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Found 50 results

  1. Fremantle, the Perth pretenders at sixth on the premiership table should have easily accounted for the Demons, sitting barely a game off the bottom of the ladder. And for the majority of the game, it certainly looked that would be the case, until the final quarter, when the Demons stopped giving the Dockers easy chances, or making plain, dumb decisions. Not that their situation was helped by some simply appalling umpiring during the match, that kept gifting Fremantle easy scores. The Demons chances were boosted in the first quarter, when former player, Jesse Hogan went down with yet another foot injury, and despite what Ross Lyon has said post game, this is looks very muck like a repeat of his previous ongoing issues that were a contributing factor in his trade back home. Still, Melbourne has missed his presence up front for 2019, as its own forward line is still utterly dysfunctional. At ¾ time it was the same old story, many more inside 50’s and marks in that zone than the Dockers, and yet they trailed on the scoreboard. Tom McDonald couldn’t get into the game early, Sam Weideman barely had a touch, and only for Tim Smith and Jay Lockhart the scoreboard barely kept ticking over. Then whatever they put in the refreshments in the ¾ time break worked a treat. McDonald went berserk, and after struggling to kick more than 35m in the first half of the season, he nailed a long outside 50 set shot, and the Demons were away. He followed up with a brilliant snap along the ground from the pocket and the game was as good as over, especially with James Harmes marking and scoring from the goal square, that followed a series of accurate and precise kicks started in the backline. That in itself represented a first for the Demons in this game, as time and time again, they had squandered chances. Finally they hit targets and the game was over. The addition of Stephen May to the backline was one of the big positives. He generalled the players around him, and provided a rock solid wall to Fremantle attacking moves. Ably assisted by Sam Frost, with some telling intercept marks and dashes out of defence, which he has become famous for, the backline is starting to look composed. Even so, we have to remember that up to this point in the season we have been missing Nev Jetta, Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Jordan Lewis, May himself and Christian Salem from defence at some point or other. Now we are seeing stability and none more so than Marty Hore, who just keeps popping up with those telling marks at critical points in the game. He reads the ball and the play beautifully, and when the fully contingent of players become available, it will be hard to overlook him. As usual, Max Gawn dominated in the middle and around the ground. Even with 46 hitouts, his opponent managed 31, but it was Max’s 20 disposals to Darcy’s 8 and his 8 contested possessions with 7 clearances that was telling. Assisted in the middle by Clayton Oliver with 28 touches (16 contested) and Jack Viney also with 28 (15 contested), they provided plenty of drive. Unfortunately, Nate Fyfe gave James Harmes a bath, with 31 touches, but it would have been a job that nobody could have done better, as Fyfe was in as good form as he has been since his Brownlow season. Jay Lockhart was a brilliant promotion into the side, and with a 21 possession, 10 contested, two goal game, he has cemented a spot in the side as that small forward that we have been lacking since the season started. He simply has “football smarts” and knows where to be, when to go and when to sit off the pack. Harrison Petty did his job again, and while not exemplary, this is what development of young players is all about. He is finding his feet when surrounded with older, wiser heads, and hopefully by season end he will have a dozen games to his name, and be a more regular fixture in the backline. Tim Smith likewise did his job on his return, and contributed three telling goals to keep the side in the hunt in those poor first ¾’s. He at least provides a target and takes a strong defender, especially when Weideman is so far off contributing in a meaningful way. We probably will persist for the remainder of the season, just to get games and valuable experience into him, but he doesn’t read the ball well in flight, and is too slow to react to movement of the ball at the moment. Before this game Melbourne was four points off the bottom of the ladder, and this win probably keeps it away from this position. To be sitting three games and percentage outside the top eight is unfortunate, and once again a season of lost opportunities is looming. But the second half of this season also gives plenty of those opportunities to build and showcase and provide hope and expectations for the future, something that was lacking with the horrible injury situation the Demons found themselves in for the first half. Melbourne must prove that it isn’t just making up the numbers, that we are not pretenders after a Preliminary final position last year - unlike Fremantle which on Saturday’s effort will struggle to make it to September. Melbourne 2.1.13 5.4.34 9.6.60 13.7.85 Fremantle 4.1.25 6.4.40 10.5.65 11.5.71 Goals Melbourne T McDonald T Smith 3 Lockhart 2 Gawn Harmes Oliver Petracca Weideman Fremantle Matera Walters 3 Brayshaw Cox Darcy Langdon Tucker Best Melbourne Oliver Gawn T McDonald Viney Lockhart Brayshaw Fremantle B Hill Fyfe Matera Walters Conca Langdon Injuries Melbourne Nil Fremantle Stephen Hill (hamstring) Jesse Hogan (foot) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Michael Walters (Fremantle) reported for headbutting Umpires Deboy Dore Findlay Foot Official Crowd 20,211 at MCG
  2. They’re due for a fall. Hope we kick straight for once and send them home with their tails between their legs.
  3. Please permit me to begin this rather tragic pathetic preview of Melbourne’s forthcoming game against Fremantle with some personal reflections. Two years ago, we had visitors staying with us who are all sports fans so we arranged tickets for the entire family for the Melbourne vs Fremantle game at the MCG. The Dockers were struggling at the time while the Demons were on the up and up so I was fairly confident about the outcome. Naturally, we all left the ground bitterly disappointed. The Dees picked up their game and came perilously close to making the finals that year and would have done so had they scored about 10 points more over the 22 rounds or one goal more in that particular match against Freo. Naturally, we were bitterly disappointed. Things were better last year. Our American friends from Philadelphia celebrated a Super Bowl victory and the Demons made the finals at last. Naturally, we were bitterly disappointed when they lost the penultimate game of the season - the Preliminary Final. Still, we thought things would get better in 2019. After all, we had the best ruckman in the competition (now supported by another monster sized tall) and a powerful midfield that was capable of bullocking its way through opposition defences and causing havoc in the competition. We had picked up a strong key defender with experience and leadership qualities who would be joined by an elegant key defender due to return early from a season ending injury incurred in the middle of last year? Whatever could go wrong? Melbourne certainly hasn’t lost the ability to move the ball into attack. The Demons have won the inside 50 count in nine of its 12 games to date which really says something. Indeed, if a team’s percentage was determined by its ability to get inside 50 metres from goal, they would be well ensconced in the top four with a healthy percentage of around 130. Naturally, we are bitterly disappointed that the team’s efforts have been translated into only 3 wins with a measly percentage of 76. In the immortal words of the late Professor Julius Sumner-Miller, I am moved to ask the question, “Why is it so?” For starters, they have scored a goal from just 16.98% of inside 50 entries so far this year which is the lowest figure ever recorded by a team in an AFL season since collection of such data began in 1998. And while they haven’t fared well with their kicking for goal in scoring 118 goals 130 behinds, their opponents have been making hay by scoring 166 goals 106 against the hapless Dees. That statistic has been even more pronounced in the latter stages of games. In the last six games the opposition have kicked an amazing 27.4 in final quarters to 16.26 (and that includes Melbourne’s aberration of 7.2 in the last against GWS). With these things in mind, I took my grandkids to the Queens Birthday game at the G against Collingwood and at half time commented to my oldest grandson that there were some signs of improvement in the first half but a turnaround in fortunes in front of each team’s goals was needed to provide a confidence restoring win. As it turned out, the Demons did perform better everywhere but in that particular area of the game. They won the inside 50 contest but Collingwood scored nine straight second half goals to Melbourne’s four goals eight behinds. Naturally, we all left the ground bitterly disappointed. I was relieved when last weekend’s fixture gave us all a break from the AFL and the Demon yips so I set off to the grandson’s Under 15 game where his team played against an opposition which apparently gave the coaching reins for the day to Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson (his son is a member of the side) because their regular coach Trent Dennis-Lane was unavailable. Grandson’s team led from the start but faltered in the final quarter and lost when a goal was kicked in the game’s dying seconds. The winners scored four straight second half goals to two goals five behinds. I just can’t get away from this. Naturally, we all left the ground bitterly disappointed. So on Saturday, Melbourne faces a Fremantle side on the rise chasing its fourth win in a row. The Dockers have beaten the Dees in eight of its past 10 games. Fyfe and Walters are on fire and Jesse Hogan is starting to hit form. Despite all that, I’m impressed that the Demons have finally done something to alter the pattern of the season to date. They’ve changed their coaching structure and we all know what that means in football. Prediction: Melbourne by 2 points failing which we will all leave the ground bitterly disappointed and most likely in the hands of the game’s Orwellian Behavioural Awareness Officers. