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TEAM SELECTION AND MATCH PREVIEW - ROUND 3


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HONEYMOON OVER? by The Oracle

Any thoughts that Melbourne's transition from perennial also ran to finals contender in 2017 would be smooth and uneventful were extinguished at the weekend with the game against Carlton. 

Not only did the team make heavy weather of a contest it was expected to win without much trouble (and possibly come out with a significant percentage boost), but it emerged from the second round of the season with a slap in the face from the Match Review Panel with gun recruit Jordan Lewis receiving a three-match suspension and forward Jesse Hogan getting a two week holiday for striking opponents to the head. 

The AFL website even went so far as to suggest that the suspensions had the effect of "crippling the Demons ahead of Saturday's clash against Geelong". The sports betting agencies agreed by installing the Cats as firm favourites to win this week's clash between the sides at Etihad Stadium. According to the pundits, Melbourne's 2017 honeymoon is over and the club has allegedly been crushed into submission as a result of a lack of discipline on the part of two important players.

Despite all of that, I don't understand the panic about the fact that these players will be sitting in the bleachers watching on with ordinary people like you and me. After all, the Demons disposed of the then rampant, top-of-the-ladder Hawks in Round 20 late last year in the absence of Hogan and with Lewis batting for the other side. 

The thing which the pundits are overlooking is that there is so much greater depth at the club in this phase of its development as there was a few years ago. Bernie Vince who picked up 30 touches at his last start, comes back as a direct replacement for Lewis and even though some might say that Hogan is irreplaceable, there are plenty of options available, depending on the style of play coach wants from his forward line and which particular player is going to replace him. 

A couple of weeks ago, we wondering how about a young team that had lost its last real game of football by more than eighteen goals could win its next. History tells us the team responded magnificently so that it now it has a 2 - 0 record. Things are different now and whilst it comes up this week against the team that destroyed it in such a merciless fashion. Can they turn the tables without the two players outed by the MRP?

I've found a way they can do that and will reveal all shortly.

THE GAME

Geelong v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday 8 April 2017 at 4.35pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Geelong 127 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws

At Etihad Stadium Geelong 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins

The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Scott 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy Channel - live at 4.30pm

RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand

THE BETTING

Geelong to win - $1.37 Melbourne to win - $3.10

LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 24.11.89 defeated Melbourne 6.8.44 at Simonds Stadium in Round 23, 2016

A little over a year earlier, Melbourne had shocked the football world with its win over Geelong but this time a tired, dejected outfit limped its way to season's end with the slightest of resistance.

THE TEAMS

GEELONG

B: Zach Touhy, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie 
HB: Tom Stewart, Lachie Henderson, Jackson Thurlow 
C:  Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola 
HF: James Parsons, Harry Taylor, Brandan Parfitt 
F:  Steven Motlop, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel 
FOLL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Cameron Guthrie 
I/C: Mitch Duncan, Lincoln McCarthy, Jordan Murdoch, Tom Ruggles 
EMG: Jed Bews, Darcy Lang, Rhys Stanley 

IN: Cameron Guthrie, Sam Menegola, James Parsons, Zac Smith

OUT: Josh Cowan (managed), George Horlin-Smith (hand), Darcy Lang (omitted), Rhys Stanley (omitted)

NEW: James Parsons

MELBOURNE 

B: Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt 
HB: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones 
C:  Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, James Harmes 
HF: Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen 
F: Jeff Garlett, Christian Petracca, Timothy Smith 
FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney 
I/C: Dean Kent, Jake Melksham, Billy Stretch, Jack Watts  
EMG: Tomas Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Jake Spencer 

IN:  Dean Kent Timothy Smith, Bernie Vince 

OUT: Angus Brayshaw (omitted), Jesse Hogan (suspended), Jordan Lewis (suspended) 

NEW: Timothy Smith

It's hard to fathom that it was only three games ago that a listless, rudderless Melbourne was blown out of the water by Geelong in the final round of 2016. Of course, things were different then. The Cats were playing for high stakes - a place in the top four that would provide them with the perfect launching pad for a tilt at the flag. The Demons' season had hit the wall and was ingloriously snuffed out a week earlier when beaten by the Blues. 

