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THE DEE IN DARWIN by George on the Outer

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A nine goal win against the hapless Dockers helped to cement the status of the Demons in Darwin and likewise with their current position in the top eight in the quest for September action.

If there was any doubt about the value of the Darwin enterprise to the Melbourne Football Club, you only had to look at the street banners (pictured) that heralded its arrival in town although the big question still remains as to whether the exercise is advantageous to the team as well.

While it was truly lovely to leave the environs of Melbourne in the depth of winter, to come to a 33 degree day, with the temperature still in the low 20’s at the start of the game, it was the draining humidity and its possible effects on the players in the week’s to come that remain  at the heart of the question.  

It was hardly a factor this time last year but on Saturday evening, the humidity rose dramatically just before game start, and it remained so for the rest of the evening. The effect of the steamy conditions would not necessarily have been evident to television viewers but as the game went on, the players struggled for their breath, and had to work hard to maintain repeat efforts. More importantly was the lack of clean football due to the slippery ball, so marking and fumbling became the order of the day.  

Without that clean possession, turnovers happened again and again with the Demons putting their noses in front courtesy of the cleaner work around the ball of Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver.

Nor should we be under any illusions about the quality of the opposition. Fremantle, without Fyfe and Sandilands, were complete and utter rubbish. The Ross Lyon style of play was to stifle the game, defend in huge numbers and try to snatch the odd score from turnover down the field. It certainly kept them in the game for half the match, but then Melbourne started to score majors instead of behinds that they had amassed up to half-time with 15 misses in their attack on the big sticks.  

The game should really have been over by quarter time, Melbourne having 11 shots to 2, with the inside 50m count so one sided, that in normal circumstances a +50 margin would have seen a 15+ goal win.

Gawn was simply magnificent in the ruck with 42 hitouts, but given his junior opponent, that was not surprising.  What was surprising was his 20 disposals as well, and his rapport with Brayshaw in the hitouts a sight to behold. The sight of those clean clearances, particularly in the second half, was well worth the cost of the airfare to the Top End!

Angus really is hitting his straps with 35 touches including 16 contested possessions, although he came off slightly the worse against his brother in one tackle. Still we would much rather the brother who has 16 contested possessions ahead of the one who only managed two.

Viney was simply a bull around the packs, and he was joined by Petracca - 28 and 29 disposals for that pair was only overshadowed by another 3 vote game from Clayton Oliver with 35 touches including 19 contested possessions!  

This relentless attack on the ball in the contest was what kept the Melbourne juggernaut pushing goalward. If only that effort was rewarded more on the scoreboard, the game would have been a complete whitewash.

In the second half, the Demons finally got their targeting correct and piled on a more respectable 8 goals 6 behinds. Tags were put on Mundy, primarily by Brayshaw (which makes his game even more special) after he probably had 10 touches in the first quarter.  

There weren’t any other Freo players to worry about, and don’t take note of their stats, because their touches come from those cheap outside efforts.  Given the conditions you can see this, with Sheridan and Cerra being two of their top performers each with 23 disposals, but only six of them contested. 

For those who weren’t at the game, Joel Smith was injured in the first quarter with what initially looked like a hamstring but turned out to be more a hip or heavy “corky” to the top of the hamstring.  The result was he could barely run, so was sent forward to fill a gap and maintain the rotations. Leaving a player who couldn’t run in the backline would have been disastrous.  

However, Sam Frost cemented a place for himself in following weeks down back.  He killed every marking contest that came his way.  There was no mucking around trying to mark the slippery ball, it was just sent OOB or downfield out of danger. He backed that up with dashes through the lines, which has been so lacking in past weeks.  Behind him Oscar McDonald really had little to do, but when called upon both him, Michael Hibberd and the ever reliable Nev Jetta mopped up. 

The other additions of Jeff Garlett and Charlie Spargo had little opportunity to show their wares, due to Freo stacking the backline, leaving little space for them to operate. However, they did their job when possible, and were an every present threat and also providing that link down the flanks when needed.  Billy Stretch was a positive addition as well, although he may not be the answer until his delivery and awareness improve.  He has the run, which was desperately needed, so he too can be sure of future selection. 

Nathan Jones had a quiet game by his standards, but Goodwin isn’t playing him in the middle much in recent games. Supporters should be aware that the coach is getting games in the engine room into the likes of Brayshaw and Christian Petracca and James Harmes, so that the future is more assured, and should finals eventuate, then we have more experienced options.  Jonesy can go in there anytime, but when you are killing it in the middle, these are the times the younger ones get the go. 

In this game, Darwin was a success.  A good win built on the back of relentless pressure. Four points produced when much was at stake in terms of the ladder, as we now sit with 4 other sides on 36 points and the Giants just back on 34.

The town loves the Demons, and to see and speak with the locals about how excited they are about AFL and Melbourne the team, is a real positive.  

We have succeeded in putting the Dees into Darwin, and now with an equally telling game against the Dogs next week, lets put the M into Melbourne town and produce a similar result. 
 
Melbourne 2.9.21 5.15.45 9.18.72 13.24.102

Fremantle 2.0.12 4.2.26 6.5.41 7.6.48 

Goals 

Melbourne Hogan Oliver 2 Garlett Gawn Harmes Jones T McDonald Melksham Neal-Bullen Salem Spargo 

Fremantle Cox Sheridan Walters 2 Mundy

Best

Melbourne Oliver Gawn Brayshaw T McDonald Viney Petracca Hogan

Fremantle S Hill Mundy Cerra Walters Sheridan

Injuries

Melbourne J Smith (hip)

Fremantle Nil

Reports Nil

Umpires O'Gorman, Chamberlain, Pannell

Official crowd 8,689 at TIO Stadium

C63BFE29-ACE9-4407-8B6A-E1A80A0A0672.jpeg

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