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TEAM SELECTION AND MATCH PREVIEW - ROUND 4



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WHEN YOU'VE GOT NOTHING, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING TO LOSE by Whispering Jack

The Demons are making it very hard for anyone to tip them to win with any confidence these days. Key players are falling over injured, getting themselves reported and horror of horrors being photographed at music festivals puffing away at cigarettes. On the field, they continually miss easy shots at goal while their opponents never miss their targets.

Meanwhile, Fremantle, their opponent this week in the big game at the G, just shrugged off the easy beat tag by giving last year's premiers a right royal touch up in Perth. Before the game against the Bulldogs, Ross Lyon re-assessed his position and decided that as a coach he was basically in the position that when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. So he ditched half a dozen passengers from his team and brought in players who were determined to have a dip. The rest is history and the Dockers are on the road to revival.

Who would have thought only a week ago, that Melbourne would be going into this week's game as the underdog? Well, not actually THE underdog but possibly, the hunter rather than the hunted? All of a sudden the weather's turned cold for the Red and Blue while the Purple Haze has sprung to life again - returned from the dead in one of the AFL's greatest reincarnations ever witnessed (at least until the Gold Coast performed an even greater one less than 24 hours later on the other side of the country). 

That's the trouble with football these days. One day, you're motoring along with an All Australian ruckman hitting your midfielders on the chest, a tall forward prodigy running everywhere kicking and setting up goals and a hard nosed midfielder with four AFL premierships under his belt. Next thing you know, you've got nothing. 

Worse still, you're coming up against the AFL's tallest ruckman Aaron Sandilands and he's in full flight with a resurgent Nat Fyfe back to his brilliant best picking up 33 disposals and the likes of Lachie Neale, Stephen Hill and Michael Walters awaking from a long slumber causing havoc to opposition defenders. 

Meanwhile, it's Melbourne that's on the horns of a dilemma. Who will shoulder the ruck duties? Does the back half need stiffening up? Is it time to bring some more experience and strength into the forward line set up? Are we at the point where we have nothing to lose?

The more I look at it, the more concerned I become that the unthinkable might happen on the club's own territory. Round 3 has turned the entire AFL competition on its head and one wonders how one can find a way to select Melbourne to win this week.

After team selection on Thursday night, I'll come up with a way.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Fremantle at the MCG Saturday 15 April 2017 at 1.45pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall: Melbourne 14 wins Fremantle 21 wins

At MCG: Melbourne 7 wins Fremantle 6 wins

Last five meetings: Melbourne 1 win Fremantle 4 wins

The Coaches: Goodwin 0 wins Lyon 0 wins 

MEDIA

TV - Fox Footy at 1.30pm live

Radio - 

THE BETTING Melbourne $1.32 to win Fremantle $3.45 to win

LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 12.15.87 defeated Fremantle 8.7.55 at TIO Stadium, Round 16, 2016

The Demons dominated against a dispirited Dockers outfit which only twelve months earlier was threatening to win the flag. These things happen when you lose your ruckman, a champion midfielder and a bevy of other important players.

THE TEAMS 

MELBOURNE 

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

IN: Tomas Bugg, Sam Frost, Jake Spencer

OUT: Max Gawn (hamstring), Oscar McDonald (omitted), Tim Smith

FREMANTLE 

B: Ethan Hughes, Joel Hamling, Lee Spurr 
HB: Garrick Ibbotson,  Michael Johnson, Connor Blakely 
C: Stephen Hill, Lachie Neale, Bradley Hill 
HF: Lachie Weller, Cam McCarthy, Ed Langdon 
F: Michael Walters, Shane Kersten, Brady Grey 
FOLL: Aaron Sandilands, Nat Fyfe, David Mundy 
I/C: Harley Balic, Hayden Crozier, 
Griffin Logue, Tommy Sheridan  
EMG: Jonathon Griffin, 
Danyle Pearce, Matt Taberner

NO CHANGE

THE YEAR OF THE SNAKE

The world's worst kept secret was exposed on Thursday morning when Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin confirmed that ruckman Jake Spencer would play in place of the injured Max Gawn, who will miss at least 12 weeks with a hamstring injury. The loss of Gawn, coupled with the suspensions of Jesse Hogan and Jordan Lewis from the Carlton game have left gaping holes in the Demon line up, already hampered by a number of injuries especially to players like Michael Hibbberd, Josh Wagner and rookie Joel who would otherwise be expected to hold down are at least be in contention for defensive positions in the team.

Cometh the hour ... cometh the men.

The minute that Max hit the Etihad turf and then later as he hobbled off the ground clearly in distress, Melbourne fans knew that a call was about to go out for the man affectionately known as "Jake the Snake"

The man has been around the club for what seems forever. He was 35th selection in the 2008 Rookie Draft and spent his first season playing with the club's then VFL affiliate club Sandringham where he played seven games at reserves level and 10 in the seniors. He made his NAB Cup debut on 21 February 2009 to encouraging reviews and played his first AFL game in Round 1 2009. Jake managed six games for the season and was finally upgraded from the rookie list at the start of 2010.

