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THE NIGHT OF THE JACKS by Whispering Jack

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They didn't win. Really, they didn't even deserve to do so or even come that close for that matter and the Brisbane Lions were well below full strength with Jonathan Brown and two of their best midfielders out of the contest. But with the season now entering a prolonged junk time for the Melbourne Football Club and our thoughts firmly focussed on the trade and draft periods and the coming back room battles for control of a banana republic board that will, for some time remain subservient to the AFL army, there were some things you just had to take from a loss of less than 20 points.

I could settle for the performance of James Frawley who prevailed over a defence which in better circumstances (i.e if we had a midfield that could occasionally win a centre clearance) would be regarded as first world. "Chip" was awesome on the night and he was well assisted by Colin Garland until the third quarter tragedy took place (more of that later). I could have also settled on Nathan Jones who is all class in a moribund midfield and who was worn all night by a glove called Andrew Raines and still managed to have an impact (even if limited) or on Colin Sylvia who worked hard in the hot humid evening to amass 27 touches.

In the end however, I decided to dedicate the night to our Jacks - all five of them because together, they will lead this club forward. I don't know how the judges who award the NAB Rising Star can avoid giving young Viney the gong this week. Our youngest player led by example, took the hits and was often found at the bottom of the packs in his first AFL game in 10 weeks and only ran out of steam at the end. This is where the club's midfield revival starts.

The club's ugly duckling Jack Fitzpatrick is turning into a swan, dangerous around goal with a haul of four, three of them in the opening term and it could have been more but for a little knee problem. Jack Watts gifted him one of those early goals and was terrific on the night with 21 touches (10 marks), even having to go into the ruck at times to help out Max Gawn and Jack F in the sapping heat. Jack Grimes had a negating role in the middle and did it well while his co-captain Jack Trengove lurked with intent, laid a dozen tackles and was a strong contributor. He's emerging out of a dirty first half of a season in which his preparation was hampered by a difficult foot injury.

There was more. Max Gawn worked hard in the ruck and got his share of hit outs and while beaten around the ground by Leuenberger is on his way to a career as one of the game's better big men.

The team effort was solid and a major improvement on last week. The quarter time score of 5.1.31 exceeded that of the deluge affected score from Simonds Stadium, they went inside 50 fifty times and for the second week in a row, kept the opposition to under 100 points. The last quarter and a half was played under the disadvantage of being a rotation short after a languishing Jimmy Toumpas was subbed off with Garland rolling an ankle a minute or so later. Bad luck but, in those tough conditions, it gave Brisbane that small advantage that allowed it to safely see out the game.

Junk time and the MFC world tour continues next week with our second home game in a row away from home, this time at Etihad against a desperately unlucky North Melbourne team that will be keen to give another team a kicking after its train of tragedies and close defeats. A month ago I wouldn't have given the Demons a chance but now - who knows?

Melbourne 5.1.31 6.5.41 10.7.67 11.9 75

Brisbane Lions 3.4.22 8.5.53 11.12.78 13.16.94

Goals

Melbourne Fitzpatrick 4 Blease Davey 2 Byrnes Dawes N Jones

Brisbane Lions Green Staker 3 Merrett Redden 2 Lisle Mayes, Zorko

Best

Melbourne Frawley Viney Fitzpatrick Sylvia Grimes Trengove

Brisbane Lions Rockliff Hanley Leuenberger Redden Staker Green

Injuries

Melbourne Garland (ankle)

Brisbane Lions Nil

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Brisbane Lions Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby replaced by Sam Docherty and Jordan Lisle

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Brisbane Lions Nil

Umpired Findlay Ryan Fila

Official Crowd 7,615 at TIO Stadium

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