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THE LION KINKS by The Oracle

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Melbourne wrapped up this low scoring game against a very kinky bottom-of-the-ladder Brisbane Lions in the first quarter when it kicked five goals, three of them off the boot of Jesse Hogan, the Demons' brightest shining light on the horizon in several years. In fact, 20-year-old Hogan who kicked his fourth in the last quarter is more than just on the horizon - he's getting close to taking over centre stage.

Given that the Lions also scored a major in the opening stanza, half of the game’s paltry total of twelve goals had been kicked by quarter time, leaving plenty of time for boring, defensive and ugly football in what was certainly not an exhibition of the finer points of the great Australian game. Fortunately, the administrators of our indigenous sport can also point to the fact that on the same ground, on the night before, the best exponents of the world game, produced a similarly lifeless and scoreless effort.

It's probably gone largely unrecognised because the Demons haven't exactly put enough results on the board but the past month or two have seen some definite signs of improvement. Leaving aside, the last 40 minutes of the game against the Eagles in Darwin, the Melbourne has been in winning positions in all of its games since the Queens Birthday clash against Collingwood. Last week, it was a burst of accuracy by the Bombers in the third quarter (and inaccuracy all day by the Dees) that cost it the game, a few weeks before that, a defensive brain fade in the dying moment that deprived them of the points at Etihad against the Saints. In light of that, who could argue with an ugly 24 point victory against an opponent kept to only four goals? (in fact, the team has kept its opposition down to just 8 goals in 7 of the last 8 quarters played)

This defensive mindset is reminiscent of last year but it's certainly becoming more effective and efficient. How long before a breakthrough sees the team record another significant win like that against Geelong four weeks ago?

The selectors persevered with the same side that lost to the Bombers and are giving more game time to their young players while signaling to the likes of Mark Jamar and Jack Grimes that their time may still come. The young kids tried and showed promise and, of course, Hogan was the standout but the kudos from this game will go to the likes of Jeremy Howe who excelled in defence in what might have been his last chance before a stint at Casey. Bernie Vince and Jack Viney were the pick of the midfielders but there really wasn’t much excitement in the club’s engine room.

Max Gawn is winning in the ruck on a weekly basis but the men at his feet are still not capitalizing on his dominance. Apart from in the first quarter, Brisbane won at the clearances and stoppages and hence, the struggle on the part of the team to score after the first break. Its little wonder therefore that in the post-match press conference, Paul Roos said that the aim is to recruit an A list midfielder into the ranks for next year. That’s wonderful but Dangerfield and Treloar appear out of his grasp so, unless he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Roosy might have to rely on some of the youngsters in his own ranks to continue to improve and for Jack Trengove and Christian Petracca to make full recoveries from the injuries that kept them out this season.

Next week, Melbourne takes on St. Kilda which continues to be impressive although, like the Dees, isn’t getting enough wins on the board for the effort expended. A victory would see the team on course for its highest placed finish in four years, perhaps a springboard for the future.

Melbourne 5.4.34 7.7.49 7.10.52 8.12.60

Brisbane Lions 1.2.8 1.5.11 3.8.26 4.12.36

Goals

Melbourne Hogan 4 Garlett McDonald 2

Brisbane Lions Andrews, Christensen, Robinson, Zorko

Best

Melbourne Howe, Gawn, Hogan, Viney, Cross, vandenBerg

Brisbane Lions Christensen, Zorko, Taylor, Beams, Andrews

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Brisbane Lions Nil

Injuries

Melbourne Nil

Brisbane Lions Hanley (hamstring)

Substitutions

Melbourne Alex Neal-Bullen replaced Jay Kennedy-Harris in the third term

Brisbane Lions James Aish replaced Pearce Hanley in the third quarter

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Brisbane Lions Nil

Umpires Bannister, Harris, McInerney

Official crowd 25,149 at the MCG

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