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at the MCG Saturday 22 June 2019 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 15 wins Fremantle 22 wins At MCG: Melbourne 7 wins Fremantle 7 wins Last five meetings: Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 3 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 1 win Lyon 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.30pm Radio - Triple M SEN 3AW ABC LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 13.24.102 defeated Fremantle 7.6.48 at TIO Stadium, Darwin, Round 16, 2018 The Dockers were struck by injury and only avoided a complete slaughter because the Demons, well ... they kept missing shots in front of goal. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B Jay Lockhart Steven May Josh Wagner HB Marty Hore Sam Frost Christian Salem C Nathan Jones Clayton Oliver James Harmes HF Oskar Baker Sam Weideman Jayden Hunt F Mitch Hannan Bayley Fritsch Tom McDonald FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Angus Brayshaw I/C Alex Neal-Bullen Christian Petracca Harrison Petty Tim Smith EMG Jordan Lewis Braydon Preuss Charlie Spargo Billy Stretch IN Jay Lockhart Alex Neal-Bullen Harry Petty Tim Smith OUT Jeffrey Garlett (shoulder) Michael Hibberd (collarbone) Jake Lever (knee) Charlie Spargo (omitted) FREMANTLE B Joel Hamling Nathan Wilson Luke Ryan HB Stephen Hill Griffin Logue Brett Bewley C Bradley Hill Nat Fyfe Ed Langdon HF Andrew Brayshaw Brennan Cox Michael Walters F Sam Switkowski Jesse Hogan Brandon Matera FOLL Sean Darcy Reece Conca David Mundy I/C Connor Blakely Taylin Duman Ethan Hughes Darcy Tucker EMG Adam Cerra Travis Colyer Cam McCarthy Lloyd Meek NO CHANGE Injury List: Round 14 Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – TBC Jake Lever (knee) – TBC Michael Hibberd (collarbone) – 1-2 weeks Neville Jetta (knee) – 4 weeks Jake Melksham (foot) – 4-6 weeks Tom Sparrow (knee) – 6-8 weeks Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC Joel Smith (groin) – TBC Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  4. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B Joel Smith, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis C James Harmes, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham F Charlie Spargo, Sam Frost, Tom McDonald Foll Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Christian Salem I/C Jeff Garlett, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Billy Stretch, Emg Mitch Hannan, Declan Keilty, Bernie Vince, Sam Weideman In Sam Frost, Jeff Garlett, Charlie Spargo, Billy Stretch Out: Mitch Hannan (omitted), Harry Petty (omitted), Dom Tyson (omitted), Sam Weideman (omitted) FREMANTLE B Adam Cerra, Joel Hamling, Nathan Wilson HB Stephen Hill, Alex Pearce, Ethan Hughes C Tommy Sheridan, Lachie Neale, Stefan Giro HF Andrew Brayshaw, Shane Kersten, Michael Walters F Ed Langdon, Michael Apeness, Brandon Matera Foll Sean Darcy, David Mundy, Bradley Hill I/C Bailey Banfield, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Darcy Tucker Emg Taylin Duman, Scott Jones, Ryan Nyhuis, Cameron Sutcliffe In Sean Darcy, Bradley Hill, Ethan Hughes Out Hayden Ballantyne (injured), Nat Fyfe (Injured), Ryan Nyhuis (omitted)
  5. THE DEE IN DARWIN by George on the Outer A nine goal win against the hapless Dockers helped to cement the status of the Demons in Darwin and likewise with their current position in the top eight in the quest for September action. If there was any doubt about the value of the Darwin enterprise to the Melbourne Football Club, you only had to look at the street banners (pictured) that heralded its arrival in town although the big question still remains as to whether the exercise is advantageous to the team as well. While it was truly lovely to leave the environs of Melbourne in the depth of winter, to come to a 33 degree day, with the temperature still in the low 20’s at the start of the game, it was the draining humidity and its possible effects on the players in the week’s to come that remain at the heart of the question. It was hardly a factor this time last year but on Saturday evening, the humidity rose dramatically just before game start, and it remained so for the rest of the evening. The effect of the steamy conditions would not necessarily have been evident to television viewers but as the game went on, the players struggled for their breath, and had to work hard to maintain repeat efforts. More importantly was the lack of clean football due to the slippery ball, so marking and fumbling became the order of the day. Without that clean possession, turnovers happened again and again with the Demons putting their noses in front courtesy of the cleaner work around the ball of Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver. Nor should we be under any illusions about the quality of the opposition. Fremantle, without Fyfe and Sandilands, were complete and utter rubbish. The Ross Lyon style of play was to stifle the game, defend in huge numbers and try to snatch the odd score from turnover down the field. It certainly kept them in the game for half the match, but then Melbourne started to score majors instead of behinds that they had amassed up to half-time with 15 misses in their attack on the big sticks. The game should really have been over by quarter time, Melbourne having 11 shots to 2, with the inside 50m count so one sided, that in normal circumstances a +50 margin would have seen a 15+ goal win. Gawn was simply magnificent in the ruck with 42 hitouts, but given his junior opponent, that was not surprising. What was surprising was his 20 disposals as well, and his rapport with Brayshaw in the hitouts a sight to behold. The sight of those clean clearances, particularly in the second half, was well worth the cost of the airfare to the Top End! Angus really is hitting his straps with 35 touches including 16 contested possessions, although he came off slightly the worse against his brother in one tackle. Still we would much rather the brother who has 16 contested possessions ahead of the one who only managed two. Viney was simply a bull around the packs, and he was joined by Petracca - 28 and 29 disposals for that pair was only overshadowed by another 3 vote game from Clayton Oliver with 35 touches including 19 contested possessions! This relentless attack on the ball in the contest was what kept the Melbourne juggernaut pushing goalward. If only that effort was rewarded more on the scoreboard, the game would have been a complete whitewash. In the second half, the Demons finally got their targeting correct and piled on a more respectable 8 goals 6 behinds. Tags were put on Mundy, primarily by Brayshaw (which makes his game even more special) after he probably had 10 touches in the first quarter. There weren’t any other Freo players to worry about, and don’t take note of their stats, because their touches come from those cheap outside efforts. Given the conditions you can see this, with Sheridan and Cerra being two of their top performers each with 23 disposals, but only six of them contested. For those who weren’t at the game, Joel Smith was injured in the first quarter with what initially looked like a hamstring but turned out to be more a hip or heavy “corky” to the top of the hamstring. The result was he could barely run, so was sent forward to fill a gap and maintain the rotations. Leaving a player who couldn’t run in the backline would have been disastrous. However, Sam Frost cemented a place for himself in following weeks down back. He killed every marking contest that came his way. There was no mucking around trying to mark the slippery ball, it was just sent OOB or downfield out of danger. He backed that up with dashes through the lines, which has been so lacking in past weeks. Behind him Oscar McDonald really had little to do, but when called upon both him, Michael Hibberd and the ever reliable Nev Jetta mopped up. The other additions of Jeff Garlett and Charlie Spargo had little opportunity to show their wares, due to Freo stacking the backline, leaving little space for them to operate. However, they did their job when possible, and were an every present threat and also providing that link down the flanks when needed. Billy Stretch was a positive addition as well, although he may not be the answer until his delivery and awareness improve. He has the run, which was desperately needed, so he too can be sure of future selection. Nathan Jones had a quiet game by his standards, but Goodwin isn’t playing him in the middle much in recent games. Supporters should be aware that the coach is getting games in the engine room into the likes of Brayshaw and Christian Petracca and James Harmes, so that the future is more assured, and should finals eventuate, then we have more experienced options. Jonesy can go in there anytime, but when you are killing it in the middle, these are the times the younger ones get the go. In this game, Darwin was a success. A good win built on the back of relentless pressure. Four points produced when much was at stake in terms of the ladder, as we now sit with 4 other sides on 36 points and the Giants just back on 34. The town loves the Demons, and to see and speak with the locals about how excited they are about AFL and Melbourne the team, is a real positive. We have succeeded in putting the Dees into Darwin, and now with an equally telling game against the Dogs next week, lets put the M into Melbourne town and produce a similar result. Melbourne 2.9.21 5.15.45 9.18.72 13.24.102 Fremantle 2.0.12 4.2.26 6.5.41 7.6.48 Goals Melbourne Hogan Oliver 2 Garlett Gawn Harmes Jones T McDonald Melksham Neal-Bullen Salem Spargo Fremantle Cox Sheridan Walters 2 Mundy Best Melbourne Oliver Gawn Brayshaw T McDonald Viney Petracca Hogan Fremantle S Hill Mundy Cerra Walters Sheridan Injuries Melbourne J Smith (hip) Fremantle Nil Reports Nil Umpires O'Gorman, Chamberlain, Pannell Official crowd 8,689 at TIO Stadium
