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YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL

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YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL by The Oracle

The mantra concerning the Melbourne Football Club has, since the start of the season been midfield, midfield and more midfield. From the time Simon Black and his cohorts from the Lions sliced open the Demons in the middle of the MCG in Round 1, it's been the same story. Opposition midfields simply have more run, greater smarts and are prepared to work so much harder than their one- dimensional counterparts at Melbourne.

The result on Queens Birthday Monday was that Collingwood iced the game in the opening minutes by going bang, bang, bang out of the middle and before the midpoint of the opening term they had a four goal plus lead. Thirty minutes later and into the second term, the Pies had eight on the board, the Dees were still goalless and the smell of 186 was starting to permeate through the nostrils.

To its credit, Melbourne managed to regroup and almost work its way back into the contest, kicking three on end before the half time break and moving back to within four goals at stages within the third quarter. Things were not helped by the odd self-inflicted gaffe. Turnovers which lead to easy opposition goals can be heartbreaking but the team persisted and refused to wilt.

Faced with a similar picture in 2011, Melbourne sank into the oblivion of a near 15 goal defeat but, at least this time it showed some resistance even after the Collingwood midfield opened the last quarter by going bang, bang, bang again and converting a slightly worrisome 26 point differential into a seven goal lead in the space of less than three minutes, a position which it maintained through the shoot out that ensued for the rest of the game. Collingwood kicked nine straight goals in the final term to record an easy 42–point win. Given that they booted the first eight and were so accurate at the end, the result could have been so much worse for Melbourne whose first half record of 1/10 has been positively underwhelming.

The midfield statistics told the story. Collingwood, even without Scott Pendelbury had Dane Swan, returning after two weeks from a hamstring injury, with 42 disposals, eight marks and two goals. I got the impression that during his layoff he might not have showered because the Melbourne players weren't too keen on getting anywhere near him and particularly not between him and the leather. Dayne Beams was almost as prolific with 37 touches, Steele Sidebottom was close behind with 36 possessions and Jarryd Blair had 27 with two goals thrown in for good measure. Melbourne's best midfielder, as usual, was Nathan Jones with 30 and it fell away badly from there. Only Jack Grimes with 25 managed to surpass the 20 possession mark.

Jeremy Howe continues to improve in leaps and bounds with his strong marking and two goals a feature for Demon fans. Mitch Clark was dangerous with four goals up forward but there was simply too little in the way of forward line support even though the team notched up its highest score for the season.

Nathan Jones (30) and Jack Grimes (25) led the way in terms of possessions, but on the whole it was another pretty disappointing day for Melbourne.

Tactically, nothing much that Mark Neeld tried actually worked. Having a couple of men behind the ball seemed counter productive. Of course, if your skills are well behind those of your opponents then you're always going to struggle, especially if the minds of some are weak and tired as well.

With half the season gone and no chance of any finals action, it's inevitable that Neeld is going to have to look more and more to the future in the rounds to come. Some of those who lowered their colours badly in this game might never be seen again in Demon colours because whilst it's true that you can't win them all, it's also true that if you can hardly win at all with what you've got, then it's time to ring in the changes.

There are some young kids performing impressively at the Casey Scorpions. Some play in the middle and some in key positions. Their time is coming.

Melbourne 0.4.4 3.4.22 7.7.49 13.9.87

Collingwood 6.3.39 8.9.57 10.15.75 19.15.129

Goals

Melbourne Clark 4 Dunn Howe 2 Blease Magner Rivers Sylvia Trengove

Collingwood Sinclair 3 Blair Cloke Fasolo Goldsack Jolly Swan Wellingham 2 Beams Sidebottom

Best

Melbourne Howe, Grimes, Clark, Jones, McKenzie

Collingwood Swan, Beams, Sidebottom, Blair, Bellingham, Goldsack

Injuries

Melbourne Nil

Collingwood Didak (groin) Young (ribs)

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Collingwood Nil

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Collingwood Nil

Umpires Stevic Nicholls Bannister

Crowd 64,250 at the MCG

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