Never the epitome of the classic modern ruckman, the ungainly Spencer has been a battler throughout his time at the club, spending much of his time as understudy to the All Australian ruckmen of his time at Melbourne - Mark Jamar and more lately Max Gawn. He's also had long stints on the sidelines with injury - missing more than a whole year through a ruptured ACL suffered in 2011 while playing with the Casey Scorpions.

Entering his 10th season at the club, Jake had only 36 games for six goals to his name, his last match being in Round 22, 2015 – ironically against Fremantle at Domain Stadium. The good news is that this is precisely what he's been working diligently for in the interim - an opportunity to take the main stage and shoulder the club's ruck burden in the event of Gawn’s absence and what better first up assignment than Aaron Sandilands?

Not only has he been waiting for this - Jake's fully prepared, having played well in all three JLT Community Series matches and continued in dominating form playing for Casey in VFL practice matches.

Now, the Snake is about to turn into the Viper - Gawn himself is telling all and sundry that, when he's ready to return from that injury, he will find it hard to regain his place and he's not kidding!

The inclusion of a deadly reptile is not all the selectors have done to change the mix following the final quarter breakdown against Geelong.

They've introduced pure speed into the backline with the return of Sam Frost into defence in the place of Oscar McDonald and hardness in the guise of in-your-face pest Tom Bugg.

Meanwhile, the rejuvenated Dockers have gone into the game with an unchanged line up to the one that beat the reigning premiers on their home turf last week.

They are however, still a young side that has had difficulty in traveling over the Nullarbor in recent times and will struggle to contend with the Demons who, despite the missing faces, still have the structures in place to give them the winning edge at their own snake pit in this game.

Melbourne by 35 points.

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I hope Bugg plays well enough to keep his spot just so he can terrorise Richmond again. 

I suspect frost comes in because he can pinch hit in the ruck and allow watts to stay forward a bit more 

Weideman is very very very lucky....


The way I look at it, Spencer has been at the club for around 6 years and spent the past few rucking against Gawn, surely some of the Gawn magic has rubbed off. I reckon he will see this opportunity as his chance to shine and will come out and have a massive game. Demons by 35.

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5 minutes ago, --coach-- said:

The way I look at it, Spencer has been at the club for around 6 years and spent the past few rucking against Gawn, surely some of the Gawn magic has rubbed off. I reckon he will see this opportunity as his chance to shine and will come out and have a massive game. Demons by 35.

He's been at the club for 10 years I believe (?), and has trained against two AA ruckmen in that time in Gawn and Jamar - no doubt he's picked up some tips along the way. Spence is obviously not the most graceful or coordinated player and his kicking remains suspect but he'll always have a serious crack and is genuinely aggressive. His tap work is also underrated and if he can hold his own against Sandilands and come close to splitting the hitouts, it'll go a long way to getting us the win.

I think we'll get up by something around 6 goals too.

Edited by Luther
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Gawn is match winner  and I don't think we can get around the fact that he was possibly our most important player. But we're lucky to have a player like Spencer to replace him.  I believe he will suprise a lot of people here and will hold his own in the ruck duels as well as be a real presence when the ball hits the deck. Gawn isnt dead either... hopefully he will be back later in the year if we were contenders. So its winning enough games in his absence to get us into the 8 that matters. 

Its the first test of a Gawnless team on Saturday. One thing Im starting to feel we can count on with  this team is that they will come out aggressive , in the physical stuff as well as the way they take on the game. 

IF they kick straight dees by 40 after a close first half. If they dont...and lose, then I might end up a padded cell somewhere. 

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Don't overestimate the Sandilands factor- yes he won 42 hit outs, but took only 3 marks for the game and the vast majority of his disposals were handballs, Father Time has caught up with him and he doesn't provide them much around the ground. Also the Dogs don't play a genuine ruckman so it's not easy to gauge how Sandi will go against Spencer. My view is Spencer is younger, aggressive and playing for his career off the back of his best yet pre-season, I think he'll break even at worst. 

As I stated on another thread the key danger here is their midfield- all things told I think our defenders can hold their talls and Jetta & Melksham Crozier and Walters. I also think our smaller forwards will have a better chance against a Freo defence that held up well against the Bulldogs talls. 

To win we need Tyson & Viney to lift, which is why giving Viney a run-with job on Fyfe or Neale could work - he isn't performing to his usual lofty standards, giving him a task to focus on may help him hit his straps a bit quicker and perhaps ease his sense of responsibility for the team as a whole. 

Edited by Goffer
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We will win this game, but, it has all the makings of being a game similar to the one we played against Carlton a fortnight ago.  Across the board we have more quality, more skill and more talent, yet we're still learning how to put sides away.  We just can't do it at the minute and I have a feeling that this game could be tough to watch.  Freo have a good midfield that can probably match us, but if we can curb their influence AND move the ball quickly then we will have them covered.  But I'm not expecting it to be easy to watch.

