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THE BELL TOLLED by Mean Gene

Melbourne had its chances against Fremantle and probably didn’t deserve to lose by as much as 34 points but that’s football. The outcome of every game played is dependent upon a number of factors and in most cases everything (or at least most things) has to gel if a team is to win. The Demons got a good start which gave them the early momentum. They withstood everything the Dockers could throw at them for the next two quarters and fought back on two occasions to alter the momentum of the game back in their favour when Freo came at them. But in the end, it was the weight of adversity that has dogged them throughout the season.

In this case, it was the injuries and the lack of total fitness that took their toll and a tired team had nothing left without the ability to commit the necessary rotations that might have kept the legs fresh enough to withstand the final onslaught from Fremantle. Alas, the bell tolled and there was nothing left.

It’s said that it’s not good form to linger too long on injuries or to use them as an excuse when looking at the outcome of any game but I really think some mention should be made of the Demons’ current afflictions. It’s been happening all year (in fact, for a number of them) and most clubs suffer injuries during a long, harsh season but it started getting much worse than that which is standard just after the club pulled off its surprise victory against Essendon. Clint Bartram, Mitch Clark, Aaron Davey and Jamie Bennell have since joined Max Gawn and young draft pick Rory Taggert on the list of players whose seasons were ended. Mark Jamar’s season now also hangs in the balance although he is expected to play again this year if he heals well from his torn calf.

The group that was available to represent the Melbourne Football Club and to play for it before, during and after the game diminished in number rapidly from Thursday morning. Jack Watts was rules out with an ankle while James Sellar failed to pass his fitness test. On the morning of the game, Luke Tapscott (groin) was ruled out and replaced by James Strauss. Josh Tynan was similarly ruled out at Casey adding to the club’s woes. Ten minutes into the game, Mark Jamar, who already had seven hit outs, was subbed off with a recurrence of his calf injury. Later, Jack Grimes was inconvenienced with what appeared to be an ankle injury and went to the rooms but was soon back in action and finally, Jamie Bennell left the field. He will undergo ACL surgery.

As coach Mark Neeld pointed out, the club remained in the contest and probably “had equal chance probably at three-quarter time”. But that wasn’t really true because you could see the effects of the imbalance caused by the loss of players. Stef Martin kicked a couple of goals early but he was called upon to fill the breach in the ruck when Jamar went down. Rucking virtually alone, he looked stuffed by three quarter time. There were others who had to carry a greater load than normal.

Melbourne which looked great early with Brad Green turning the clock back and kicking goals, Rohan Bail and Dan Nicholson showing some pace and run and James Frawley keeping Matthew Pavlich in check chalked up six goals in the first term. In some games this year, the Demons have struggled to get six in a whole game. But Ross Lyon put on the pressure and closed the game down to one which Fremantle appreciated and when the Dockers made their third and final assault, the Demons wilted, made errors and fell away.

The return of Tom McDonald who suffered a punctured lung just two weeks earlier was welcome as was the fact that he was able to throw himself into the fray as if the collision with Jonathan Brown that left him with bleeding lungs had never happened. Another Tom – Tom Couch – did well in his long awaited debut. His tackling, along with that of Jordie McKenzie was a feature. Sam Blease might not get much of the ball but he’s deadly around the goals.

Nathan Jones keeps working hard and I note that he’s now being paid the compliment of having a tagger. Despite the hard tag, he was still an effective player and one hopes that in the years to come, opposition coaches will need to worry about more than him in the Demons midfield. On the day, the Dockers finally overwhelmed a tiring opposition and this is where the game was ultimately lost, as it is most of the time.

Sad to say, but the bell has tolled for Melbourne for this season. Any battles it will fight for the remainder of the year will, in many ways, be meaningless as the team has effectively had the heart ripped out of it by injury but the coming seven weeks will act as good preparation for next year. Although, it’s been “next year” for a long time, the experience of West Coast and Adelaide respectively over the past two seasons suggests that, if all goes well for a team and there’s a lot of hard work and sweat applied, a team can regenerate more quickly than anyone would normally expect.

Melbourne 6.4.40 8.6.54 12.7.79 12.11.83

Fremantle 3.2.20 6.5.41 11.6.72 18.9.117

Goals

Melbourne Green 3 Bail 2 Blease 2 Martin 2 Sylvia Bennell Bate.

Fremantle Pavlich 4 Walters 3 Pearce 2 Ballantyne 2 Barlow 2 Hill 2 Mayne Bradley Mzungu.

