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LOST CHANCES by Mel Rundle

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My first thought when the final siren sounded was that although Melbourne beat Adelaide by four points in the corresponding game last year and lost by four goals this time, the Demons have actually improved over the past twelve months.

After all, the Crows are a much more settled team this year under new coach Phil Walsh, they are in good form, are at top strength and the conditions and the umpiring suited them perfectly. With a partisan crowd of 43,713 roaring them on they took their chances and did enough to make the most of these advantages. They took control of the game early in the third quarter and ended up winners by 25 points.

The margin however, did not do justice to the application and intensity that, for the most part, the Melbourne players put into this match. Unfortunately for them, the accuracy in front of goal which defined last year's win (11 goals from 15 shots) deserted them this time, particularly early on when they missed two sitters in their blistering opening quarter. At one stage during the term, they had notched up 11 inside 50s to 2; they had their chances but failed to take them and then let the Crows in for three late goals so that the game was very much in the balance at the first break instead of tightly in their grip.

The status quo remained in the second quarter with the arm wrestle highlighted by the even battle in the ruck between Mark Jamar and Sam Jacobs with the Adelaide midfield just taking the honours. Jeremy Howe capably assisted Tom McDonald in defence and produced a trade mark "hanger" in the second quarter.

Perhaps the result was dictated during the week when former Demon Scott Thompson was selected for his first game of the season and Brodie Smith recovered from a hamstring incurred last week to gain selection while Melbourne's Jack Viney was ruled out with a leg fracture. Thompson played a leading role in the midfield while Smith was handy kicking the crucial goal that opened the second half. With Tom McDonald doing a good job on Tex Walker and Bernie Vince nullifying Paddy Dangerfield, the Crows really needed that pair to get them back on top after the early Demon onslaught.

Despite their hard work down the ground, the visitors struggled to put the score on the board with Jesse Hogan and Jeff Garlett each kicking two goals but missing an equal number of simple shots at goal which could have made all the difference in the end.

A special mention must be made of the hard effort put on by Neville Jetta who often doesn't get enough credit. He did a great job in nullifying one of the competition's best goal sneaks in Eddie Betts for much of the game.

The three quarter time all in brawl wasn't enough to inspire the young Melbourne team to turn the game around. Instead, it was some slick work from Walker that resulted in the all important first goal of the final term that gave his team enough of a buffer to stave off a challenge that never really came because the Demons lacked the finishing skills that so often make the difference between winning and losing matches.

With both sides having 20 shots on goal for the match, it was clear how the Demons had blown their chances this time around. Yet when compared with the performances against Adelaide of both North Melbourne and Collingwood in the opening rounds, there is a lot for Paul Roos to work on this season.

With the midfield improving (there's still more room for improvement there) and the defence now becoming a strength, the disappointment was the failure of last year's hero Chris Dawes, to impose himself on the game. Perhaps Roos needs to look at his forward structure to improve his team's chances of success in the future?

Melbourne 3.4.22 4.6.30 6.9.45 7.13.55

Adelaide
3.1.19 5.3.33 9.4.58 12.8.80

Goals

Melbourne
Garlett Hogan 2 N Jones Kent Newton

Adelaide Walker Ellis-Yolmen 2 Betts Brown Cameron Jenkins Lynch Mackay Smith

Best

Melbourne
T McDonald N Jones Howe Vince Cross Vandenberg

Adelaide Sloane Douglas Thompson Talia Mackay Ellis-Yoleman

Changes

Melbourne
Nil

Adelaide Nil

Injuries

Melbourne
Sam Frost (foot)

Adelaide Nil

Substitutions

Melbourne
Angus Brayshaw replaced Sam Frost (left foot) in the second quarter.

Matthew Wright replaced Charlie Cameron at three quarter time.

Adelaide

Reports

Melbourne
Nil

Adelaide Nil

Umpires Simon Meredith Dean Margetts Nicholas Foot

Official crowd 43,713 at Adelaide Oval

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