This week the teams meet on an even keel with both on a 2 - 0 win/loss ratio. They meet at the neutral Etihad Stadium rather than at the killing field that Simonds Stadium has, with one rare exception, been to Melbourne over the past decade.

The teams had good wins to open the season but stumbled last week when they were expected to do well. Indeed, both of them had to rely on a "get out of gaol card" with strong finishes to score the points.

Geelong has the midfield superstars in the AFL's number one ranked player Pat Dangerfield and a close behind Joel Selwood but not the depth of its Melbourne equivalent even in the absence of Lewis (and the omission of Angus Brayshaw). The reigning Brownlow Medallist is very, very good and a model of consistency but how about 19 year old Clayton Oliver who admittedly is a different beast but whose numbers stack up favourably against those of the Cat's pair? Last week he picked up 35 disposals, seven marks and laid nine tackles to almost match his 36 possession game from round one. For the record, he has racked up ten more disposals than Danger.

Oliver and the rest of the Demon midfield crew have another major advantage over the Cats in the form of ruckman Max Gawn who is in red hot form and in the absence of any third men up, he is a potent weapon in helping the team win the all-important clearance battle. Let's not underestimate the number of quality players Melbourne has to throw into the midfield mix with Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Dom Tyson and the returning Bernie Vince who was so important in the opening round both in defence and around the ground.

The loss of Hogan is quite significant but Jesse hadn't really hit his straps this year. It might well be a stroke of genius that hard nosed, high flying forward Tim Smith has been asked to step into the breach. 

The Cats got out of gaol last week. This week it will be different.

Melbourne by 10 points

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I actually don't think the loss of Lewis and Hogan will hurt us too much; while I would rather have them out there, I believe we have enough depth to cover them and still be well and truly in the hunt on Saturday afternoon.

The Cats aren't the juggernaut they were, and if we can somehow curb the influence of Dangerfield and Duckingwood to a certain degree, then we are a good chance of winning this game.  It's easy to be all doom and gloom, but why can't we be 3-0?  We can still make it happen.

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I know tagging seems to have gone out of favour but Bernie would love to get another crack at Danger I`d reckon, and just pester him like he did against Adelaide 2 years ago until he loses the plot. Only concern is Danger has gone up a notch or 2 whilst Bernie may have dropped a notch. 

I`m loving the fact the we appear to have very slim chances to win this one by the experts, I think we will surprise many! The ugly win against the Blues was just the wake-up call we needed.

The Cats pace might be a concern, but so was The Saints and there pace only worried us for 1 quarter.

The fact that North had them on the ropes at the same venue gives me quite a bit of optimism.

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Very winnable. I haven't quite been brave enough to tip us yet but I can't see why we can't be 3-0 in a weeks time. If we're able to shut down one or both of Selwood or Dangerfield, their midfield stocks will shorten dramatically. 

Edited by Demon Jack
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Bernie comes in as obvious Leiws replacement, I'm also thinking Bugg for Nibbler (thought he went missing against the Blues) and I'd also want to bring in Kent for someone, just for that pace and hardness he brings to the team, perhaps for Hannan (though it would be stiff, because I thought he did ok on Sunday).  Could also see Melksem going out of the side.

Not so sure who I'd bring in for Hogan, as there aren't stand out options based on my knowledge of the form of the likely replacements, but would probably lean towards Spencer, based on some decient preseason form and his game 2 years ago at the cattery.  I with those who don't think Hogan's loss will hurt us too much.  He wasn't particularly effect against Carlton and playing Spencer frees up both Gawn and Watts to spend more time forward and both are capable there.  Also think it's important to give Spencer a decent run to both manage Gawn a bit and give Spencer a bit of form and confidence in case Gawn goes down for a bit.

I also think Jack Viney has been a bit down by his standards and a return to full output would do alot for our chances of winning.  Alternately I think Viney could be the one used as a hard tag on Dangerfield.

The team should be pumped for this one, what a great test along the way to show if we are contenders or pretenders.  We played like crap for much of the game against a Carlton that were primed and still won.  I'm looking forward to a competitive effort and think the team can win.  Hopefully that thrashing last year stung a bit and has them in a mind for vengeance.

