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TELL THEM THEY'RE NOT TRYING by Mean Gene

It's the easiest thing on earth to kick a man when he's down and the pundits have certainly had their day with the Melbourne Football Club of late.

That's not to say that some of the criticism hasn't been well earned based on the Demons' form so far this year but it also says a lot about those critics who are falling over suggesting things that they must surely have plucked out of their backsides. Like the superficial rubbish coming from Paul Roos who accused Melbourne players of not trying on last week's On the Couch. He claims that the playing group has already destroyed one coaching career (that of Dean Bailey) and that it is "well on the way to doing the same to Mark Neeld."

I don't see it that way and I don't agree with the doomsayers. Sure, things don't appear all that flash after five games but I don't think anyone can accuse the players of not having a dip in their three goal defeat at the hands of St. Kilda.

Not when the Demons went into the game minus their full back and full forward, with a key playmaker coming back from injury in a green substitute vest, their most exciting forward still a week away from his comeback game for Casey and a handful of promising younger players either injured or working away to improve their game in the VFL. Yes, their are some excuses and explanations in this paragraph but they are things that need to be considered when looking at a young team devastated by external events and injury that is adapting to a brand new game plan.

In spite of all that, Melbourne was able to put in by far its strongest performance of the year for almost the full four quarters until a more experienced St. Kilda outfit rallied to score the last two goals of the game.

Melbourne was well served by Nathan Jones who brushed aside criticism from some quarters of his midfield role. He collected 27 disposals, booted two important goals and added passion to the midfield. Jack Grimes heralded his comeback to the team with a great 27 possession game.

Melbourne was firing early with strong play from Brent Moloney and scored the game's first two goals. It soon lost the initiative to let the Saints in for a 9 point quarter time lead but fought hard in the wet conditions in the second term. Halfway through the quarter an Aaron Davey goal gave them the lead and when Rohan Bail snapped truly it had opened up to a 10 point advantage. Although the Saints steadied to take the lead into the main break, the scrap continued through the third quarter and well into the last.

Tell players like Jordie McKenzie and James Magner who hustled their opponents all night that they weren't trying. Tell it to Cale Morton and Clint Bartram who played their best games in ages or Mark Jamar who killed them in the ruck. Or try telling it to Tom McDonald, with a handful of games under his belt taking on one of the games superstars in Nick Riewoldt.

The game proved there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Melbourne and that they need to continue working hard at learning the new style of play.

I'm betting the improvement will continue next week when Melbourne takes on Geelong at the place which is symbolic of its current tormented state. There will be no 186 next week.

Melbourne 4.1.25 8.3.51 10.6.66 10.6.66

St Kilda 5.4.34 8.5.53 10.9.69 12.12.84

Goals

Melbourne Bail Jones 2 Bartram Bate Davey Dunn Moloney Watts

St Kilda Wilkes 3 Milne Riewoldt Steven 2 Hayes Montagna Stanley

Best

Melbourne Jones Rivers Grimes Jamar McKenzie Morton

St. Kilda Dal Santo Hayes Armitage Steven Fisher Wilkes

Injuries

Melbourne James Magner (ankle)

St Kilda Jason Blake (knee)

Changes

Melbourne James Frawley (calf) replaced by Luke Tapscott

St. Kilda Jack Newnes by Beau Wilkes

Reports

Melbourne Nil

St. Kilda Nil

Umpires Pannell Mitchell Mollison

Crowd 24,798 at the MCG

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Davey and Morton - both talented, albeit much maligned players on this site, are starting to show a lot more intensity now. And that's a great sign, because the upside to these guys is IMO enormous.

Can't agree with this. He smashed Sam Fisher. Subbing Dunn let Fisher off the hook and Sylvia gave us nothing in return. Stupid move. Should have been Watts wearing red tonight.

Not fit enough. Another preseason away. Start to get a glimpse of how ferocious neeld wants us to play.

Effort and skills much better, and we seem to have a better understanding of when to go with our gameplan and when to deviate from it. Promising signs, but its very easy to just revert to old habits after a really tough, promising week. Hopefully the boys can back it up next week.

Edited by Chook
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I think the burden of being Captain is weighing Jack Trengove down a little.

Big ask for a young 3rd season player,when most guys that age are flat out trying to play each week.

It will make him stronger and he will grow into a leader but it will take 1 or 2 years.

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disappointed, but obviously a much better effort. Loved the passion they showed. Would have done them with Liam and Mitch up forward and Frawley down back, and Sylvia for the whole game. At the end of it it was obvious the difference between the winners and the losers was that the winners have a few genuine stars and we have none. We continue our endless wait for some of the young blokes to become these types of players. Agree on Watts and Trenners, pretty disappointing.

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Better definitely. Showed some mettle.

But what's up with Watts and Trengove? No.1 Draft Picks FFS!

Trenners looks little better than an honest plodder.

I think at least part of the trouble is that when we have two tags on onballers, it takes JT out of the midfield & consigns him to a flank or wing. Plus he seems to be a long way from being match-fit, like Grimes, Tapscott, and to some degree Bail.

We showed heaps more tonight, but still a long way to go. At least we're not hopeless any more.

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I think the burden of being Captain is weighing Jack Trengove down a little.

Big ask for a young 3rd season player,when most guys that age are flat out trying to play each week.

It will make him stronger and he will grow into a leader but it will take 1 or 2 years.

