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ALL ABOARD AGAIN by George on the Outer

Three weeks ago as the Dee-Train was about to pull out of the station for the Essendon game, the wheels fell off the locomotive. Since then repairs and upgrades have seen a new powerhouse, a stronger engine-room and the full support of fans and administration pile on board for the on-track journey.

For the past couple of years Richmond have finished the season as finalists, but they looked to be anything but after they encountered the full force of a charged Demon group.  The tone for the match was set in the first couple of minutes with Max Gawn starting to take apart the newly returned Ivan Maric in ruck contests.  

The Bearded Behemoth simply outjumped, outmuscled, outran and outplayed his opponent as he went on his way to an 18 disposal, 47 hitout, 7 marks and 2 goal game.  The fantasy football participants were beside themselves as he amassed 102 points by half-time! He finished the game with 142, and is truly on track to fulfil his aim of being the best ruckman in the league.

Meanwhile Jack Viney has continued to grow and if there was ever a doubt that Melbourne have  a seriously good A-grade player with this father-son selection, then this was the game that proved it - 37 possessions including 23 contested, which set a club record in itself, were the numbers that came from a gutsy never say die approach to the game.  Single handedly he seemed to will his team mates into the game at times, and saw the goals from his efforts being posted again and again.

But it was not just this pair in the mid-field that were playing with an intensity missing from the Melbourne sides in recent years.  Dom Tyson played his best game for 2016 with 31 touches, Dean Kent with 25 and Bernie Vince with 24.  

This was the display that produced the results that Paul Roos has promised the fans and according to the plans he set out when he arrived.  A strong off-field coaching group is now properly developing the young players when they come to the club.  

Fans were flabbergasted in past weeks when the likes of Josh Wagner and Jayden Hunt were selected over more experienced players but they have been solid contributors and play with the poise of 50 to 100 game veterans already. The response from the outer is exactly what we have been saying about Sydney and Hawthorn players for years ... "where have they been hiding these kids?"

And the import players like Tomas Bugg, Jeff Garlett, Ben Kennedy and Heritier Lumumba are filling the gaps that were so obvious in the past.  

Fit and healthy now in 2016 we are getting the benefit of their skill, knowledge and football nous and it is producing results.  None more so than Garlett who simply cut the Richmond defence to pieces with 4 goals of this own and a hand in a few more.

The backline is simply holding together as a proper defensive unit.  They are now backing each other instead of relying on individuals to beat their man. Tom McDonald is able to take those telling defensive marks because Lynden Dunn has cut out his man. The strength of this defensive unit made a sheer mockery of the Richmond forwards as they only managed goals from umpire interventions and costly turnovers.  

Nothing was more telling when the Melbourne coaches placed Neville Jetta on Ty Vickery and despite giving away a huge height advantage, Neville simply outjumped, harassed and outplayed his taller opponent.  With Vickery out of the equation, our other defenders simply had a field day.  

Richmond only scored four goals for the whole game from their own efforts. The other 10 were from our turnovers.  

We can’t fault the defenders for that!

The solemnity of the night and the Anzac-eve experience was something to behold and nearly 60,000 fans came along.  One would suggest it to be far more moving than that seen at the Essendon-Collingwood game as the MCG was darkened and only lit by a memorial flame and the thousands of lights from the fans phones. Again a tribute to Peter Jackson and his team for putting together the concept and then carrying out the implementation of the idea.  Let’s make sure the AFL doesn’t hijack this and hand it to other sides in the future.

While we have broken the two in a row hoodoo, it is now not just about getting three in a row and more. It is now about winning games consistently.

We have put together the side, who have shown they are capable of being a serious player in the competition. We suddenly have players in abundance to select from, as Christian Petracca, Jack Trengove, Jack Grimes, Alex Neal-Bullen and others put in claims for an upgrade to the seniors week after week.  

The club has announced the membership total has exceeded its record.

So it's all aboard again, but this time, it's for real.

Melbourne   5.1.31 11.3.69 14.7.91 20.9.129

Richmond 2.3.15 7.5.47 11.9.75 14.12.96

Goals

Melbourne Garlett 4 Vince Watts 3 Gawn Tyson 2 Brayshaw Bugg Frost Harmes Kent Salem

Richmond Lloyd Riewoldt Vickery 3 Chaplin Ellis Martin, Miles

Best

Melbourne Gawn Viney Tyson Salem Kent N Jones Garlett

Richmond Cotchin Miles Riewoldt Edwards Houli Lloyd

Changes

Melbourne Nil

Richmond Brett Deledio (quad) replaced in the side by Jacob Townsend

Injuries

Melbourne Nil

Richmond Jack Riewoldt (ankle)

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Richmond Alex Rance for striking Jack Watts in the fourth quarter

Umpires Stevic Stephens Chamberlain

Official crowd 59,968 at the MCG

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