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TRUST IS A MUST by George on the Outer

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The commentary about this game during the week among supporters was along the lines of “this is a game that Melbourne should win, but you can’t trust them ...”

A fixture against St Kilda in its present state is really one that the club would be expected to win given the recent performances of both sides. But its scarred supporters still feared that this would be precisely the game which it would drop, and as we saw at the sharp end of season 2017, the cost of such a defeat was potentially a huge one.

So now that the Demons have trounced the Saints by 39 points, have the supporters regained a little of the trust which had been squandered in the past years?  It went a long way toward it, and while many would have wished for an even bigger margin, given the 6 goal lead at ¾ time, it must be remembered that the team has played 3 games in twelve days, and ran out of a bit of puff at the end. 

Equally as important was the return of the trust that players were showing in each other.  A month ago, questions were being asked of Jake Lever but he played his best game since joining the red and blue, and the trust that the back-line now has in each other simply shone out. 

It was obvious during the game that we could trust Nev Jetta to beat his man, for Oscar McDonald to continue his fine form and do the same and for Michael Hibberd to run rings around the opposition and deliver penetrating kicks forward. This is a backline now showing the confidence and ruthlessness that springboards attacks and denies the opposition any chances. With Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince mopping up around them the whole structure looks solid and sound.

In the middle, Max Gawn continued his All-Australian form in the ruck, simply overwhelming Hickey, particularly around the ground, giving his mids first use of the ball time and time again. 

And well did they take advantage of it, as Angus Brayshaw put in a close to best on ground performance with 32 touches including 5 clearances and 10 contested possessions. However, the real BOG mantle had to go to Clayton Oliver with 36 touches, 20 … yes 20 contested possessions and 10 clearances.  Nathan Jones chipped in with 26 touches, but probably couldn’t get his hands on the ball as much, simply because the other two kept on hogging it!  IF Jack Viney returns to the group with this sort of form, the opposition truly have something to worry about.

Up forward, we again saw the value of the return of Tom McDonald who kicked two goals straightening up the forward options, and releasing Jesse Hogan from the pressure of multiple defenders, resulting in him scoring three majors. T Mac's presence has also seen Sam Weideman continue to blossom, albeit slowly, and his two goals went a long way to building his confidence in his role in the side. The trust is that Tommy will always put in when needed and create a contest, which also means that the small forwards don’t have to fly for the ball, but rather can crumb when the ball comes to ground. 

The pity of the performance was not only that Melbourne restored some of that trust for the supporters and themselves, but that St Kilda was simply that bad.  Their kicking for goal was simply atrocious and if they had kicked straight from easy set shots, the game would have been a lot, lot closer.  The Saints only had 4 less scoring shots for the game but had little structure in the way they brought the ball forward, which played beautifully into the arms of Jake Lever and Oscar McDonald for the whole match. 

So while it became an easy win, the Saints were never able to capitalise on the unforced errors and turnovers that Alex Neal-Bullen and Don Tyson provided for them the whole game, Tyson topping the clanger list again this week.  One of them will surely be relegated next week to fit in Viney (if he is ready), simply because their form has failed to rise in the past month.

So some of the TRUST has now been restore. Some of it  ... but now it is a MUST that the TRUST be even further bolstered against the Gold Coast Suns next week in Brisbane and looking further, to Carlton a week later.  The Demons now sit outside the top eight on percentage and the teams above them all play another side in the top group of eleven next week. To put it another way, half the teams above them must lose some ground next week - a Melbourne win will put it back in the eight, possibly a game clear.

The Suns are without May and Lynch and this sort of weakness would normally have seen Melbourne sides take it easy and lose some TRUST. Let’s see if there is more substance in this regard than what we have seen in the past.

P.S. If there was a 25K crowd at Etihad today, I’ll eat my hat.  

Melbourne 5.1.31 8.6.54 13.10.88 16.10.106

St Kilda 2.5.17 3.8.26 7.10.52 9.13.67

Goals

Melbourne Hogan 3 T McDonald Weideman 2 Brayshaw Gawn Harmes Jones Neal-Bullen Oliver Petracca Spargo Tyson

St Kilda Armitage Long Membrey 2 Dunstan Gresham Hickey

Best

Melbourne Oliver Hogan Brayshaw Tyson Lewis Hibberd

St Kilda Ross Webster Steven Newnes

Injuries

Melbourne Jetta (head)

St Kilda McCartin (head) Gilbert (leg) Savage (ribs)

Reports Nil

Umpires Foot Fisher McInerney

Official crowd 25,496 at Etihad Stadium

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