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THE HEART OF THE MATTER by The Oracle

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THE HEART OF THE MATTER by The Oracle

The AFL's Indigenous Round takes the Demons right into the heart of the country - to Alice Springs where almost to the day, twelve months ago they fought tooth and nail again a top four aspirant in Port Adelaide but ultimately fell agonisingly short.

In that game, the Power were off to a flyer and led 4.2.26 to 0.0.0 by the mid point of the opening quarter but the young Demons fought back to hold a narrow lead with 15 minutes left in the game after Christian Salem goaled. It was Port, on its way to a Preliminary Final appearance, that held sway with the last three goals and again, two months later in the return game at Adelaide Oval, they kicked the final goal two minutes before the end to stave off another Melbourne comeback and win by the narrow margin of three points.

It was not that the win meant all that much to the Demons in the grand scheme of things in season 2014 but the heart of the matter was that it was one of a handful occasions in recent years when a truly big scalp was there for the taking and the opportunity to take it was missed.

And if the club is to truly raise itself up from the group of also rans of the competition and into its middle tier from which it can launch future campaigns into finals class, it has to take scalps like that of Port Adelaide which right now, has about it an air of vulnerability.

And that is at the heart of the matter this week.

THE GAME Melbourne v Port Adelaide on Saturday 30 May, 2015 at 2.10pm (AEST) at TIO Treager Park, Alice Springs

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 11 wins Port Adelaide 17 wins

At TIO Treager Park Melbourne 0 wins Port Adelaide 1 win

Past five meetings Melbourne wins Port Adelaide wins

The Coaches Roos 0 wins Hinkley 1 win

MEDIA

TV - Fox Sports 3 at 2.00pm (live)

RADIO - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE BETTING Melbourne to win - $3.30 Port Adelaide to win - $1.32

THE LAST TIME THEY MET Port Adelaide 10.12.72 defeated Melbourne 10.9.69 Round 18 at the Adelaide Oval

Port Adelaide was going through a bit of a slump but seemed in control for most of the first half until a rear guard action led by Dom Tyson and Nathan Jones in the midfield saw Melbourne hit the front in an exciting final quarter. The Demons had their chances but a late rally for a goal to Jay Schulz saw the Power hold on to the final siren.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

B: Colin Garland, Tom McDonald, Jack Grimes

HB: Jeremy Howe, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta

C: Daniel Cross, Aaron vandenBerg, Heritier Lumumba

HF: Rohan Bail, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Watts

F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Jack Fitzpatrick

FOLL: Jake Spencer, Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince

I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Matt Jones, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Viney

EMG: Max Gawn, Ben Newton, Aidan Riley

IN: Jack Viney, Neville Jetta

OUT: Ben Newton (omitted), Aidan Riley (omitted)

PORT ADELAIDE

B: Jack Hombsch, Alipate Carlile, Jarman Impey

HB: Nathan Krakouer, Tom Jonas, Jasper Pittard

C: Matt White, Travis Boak, Brad Ebert

HF: Robbie Gray, Justin Westhoff, Chad Wingard

F: Karl Amon, Jay Schulz, Angus Monfries

FOLL: Matthew Lobbe, Hamish Hartlett, Ollie Wines

I/C: Matthew Broadbent, Tom Clurey, Sam Gray, Paul Stewart

EMG: Andrew Moore, Cam O'Shea, Aaron Young

IN: Matthew Broadbent, Tom Clurey, Paul Stewart

OUT: Jackson Trengove (ankle), Patrick Ryder (Achilles), Kane Cornes (retired)

IT FIGURES by Sam the Stats Man

When the Demons jubilantly took the honours and caused a minor upset in the first round of the season against the Gold Coast Suns, they had almost a full list of players fit and available for action. Jack Trengove was the only player with senior AFL experience on the injured list. The two others - Jayden Hunt and Christian Petracca are kids with their careers ahead of them. Progressively, from that day onward, the injuries began to kick in (as they do at most clubs) leading the club to a position where a lack of player depth was exposed in successive weeks in games against the leading teams in the competition. It all started when one of the stars of the Gold Coast win, Jack Viney who subdued an injured Garry Ablett Junior, broke his leg and a swag of others from that opening game win are missing - most of them with injuries extending beyond a couple of weeks. Here's hoping for a better run from here on in but from a statistical point of view, the run of injuries has certainly not helped the club's quest to rise from the depths of the AFL ladder.

On a more positive note, the contributions of the new faces at the club have been significant to this point in time, a testament to the excellent recruiting at the club since the advent of Paul Roos as coach.

BAIL, Rohan MFC 2 games, 1 goal, CSFC 3 games 3 goals - on the outer until the last couple of games coming in to fill the need for a little speed.

BRAYSHAW, Angus MFC 8 games, 2 goals - exciting debut season from this highly rated youngster.

CROSS, Daniel MFC 8 games, 0 goals - continues to inspire and lead the team.

DAWES, Chris MFC 5 games, 3 goals - hampered by a calf injury and yet to hit his straps.

DUNN, Lynden MFC 8 games, 0 goals - solid as a leader in the back line.

FITZPATRICK, Jack MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CSFC 5 games 0 goals - impressed in his new role in defence in his first game of the season last week.

FROST, Sam MFC 3 games, 0 goals - versatile tall man with pace suffered an injury in round three that will keep him out for some time yet.

GARLAND, Colin MFC 8 games, 1 goal - solid and reliable in defence.