  6. Taking your votes now thank you - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...
  7. A nine goal win against the hapless Dockers helped to cement the status of the Demons in Darwin and likewise with their current position in the top eight in the quest for September action. If there was any doubt about the value of the Darwin enterprise to the Melbourne Football Club, you only had to look at the street banners (pictured) that heralded its arrival in town although the big question still remains as to whether the exercise is advantageous to the team as well. While it was truly lovely to leave the environs of Melbourne in the depth of winter, to come to a 33 degree day, with the temperature still in the low 20’s at the start of the game, it was the draining humidity and its possible effects on the players in the week’s to come that remain at the heart of the question. It was hardly a factor this time last year but on Saturday evening, the humidity rose dramatically just before game start, and it remained so for the rest of the evening. The effect of the steamy conditions would not necessarily have been evident to television viewers but as the game went on, the players struggled for their breath, and had to work hard to maintain repeat efforts. More importantly was the lack of clean football due to the slippery ball, so marking and fumbling became the order of the day. Without that clean possession, turnovers happened again and again with the Demons putting their noses in front courtesy of the cleaner work around the ball of Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver. Nor should we be under any illusions about the quality of the opposition. Fremantle, without Fyfe and Sandilands, were complete and utter rubbish. The Ross Lyon style of play was to stifle the game, defend in huge numbers and try to snatch the odd score from turnover down the field. It certainly kept them in the game for half the match, but then Melbourne started to score majors instead of behinds that they had amassed up to half-time with 15 misses in their attack on the big sticks. The game should really have been over by quarter time, Melbourne having 11 shots to 2, with the inside 50m count so one sided, that in normal circumstances a +50 margin would have seen a 15+ goal win. Gawn was simply magnificent in the ruck with 42 hitouts, but given his junior opponent, that was not surprising. What was surprising was his 20 disposals as well, and his rapport with Brayshaw in the hitouts a sight to behold. The sight of those clean clearances, particularly in the second half, was well worth the cost of the airfare to the Top End! Angus really is hitting his straps with 35 touches including 16 contested possessions, although he came off slightly the worse against his brother in one tackle. Still we would much rather the brother who has 16 contested possessions ahead of the one who only managed two. Viney was simply a bull around the packs, and he was joined by Petracca - 28 and 29 disposals for that pair was only overshadowed by another 3 vote game from Clayton Oliver with 35 touches including 19 contested possessions! This relentless attack on the ball in the contest was what kept the Melbourne juggernaut pushing goalward. If only that effort was rewarded more on the scoreboard, the game would have been a complete whitewash. In the second half, the Demons finally got their targeting correct and piled on a more respectable 8 goals 6 behinds. Tags were put on Mundy, primarily by Brayshaw (which makes his game even more special) after he probably had 10 touches in the first quarter. There weren’t any other Freo players to worry about, and don’t take note of their stats, because their touches come from those cheap outside efforts. Given the conditions you can see this, with Sheridan and Cerra being two of their top performers each with 23 disposals, but only six of them contested. For those who weren’t at the game, Joel Smith was injured in the first quarter with what initially looked like a hamstring but turned out to be more a hip or heavy “corky” to the top of the hamstring. The result was he could barely run, so was sent forward to fill a gap and maintain the rotations. Leaving a player who couldn’t run in the backline would have been disastrous. However, Sam Frost cemented a place for himself in following weeks down back. He killed every marking contest that came his way. There was no mucking around trying to mark the slippery ball, it was just sent OOB or downfield out of danger. He backed that up with dashes through the lines, which has been so lacking in past weeks. Behind him Oscar McDonald really had little to do, but when called upon both him, Michael Hibberd and the ever reliable Nev Jetta mopped up. The other additions of Jeff Garlett and Charlie Spargo had little opportunity to show their wares, due to Freo stacking the backline, leaving little space for them to operate. However, they did their job when possible, and were an every present threat and also providing that link down the flanks when needed. Billy Stretch was a positive addition as well, although he may not be the answer until his delivery and awareness improve. He has the run, which was desperately needed, so he too can be sure of future selection. Nathan Jones had a quiet game by his standards, but Goodwin isn’t playing him in the middle much in recent games. Supporters should be aware that the coach is getting games in the engine room into the likes of Brayshaw and Christian Petracca and James Harmes, so that the future is more assured, and should finals eventuate, then we have more experienced options. Jonesy can go in there anytime, but when you are killing it in the middle, these are the times the younger ones get the go. In this game, Darwin was a success. A good win built on the back of relentless pressure. Four points produced when much was at stake in terms of the ladder, as we now sit with 4 other sides on 36 points and the Giants just back on 34. The town loves the Demons, and to see and speak with the locals about how excited they are about AFL and Melbourne the team, is a real positive. We have succeeded in putting the Dees into Darwin, and now with an equally telling game against the Dogs next week, lets put the M into Melbourne town and produce a similar result. Melbourne 2.9.21 5.15.45 9.18.72 13.24.102 Fremantle 2.0.12 4.2.26 6.5.41 7.6.48 Goals Melbourne Hogan Oliver 2 Garlett Gawn Harmes Jones T McDonald Melksham Neal-Bullen Salem Spargo Fremantle Cox Sheridan Walters 2 Mundy Best Melbourne Oliver Gawn Brayshaw T McDonald Viney Petracca Hogan Fremantle S Hill Mundy Cerra Walters Sheridan Injuries Melbourne J Smith (hip) Fremantle Nil Reports Nil Umpires O'Gorman, Chamberlain, Pannell Official crowd 8,689 at TIO Stadium