It must be weighing down on him pretty hard to have made him so slow. I doubt he could beat Brock "the Turtle" McLean in a race to the pond. Austin Wonaeamirri must be licking his lips.

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Could have used Petterd up forward tonight

Happy to see some inprovement in the team.

Watts was a tad dissapointing.

Throw in Mitch Clarke , Frawley, Petterd and Jurrah and we start to look like a decent side.

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I would've liked to see a few more clean avenues to goal rather than scrappy stuff along the boundary and hoping for a favourable crumb near the goal square. The most pleasing thing was the mongrel on display. I think our work on winning contested ball and clearances is noticeably improving each game.

Edited by P_Man
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Compare the collective last quarters of their senior players with ours. It was our kids (if you could include Jones & Bartram as "kids") against their stars.

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The Dees had a red hot go tongiht and I reckon Neeld would be delighted that we matched the Saints in all the indicators that measure effort and intensity.

But Oh for some class!!! We keep shooting ourselves in the same foot each week, and that injured foot is our kicking between half back and half forward. Too many times both experienced and inexperienced players turned it over under no pressure, kicked or handballed straight to an opposition player, at times when we had momentum and could have put nails in the coffin.

We need Frawley (not so much for class though), we need fit and firing Sylvia and Jurrah, we need Mitch clark as our target, and the potential class of Gysberts and Strauss. We have to start finishing off passages of play where we dominate but end up stuffing up through skill errors.

Edited by Maldonboy38
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I loved McKenzie's work on Goddard; he really got under his skin. Watts and Trengove both need to lift, but I loved the effort from just about everyone else.

Subbing Dunn out was the right call because he barely touched the ball until he kicked that long goal.

I wouldn't say Trengove needs to lift. He's good a lot of pressure on him and is still contributing. 8 tackles today is a good return and he does all the little things like shepherds and bumps that help his team mates.

I certainly think Watts needs to lift though. He just doesn't look like it at the moment. Still too timid with his attack on the footy and the only player not to lay a tackle tonight.

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Wow. I was happy with the effort looked a much better performance at the game I thought I sniffed an upset.

The two negatives in my view and I know the conditions were really slippery.

Our disposal is really killing we just butchered the ball too many times.

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Can anyone name a game where Watts has played well in the wet? I've seen a fair few howlers from him in the wet. This one included.

Great work from Tom Mac. We have found a player! hope he plays every game this year.

Morton and Davey stepped up.

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Trenners has been struggling, niggle or captaincy do you think? Tappy needs some more fitness after an interrupted preseason, Watts in and out of the game needs to work on that, Tommy Mac I thought really progressed as the game went on, horrible at first but really stuck at it and would have learned a lot. Tough day for the youngens, but i thought blokes like Bate, McKenzie, Jones, Moloney all showed something that we've been trying to find all year, even Davey has started to show some signs I think.

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Can anyone name a game where Watts has played well in the wet? I've seen a fair few howlers from him in the wet. This one included.

Great work from Tom Mac. We have found a player! hope he plays every game this year.

Morton and Davey stepped up.

He had a good game in 2010 in the dewy atmosphere of Darwin. But certainly, he's no wet-weather player. He likes his snow crisp and dry or he just won't go skiing.

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Oh and I hope no one expects any class from Sylvia. His pumping long kick to Sellar (who battled well but isn't going to mark over the top of 3) in the last quarter when he had a few overlap options on was very disappointing. Time and again in time and space he fails to use clever options. I'm sure Neeld's game plan allows for spotting up targets instead of bombing it when running free on the wing.

And my apologies to Tom McDonald who I was calling for to be dropped earlier. He did a terrific job. Played Riewoldt very cleverly and will surely have learnt a great deal. His fitness is a real asset, Riewoldt never looked like out running him.

As for Joel Macdonald I do not extend my apology to you. Too often you fumble and stutter and don't make clear decisions, which leads to turn overs. I hope Frawley is back next week to take your spot, if he isn't then I hope they finally make a smart move and put Watts to a half back flank.

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I wouldn't say Trengove needs to lift. He's good a lot of pressure on him and is still contributing. 8 tackles today is a good return and he does all the little things like shepherds and bumps that help his team mates.

But is that an acceptable return for a third-year midfielder we invested a no.1/2 draft pick on?

Needs to be more than a mere 'contributor'.

Edited by Range Rover
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But Oh for some class!!! We keep shooting ourselves in the same foot each week, and that injured foot is our kicking between half back and half forward. Too many times both experienced and inexperienced players turned it over under no pressure, kicked or handballed straight to an opposition player, at times when we had momentum and could have put nails in the coffin.

In that analogy, isn't the gun our kicking and our foot the scoreboard?

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Some big positives tonight.

McDonald showed a lot of promise playing on a top forward, he is improving each week. Get used to him being there.

Macdonald showed why he is coaches pet.

Rivers is not done yet.

Magner loving this guy indestructible.

Bail showed signs at last.

Davey was like a mosquito most of the night.

Jones was magnificent early.

Jordie killed Goddard, Goddard wanted to kill Jordie.

Sylvia looked hungry but rusty

Neeld almost blew a gasket in the box, loving that.

Our team wanted it bad and that's a good sign.

All that with our forward line going missing, Dunn too quiet, sellar can tap but needs to mark a few, watts should have played on the wing to get him into the game, Howe didn't do enough..

Neeld has us on the right path. All we need is for everyone to step up.

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