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MATCH PREVIEW AND TEAM SELECTION

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GONE TROPPO by JVM

The Melbourne Football Club has certainly made an impression on the Top End of the nation in recent times. The club conducted an intensive preseason lasting a week or so late last year. Players lived and trained in an army barracks, walked through crocodile infested Kakadu in intensely hot and humid conditions and were feted by the local community. More recently some of its players felt even more intense heat in the cockpit of a light plane sweating it out through an emergency landing in circumstances that might easily have been a matter of life and death.

Regrettably, none of the bravado displayed in the heat up there has helped avoid embarrassment at the hands of opposition clubs when it comes to playing a game of football. The Demons have been diabolical this season whether home or away but since the departure of Mark Neeld as coach, the players have been given more freedom and were coming out of their shells until they ran into the rampant Cats on their home turf right in the middle of a deluge which left their lighter bodied frames vulnerable to a hiding. The conditions probably saved them from a much larger defeat.

This week, in a vastly different climate and on almost the opposite side of the continent, the team comes up against a vastly different opponent but one which was Geelong's last conqueror. Brisbane was languishing a little until recently after brushing all comers aside in the preseason NAB Cup. They trailed Geelong by 52 points close to three quarter time at the Gabba before their resurgence got them home after the siren. They lost to the Hawks the following week but have won two on end including that come from behind win last week against the Roos. In their past four final quarters, the Lions have posted 166 points to their opposition's 79. Given Melbourne's recent final term lapses (remember the Bulldogs game), I don't think I would back the Demons even if they were 10 goals ahead at the final break.

As this is the first time for the season that Melbourne comes up against a repeat opponent, it gives us an opportunity to compare performances from the Neeld regime to the one under Neil Craig but I can't see the Demons improving on the 28 point shortfall from Round 5, particularly if Brent Moloney comes up fit. Beamer seems to be on a mission to torment his former fans as if his abysmal output when playing for the club in 2012 wasn't torment enough.

You see, if Melbourne has gone backwards in one area in the past month, its been in the midfield which last week was almost invisible at centre square contests leading to the most lopsided inside 50 counts since they started counting them. And that's exactly what's driving us all Troppo!

THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at TIO Stadium, Darwin, Saturday 20 July, 2013 at 7.10pm.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 21 wins Brisbane Lions 18 wins

TIO Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins

Since 2000 Melbourne 8 wins Brisbane Lions 10 Wins

The Coaches Craig 0 wins Voss 0 wins

MEDIA

TV Fox Footy Channel 3 live at 7.30pm

RADIO SEN ABC

THE BETTING Melbourne $4.30 Brisbane Lions $1.21

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Brisbane Lions 17.20.122 defeated Melbourne 14.10.94 in Round 5, 2013 at the Gabba

After an even first quarter, the home side established a narrow lead at half time before Jonathan Brown did in the third quarter what good, strong power forwards tend to do against the Demons. He blew them away.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

Backs Lynden Dunn Colin Garland Dean Terlich

Half backs Tom McDonald James Frawley Mitch Clisby

Centreline Jimmy Toumpas Jack Trengove Jack Grimes

Half forwards Colin Sylvia Jack Watts Shannon Byrnes

Forwards Aaron Davey Chris Dawes Jeremy Howe

Followers Max Gawn Jack Viney Nathan Jones

Interchange Sam Blease Jack Fitzpatrick Matt Jones Dean Kent

Emergencies Jordie McKenzie Cameron Pedersen Jake Spencer

In Jack Viney

Out Daniel Nicholson

BRISBANE LIONS

Backs Jed Adcock Matt Maguire Joel Patfull

Half backs Ryan Harwood Justin Clarke Brent Staker

Centreline Pearce Hanley Tom Rockliff Sam Mayes

Half forwards Dayne Zorko Jordan Lisle Rohan Bewick

Forwards Josh Green Daniel Merrett Ashley McGrath

Followers Matthew Leuenberger Jack Redden Daniel Rich

Interchange Sam Docherty Ryan Lester Andrew Raines Elliot Yeo

Emergencies James Polkinghorne

In Sam Docherty Jordan Lisle Elliot Yeo

Out Jonathan Brown Mitch Golby James Polkinghorne

THE LATE MAIL

My late mail delivered by Bill Lawry's carrier pigeon returning after fleeing Lords is that Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby are out of the Brisbane Lions side for the game in Darwin. They join veteran midfielders Simon Black and Brent Moloney on the sidelines for the Lions which probably offsets the fact that former Brisbanite Mitch Clark continues to be missing from the Melbourne line up.

Now, if only Mark Neeld was still around, he would no doubt explain the significance of the absence of the Brisbane quartet in terms of raw numbers of experience as expressed in games played. Leaving aside young Golby who has added some grunt to its defence, Brisbane is missing more than 700 games of AFL experience and almost the same number of goals scored. In economic terms they together comprise the equivalent of the gross national product of some South American banana republics and enough to raise even Alan Stockdale's eyebrows.

What this means is that the game takes on an entirely different complexion. I don't have the precise figures (actually I don't have any figures at all) but I'm guessing that the differential between age, experience and body strength has narrowed markedly while Melbourne's main advantage over Brisbane (average IQ) would have gone through the roof with the absence of Brown and Moloney. This leaves only two considerations - the weather and the superiority of the opposition midfield. These were the two factors that in my view, led to that embarrassing record inside 50 differential against the Cats last week.