  8. A day when just about anything could happen.
  9. THE JOKERS by The Oracle It’s difficult to imagine that the Melbourne side which defeated the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium by almost 50 points a month ago (and is due to play them again next week - go figure?) hasn’t won a game since that day. The team which so completely demolished Adelaide in the nation’s red centre and then made it 6 in a row against the Bullies seems to have fallen apart before our very eyes going from a top four contender to a side fighting for its existence in the top eight and the team most likely to bow out of the battle. The loss of in-form defender Jake Lever obviously has had something to do with the fall from grace as the selectors struggle to put together the defensive unit that was so good at keeping opposing forwards at bay but, it’s clear that the cracks have really returned to the forward line, now brittle and despite their 100 points plus last week, unable to make the most of the opportunities provided by a dominant ruckman of the calibre of Max Gawn. If the team is going to overcome its current slump then it’s opposition this week is a perfect candidate. Although Melbourne has lost 8 out of its last 9 games against Fremantle, the solitary win came at TIO Stadium. If the Demons can’t win against a flakey and inexperienced Docket outfit without the two of its main aces Nat Fyfe (hamstring) and Aaron Sandilands (calf) leaving them no jokers in their pack, then they never will. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at TIO Stadium Saturday 7 July 2018 at 7.40pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 14 wins Fremantle 22 wins At TIO Stadium: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 1 win Last five meetings: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 4 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins Lyon 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 Live at 7.30pm Radio - SEN LAST TIME THEY MET Fremantle 16.10.106 defeated Melbourne 15.14.104 at the MCG, Round 4, 2017 In what was a major disappointment for the Demons coming off their loss to Geelong, they once again demonstrated their penchant for losing games they should win at the MCG. This time they surrendered a 21 point half time lead with a poor third quarter, then failed to close off a victory in a close finish. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Joel Smith, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis 😄 James Harmes, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF: Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham F: Charlie Spargo, Sam Frost, Tom McDonald Foll: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Christian Salem I/C: Jeff Garlett, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Billy Stretch, Emg: Mitch Hannan, Declan Keilty, Bernie Vince, Sam Weideman In: Sam Frost, Jeff Garlett, Charlie Spargo, Billy Stretch Out: Mitch Hannan (omitted), Harry Petty (omitted), Dom Tyson (omitted), Sam Weideman (omitted) FREMANTLE B: Adam Cerra, Joel Hamling, Nathan Wilson HB: Stephen Hill, Alex Pearce, Ethan Hughes 😄 Tommy Sheridan, Lachie Neale, Stefan Giro HF: Andrew Brayshaw, Shane Kersten, Michael Walters F: Ed Langdon, Michael Apeness, Brandon Matera Foll: Sean Darcy, David Mundy, Bradley Hill I/C: Bailey Banfield, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Darcy Tucker Emg: Taylin Duman, Scott Jones, Ryan Nyhuis, Cameron Sutcliffe In: Sean Darcy, Bradley Hill, Ethan Hughes Out: Hayden Ballantyne (injured), Nat Fyfe (Injured), Ryan Nyhuis (omitted) This week's team selection at Melbourne is instructive. It's not just that there have been changes wrung in after the teams surprise loss to lowly St Kilda, it’s a case of admitting that the strategies undertaken in the wake of Jake Lever’s injury in Round 11 have been a dismal failure. Among the inclusions are key defender Sam Frost and Billy Stretch who were showing solid form at Casey before the Lever injury and have continued to be among the best in recent weeks. Charlie Spargo, who was unlucky to be dropped in the first place is back, as is Jeff Garlett who, whilst not at his best, adds an element of danger in front of goal that was missing against Collingwood and Port Adelaide and also to an extent against the Saints. Together, the add a combination of some leg speed and fast movement of the football. Their presence will be invaluable up in the Top End against a young, inexperienced opposition. Needless to say, it would be dangerous for the Demons to take any opposition lightly as they did last week after they took an early 19 point lead and promptly fell asleep for most of the remainder of the opening term. If they do that on Saturday night, their season will virtually be over. However, given the circumstances and the importance of the game, I’m tipping them to fight back and win and win well. Melbourne by 48 points.
  10. It’s difficult to imagine that the Melbourne side which defeated the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium by almost 50 points a month ago (and is due to play them again next week - go figure?) hasn’t won a game since that day. The team which so completely demolished Adelaide in the nation’s red centre and then made it 6 in a row against the Bullies seems to have fallen apart before our very eyes going from a top four contender to a side fighting for its existence in the top eight and the team most likely to bow out of the battle. The loss of in-form defender Jake Lever obviously has had something to do with the fall from grace as the selectors struggle to put together the defensive unit that was so good at keeping opposing forwards at bay but, it’s clear that the cracks have really returned to the forward line, now brittle and despite their 100 points plus last week, unable to make the most of the opportunities provided by a dominant ruckman of the calibre of Max Gawn. If the team is going to overcome its current slump then it’s opposition this week is a perfect candidate. Although Melbourne has lost 8 out of its last 9 games against Fremantle, the solitary win came at TIO Stadium. If the Demons can’t win against a flakey and inexperienced Docket outfit without the two of its main aces Nat Fyfe (hamstring) and Aaron Sandilands (calf) leaving them no jokers in their pack, then they never will. *** scroll for prediction *** THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at TIO Stadium Saturday 7 July 2018 at 7.40pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 14 wins Fremantle 22 wins At TIO Stadium: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 0 wins Last five meetings: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 4 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins Lyon 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 Live at 7.30pm Radio - SEN LAST TIME THEY MET Fremantle 16.10.106 defeated Melbourne 15.14.104 at the MCG, Round 4, 2017 In what was a major disappointment for the Demons coming off their loss to Geelong, they once again demonstrated their penchant for losing games they should win at the MCG. This time they surrendered a 21 point half time lead with a poor third quarter, then failed to close off a victory in a close finish. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Joel Smith, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jordan Lewis C : James Harmes, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF: Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham F: Charlie Spargo, Sam Frost, Tom McDonald Foll: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Christian Salem I/C: Jeff Garlett, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Billy Stretch, Emg: Mitch Hannan, Declan Keilty, Bernie Vince, Sam Weideman In: Sam Frost, Jeff Garlett, Charlie Spargo, Billy Stretch Out: Mitch Hannan (omitted), Harry Petty (omitted), Dom Tyson (omitted), Sam Weideman (omitted) FREMANTLE B: Adam Cerra, Joel Hamling, Nathan Wilson HB: Stephen Hill, Alex Pearce, Ethan Hughes C : Tommy Sheridan, Lachie Neale, Stefan Giro HF: Andrew Brayshaw, Shane Kersten, Michael Walters F: Ed Langdon, Michael Apeness, Brandon Matera Foll: Sean Darcy, David Mundy, Bradley Hill I/C: Bailey Banfield, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Darcy Tucker Emg: Taylin Duman, Scott Jones, Ryan Nyhuis, Cameron Sutcliffe In: Sean Darcy, Bradley Hill, Ethan Hughes Out: Hayden Ballantyne (injured), Nat Fyfe (Injured), Ryan Nyhuis (omitted) This week's team selection at Melbourne is instructive. It's not just that there have been changes wrung in after the teams surprise loss to lowly St Kilda, it’s a case of admitting that the strategies undertaken in the wake of Jake Lever’s injury in Round 11 have been a dismal failure. Among the inclusions are key defender Sam Frost and Billy Stretch who were showing solid form at Casey before the Lever injury and have continued to be among the best in recent weeks. Charlie Spargo, who was unlucky to be dropped in the first place is back, as is Jeff Garlett who, whilst not at his best, adds an element of danger in front of goal that was missing against Collingwood and Port Adelaide and also to an extent against the Saints. Together, the add a combination of some leg speed and fast movement of the football. Their presence will be invaluable up in the Top End against a young, inexperienced opposition. Needless to say, it would be dangerous for the Demons to take any opposition lightly as they did last week after they took an early 19 point lead and promptly fell asleep for most of the remainder of the opening term. If they do that on Saturday night, their season will virtually be over. However, given the circumstances and the importance of the game, I’m tipping them to fight back and win and win well. Melbourne by 48 points.