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If we can contain Dangerfield and Cockatoo we are in with a chance. Hogan not playing against the Hawks when we beat them is mentioned, but let's not forget that we also beat Geelong at Skilled Stadium without Hogan... could his suspension be a good omen?

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Whist I'm not the Osky hater that some are, I'll acknowledge that his form has been a bit ordinay in the first two rounds.  Hopefully he can turn it around, but otherwise, Frost is a player that should be ready to take his spot in a week or two and perhaps that even spurs him on a bit.  Oscar just doesn't look as hungry, desperate or capable  as others at this point.  Was a goal that bounced through against Carlton in the square that I thought he could have got to but either completely miss read it or didn't put the effort into or both.

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Spencer is up to AFL standard (for a ruck - not a ruck/forward, and certainly not as part of our set-up up front). We just happen to have a well-above standard AA ruckman starving him of any hope of a getting a game. And big Jake being up to AFL standard is part of our problem. With Spencer qualifying for free-agency next year, we have a serious list-management issue on our hands in trying to retain him as a back-up. It's an issue most teams face in an era of run-run and reduced interchanges, but our kids are nowhere near ready, and it's almost impossible to get top-flight ruck games into anyone without sacrificing overall on-field performance. Expect Spencer to have suitors in the off-season - and and unless we can squeeze him in as a regular, which I hope we don't unless it's genuinely warranted - expect him to follow any offer of a decent on-field opportunity and reasonable dollars. It's the nature of contemporary AFL: first-ruck, utility, or bust. Maybe we can chase a undervalued but semi-decent forward-ruck in return.  

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7 hours ago, hardtack said:

If we can contain Dangerfield and Cockatoo we are in with a chance. Hogan not playing against the Hawks when we beat them is mentioned, but let's not forget that we also beat Geelong at Skilled Stadium without Hogan... could his suspension be a good omen?

Covering Cockatoo should be easy, he is out injured 

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8 hours ago, hardtack said:

If we can contain Dangerfield and Cockatoo we are in with a chance. Hogan not playing against the Hawks when we beat them is mentioned, but let's not forget that we also beat Geelong at Skilled Stadium without Hogan... could his suspension be a good omen?

That's covered already as he's injured and won't be playing.

The Cats don't scare me - we do.  If we don't turn up to play then the Cats will be all over us.  We won't get a second chance like the Blues gave us last week.  If we come out switched on and ready to go then it will go a long way to helping us win the game.

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Even though Vince on Dangerfield is a nice prospect, we need him to cover for Lewis. I'd play Viney on Dangerfield in a negating role, if only to allow him to recapture his 2016 form without the need to get 30 plus disposals.

Oliver, Jones and Tyson to share the ball winning duties.

 

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Absolutely we can win this! The Cats aren't as strong as what they have been the last few years. Shut down both Selwood and Danger and your close to beating them.

They have lost Bartel and Enright who was important contributers last year so there definitely lack that voice and experience down back. Dont underestimate Lonergan and Taylor as they are very calm experienced duo. Their backs are all pretty slow so a big opportunity to really expose them here with Garlett Hannan and potentially Kent.

In their midfield other then Danger and Selwood its a hugee drop. Guthrie hasn't played last 2 games due to a calf complaint and when hes up and running his hard running is quite damaging. I can't see him playing and i hope he doesn't. Again, Perfect opportunity for the likes of Oliver Tyson Viney Jones Petracca and Brayshaw to really get on top here.

Their forwards worry me here. Hawkins Menzel and Motlop can be damaging when on song so we really need to tighten up this week. Huge task for Tom McDonald. If he can nullify Hawkins with the mids putting enough pressure up field then thats where i can see us winning the game. I have so much confidence in Jetta stopping Motlop and maybe Hunt has to go with Menzel to curb his influence.

I think the theme for this week will go for the quicker more agile forward line. 

