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A TALE OF TWO GAMES by Whispering Jack 

This was a game that, for the Melbourne Football Club, was always going to be twinned with the one that came before it some 280 days ago. You know, the game known simply as "186" played on 30 July, 2011. For the story behind that game, I refer you to this Age article written by Caroline Wilson - Date with disaster

But that date with disaster is well past the club. It has moved on and, despite the fact that the result of the latest game was yet another disappointing result in which the team was overwhelmed by the reigning premier, there was a different feeling about the loss. 

In some respects, the losing margin of 43 points flattered Melbourne as much as last year's 186 flattered Geelong and this year's Geelong is not the same, but it was the knowledge that the effort was there and that the team can get so much better in time that provided cause for hope.

Last year's 186 catastrophe was preceded by a calamity of barely less proportion when the Demons' fourth placed alignment partner, the Casey Scorpions tumbled to a 128 thrashing at the hands of the lower Geelong reserves in the curtain raiser. This time around, it was the turn of the second placed Cats to go down by 46 points in what was a major upset. More importantly, and despite serious injuries to a couple of promising youngsters, there was enough young talent on display to suggest, despite the gloom and doom spelt out by an 0-6 record at this stage, that there was improvement to come - at least in the second half of this season.

So to the main game and I doubt that anyone would have expected the Demons to be within a goal of the hosts at the first change. It wasn't that they played so well with the first use of the breeze (and they were lucky with the Cats' inaccuracy) but there were enough contributors plugging away to keep them in the game. The likes of Mitch Clark and James Frawley, key players at opposite ends of the ground missing from last week's near loss to St. Kilda were making a difference. Mark Jamar was winning the ruck battles (even if his onballers were being outclassed) and co-captain Jack Grimes were all doing well. Nathan Jones was continuing his good form for the season.

Statistically, the bulk of Geelong's winning margin was attained in the second term when it put on a masterclass of how to dominate on this particular ground. You need the team to be well organised and well structured with players having the experience and the instinctiveness to know where to put the ball next. Mix that with the skills that give you a disposal efficiency rating in excess of 80% against your opponent's rating of under 60. Last year, that would have given Geelong a seven or eight goal break in a single quarter (and it did). This year, the dominance was restricted - even in Melbourne's worst quarter for the day - to 23 points. This was mainly due to the fact that the Demons were able to match their opponents for the whole day in one statistic - winning contested possessions. That is the area in which the team has languished so badly in past seasons against the competition's stronger teams. Precisely, what new coach Mark Neeld has stressed would ultimately distinguish the Melbourne of the past (186) era from that of the future. We saw signs of that from the massive efforts of Clark, Nathan Jones and the rapidly improving Jeremy Howe and Tom McDonald.

Call me an optimist, and I know that the Cats were nowhere near last year's near world record pace. The teams had 14 shots at goal apiece in the second half - something that we could only dream about in a Geelong game at Simonds Stadium 280 days ago. I see this as a definite sign of improvement. 

In the final analysis, Geelong had way too much class, particularly in the midfield where the Cats simply had too much talent and too much run for their Demon counterparts. But there are players at Casey who will push for inclusion in the coming weeks and if you add some of those youngsters to Jurrah and Watts (in time) and allow others like Colin Sylvia to regain some touch after his injury, we will definitely see more and more improvement.

My final gauge of inspiring thought resulting by way of contrast with that other game for the past is in the turnaround in the combined win/loss margins from 2011 to 2012 for Melbourne and its alignment partner. It's not a world shattering statistic but last year's - 314 was turned in the space of nine months into + 3 by virtue of Casey's 46 point win. Statistics can and do lie and yesterday wasn't much to write about but the lesson of the tale of two games is that there is a light there at the end of the long tunnel in which we're travelling.

Melbourne 3.0.18 6.1.37  10.5.65 11.10.76

Geelong  3.5.23 9.11.65 15.14.104 17.17.119

Goals

Melbourne Melbourne Clark 4 Bate Jones 2 Davey Dunn Howe

Geelong Chapman Johnson Podsiadly 3 Bartel Mackie 2 Hawkins Kelly Motlop Stringer

Best 

Melbourne Clark Grimes McDonald Howe Jones Moloney

Geelong Johnson Corey Enright Duncan Podsiadly Scarlett 

Injuries

Melbourne Grimes (ankle)

Geelong Bartel (ankle)

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Geelong Lonergan (ankle) replaced in selected side by Gillies, Selwood (concussion) replaced in selected side by Byrnes

 

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Geelong Nil

Umpires Wenn Bannister Fleer

Crowd 18,010 at Simonds Stadium

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Can someone please, please, please tell Jamar NOT to handball to someone three inches away from him whose got an opponent breathing down their neck?

Unfair!! He threw himself right into it today.

Some of you are reacting as if the opinion "we are not a very good team" is news to you... We were good in areas today (in the clinches, one-on-ones) and poor in others (spread from a stoppage, keepi


Proud of the efforts today. We got smashed in the middle, and we looked slow, but we tried all day and showed lots of heart against a far superior side. If we do that against the Hawks, we might just get really close.

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Although better than last year, last weeks desperation was not there, a step backwards in my opinion.

They missed plenty of shots, had no Selwood, subbed off Bartel, and it could have easily been a 15 goal loss.

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Proud of the efforts today. We got smashed in the middle, and we looked slow, but we tried all day and showed lots of heart against a far superior side. If we do that against the Hawks, we might just get really close.

Got smashed in the middle & looked slow....all this since 2007.
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Proud of the efforts today. We got smashed in the middle, and we looked slow, but we tried all day and showed lots of heart against a far superior side.

