while I'm making excuses, there are no excuses for skill errors like missing easy targets, poor decision making and plain, scrappy football. With just two weeks to go before the season opener against Port Adelaide, Mark Neeld and his football department have the job ahead of them. Before looking at Melbourne's individual performers, I think it's appropriate to pay homage to The Maestro who was the difference between the two teams on the day. Gary Ablett Junior with his two goals and 24 disposals, mostly to his team's advantage was worth making the trip to the Coast even if he was on the wrong side as far as I was concerned. To have him in the side lights up any midfield and he alone outshone the entire Demon contingent in this area. Notwithstanding, it was Melbourne which started off the better of the two teams and the nine point lead at quarter time was something of an injustice to the visitors. However, by early in the second term, a fifty metre penalty to Mark Jamar, who had started strongly in the ruck, saw the Demons score their second goal of the term and race to a 21 point lead. Unfortunately, that was that as far a Melbourne was concerned. The Suns took over and bridged the gap to take a 2 point lead into the sheds at half time. After the break, the Gold Coast forwards took control of a weakened Demon defence with Garland off as a result of a head knock. Restricted in their capacity to make rotations, they withered and gave away five goals to one and the game was over at the final break. The team fought out the last quarter and did well to contain the Suns in the end. To that extent, it was at least a game played by the team under dress rehearsal conditions even if it lacked the intensity of the real thing. Jack Watts was close to Ablett for best on ground honours picking up 25 disposals at a high level of efficiency and was head and shoulders above his teammates. Skipper Jack Grimes (22 touches) and Nathan Jones worked hard but were used sparingly in the second half. Newcomers Matt Jones and Dean Terlich earned their keep and youngsters Jimmy Toumpas and Jesse Hogan provided hope for the future. So the preseason is over and, despite the grueling conditions, Melbourne played it out to the finish which is a damn sight better than North Melbourne which wimped out at the end of its rain sodden encounter with Hawthorn half a continent away. But all that matters little for the Demons. In the absence of someone like The Maestro in their midfield, the future still seems a long way away. Melbourne 2.3.15 4.3.27 5.5.35 8.7.55 Gold Coast 1.0.6 4.5.29 9.6.60 12.7.79 Goals Melbourne Sellar 3 Hogan Jamar M Jones Pederson Terlich Gold Coast Hall 3 Ablett Dixon 2 Gorringe Harbrow Hutchins Lonergan Smith Best Melbourne Watts Grimes Sellar Hogan Terlich Toumpas Gold Coast Ablett Dixon Hall Smith Harbrow Lonergan Injuries Melbourne Nil Gold Coast Lonergan (wrist) Reports Nil Umpires Kamolins Foot Mollison Crowd 3,000 estimated at Fankhauer Reserve, Southport