Kent comes in for ANB and Tim Smith for Hogan. If anyone has watch Smith you will know that he puts on enormous forward pressure on the defenders and thats why he is call Bull because he tackles to hurt. What Jack Watts and Hogan lack in defensive pressure this bloke makes up for it. His 26 and has X factor. Quick on the lead and so incredibly strong one on one.

Big opportunity here.

 

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We are underdogs with the media and bookies, and I don't mind that at all..  I reckon we'll be in it for a long, long way, and I'm quietly confident we'll have our noses in front at the end.  No MFCSS from me!.

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Max almost holds the result in his hands. Geelong doesnt have anyone to stop him. He just needs to get as many of his hitouts down to advantage as possible. If he can get 20-25 down to advantage then we will have every chance to win. If they start playing without a ruckman then i would expect Max to get 30+ to advantage. After that it will just be the small matter of not turning the ball over after we win it.... Should be a good game

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11 minutes ago, ArtificialWisdom said:

Max almost holds the result in his hands. Geelong doesnt have anyone to stop him. He just needs to get as many of his hitouts down to advantage as possible. If he can get 20-25 down to advantage then we will have every chance to win. If they start playing without a ruckman then i would expect Max to get 30+ to advantage. After that it will just be the small matter of not turning the ball over after we win it.... Should be a good game

They will bring Smith back in to try and limit Gawn's influence.  I rate Smith as a ruck, I'm not suggesting he will beat Gawn, but he will make a contest.  You can guarantee that they won't do the "no ruck" thing like they did last week, mainly because Gawn's ruck work unopposed is far, far superior to anyone in the league.  Smith will create a contest that will make it harder for Max to totally dominate, reducing the amount of first ball use our mids will get.

For those calling for Viney to take Danger, just rewind to the last game last year.  Danger SMASHED Viney.  Viney MUST go to Selwood for us to have any chance.  Simples.

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9 minutes ago, billy2803 said:

They will bring Smith back in to try and limit Gawn's influence.  I rate Smith as a ruck, I'm not suggesting he will beat Gawn, but he will make a contest.  You can guarantee that they won't do the "no ruck" thing like they did last week, mainly because Gawn's ruck work unopposed is far, far superior to anyone in the league.  Smith will create a contest that will make it harder for Max to totally dominate, reducing the amount of first ball use our mids will get.

For those calling for Viney to take Danger, just rewind to the last game last year.  Danger SMASHED Viney.  Viney MUST go to Selwood for us to have any chance.  Simples.

Yeah, I'm a little toen on my rating of Smith. He plays some good and alot of average games. He was available last week and he wasnt picked... so that sugests Geelong doubts his worth, will be interesting to see how he goes.

On Viney, I 100% agree. Danger is too quick for him. They either go with Vince or they just have to let him go. Nobody else can stop him. I'm not sure how to play Viney. He hasnt been great in either of the 2 games, maybe giving him the job on Selwood will be good for him. 

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The advantage of Hogan not playing in a game like this is it means we naturally lower our eyes going inside 50.  If we don't, and continually bomb it in, Geelong will smash us.  They will have a record amount of intercept marks, and will move it from back to forward far too quick for our zone defence.

Watts and Weed will be judged this week on the impact they make at every contest they get to.  Quite simply they must make sure they make EVERY contest in the forward 50.  If they can't get to a contest, it means either they aren't working hard enough, or the delivery is poor.  Our small to medium forwards will be far too quick and smart for Geelong, that's part of the reason why I think ANB and Hannan will remain in the side.

We can win this, we just need to play smart.

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1 hour ago, billy2803 said:

The advantage of Hogan not playing in a game like this is it means we naturally lower our eyes going inside 50.  If we don't, and continually bomb it in, Geelong will smash us.  They will have a record amount of intercept marks, and will move it from back to forward far too quick for our zone defence.

Watts and Weed will be judged this week on the impact they make at every contest they get to.  Quite simply they must make sure they make EVERY contest in the forward 50.  If they can't get to a contest, it means either they aren't working hard enough, or the delivery is poor.  Our small to medium forwards will be far too quick and smart for Geelong, that's part of the reason why I think ANB and Hannan will remain in the side.

We can win this, we just need to play smart.

EVERY contest 30% of the time?

 

Edited by Fifty-5
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