GARLETT, Jeffrey MFC 8 games, 16 goals - goal sneak who adapted well at the club and leads the goal kicking.

GAWN, Max CSFC 6 games 8 goals - showing some form at Casey but hasn't been able to break into the AFL team this year.

GRIMES, Jack MFC 3 games, 0 goals, CSFC 3 games 1 goal - struggled early but back in the team and starting to show form.

HARMES, James ® CSFC 6 games, 5 goals - promising rookie developing nicely as a utility player with the Scorpions.

HOGAN, Jesse MFC 7 games, 14 goals - the talk of the town as the next big thing in power forwards.

HOWE, Jeremy MFC 8 games, 1 goal - has been somewhat subdued in defence but showed some spark up forward in his last game.

HUNT, Jayden CSFCDL 3 games, 0 goals - on the comeback trail in the Casey development side after a long term injury.

JAMAR, Mark MFC 5 games, 2 goals, CSFC 3 games, 0 goals - lion hearted early but has seemingly fallen out of favour lately and suffered a head knock in his last game at Casey.

JETTA, Neville MFC 4 games, 0 goals - the Demons are taking great care with Jetta after a few bouts of concussion.

JONES, Matthew MFC 2 games, 1 goal, CSFC 4 games, 1 goal - just broke back into the team and did well in curtailing the Bulldogs' skipper in the last game before being subbed off with concussion.

JONES, Nathan MFC 8 games, 4 goals - has had one or two quiet ones but overall continues to set the example of courage through great leadership.

KENNEDY-HARRIS, Jay MFC 5 games, 1 goal - showed promise as a crumbing forward before his injury.

KENT, Dean MFC 4 games, 2 goals - was stepping up into a regular forward role before he tore a hamstring in the Anzac Day eve game against the Tigers.

KING, Max ® CSFCDL 5 games,14 goals - the big man is waiting in line in the Casey development team where he is regularly kicking goals.

LUMUMBA, Heritier MFC 8 games, 1 goal - showing great passion and leadership and you get the feeling that he's due for a big game at any time.

McDONALD, Oscar ® CSFC 4 games, 1 goal, CSFCDL 2 games, 0 goals - following in his older brother's footsteps, Oscar is learning the ropes at Casey.

McDONALD, Tom MFC 8 games, 1 goal - raised his game to a new level and regarded a real chance for All Australian honours if he can keep up his current form.

McKENZIE, Jordie MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CSFC 5 games, 1 goal - restricted to only one AFL game, his questionable disposal looks like keeping him out in the cold despite some good form in the VFL.

MICHIE, Viv MFC 3 games, 0 goals, CSFC 3 games, 0 goals - one of a number of midfielders working hard to establish a place in the side.

NEAL-BULLEN, Alex CSFC 4 games, 0 goals, CSFCDL 2 games, 1 goal - a hard nut midfield extractor in development phase who is impressing with the Casey seniors.

NEWTON, Ben MFC 7 games, 7 goals - one of the Demons' impressive midfield imports.

PEDERSEN, Cameron MFC 4 games, 6 goals, CSFC 2 games, 5 goals - has come back with a vengeance in his last two games as a forward/ruckman.

PETRACCA, Christian - an ACL put paid to an AFL debut in the 2015 for this boom youngster.

RILEY, Aidan MFC 1 game, 0 goals, CSFC 5 games, 2 goals - spent most of the season so far in the VFL but impressed when he came on as a sub in his last game.

SALEM, Christian MFC 7 games, 1 goal - there were no second year blues for the youngster who was in outstanding form before a hamstring injury put him out until the middle of next month.

SPENCER, Jake MFC 3 games, 0 goals, CSFC 3 games, 0 percent goals - grabbed his opportunity after some good form in the ruck at VFL level.

STRETCH, Billy MFC 2 games, 1 goal, CSFC 2 games, 0 goals - father-son pick who has shown some promising signs in his debut season.

TERLICH, Dean CSFC 6 games, 1 goal - an injury interrupted pre season meant a late start and he has yet to break into AFL ranks this year.

TOUMPAS, Jimmy MFC 4 games, 2 goals, CSFC 3 games, 1 goal - starting to show some signs as to why he was so sought after in his draft year.

TRENGOVE, Jack - unlucky to have a recurrence of the break in his foot and is out indefinitely.

TYSON, Dom MFC 7 games, 2 goals - has not recaptured last year's stellar form and is currently out with a knee injury.

VANDENBERG, Aaron ® MFC 8 games, 3 goals - the revelation who came off the rookie list and cemented his spot in the team as a big-bodied midfielder.

VINCE, Bernie MFC 7 games 3 goals - warming up in a tagging role after an interrupted preseason.

VINEY, Jack MFC 2 games, 0 goals - it took a break in his foot to stop this young hard nut.

WATTS, Jack MFC 7 games, 4 goals, CSFC 1 game, 1 goal - continues to be an enigma with fluctuating form lines.

WHITE, Mitch ® CSFC 5 games, 1 goal, CSFCDL 1 game, 1 goal - promising rookie with a penetrating left foot.

ONE MORE WEEK by The Oracle

Driving home from last week's win over the Bulldogs, I was listening to the Port Adelaide v Richmond game and simply couldn't believe the pain that Port were suffering as they struggled to get among the goals against the Tigers. What the hell was happening with them? Was this the same team that monstered Hawthorn in the first half of their game a month earlier? I have absolutely no answer but I hope their current poor form persists for one more week and they allow Melbourne for the first time in four years to go back to back in the heart of the country.

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