  11. This is the one that really got away ... MELBOURNE B: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Sam Frost, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Clayton Oliver, Billy Stretch HF: Dean Kent, Sam Weideman, James Harmes F: Jeff Garlett, Jack Watts, Christian Petracca FOLL: Jake Spencer, Dom Tyson, Jack Viney I/C: Tomas Bugg, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem EMG: Oscar McDonald, Tim Smith, Jack Trengove IN: Tomas Bugg, Sam Frost, Jake Spencer OUT: Max Gawn (hamstring), Oscar McDonald (omitted), Tim Smith (injured) FREMANTLE B: Ethan Hughes, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Michael Johnson, Connor Blakely C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill HF: Lachie Weller, Cam McCarthy, Ed Langdon F: Michael Walters, Shane Kersten, Brady Grey FOLL: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy I/C: Harley Balic, Hayden Crozier, Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan EMG: Jonathon Griffin, Danyle Pearce, Matt Taberner NO CHANGE
  12. SENIOR MOMENTS by George on the Outer For the second week in a row, the Demons weren’t beaten by the opposition: they gave the game away and now sit at 2-2 for the 2017 season. Last week it was inaccurate kicking, this week simply a complete lack of football nous. These are the scenario’s that require leadership and calmness under pressure, but when called upon, Melbourne's senior players were the culprits rather than what could be expected from a young developing side. Bernie Vince in the last three minutes was a serial offender. Dinky kicks that didn’t manage to hit targets, uncontrolled Hail Mary bombs into the forward line when a cool head was required, standing too far from an opponent and then defending grass out the back when the game required all hands on deck at the ball. These can be expected from a rookie, not someone of his experience. The real danger for him is that with the return of Hibbert and Lewis, two dependable characters under pressure, that he will be exited from the senior side. The Melbourne fans have every right to feel aggrieved after a last quarter comeback finally saw them in front. That they should have never been behind in the first place is a serious question to be asked of the coaching and selection panel. A half-time lead of 21 points was turned into a 22 point deficit at 3/4 time as the Demons failed to score a major for that period. That the Dockers had scored 5 of their 6 goals to half-time from Melbourne turnovers, meant something needed to be changed. Melbourne were simply too cute and overusing the ball, particularly in the middle. Possessions are hard to get in that space yet we continue to favour a handball over a kick. Despite 28 touches Dom Tyson was simply ineffective with those possessions. He fails to scan the field when he has the ball in his hands as he always turns in the one direction. Does he not think the opposition know that? With 28 touches, more than three clearances and seven contested possessions is necessary, yet this is all he gave. Contrast that with Clarrie Oliver who with 26 touches had 10 clearances and 17 contested possessions. Not bad for a 19 year old. Jake Spencer performed admirably in the absence of Max Gawn. Taking on the biggest ruckman in the league he held his own and kicked a couple of goals to boot. We weren’t missing anything in the ruck contests, and if he keeps this up, he may find a more permanent role upon Gawn's return. Jayden Hunt and Christian Petracca tried their hearts out, turning the game back into a contest, and then eventually getting the Demons nose in front. It was these young players who hadn’t given up and Petracca with a couple of bombs showed others what responsibility really is in these situations. Up forward Jack Watts was a solitary standout target, although Jeff Garlett played his role to perfection crumbing, leading and harassing to finish with three goals of his own. Sadly, once again Sam Weideman was way, way out of his depth, and ran around in pointless circles for most of the match. A bandage on his knee appeared at half- time, so combined with only 5 touches for the match, he will surely be confined to Casey or the rehab group next week. While the official reports listed no injuries, Nathan Jones took a heavy head knock and his 18 touches was well below his par. Jack Viney is likewise well down from his best with 16 touches, and isn’t spending as much time in the middle as could be expected. There must be a reason which, we the fans are not told about. They say that good teams win games like this, so on that basis Melbourne aren’t good enough. Our wins have hardly been convincing as well, and we could have easily been 0-4. Yet we will be middle of the pack at the end of this round, with the task of wanting to be really serious or just giving it away. It is true that in previous years, a Melbourne side would have not got themselves back into the game from that ¾ time position, so they are doing something right. Trouble is that they are doing too much wrong, and off-setting all the fine work being done by our young players. The Demons certainly don’t need any more "senior" moments in coming weeks. Melbourne 2.5.17 9.7.61 9.10.64 15.14.104 Fremantle 3.2.20 6.4.40 13.8.86 16.10.106 Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 Harmes Petracca Spencer Watts 2 Kent Neal-Bullen Salem Viney Fremantle Neale 4 Mundy 3 McCarthy 2 Balic Crozier Fyfe Grey S Hill Kersten Walters Best Melbourne Oliver Petracca Garlett Watts Hunt Spencer Fremantle Mundy Sandilands Fyfe Weller Neale S Hill Changes Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Fremantle S Hill (corked thigh) Langdon (migraine) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Umpires Stevic Harris Mitchell Official crowd 27829 at the MCG
  13. For the second week in a row, the Demons weren’t beaten by the opposition: they gave the game away and now sit at 2-2 for the 2017 season. Last week it was inaccurate kicking, this week simply a complete lack of football nous. These are the scenario’s that require leadership and calmness under pressure, but when called upon, Melbourne's senior players were the culprits rather than what could be expected from a young developing side. Bernie Vince in the last three minutes was a serial offender. Dinky kicks that didn’t manage to hit targets, uncontrolled Hail Mary bombs into the forward line when a cool head was required, standing too far from an opponent and then defending grass out the back when the game required all hands on deck at the ball. These can be expected from a rookie, not someone of his experience. The real danger for him is that with the return of Hibbert and Lewis, two dependable characters under pressure, that he will be exited from the senior side. The Melbourne fans have every right to feel aggrieved after a last quarter comeback finally saw them in front. That they should have never been behind in the first place is a serious question to be asked of the coaching and selection panel. A half-time lead of 21 points was turned into a 22 point deficit at 3/4 time as the Demons failed to score a major for that period. That the Dockers had scored 5 of their 6 goals to half-time from Melbourne turnovers, meant something needed to be changed. Melbourne were simply too cute and overusing the ball, particularly in the middle. Possessions are hard to get in that space yet we continue to favour a handball over a kick. Despite 28 touches Dom Tyson was simply ineffective with those possessions. He fails to scan the field when he has the ball in his hands as he always turns in the one direction. Does he not think the opposition know that? With 28 touches, more than three clearances and seven contested possessions is necessary, yet this is all he gave. Contrast that with Clarrie Oliver who with 26 touches had 10 clearances and 17 contested possessions. Not bad for a 19 year old. Jake Spencer performed admirably in the absence of Max Gawn. Taking on the biggest ruckman in the league he held his own and kicked a couple of goals to boot. We weren’t missing anything in the ruck contests, and if he keeps this up, he may find a more permanent role upon Gawn's return. Jayden Hunt and Christian Petracca tried their hearts out, turning the game back into a contest, and then eventually getting the Demons nose in front. It was these young players who hadn’t given up and Petracca with a couple of bombs showed others what responsibility really is in these situations. Up forward Jack Watts was a solitary standout target, although Jeff Garlett played his role to perfection crumbing, leading and harassing to finish with three goals of his own. Sadly, once again Sam Weideman was way, way out of his depth, and ran around in pointless circles for most of the match. A bandage on his knee appeared at half- time, so combined with only 5 touches for the match, he will surely be confined to Casey or the rehab group next week. While the official reports listed no injuries, Nathan Jones took a heavy head knock and his 18 touches was well below his par. Jack Viney is likewise well down from his best with 16 touches, and isn’t spending as much time in the middle as could be expected. There must be a reason which, we the fans are not told about. They say that good teams win games like this, so on that basis Melbourne aren’t good enough. Our wins have hardly been convincing as well, and we could have easily been 0-4. Yet we will be middle of the pack at the end of this round, with the task of wanting to be really serious or just giving it away. It is true that in previous years, a Melbourne side would have not got themselves back into the game from that ¾ time position, so they are doing something right. Trouble is that they are doing too much wrong, and off-setting all the fine work being done by our young players. The Demons certainly don’t need any more "senior" moments in coming weeks. Melbourne 2.5.17 9.7.61 9.10.64 15.14.104 Fremantle 3.2.20 6.4.40 13.8.86 16.10.106 Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 Harmes Petracca Spencer Watts 2 Kent Neal-Bullen Salem Viney Fremantle Neale 4 Mundy 3 McCarthy 2 Balic Crozier Fyfe Grey S Hill Kersten Walters Best Melbourne Oliver Petracca Garlett Watts Hunt Spencer Fremantle Mundy Sandilands Fyfe Weller Neale S Hill Changes Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Fremantle S Hill (corked thigh) Langdon (migraine) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Umpires Stevic Harris Mitchell Official crowd 27829 at the MCG