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Last week was a false dawn for Freo ....... an aberration.  This week Goody will put Plan B into full operation (we saw some cameos in the JLT series), we'll recover our goal kicking mojo (losing it last week was another aberration), and we'll have a comfortable 7 goal win.  Simply speaking, we have too much talent, we'll be too strong around the contest, too disciplined, too resilient, and we have a much better game plan.  Further, we won't go in with big heads like the Bullies did against Freo last Sunday.  

Well this is what I've been telling myself all week, so I'll stick with it until at least 10 5 minutes into the first quarter.

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5 minutes ago, Wiseblood said:

We will win this game, but, it has all the makings of being a game similar to the one we played against Carlton a fortnight ago.  Across the board we have more quality, more skill and more talent, yet we're still learning how to put sides away.  We just can't do it at the minute and I have a feeling that this game could be tough to watch.  Freo have a good midfield that can probably match us, but if we can curb their influence AND move the ball quickly then we will have them covered.  But I'm not expecting it to be easy to watch.

If it has the same result as the Carlton game Wise I will be a happy camper.

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1 minute ago, Deeoldfart said:

Last week was a false dawn for Freo ....... an aberration.  This week Goody will put Plan B into full operation (we saw some cameos in the JLT series), we'll recover our goal kicking mojo (losing it last week was another aberration), and we'll have a comfortable 7 goal win.  Simply speaking, we have too much talent, we'll be too strong around the contest, too disciplined, too resilient, and we have a much better game plan.  Further, we won't go in with big heads like the Bullies did against Freo last Sunday.  

Well this is what I've been telling myself all week, so I'll stick with it until at least 10 5 minutes into the first quarter.

You have made my morning Dof.

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Just now, old dee said:

If it has the same result as the Carlton game Wise I will be a happy camper.

Me too - I'm certainly not suggesting I won't be happy with another win.  I'll always be happy with a win.  I just don't think it will be an easy game to watch as I have a feeling Ross Lyon might get them to go defensive as it worked for Carlton.  

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36 minutes ago, old dee said:

If it has the same result as the Carlton game Wise I will be a happy camper.

Agreed OD even ugly is good but I'd love to see Jeffy and Kent running into an open goal a few times.

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21 minutes ago, Bitter but optimistic said:

Agreed OD even ugly is good but I'd love to see Jeffy and Kent running into an open goal a few times.

I agree uncle, but after last week I'd prefer to wait until I see two fingers go up.

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6 minutes ago, Whispering_Jack said:

A little clue AW - the story so far is about perceptions and not necessarily about reality.

Perception, reality, both or neither, It's a big week for the club. A big 4 weeks, we could come away with 4 wins or just as easily 4 losses. The opportunity has come for them to take the step. We are no doubt capable of taking it, what I dont know is if we a ready.

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3 hours ago, Luther said:

He's been at the club for 10 years I believe (?), and has trained against two AA ruckmen in that time in Gawn and Jamar - no doubt he's picked up some tips along the way. Spence is obviously not the most graceful or coordinated player and his kicking remains suspect but he'll always have a serious crack and is genuinely aggressive. His tap work is also underrated and if he can hold his own against Sandilands and come close to splitting the hitouts, it'll go a long way to getting us the win.

I think we'll get up by something around 6 goals too.

I think he is one of those players that looks incredibly uncoordinated when he kicks it but for the most part he is a pretty effective kick. He has the odd shocker like every other player in the league but they just stand out more and seem worse when you look so unco.

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This game so important for continued momentum even though we are off a "pointy" loss. Another season defining game that will be being watched by a lot of other Teams for weaknesses in the middle etc. Must continue to experiment and be, with our picks, hardness personified.

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13 minutes ago, Ethan Tremblay said:

I can't believe Fremantle are beating us 21 - 14. If we were playing table tennis it would be game over. 

As at September 2013 Freo had only won 12 times at the MCG in 41 attempts.

Since 2013 I suspect that we have rarely played them at the MCG and instead played at Darwin, Docklands etc.

So I suspect that other than beating us they have rarely beaten anyone at the MCG.

Let's hope we can keep that dismal record going for the Dockers

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4 hours ago, old dee said:

Quite often perception and reality are the same thing WJ.

OD's political career just went up in smoke, fire and ash ... :)

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If freo play the same open attacking footy we will smash them on the G by 50pts +

if they change and go defensive itll be like the carlton game 

young team, flying over from perth.  if we have any designs on finals this should be an easy win

we are missing 4-5 key players but they have a few injuries too, Bennell, Ballentyne, Clarke, and 7 other no names

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Just now, La Dee-vina Comedia said:

Would this be the first time Spencer is playing knowing he will be first ruck for an extended period? If so, I wonder what that does for his confidence? I imagine knowing you're playing not just to justify a game the following week might change a player's attitude.

It could also be a good, 12 week period where he can actually put himself forward for a contract at another club.  I say that not because I want to let him go, but even with Gawn's injury he knows he will always be the second choice ruckman.  If he plays well, does it alert other clubs to the possibility of picking him up?  

Either way, there is plenty of impetus for him to play well over the next few months.

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