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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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