Probably all we can ask for at the moment. Will be interesting to see what/if any changes for next week. Sellar/Fitzpatrick, Bail/Couch? Wouldn't mind Bennel given another chance, has had a couple of good games at Casey it seems, and we could use some leg speed. Sylvia? Has been ordinary for his first two games, but he's exactly the kind of player we need doing well.

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Yeah, not a woeful performance. Failed to win any of the 4 quarters, which shows we didn't get blown away in any particular stage of the game I guess. Without researching it, I am pretty sure we have only won 2 quarters of footy so far this year, one being the 1st quarter of round 1 against brisbane, and 1 against Richmond.

(Edit: after some pain staking research, saw we also won a quarter against the Saints)

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Morton showed a bit which was a pleasant surprise.

Bate struggled against strong opposition but still gave us a bit.

Sylvia is short of a gallop.

Really think Dunn should start on the ground - gives us a better target than Sellar who is really just a big body creating a contest.

A big improvement - we are still building. Jurrah would bring so much creativity to the forward 50 that I cannot wait to see him out there.

And hopefully Blease had a good one with Casey. We just lack dash. Bail can give it but I did not see much from him.

Breakthrough is coming though.

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Where to for James Sellar?

Big body but just can't get to it.

Needs to go to Casey for a while.

It appears that Fitzy had another good one.....maybe his time again?

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Don't seem keen enough to be first to the football IMO. You end up chasing the opposition players all day in that case.

I like the work of Mitch Clark he's been a very good pick up.

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We lack pace and two gun mids. Grimes can play mid but no-one can take his HBF position atm.

We got killed at the clearances by Corey especially and thats pretty much it. Big improvement on last year, but skill level and decision making is average and the no. players with footy smarts is low too. Still plenty to look forward too, i.e one L.Jurrah

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Just reposting what I put in the now locked Game Day thread:

I always suspected it, but now I firmly believe that our greatest failings (mores than lack of pace) are our "hands"... we just cannot get the ball out of scrimmages because we fumble, we are constantly hand balling incorrectly so it falls short and we are unable to, with just a few exceptions, hold marks.

Additionally, I believe that Trengove needs to do time at Casey as does Sellar... bring in either Martin or the Fitz and Couch to get a run. I suspect they will also need to find room for Watts.

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I am a Bail fan, but time for him to have a spell with Casey. Sellar was also ordinary today, not quite sure why he played down back all pre-season and McDonald played forward all pre-season, and then come the real stuff they are both switched around.

And before anyone else says it, can we not get on the 'drop Dunn bandwagon'. He has been the sub 2 or 3 times this year, so you can forget those games, and has played as a defensive forward very effectively in most other games, and if there is a more reliable kick for goal from 50-60m I haven't seen them. Not a world beater by any stretch of the imagination, but there are 5 or 6 blokes in the gun before him.

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Guest gidon

I'm happy with result. But, Im sick of honorable loses. I want a team that has the ability to win every match they play. How many more yrs before I can hope for finals football?

Well done boys, but c'mon!!! Supporters need more

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I'm happy with result. But, Im sick of honorable loses. I want a team that has the ability to win every match they play. How many more yrs before I can hope for finals football?

Well done boys, but c'mon!!! Supporters need more

A little bit of a contradiction, perhaps?

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We were awful today and Geelong could have beaten us by a lot more but never extended themselves; we kicked a couple and they kicked a few more like some sort of training run. I hear Harley saying after the game they had something like 10 players that had less than 50 games under their belt so we can't claim youth.

We are a very ordinary side and if anyone really thinks we will win many/any games this year, they are delusional.

I have never seen a slower more unaccountable side play AFL football.

it must be heartbreaking for some of the players that put in every week to see some of the lame efforts put in by their team mates.

Sylvia, Moloney and a few of the others should be ashamed of themselves.

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Sellar needs to be dropped and Fitz needs to debut.

Jurrah needs to come in for someone as the sub specialist imo.

And one of the quick men need to get in i.e Blease, Bennel to add the run and pace we need desperately. But the major question marks with those two is how much do they want the ball?? From what I've seen, not very much.

Watts in for who?

Plenty to think about next week

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I'm happy with result. But, Im sick of honorable loses. I want a team that has the ability to win every match they play. How many more yrs before I can hope for finals football?

Well done boys, but c'mon!!! Supporters need more

gidon - I think you will be looking at at least one more hard pre-season under Missen before they reach anything like the endurance level needed to match it with the big boys over what Barassi refers to as not the 100 minutes but the 6000 seconds,, ie the whole match.

Poor fitness in the modern game leads to lapses in concentration and inability to chase, pressure and make options.

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Morton was a huge positive today. Did a lot of work in close and used the ball well. The thing that disappointed me most was the number of times we allowed easy lead up marks for guys like Chapman, Podsiadly and Johnson. It was far to easy for them to move from half back to half forward.

I think it was a lack of pressure in our forward line and slow reactions from our backs.

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Oh and Brent Moloney can leave to Essendon if he wants, one the Bluey last year rocking up the lesser games against lesser teams. He can leave, Sylvia is still getting back into it. Liked his first few efforts in the early Q 1+2, but from then onwards didnt give a yelp. Still like him in tho

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Morton was a huge positive today. Did a lot of work in close and used the ball well. The thing that disappointed me most was the number of times we allowed easy lead up marks for guys like Chapman, Podsiadly and Johnson. It was far to easy for them to move from half back to half forward.

I think it was a lack of pressure in our forward line and slow reactions from our backs.

Podsiadly seemed to have been told to position himself across the middle of the ground and mark anything that came near him; conversely the Melbourne players must have been told to let him remain unattended and let him mark everything that came near him.

Pretty much the same instructions.

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