Best

Melbourne Martin Sylvia Nicholson McDonald Macdonald McKenzie Jones Grimes

Fremantle Mundy Hill Pavlich Barlow Walters McPharlin Ballantyne Spurr

Injuries

Melbourne Mark Jamar (calf) Jamie Bennell (ACL) Jack Grimes (ankle)

Fremantle Nil

Changes

Melbourne Luke Tapscott (groin) replaced by James Strauss

Fremantle Antoni Grover (buttock) replaced by Lee Spurr

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Fremantle Nil

Umpires S Wenn J Dalgleish J Bannister

Crowd 13,284 at Etihad Stadium

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Tough effort when you are a man down for over a half of football. Eventually they just ran over us. Second quarter was disappointing and we were lucky to almost break even from it, but overall it was a good honest effort.

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Yep, had a real dip and tried hard to cover the lack of numbers and rotations. Some of the decision making fell off as they got tired. Keep the kids. Well worth giving Strauss a run and Blease still offers us something.

For me time to relegate those who shouldn't be there next season and try others. Joel MacDonald whilst he got a lot of it still turns it over and very often under no pressure. Assuming numbers available to come back.

We really missed Watts today. Would have been important at either end.

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Agree FYD. Effort was good. When the game was played on our terms without injury we were 3 goals up.

Bit stiff given what Spencer showed last week to go in with no 3rd ruck man and then have that happen.

We really can't get enough footy to win a game though. Too many midfielders not competitive enough.

Looking forward to KC's excellent reports to hear who might push up.

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Guest bluey

Team is totally unfit, can not run out a game, those that are not unfit are injured.

The high performance team is anything but that.

Misson and Craig were meant to resolve fitness and injury issues, money not well spent thus far.

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Too many handballs. Kicking backwards, running two meters behind the opponent, bad decision making, not being able to man up. What else can I say. We have too many people at the coaching panel. Why don't they tell them not to hand ball to someone who is surrounded by too many opposition players.

This is a proud club and the supporters are too patient with the outcome. Come on Demons make us all proud.

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Sometimes you're unlucky. Freo probably would have run over us anyway, but losing a couple of players made it pretty much impossible to stop them. We were running on the spot at the end.

Showed some good signs, but unfortunately we :

- Lacked spread

- Lacked Clark up forward (especially when Martin had to ruck).

Definitely getting better, though.

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Difficult game to analyse, apart from the last quarter I thought we fought all the time and the last quarter CAN be put down to lack of legs from our injury toll.

There were plenty of positives to take from the day but unfortunately it will be overshadowed by the fact we lay down, every other quarter we able to find goals at the right time to step the flow but no one could do that and then once the game was done we went back to what know and that's playing stupid, unskilled footy.

F$ me we're getting some bad luck though.

And 13000 for the crowd, seriously some Melbourne fans need a kick up the backside, Jimmy worked so hard to get this club out of debt and they can't even bother to turn up for a match just because it's at Etihad.

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Maybe the sub should be to replace a player who not performing. And the Emergencies that are names can replace player who is medically unfit. Don't know who would decide if a player was medically unfit.

Problem is whatever system is used some teams who bend rules to suit themselves.

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Team is totally unfit, can not run out a game, those that are not unfit are injured.

The high performance team is anything but that.

Misson and Craig were meant to resolve fitness and injury issues, money not well spent thus far.

On MMM earlier today they were talking about Misson working us to the bone during the pre-season because we were behind where we should have been. This is obviously going to have flow on effects to the season because we were killed in the pre-season training.

I'm a Blease lover but I would really like more than 8 disposals from him.

We would have won if we had Jamar and Bennell not injured. That's pretty good against a side pushing for finals. Disappointing end but that is the way it goes.

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Um, am I allowed to have an alternative perspective?

I was pleased with our efforts today and think that we have slowly improved over the year. Seriously undermanned with two on the bench and a number of key player injured.

Don't forget freo were playing for a finals spot and had a lot to lose today.

Mind you I am watching from byron bay after a week away and so feeling mighty chilled!

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To me the turning point was when Strauss didn't bother to attack the ball and assumed it would go out of bounds. The result was Fremantle took the ball to the other end of the ground and kicked a goal.

Dumb and lazy, Melbourne in a nushell.

The turning point was when Jamar went down, we couldn't afford another one and we got it in Bennell.

Strauss and his Freo op both walked away from that ball, another freo player realised it was still in, Strauss shouldn't have assumed (you play out to the whistle although with decisions these days?) but it was hardly the turning point.

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Too easily pleased.

Yes we ran out of legs, but we also make dumb decisions with the footy (or have a dumb coach!), we can't hit targets and we refuse to man up.