  14. WHEN YOU'VE GOT NOTHING, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE by Whispering Jack The Demons are making it very hard for anyone to tip them to win with any confidence these days. Key players are falling over injured, getting themselves reported and horror of horrors being photographed at music festivals puffing away at cigarettes. On the field, they continually miss easy shots at goal while their opponents never miss their targets. Meanwhile, Fremantle, their opponent this week in the big game at the G, just shrugged off the easy beat tag by giving last year's premiers a right royal touch up in Perth. Before the game against the Bulldogs, Ross Lyon re-assessed his position and decided that as a coach he was basically in the position that when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. So he ditched half a dozen passengers from his team and brought in players who were determined to have a dip. The rest is history and the Dockers are on the road to revival. Who would have thought only a week ago, that Melbourne would be going into this week's game as the underdog? Well, not actually THE underdog but possibly, the hunter rather than the hunted? All of a sudden the weather's turned cold for the Red and Blue while the Purple Haze has sprung to life again - returned from the dead in one of the AFL's greatest reincarnations ever witnessed (at least until the Gold Coast performed an even greater one less than 24 hours later on the other side of the country). That's the trouble with football these days. One day, you're motoring along with an All Australian ruckman hitting your midfielders on the chest, a tall forward prodigy running everywhere kicking and setting up goals and a hard nosed midfielder with four AFL premierships under his belt. Next thing you know, you've got nothing. Worse still, you're coming up against the AFL's tallest ruckman Aaron Sandilands and he's in full flight with a resurgent Nat Fyfe back to his brilliant best picking up 33 disposals and the likes of Lachie Neale, Stephen Hill and Michael Walters awaking from a long slumber causing havoc to opposition defenders. Meanwhile, it's Melbourne that's on the horns of a dilemma. Who will shoulder the ruck duties? Does the back half need stiffening up? Is it time to bring some more experience and strength into the forward line set up? Are we at the point where we have nothing to lose? The more I look at it, the more concerned I become that the unthinkable might happen on the club's own territory. Round 3 has turned the entire AFL competition on its head and one wonders how one can find a way to select Melbourne to win this week. After team selection on Thursday night, I'll come up with a way. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at the MCG Saturday 15 April 2017 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 14 wins Fremantle 21 wins At MCG: Melbourne 7 wins Fremantle 6 wins Last five meetings: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 4 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins Lyon 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy at 1.30pm live Radio - THE BETTING Melbourne $1.32 to win Fremantle $3.45 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.15.87 defeated Fremantle 8.7.55 at TIO Stadium, Round 16, 2016 The Demons dominated against a dispirited Dockers outfit which only twelve months earlier was threatening to win the flag. These things happen when you lose your ruckman, a champion midfielder and a bevy of other important players. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Sam Frost, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Clayton Oliver, Billy Stretch HF: Dean Kent, Sam Weideman, James Harmes F: Jeff Garlett, Jack Watts, Christian Petracca FOLL: Jake Spencer, Dom Tyson, Jack Viney I/C: Tomas Bugg, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem EMG: Oscar McDonald, Tim Smith, Jack Trengove IN: Tomas Bugg, Sam Frost, Jake Spencer OUT: Max Gawn (hamstring), Oscar McDonald (omitted), Tim Smith FREMANTLE B: Ethan Hughes, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Michael Johnson, Connor Blakely C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill HF: Lachie Weller, Cam McCarthy, Ed Langdon F: Michael Walters, Shane Kersten, Brady Grey FOLL: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy I/C: Harley Balic, Hayden Crozier, Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan EMG: Jonathon Griffin, Danyle Pearce, Matt Taberner NO CHANGE THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE The world's worst kept secret was exposed on Thursday morning when Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin confirmed that ruckman Jake Spencer would play in place of the injured Max Gawn, who will miss at least 12 weeks with a hamstring injury. The loss of Gawn, coupled with the suspensions of Jesse Hogan and Jordan Lewis from the Carlton game have left gaping holes in the Demon line up, already hampered by a number of injuries especially to players like Michael Hibbberd, Josh Wagner and rookie Joel who would otherwise be expected to hold down are at least be in contention for defensive positions in the team. Cometh the hour ... cometh the men. The minute that Max hit the Etihad turf and then later as he hobbled off the ground clearly in distress, Melbourne fans knew that a call was about to go out for the man affectionately known as "Jake the Snake" The man has been around the club for what seems forever. He was 35th selection in the 2008 Rookie Draft and spent his first season playing with the club's then VFL affiliate club Sandringham where he played seven games at reserves level and 10 in the seniors. He made his NAB Cup debut on 21 February 2009 to encouraging reviews and played his first AFL game in Round 1 2009. Jake managed six games for the season and was finally upgraded from the rookie list at the start of 2010. Never the epitome of the classic modern ruckman, the ungainly Spencer has been a battler throughout his time at the club, spending much of his time as understudy to the All Australian ruckmen of his time at Melbourne - Mark Jamar and more lately Max Gawn. He's also had long stints on the sidelines with injury - missing more than a whole year through a ruptured ACL suffered in 2011 while playing with the Casey Scorpions. Entering his 10th season at the club, Jake had only 36 games for six goals to his name, his last match being in Round 22, 2015 – ironically against Fremantle at Domain Stadium. The good news is that this is precisely what he's been working diligently for in the interim - an opportunity to take the main stage and shoulder the club's ruck burden in the event of Gawn’s absence and what better first up assignment than Aaron Sandilands? Not only has he been waiting for this - Jake's fully prepared, having played well in all three JLT Community Series matches and continued in dominating form playing for Casey in VFL practice matches. Now, the Snake is about to turn into the Viper - Gawn himself is telling all and sundry that, when he's ready to return from that injury, he will find it hard to regain his place and he's not kidding! The inclusion of a deadly reptile is not all the selectors have done to change the mix following the final quarter breakdown against Geelong. They've introduced pure speed into the backline with the return of Sam Frost into defence in the place of Oscar McDonald and hardness in the guise of in-your-face pest Tom Bugg. Meanwhile, the rejuvenated Dockers have gone into the game with an unchanged line up to the one that beat the reigning premiers on their home turf last week. They are however, still a young side that has had difficulty in traveling over the Nullarbor in recent times and will struggle to contend with the Demons who, despite the missing faces, still have the structures in place to give them the winning edge at their own snake pit in this game. Melbourne by 35 points.
