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THE PULSE by Whispering Jack

Somewhere in the twilight at the MCG last week I detected a faint pulse beating inside the Melbourne team. After taking a few poundings in the early rounds, there were glimmers of hope that there might really be something there upon which new coach Mark Neeld could work.

It was Mitch Clark, proudly wearing the number 11 guernsey that was a thematic part of the day, who set the tone but he didn't get the ball delivered well enough or often enough and his kicking for goal was (like some of his fellow forwards) not good enough. In any event, he succumbed to what could have been a horrifying fate and missed the final quarter's battle.

There were others who we thought might have done their collective dashes and been consigned collectively to our memories of the past but who lifted a notch to enable the pulse, albeit still a little feeble, to come to our notice. Aaron Davey, Matthew Bate and Cale Morton all lifted and were responsible for some of the team's better patches of play. We saw a little bit of run, a little improvement in hunger for the ball, a little bit of zest and passion. It wasn't enough to help record a win but it was the first sign that things are getting better.

Behind that, there are injured players who have missed proceedings so far, on the comeback trail. Players with the ability of Colin Sylvia and Liam Jurrah would have been invaluable last week against the Bulldogs won't be playing against the Saints but they aren't far away. There are others whose return is imminent and will also help the cause by adding depth and skill to the mix. This is a young list which has recently been much maligned and superficially so by the pundits who have failed to adequately do their research. How many of Melbourne's early draft picks who are undergoing so much criticism have reached the desired figure of 40 to 50 games before they can pass on to the levels expected before they can rise and go forward in this industry? When these players reach that mark, things will get better.

The style of play is still being drummed into the players. Disciplines are being instilled at levels that are meaningful. The young leadership is learning some tough lessons. It's a slow process and although we might not understand it and it doesn't appear to be working in terms of getting wins on the board, it's certainly not looking like a bruise-free style of game.

If the pulse is getting stronger, then things will get better.

THE GAME

Melbourne v St. Kilda at MCG Sunday 28 April 2011 at the MCG at 7:40pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 118 wins St. Kilda 83 wins 1 drawn

MCG Melbourne 58 wins St. Kilda 31 wins

Since 2000 Melbourne 9 wins St. Kilda 8 wins

The Coaches Neeld 0 wins Watters 0 wins

MEDIA

TV Fox Footy Channel Live at 7:30pm

RADIO 3AW Triple M

THE BETTING

Melbourne to win $6.50 St. Kilda to win $1.11

THE LAST TIME THEY MET St. Kilda 16.10.106 defeated Melbourne 13.8.86 Round 9, 2011 at Etihad Stadium

A Melbourne team, depleted by injuries and suspensions, had every chance to win this game but allowed Steven Milne too much latitude early and then spent much of the rest of the game catching up. It almost did so but some silly errors early in the final quarter allowed St. Kilda to surge ahead and win in unconvincing fashion. Michael Evans was excellent on debut.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

Backs James Frawley Jared Rivers Clint Bartram

Half backs Cale Morton Colin Garland Jack Grimes

Centreline Jordie McKenzie Brent Moloney Tom McDonald

Half forwards Nathan Jones James Sellar Jeremy Howe

Forwards Colin Sylvia Lynden Dunn Aaron Davey

Followers Mark Jamar James Magner Jack Trengove

Interchange Rohan Bail Matthew Bate Joel Macdonald Jack Watts

Emergencies Jack Fitzpatrick Ricky Petterd Luke Tapscott

In Jack Grimes Colin Sylvia

Out Mitchell Clark (concussion) Luke Tapscott

ST. KILDA

Backs Jason Blake Sam Gilbert Jarryn Geary

Half backs Sean Dempster Sam Fisher Tom Simpkin

Centreline Brendon Goddard Lenny Hayes Nick Dal Santo

Half forwards Leigh Montagna Nick Riewoldt Jack Steven

Forwards Terry Milera Rhys Stanley Stephen Milne

Followers Ben McEvoy Dean Polo Clinton Jones

Interchange David Armitage Jamie Cripps Jason Gram Jack Newnes

Emergencies Tom Ledger Arryn Siposs Beau Wilkes

In Jason Gram

Out Justin Koschitzke (suspended)

Umpires Pannell Mitchell Mollison

Given that it's the Anzac Round I thought I would keep the Irish connection to the Melbourne Football Club going with a favourite Eric Bogle song performed by the Irish band The Fureys. This is for Jimmy and Sean and all of our great fallen -

WHO ARE THEY KIDDING?

As St. Kilda prepares to take on its opponent for this week I'm hearing noises coming from the camp about concerns on its behalf about the improving Demons. Apparently, Scott Watters is talking them up warning that "Melbourne is on the verge of its first win of the year" ahead of its clash with St. Kilda at the MCG. The team will have to be careful not to be the first to lose points this season to the Demons.

Come now.

It was only a fortnight ago that the Saints kept the Demons opponent from last week to two goals in the first three quarters. Last week, St. Kilda was a tad unlucky to lose to the Dockers so it's not as if they're down on form or that they have much to worry about.

Further, the Saints have all of the star quality in this game. Who does Melbourne have to match against the likes of Goddard, Riewoldt, Hayes, dal Santo, Montagna and even Milne who always seems to get his goals in the early stages of games against Melbourne?

No, there might be a faint pulse but I can't see Melbourne getting within 5 goals of the talented Saints even with the inclusion of Jack Grimes and Colin Sylvia.

St. Kilda by 31 points.

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