Once again we got ripped apart on the run. They broke away and spread while we sat and watched.

And for as long as our midfield fails to compete I will keep asking where the [censored] is Gysberts?

Why are Bennell and Petterd getting a game ahead of him? And how can you justify playing Bate in the middle when we are already lacking run?

We weren't unlucky to lose. We got smashed for about 30% of the game.

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Team is totally unfit, can not run out a game, those that are not unfit are injured.

The high performance team is anything but that.

Misson and Craig were meant to resolve fitness and injury issues, money not well spent thus far.

"Analysis" of the players and the staff doesn't get much lower than this.

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A gutsy effort, Jamar going down really hurt us in the second quarter but we appeared to regroup, Bennell going down robbed us of rotations and we were hanging on from late in the third, needed to head in 3/4 time with a bit more of a lead.

Happy with the efforts of a lot of boys, a lot of merit in chasing mids for next season but having two targets up forward would also be nice.

If Gysberts played well today time for him to come in bit of polish in midfield would be good on todays display the intensity and endevour is there. Strauss getting more games into him and Watts coming back will see us setting up attack off half back much better as the team moves forward

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"Analysis" of the players and the staff doesn't get much lower than this.

For all those that haven't seen 'ology ......

Bluey is just a [censored] stirrer that pokes others with stereotypical negative supporter stuff. If you know this it's actually pretty funny.

What's even funnier is when other posters come on and agree with him!! They're the stupid ones.

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Team is totally unfit, can not run out a game, those that are not unfit are injured.

The high performance team is anything but that.

Misson and Craig were meant to resolve fitness and injury issues, money not well spent thus far.

This is a fantastical cluster of simply ridiculous statements. Bluey you seem to suggest that it is Misson and Craig's fault that our list is unfit and injured. Firstly, please explain to us, with reference to our injury list below, how these injuries can be directly attributed to our 'high performance team'.

You also state that the reason we are unfit is because of the work our new fitness have done with our players thus far. So please explain how on earth it is humanly, physically possible to attribute the collective fitness level of a group of individuals to a new fitness team that has been in charge for ONE single pre-season? Are you specialised in this field? Because anyone who is would tell you that it is simply not possible.

Round 16 injury list

Clint Bartram (knee) - season

Mitch Clark (foot) - season

Michael Evans (back) - test

Max Gawn (knee) - season

Mark Jamar (calf) - test

Liam Jurrah (ankle) - 2 weeks

Kelvin Lawrence (calf) - 2 weeks

Tom McDonald (lung) - test

James Sellar (thigh) - test

Jai Sheahan (ankle) - 2 weeks

Rory Taggert (back) - indefinite

Josh Tynan (concussion) - test

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For all those that haven't seen 'ology ......

Bluey is just a [censored] stirrer that pokes others with stereotypical negative supporter stuff. If you know this it's actually pretty funny.

What's even funnier is when other posters come on and agree with him!! They're the stupid ones.

Where is the humour in perpetuating stupidity? Maybe people who laugh at his tripe are 'the stupid ones'.

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To me the turning point was when Strauss didn't bother to attack the ball and assumed it would go out of bounds. The result was Fremantle took the ball to the other end of the ground and kicked a goal.

Dumb and lazy, Melbourne in a nushell.

Really well said. So much dumb football all day. Also Petterd and Bate just play schoolboy footy. Just yelling kick it to me standing still is terrible. Howe besides a specky isn't all that great. Bad kicking at goal and turnovers.

We really lack a key forward when Clark isn't there, Jamar going down really hurt us.

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Too easily pleased.

Yes we ran out of legs, but we also make dumb decisions with the footy (or have a dumb coach!), we can't hit targets and we refuse to man up.

Once again we got ripped apart on the run. They broke away and spread while we sat and watched.

And for as long as our midfield fails to compete I will keep asking where the [censored] is Gysberts?

Why are Bennell and Petterd getting a game ahead of him? And how can you justify playing Bate in the middle when we are already lacking run?

We weren't unlucky to lose. We got smashed for about 30% of the game.

Jaded your lack of understanding of the game is unbelievable. We lost Jamar early, then Bennell, then carried Strauss and Couch in their first games at this level for the year. We got killed on the spread because we had nothing left. We made skill errors because the simple options dried up because of lack of run.We refuse to man up because we had nothing left.

You want bring to Gysberts in who is renowned for having no tank to improve our spread? Replace Bennell (small forward) and Petterd (lead up forward) with him, they dont even play the same role.

Were we perfect today no but get a grip.

Edited by big_red_fire_engine
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