  15. The Demons are making it very hard for anyone to tip them to win with any confidence these days. Key players are falling over injured, getting themselves reported and horror of horrors being photographed at music festivals puffing away at cigarettes. On the field, they continually miss easy shots at goal while their opponents never miss their targets. Meanwhile, Fremantle, their opponent this week in the big game at the G, just shrugged off the easy beat tag by giving last year's premiers a right royal touch up in Perth. Before the game against the Bulldogs, Ross Lyon re-assessed his position and decided that as a coach he was basically in the position that when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. So he ditched half a dozen passengers from his team and brought in players who were determined to have a dip. The rest is history and the Dockers are on the road to revival. Who would have thought only a week ago, that Melbourne would be going into this week's game as the underdog? Well, not actually THE underdog but possibly, the hunter rather than the hunted? All of a sudden the weather's turned cold for the Red and Blue while the Purple Haze has sprung to life again - returned from the dead in one of the AFL's greatest reincarnations ever witnessed (at least until the Gold Coast performed an even greater one less than 24 hours later on the other side of the country). That's the trouble with football these days. One day, you're motoring along with an All Australian ruckman hitting your midfielders on the chest, a tall forward prodigy running everywhere kicking and setting up goals and a hard nosed midfielder with four AFL premierships under his belt. Next thing you know, you've got nothing. Worse still, you're coming up against the AFL's tallest ruckman Aaron Sandilands and he's in full flight with a resurgent Nat Fyfe back to his brilliant best picking up 33 disposals and the likes of Lachie Neale, Stephen Hill and Michael Walters awaking from a long slumber causing havoc to opposition defenders. Meanwhile, it's Melbourne that's on the horns of a dilemma. Who will shoulder the ruck duties? Does the back half need stiffening up? Is it time to bring some more experience and strength into the forward line set up? Are we at the point where we have nothing to lose? The more I look at it, the more concerned I become that the unthinkable might happen on the club's own territory. Round 3 has turned the entire AFL competition on its head and one wonders how one can find a way to select Melbourne to win this week. After team selection on Thursday night, I'll come up with a way. THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at the MCG Saturday 15 April 2017 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 14 wins Fremantle 21 wins At MCG: Melbourne 7 wins Fremantle 6 wins Last five meetings: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 4 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins Lyon 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy at 1.30pm live Radio - THE BETTING Melbourne $1.32 to win Fremantle $3.45 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.15.87 defeated Fremantle 8.7.55 at TIO Stadium, Round 16, 2016 The Demons dominated against a dispirited Dockers outfit which only twelve months earlier was threatening to win the flag. These things happen when you lose your ruckman, a champion midfielder and a bevy of other important players. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Sam Frost, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Clayton Oliver, Billy Stretch HF: Dean Kent, Sam Weideman, James Harmes F: Jeff Garlett, Jack Watts, Christian Petracca FOLL: Jake Spencer, Dom Tyson, Jack Viney I/C: Tomas Bugg, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem EMG: Oscar McDonald, Tim Smith, Jack Trengove IN: Tomas Bugg, Sam Frost, Jake Spencer OUT: Max Gawn (hamstring), Oscar McDonald (omitted), Tim Smith FREMANTLE B: Ethan Hughes, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr HB: Garrick Ibbotson, Michael Johnson, Connor Blakely C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill HF: Lachie Weller, Cam McCarthy, Ed Langdon F: Michael Walters, Shane Kersten, Brady Grey FOLL: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy I/C: Harley Balic, Hayden Crozier, Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan EMG: Jonathon Griffin, Danyle Pearce, Matt Taberner NO CHANGE THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE The world's worst kept secret was exposed on Thursday morning when Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin confirmed that ruckman Jake Spencer would play in place of the injured Max Gawn, who will miss at least 12 weeks with a hamstring injury. The loss of Gawn, coupled with the suspensions of Jesse Hogan and Jordan Lewis from the Carlton game have left gaping holes in the Demon line up, already hampered by a number of injuries especially to players like Michael Hibbberd, Josh Wagner and rookie Joel who would otherwise be expected to hold down are at least be in contention for defensive positions in the team. Cometh the hour ... cometh the men. The minute that Max hit the Etihad turf and then later as he hobbled off the ground clearly in distress, Melbourne fans knew that a call was about to go out for the man affectionately known as "Jake the Snake" The man has been around the club for what seems forever. He was 35th selection in the 2008 Rookie Draft and spent his first season playing with the club's then VFL affiliate club Sandringham where he played seven games at reserves level and 10 in the seniors. He made his NAB Cup debut on 21 February 2009 to encouraging reviews and played his first AFL game in Round 1 2009. Jake managed six games for the season and was finally upgraded from the rookie list at the start of 2010. Never the epitome of the classic modern ruckman, the ungainly Spencer has been a battler throughout his time at the club, spending much of his time as understudy to the All Australian ruckmen of his time at Melbourne - Mark Jamar and more lately Max Gawn. He's also had long stints on the sidelines with injury - missing more than a whole year through a ruptured ACL suffered in 2011 while playing with the Casey Scorpions. Entering his 10th season at the club, Jake had only 36 games for six goals to his name, his last match being in Round 22, 2015 – ironically against Fremantle at Domain Stadium. The good news is that this is precisely what he's been working diligently for in the interim - an opportunity to take the main stage and shoulder the club's ruck burden in the event of Gawn’s absence and what better first up assignment than Aaron Sandilands? Not only has he been waiting for this - Jake's fully prepared, having played well in all three JLT Community Series matches and continued in dominating form playing for Casey in VFL practice matches. Now, the Snake is about to turn into the Viper - Gawn himself is telling all and sundry that, when he's ready to return from that injury, he will find it hard to regain his place and he's not kidding! The inclusion of a deadly reptile is not all the selectors have done to change the mix following the final quarter breakdown against Geelong. They've introduced pure speed into the backline with the return of Sam Frost into defence in the place of Oscar McDonald and hardness in the guise of in-your-face pest Tom Bugg. Meanwhile, the rejuvenated Dockers have gone into the game with an unchanged line up to the one that beat the reigning premiers on their home turf last week. They are however, still a young side that has had difficulty in traveling over the Nullarbor in recent times and will struggle to contend with the Demons who, despite the missing faces, still have the structures in place to give them the winning edge at their own snake pit in this game. Melbourne by 35 points.
  16. Remember when it was easy to beat the Dockers? MELBOURNE B: Sam Frost, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Matt Jones C: Christian Petracca, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince HF: Jeff Garlett, Jack Watts, Billy Stretch F: Aaron vandenBerg, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Jack Grimes, James Harmes, Ben Kennedy, Mitch White EMG: Viv Michie, Alex Neal-Bullen, Jake Spencer IN: Jack Grimes, Matt White OUT: Tomas Bugg, Chris Dawes FREMANTLE B: Garrick Ibbotson, Zac Dawson, Cameron Sutcliffe HB: Hayden Crozier, Sam Collins, Lee Spurr C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Tommy Sheridan HF: Chris Mayne, Matt Taberner, Michael Walters F: Lachie Weller, Matthew Pavlich, Hayden Ballentyne FOLL: Jonathon Griffin, David Mundy, Danyle Pearce I/C: Connor Blakely, Ed Langdon, Nick Suban, Darcy Tucker EMG: Josh Deluca, Jack Hannath, Tendai Mzunga IN: Jonathon Griffin, Garrick Ibbotson, Ed Langdon OUT: Michael Barlow (broken finger), Zac Clarke (omitted), Jack Hannath (omitted)