I checked the weather report and they're predicting warm, sunny conditions during the day (max 32, min 19) and little or no rain although humidity will be high up to 95%. That means it won't be bucketing down as it did at Simonds Stadium so the Dees will have some respite on the weather front. Unfortunately, the Lions still have the advantage in the midfield even with Black and Moloney missing. Leuenberger should have the edge in terms of experience over Gawn and Fitzpatrick and Rich, Redden and Rockliff are likely to dominate the clearances with Raines sitting on Nathan Jones.

Elsewhere, Melbourne needs to capitalise on the absence of Jonathan Brown who always manages to do a number against the unlucky backman who draws the short straw and has to play on him while the forward line should relish the additional opportunities and score more than four goals.

Notwithstanding, the Lions late surge to come from over 50 points down at the Gabba last month still resonates and the fact that they fancy themselves as finals contenders is enough to convince me that they have the added incentive to get themselves over the line.

Brisbane by 15 points.

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Brilliant to see that we have sold a home game in the tropics that is not even to be shown on TV.

Any idea what the latest NT membership count is? I am sure it will be enormous, last year we were up to about 40.

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You know the problem WYL, Hawthorn got their house in order after the failed merge and thought outside the box and "this is the way we always did things". We all know what we did during that time and that is one of the main reasons why we are lagging behind off field.

Beggars can't be chosers

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Brilliant to see that we have sold a home game in the tropics that is not even to be shown on TV.

Any idea what the latest NT membership count is? I am sure it will be enormous, last year we were up to about 40.

Why you little cynic.

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Yes i know we are lagging for many reasons. The NT situation only makes it worse in my view.

And those who stiched this deal together have all run away with larger pockets.

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Yes i know we are lagging for many reasons. The NT situation only makes it worse in my view.

And those who stiched this deal together have all run away with larger pockets.

You watch Jackson keep us up there.

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Going by the training video, Pederson, McKenzie and Viney have all made the trip up north. 25 are up there at the moment with the intention of those not required for the game to be flown back down on Saturday morning to play for Casey.

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You watch Jackson keep us up there.

i am sure he will.

We can't afford to break anymore contracts right now.

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GONE TROPPO by JVM

...

MELBOURNE

Backs Lynden Dunn Colin Garland Dean Terlich

Half backs Tom McDonald James Frawley Mitch Clisby

Centreline Jimmy Toumpas Jack Trengove Jack Grimes

Half forwards Colin Sylvia Jack Watts Shannon Byrnes

Forwards Aaron Davey Chris Dawes Jeremy Howe

Followers Max Gawn Jack Viney Nathan Jones

Interchange Sam Blease Jack Fitzpatrick Matt Jones Dean Kent

Emergencies Jordie McKenzie Cameron Pedersen Jake Spencer

In Jack Viney

Out Daniel Nicholson

Don't mind the selections at all. In fact, Viney to start as a sub would be the right thing to do.

Loving how Craigy is not changing up the team like Neeldy was this with making 6 changes every week.

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VINEY BACK

thank god

perfect changes except Dunn still being in the team

Edited by hogans_heroes
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Happy to see Viney back, this will be his sort of game I reckon. Also happy to see a settled line up.

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im still understanding the purpose of the Russian going up.

must like scarey flights or something

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Hopefully Viney stays fit for the rest of the season.

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Don't mind the selections at all. In fact, Viney to start as a sub would be the right thing to do.

Loving how Craigy is not changing up the team like Neeldy was this with making 6 changes every week.

Won't be sub, not named among interchange.

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VINEY BACK

thank god

perfect changes except Dunn still being in the team

Mate I was thinking the exact same thing.

Who could come in and replace him?

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im still understanding the purpose of the Russian going up.

must like scarey flights or something

I presume we need a bunch of players to fill the ambassador duties so it makes sense for injured players like Jamar and Bail to do it instead of those needed at Casey.

I like the team and lack of changes. I do wonder if we need to tag Rich and who will be assigned this duty but I think it will be good for one of/or combination of Viney, Toumpas, Matt Jones or Trengove to do some tagging.

Tagging helped Nathan Jones develop as a player.

From now on I expect us to build for our grand final against GWS in round 19 then use the last month to have a look at a variety of players in different roles.

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How does Byrnes get a game every week?

Why do we give a has been a game when we have numerous young guys we could be testing and giving experience?

If the guy made a meaningful contribution and helped the kids but he does bugger all.

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Mate I was thinking the exact same thing.

Who could come in and replace him?

Strauss in Dunn out. Garland to play 3rd tall role instead of on a dangerous small/mid sized player.

At the moment Dunn gets the third tall/worst forward close to goal and Garland gets the more dangerous player. This is because they have doubts on Terlich, Clisby and Strauss to play on dangerous forwards particularly guys who can beat you in the air and on the ground. Dunn went ok last week. I really hope for his sake he can get some damn consistency but I'm not convinced. If not it's high time we ask Terlich and Strauss to do defending and take kick outs etc and back them in over Dunn.

The other option is Grimes back to the backline and a midfielder in. If we had Evans I'd do that right away. Unfortunately the best midfielders we have available are Nicholson and a back from injury McKenzie.

Dunn out, McKenzie in to tag and Grimes to the backline could very well be on the cards next week.

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How does Byrnes get a game every week?

Why do we give a has been a game when we have numerous young guys we could be testing and giving experience?

If the guy made a meaningful contribution and helped the kids but he does bugger all.

Did you watch last week? Stats don't mean much but he kicked 2 of our 4 goals! 50% of our major scores!

I think give the Byrnes out a rest this week. Unless you call for Davey out as well? We already have Kent and Blease in the team in the same role as Byrnes so we are developing some and it's not like Tapscott or Taggert are knocking the door down in the VFL.

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