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WALKING ... OR TALKING by George on the Outer

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In a week when the Melbourne Football Club signed up the Johnnie Walker label as a sponsor, it is interesting to note that  the brand’s motto is “Keep Walking”.  Contrast that with the performances of the club in the past fortnight, and a motto for the red and blue should be “Keep Talking”.

After a disastrous showing against Hawthorn, the fans were promised a big turnaround. That was all talk and promises but what came out of it all?

This week: The first quarter brought 7 shots at goal and a score of 1.5 compared with last week’s 10 shots and 5 majors.

This week: Eight goals for the whole game; last week - six.

This week: The second term saw us score 1.1 with the goal coming after 25 minutes; last week 4 behinds.

This week: The opposition scores seven goals in the final quarter; last week, it was also seven.

This week: The total score for the game was 56 points; last week it was 48.

The list could go on, but the story is the same - lots of talk but no action.  All talk and no walk.

The result would have been even worse, but Richmond are not all that flash. Three of their wins this season have been against Melbourne, Carlton and Brisbane ... all in the bottom five of the ladder.

For the coach to come out afterward and suggest there was a step forward is laughable, because the results are there for all to see.

Once again the side was let down badly by a number of players. Dom  Tyson is glacially slow, and continues to turn the ball over at critical points. Alex Neal-Bullen and James Harmes run all over the ground, have no impact on contests, then fail to deliver the ball at critical points.  Billy Stretch simply should not have been in the side; his fumbling when in the open cost certain goals (both ways) and at least on two occasions this happened at critical junctures in the game.

These players do not do enough work.  When the defenders bring the ball to ground, do we see any of them picking up the crumbs cleanly?  We certainly saw their Richmond counterparts doing exactly the same as Hawthorn did last week.  How many goals have the opposition scored from the goal-square in these past 2 games? At centre bounces they walk or trot into the middle. Their opponents sprint to get to the contest or create the option outside.  And we the fans wonder why Richmond seemed to have extra players free all the time!

After the coaching debacle of last week, when the Hawks were allowed to use a set-up behind the ball for ½ the game, we would have expected some change.  Again, all talk. 

Melbourne used the Members Stand wing exclusively for the whole game. Not a single switch of play in 100 minutes of football! 

Contrast that with the constant movement of other teams to open up the field.  All our forward moves were stuttering, contest to contest and when they eventually broke down, Richmond rebounded easily and unopposed.

Persisting with the “contested ball” focus is costing us dearly, as we are exposed time and time again, when the ball is brought outside. 

Max Gawn was dominant in the ruck, but actually too much with 56 hitouts, as he hit the ball into the open and into the Richmond game plan.  The result, Richmond with more clearances for the game. And when we did get inside possession, the first option was to try to handball.  Again, suiting the Richmond game plan as they have a bevy of players on the outside waiting to pounce.

The non-selection of a second ruck option continues to leave us exposed when Max has to take a break.  It means we rob the forward structure during that time, this week it being Sam Weideman. The Tigers must have loved it with Rance sitting happily in the backline, Hogan up the field and no-one else to mind.  It’s little wonder with this set up that they can’t kick  a winning score!

It was only in the first 15 minutes of the third quarter that Melbourne put boot to ball as the first option in the contest. 

Result: the team got back to within seven points (and could have been even closer) before reverting to type and handing Richmond two easy goals in the final minutes as they tried to be smart, and turned the ball over, instead of just kicking the ball forward and putting on the pressure and going over their press.

Once again the backs were fantastic.  Oscar McDonald completely blanketed Riewoldt until junk time in the last. Jake Lever intercepted and spoilt opposition thrusts again and again. Michael Hibberd showed some return to the form of 2017, but knocked the stuffing out of himself with some really brave defending. 

But they couldn’t do it all on their own, and the lack of support from up the field is telling.  When a first year player in Jack Higgins kicks three goals, and McIntosh playing on the wing kicks two, then a long hard look needs to be taken at who isn’t doing their job. 

Down the other end, the forward line is in disarray.  While attempting to develop Jesse Hogan into a more threatening player upfield, it simply leaves a hole in front of goal. 

Weideman did enough in his first game of the year, but then he is called upon to ruck and we are back to square 1.

Another body, in the form of Tom McDonald or Cam Pedersen needs to simply be planted in front of the big sticks, as a target or used as the backup ruck.  We have a host of players who should make way for them as soon as possible. No one is immune - not even Jeff Garlett who has barely touched the ball in the past two games, and is providing little if any forward pressure.  

While the players and coaches are talking, sadly, yet again, it is the fans who will be doing the walking.  No-one wants to pay to see the sort of rubbish being served up at the moment, and they will walk away, and “Keep Walking” or just stay home with Johnnie and enjoy themselves!

Melbourne 1.5.11 2.6.18 5.8.38 8.8.56

Richmond 2.2.14 5.8.38 8.9.57 15.12.102

Goals

Melbourne Melksham 4 Hogan 2 Garlett Harmes

Richmond Higgins 3 Castagna Lambert Lloyd McIntosh Riewoldt 2,Cotchin Prestia Best

Melbourne Oliver Hogan Melksham Jones Hibberd Gawn

Richmond Martin Edwards Houli Lambert Grigg Higgins

Injuries

Melbourne Kent (hamstring) Hibberd (nose)

Richmond Nil

Reports Nil

Umpires Foot, Rosebury, Williamson

Official crowd 77,071 at the MCG

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