  17. RAINING GOALS by Bewitched It's no secret that the Women of Melbourne don't like rain. They opened the season scoring four consecutive points in muggy wet conditions before the rain got really heavy and thunder and lightning forced their game at Casey Fields to be temporarily abandoned just before half time. After a short break, they lost their ascendency and their first ever game to the Brisbane Lions. A couple of weeks ago, they did even worse on a wet track in Sydney despite having more than double the inside 50 count. You don't normally win games when you kick one goal from 12 scoring shots. And so, in the final game of the inaugural AFLW season and in perfect weather conditions against Fremantle at Casey Fields, it rained again but this time, it rained goals. In a must win game, the Demons kicked their first ten goals on the trot without missing once. It started in the first minute of the game with a mark dead in front by Alyssa Mifsud and although the Dockers quickly replied, their defences were quickly penetrated once again when Shelley Scott marked for another and the floodgates opened. Cat Phillips added two more before the 10 minute mark of the game and Deanna Berry added the team's fifth. It was hard to comprehend how this was happening with a team that only a fortnight ago conceded the wooden spooners their only victory for the season. The Docker resistance was minimal. They did goal again just before the siren sounded to signal the first break and raised a few yelps in the early stages of the second, but the Demons were now on the march for a percentage boosting game which would hopefully allow them match that of their rivals. At half time, it was eight goals straight. Only once before has a team kicked that many in a game and that was Carlton's 8.6.54 in Round 5. The scoring record was 7.13.55 by Collingwood in Round 6. By the end of the game those records had been surpassed as the Demons coasted to a record AFLW win (9 goals) to match the record score (11.4.70). The competition's premier footballer is Melbourne skipper Daisy Pearce who once again stood out with her creativity all over the ground. Her performance was matched by the strength of Elise O'Dea (25 disposals) and the youthful exuberance Lily Mithen but there were so many more who made a contribution over the game - Melissa Hickey, Karen Paxman, Richelle and Scott were among the others. It was also great to see so many multiple goalkickers in a game of women's footy. And so it came down to 21 hours of nail biting and waiting for the result of the game from Olympic Park where the Magpies and Crows were battling it out in the penultimate game before the finals. Sadly, we got the wrong result but that's what happens when you have given away the control over your destiny. Never before would I have been so glad to welcome a Collingwood victory and never before have I been so disappointed by a Collingwood defeat. Well done Women of Melbourne. Let's win it next year come rain, hail or shine. Melbourne 5.0.30 8.0.48 10.0.60 11.4.70 Fremantle 2.0.12 2.3.15 2.4.16 2.4.16 Goals Melbourne Berry Mifsud Phillips Scott 2 Humphries Newman Paxman. Fremantle Antonio Houghton Best Melbourne D Pearce Mithen O'Dea Scott Paxman Cranston Fremantle Hooker Lavell Filocama Injuries Melbourne Nil Fremantle Angel (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Umpires Michael Pell Ryan Guy Annie Mirabile Crowd 2,500 (est) at Casey Fields, Cranbourne
  18. It's no secret that the Women of Melbourne don't like rain. They opened the season scoring four consecutive points in muggy wet conditions before the rain got really heavy and thunder and lightning forced their game at Casey Fields to be temporarily abandoned just before half time. After a short break, they lost their ascendency and their first ever game to the Brisbane Lions. A couple of weeks ago, they did even worse on a wet track in Sydney despite having more than double the inside 50 count. You don't normally win games when you kick one goal from 12 scoring shots. And so, in the final game of the inaugural AFLW season and in perfect weather conditions against Fremantle at Casey Fields, it rained again but this time, it rained goals. In a must win game, the Demons kicked their first ten goals on the trot without missing once. It started in the first minute of the game with a mark dead in front by Alyssa Mifsud and although the Dockers quickly replied, their defences were quickly penetrated once again when Shelley Scott marked for another and the floodgates opened. Cat Phillips added two more before the 10 minute mark of the game and Deanna Berry added the team's fifth. It was hard to comprehend how this was happening with a team that only a fortnight ago conceded the wooden spooners their only victory for the season. The Docker resistance was minimal. They did goal again just before the siren sounded to signal the first break and raised a few yelps in the early stages of the second, but the Demons were now on the march for a percentage boosting game which would hopefully allow them match that of their rivals. At half time, it was eight goals straight. Only once before has a team kicked that many in a game and that was Carlton's 8.6.54 in Round 5. The scoring record was 7.13.55 by Collingwood in Round 6. By the end of the game those records had been surpassed as the Demons coasted to a record AFLW win (9 goals) to match the record score (11.4.70). The competition's premier footballer is Melbourne skipper Daisy Pearce who once again stood out with her creativity all over the ground. Her performance was matched by the strength of Elise O'Dea (25 disposals) and the youthful exuberance Lily Mithen but there were so many more who made a contribution over the game - Melissa Hickey, Karen Paxman, Richelle and Scott were among the others. It was also great to see so many multiple goalkickers in a game of women's footy. And so it came down to 21 hours of nail biting and waiting for the result of the game from Olympic Park where the Magpies and Crows were battling it out in the penultimate game before the finals. Sadly, we got the wrong result but that's what happens when you have given away the control over your destiny. Never before would I have been so glad to welcome a Collingwood victory and never before have I been so disappointed by a Collingwood defeat. Well done Women of Melbourne. Let's win it next year come rain, hail or shine. Melbourne 5.0.30 8.0.48 10.0.60 11.4.70 Fremantle 2.0.12 2.3.15 2.4.16 2.4.16 Goals Melbourne Berry Mifsud Phillips Scott 2 Humphries Newman Paxman. Fremantle Antonio Houghton Best Melbourne D Pearce Mithen O'Dea Scott Paxman Cranston Fremantle Hooker Lavell Filocama Injuries Melbourne Nil Fremantle Angel (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Umpires Michael Pell Ryan Guy Annie Mirabile Crowd 2,500 (est) at Casey Fields, Cranbourne
  19. A win at TIO - another hoodoo done and dusted.
  20. Cast your votes please ... 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Please specify the player if you nominate a Jones or McDonald.
  21. DARWIN DREAMING by George on the Outer It was a long time since the Demons had won a game in the Northern Territory. That was in 2011, the same year they had last beaten Fremantle. And they had never recorded a win against a Ross Lyon coached team. All of those records were removed in a single night with an emphatic 32 point victory against the Dockers at TIO stadium in Darwin. The Demons adapted early to the steamy conditions breaking the game open from the start to lead by four goals at quarter time. They then opened the gap to seven goals by the long break and the game was virtually over. To Demon fans it was like a dream. Dean Kent, playing what was probably his best game for the club, slotted through three goals and he was assisted by Jack Watts who got three of his own in the first term alone. Jesse Hogan topped the list with four for the match. The free scoring by the Demons came from the hard work up the field as the Dockers were harassed, tackled, chased and simply not given the time to execute their normal game plan. As is often the case, Nathan Jones topped the possession count with 35, but remarkably Tom McDonald dragged in 31 touches while playing in defence. Jack Grimes in his first match for the 2016 season notched up 32 touches, but he still needs to improve his kicking, thinking and execution, as the current game plan requires efficient disposal and quick actions. Once again Max Gawn gave the mids plenty of first chance at the ball with 43 hit-outs, more than twice that of his opponent. But it was also his bulk and aggressive attack that created space for the mids and others to take full advantage. As the game unfolded, Fremantle started playing in a style that was all too reminiscent of the way Melbourne did two or three years ago. Going backwards, slow movement and faltering attacks that often led to nothing on the scoreboard. The Demons have put that well behind them. The evolution to a fast moving and confident attacking team has been happening before our eyes. The job isn’t finished yet because, while we have equalled the number of wins that amassed in 2016 already, the precision needed to take the next step is yet to be achieved. It was difficult to measure that success against Fremantle, because they truly didn’t adapt to the conditions and are not the team they were in seasons past. The Demon backline which leaked goals earlier in the season, now looks more solid as the likes of Sam Frost, Nev Jetta, Jayden Hunt and Tom McDonald are now prepared to set up attacks from deep in defence. Previously, the defence was happy just to stop the dam wall from collapsing. Today, they are the drivers of opportunity for the rest of the team. Next week, it's St.Kilda and there are some more ignominious records asking to be removed. We no longer need to dream about wins over teams at the bottom of the ladder only and hoping for a small modicum of success. Winning has now become part of the 2016 Demons side. Melbourne 6.5.41 9.8.62 11.11.77 12.15.87 Fremantle 2.1.13 3.1.19 7.4.46 8.7.55 Goals Melbourne Hogan 4 Kent Watts 3 N Jones vandenberg Fremantle Pavlich 3 Mayne 2 Ballantyne Suban Taberner Best Melbourne Tyson N Jones Viney T McDonald Gawn Grimes Fremantle Neale Sutcliffe Hill Crozier Blakely Pavlich Changes Melbourne Nil Fremantle Nil Injuries Melbourne Oscar McDonald (ankle), Bernie Vince (shin) Fremantle David Mundy (concussion) Reports Melbourne Nil Fremantle Lachie Weller reported for high contact against Jayden Hunt Umpires Margetts, Ryan, Mitchell Official crowd 8,163 at the TIO Stadium
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