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LID ... WHAT LID? by George on the Outer

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No longer can Demon fans keep a lid on it after a dramatic dying seconds of the game win against West Coast in W.A.  After four consecutive wins, the lid is has well and truly blown off as a result of one of the gutsiest performances seen by this club in decades.

No Watts, no Jones, no Hogan a ruckman back after 10 weeks away, on-field injuries to Jeff Garlett, Mitch Hannan, Christian Salem and Jack Viney with Jayden Hunt barely able to run, a hostile biased crowd and a six day break. It all mattered nothing as the Demons pulled a victory out of the fires of adversity.  

Let’s not sugar coat the win.

But for some seriously heroic efforts in the final few minutes of the game, Melbourne did not play convincingly.  The previous week against the Bulldogs was convincing, but even with the rightful excuse of multiple injured players, the output was well below standard for a lot of players.  If Tom McDonald had not screwed through an impossible kick while being tackled, we would be regretting another honourable loss.

Still those heroic efforts in the dying minutes were unparalleled. Cam Pedersen with a telling pack mark to bring them back into contention from 16 points down with only seven minutes to go.  Clayton Oliver with 30 seconds to extract a ball under impossible numbers so freeing Hibberd who kicked to the top of the square.  Jayden Hunt to contest and keep the ball alive, before Tom McDonald put the ball through.  

Then, as evidence of the change of culture at Melbourne, and the leadership being shown, there were no celebrations until the final siren sounded. McDonald pushed away congratulating players, telling them to get back and defend those final 20 odd seconds of play.  A sharp contrast to games in the past that have been lost through ill-discipline.

Throughout the game the team was always within striking distance, and the margin never got beyond three goals.  Each team was relentless and each forward success was met by an equal response within minutes. There were over ten lead changes indicating the evenness of the match.  However, from the Melbourne perspective the team was really kept in the game by the efforts of Jack Viney with 26 contested possessions including a jaw dropping ten in the first quarter.  Then after suffering a shoulder injury he returned to the field to lead the team when most needed.  

There should be no doubt that his promotion to co-captain has been the correct choice, and puts the club in good stead for the future.

Clayton Oliver with 28 touches in the middle was also telling.  It’s not that he gets the touches, it is that he shouldn’t be entitled to get them, under normal circumstances.  And he has the vision to then deliver to free players.  Cam Pedersen and Tommy Mac were the other four quarter contributors, both who stood up in that final stanza, but theyalso holding the fort in the absence of a forward target or filling in for ruck duties.  Tom’s 5 goal haul was impressive, especially when backmen are not known to transition to forward roles all that spectacularly.

The win has cemented the Demons in the top eight, possibly two games clear. This three game stretch was critical to the future of the club's 2017 season, because of the successive six day breaks with travel.  To have won two of those games already has probably exceeded realistic expectations but another challenge awaits with Sydney at the MCG off another six day break. It is no secret that their season depends upon continuing to win after such a disastrous start, but they showed again this week that they are vulnerable to the type of pressure game that Melbourne brings.

It’s just a case of whether the Demons will have the players and the legs able to do it again, as injuries and fatigue start to take their toll.  But this is a team now filled with belief that anything is possible.  It is a team that simply doesn’t give in, no matter what the odds.  Simon Goodwin and Paul Roos before him,  have been cooking something very special.  As their recipe is now bubbling over to the delight of the fans, it seems there can be no lid strong enough to hold back the expectations of years of hope.  

Melbourne 3.1.19 6.6.42 10.8.68 15.9.99

West Coast 2.5.17 5.7.37 11.10.76 14.12.96

Goals 

Melbourne T McDonald 5 Neal-Bullen 2 Bugg Hannan Harmes, Melksham Pedersen Petracca Stretch Viney
       
West Coast Petrie 4 McGovern 3 Hill Hutchings 2 Gaff  Karpany Sheed

Best 

Melbourne Viney T McDonald Tyson Lewis Gawn Pedersen Oliver

West Coast Petrie McGovern Mitchell Jetta Sheed Duggan Vardy

Changes

Melbourne Nil

West Coast Nil

Injuries

Melbourne Garlett (hamstring) Salem (hamstring) Viney (shoulder) 

West Coast Hurn (chest)

Reports

Melbourne Nil

West Coast Will Schofield for striking Clayton Oliver at half time

Umpires Mitchell, Rosebury, Stephens

Official crowd 36,622 at Domain Stadium

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