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MATCH PREVIEW AND TEAM SELECTION - Round 18


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ON THE ROAD AGAIN by Whispering Jack

The highway to Geelong has long been a well travelled road for Victorians, used for a variety of purposes ranging from trade, commerce and industry, education, leisure and entertainment. One could include sport as part of the last category but, for fans of the Melbourne Football Club, trips down that road have rarely reached any definition of the word "entertainment". Rather, they have often been equated with horror stories ending in long, silent and forlorn wintertime trips back to the city and home.

Those days are over now with the Demons on the cusp of their first finals appearance in a dozen seasons. That's not to say the flakey up and down Cats will be easy meat on their home turf this week at GMHBA Stadium but they are now better rounded, more experienced and are traveling the road to Sleepy Hollow on a mission.

Melbourne has been bruised many times at this venue in the past. Even as its teams were on the improve and coming out of their dark times, they would sometimes get ahead of themselves and falter. When they last ventured down that highway, in Round 23, 2016, they were massacred by 111 points only weeks after beating the then reigning premiers Hawthorn. 

The Demons are therefore well aware as they journey on the road again that they will definitely  have to leave at home the accolades and adulation they have been receiving as a result of that blistering third quarter against the Western Bulldogs with its highlights reel  on constant rotation of big Max slapping the ball down to his young midfielders toying with Doggie on ballers and spearing the ball forward at will. Such moments are rare in football.

They have fallen for the hype on one or two occasions already this year but this time they know they have to focus on Geelong, its strong midfield and defence, the narrow ground and on overcoming the advantage a feral home crowd gives to the Cats and to be able to play their game on their terms.

I'm confident Melbourne can do this. The players are demonstrating a strong belief in each other and trust in themselves. These are elements that make a team capable of taking on the big challenges ahead of them, the first of which they face on Saturday night at the end of the highway.

THE GAME
 
Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 21 March 2018 at 7.25pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Overall Geelong 129 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws

At  GMHBA Stadium Geelong 38 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw

The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Scott 2 wins Goodwin 0 wins
 
MEDIA
 
TV - Channel 7 live at 7:00pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:20pm

RADIO -  Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand
 
LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 14.13.97 defeated Melbourne 13.16.94 at the MCG in Round 1, 2018

The game will best be remembered for that missed shot at goal by Max Gawn in its last minute but the Demons lost it in the last ten minutes of the second quarter when they let four goals slip past to give the Cats a stranglehold on the game.
 
THE TEAMS
 
GEELONG

Tom Stewart, Jake Kolodjashnij, Zach Tuohy 
HB: Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Jack Henry 
? Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood 
HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Brandan Parfitt 
F: Quinton Narkle, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel 
Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan 
I/C: Jed Bews, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly 
Emg: Ryan Abbott, Jordan Murdoch, Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow 

In: Jordan Cunico, Lachie Henderson

Out: Wylie Buzza (omitted), Sam Simpson (omitted)

MELBOURNE

B: James Harmes, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta 
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis 
? Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, N at han Jones 
HF: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch 
F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo 
Foll: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Bernie Vince 
I/C: Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Joel Smith 
Emg: Oskar Baker Cameron Pedersen Josh Wagner Sam Weideman

In: Joel Smith, Dom Tyson 

Out: Mitch Hannan (jarred knee), Michael Hibberd (quad) 

There’s been a lot written and spoken about the inconsistency of the Cats in recent times but the reality is that they have recorded just one victory since their last game at GMHBA Stadium when they beat North there in Round 12. That one win was against the Swans in Sydney and might appear to have been impressive but given the question marks about that club, one wonders. Geelong has dropped games in the past couple of months to clubs out of the top eight in Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide and it wasn’t all that long ago (Round 10) that a late surge saved them them from football’s ultimate humiliation in 2018 - a home defeat at the hands of a woefully inaccurate Carlton.

By comparison, it could be said that the Demons seem to have shed their three game mid season slump after recording consecutive wins in impressive style against albeit weaker opponents (noting that two of the losses during that “slump” were by less than two goals in games that were controversial for some of the umpiring decisions that went against them). All that said, the questions confronting Melbourne are whether it is capable of claiming a big “scalp” and whether its recent uptick in injuries will hurt the club in the tough lead up to the finals.

In assessing this game, the midfield battles will - as they always are these days - be crucial. The Demons have the competition’s outstanding ruckman and a young emerging midfield while the Cats have those seasoned campaigners in their engine room. Clearly, the winner in that contest is the one most likely to take the spoils.

And then there is also the battle between Melbourne’s attack which averages 105 points per game and is ranked first in the competition and the Cats’ defence which has conceded just 56 points on average from five matches at GMHBA Stadium although that figure includes games against the Blues, the Saints and GWS when the Giants were decimated by injury. 

For this game, much will depend on the key forwards. If one of Jesse Hogan, Tom McDonald or Tom Hawkins have a big night out, that could be decisive.

I think the Demon ship has been steadier and this, plus the team’s greater depth will get it home in the end for a narrow win on the road.

Melbourne by 8 points.

 

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This match should be a beauty, must win for both clubs. My prediction is the dees by 8 points.

My Preferred Team

B: J.Lewis, O.McDonald, Jetta

HB: Hibberd, Frost, Salem

C : Fritsch, Oliver, Jones

HF: Neal-Bullen, Hogan, Petracca

F: Garlett, T.McDonald, Melksham

FOLL: Gawn, Brayshaw, Harmes'

IC: Spargo, Hannan, Kennedy Harris, Vince

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Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Edited by stevethemanjordan
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44 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Agree. You forgot to add the antics of Selwood and the umpires into the scenario. Geelong arn't a good side though but they nearly always play their best down there. As Hardwick said last year they have a hell of a home ground advantage. Geelong by 60.

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Watched the second half of round 1 last night. We are a vastly better side than that. 

Wagner - aside from that magnificent tackle on Selwood that nearly broke his leg - was poor. As was Maynard. Hunt looked pretty good.

We should have won that game no doubt - not just because of Max's miss. Guys like Melksham and Hannan weren't great and Oliver has improved a lot since then. Salem was average as was Garlett. Lost count of the marks that Pederson dropped.

What Geelong did well was control the footy with short kicks. They smashed us in number of marks and really controlled the tempo of the game. They were down on rotations with Taylor out early with an ankle. Hawkins was poor and Menzel had a day out (altho he missed a sitter from 12m in the last) 

We can win this and really make a statement to the comp..

 

Dees by 17

 

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55 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

. For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Did you see Geelong play last week? Their defence was mistake-riddled when rebounding and their forwardline looked one-dimensional. Their much talked about midfield has lost contested possessions and clearances most of the year. I just came from the 'Mr Jones' thread. The negativity about our own players is incredible. Jones and Viney bagged and now Hogan can't lead. I think most here think a team can only win a premiership with 22 super stars. Plenty of role players with obvious flaws have tasted premiership success. We're a pretty handy team that is getting better. Sure we have a few deficiencies and a few players who can turn it over but so does every team. We also have the most impressive contested ball winning midfield in the league, two quality key position forwards and the form ruckman of the competition. We might just be ok.

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11 minutes ago, dl4e said:

Agree. You forgot to add the antics of Selwood and the umpires into the scenario. Geelong arn't a good side though but they nearly always play their best down there. As Hardwick said last year they have a hell of a home ground advantage. Geelong by 60.

Agree Geelong by 10 goals.

And a return to DL at its best. Withering demands for Rolling Heads.

Hope to be proven wrong.

 

At least Le Tour will be in the hills so we can switch over to that.

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I’ll never forget a game Dad and I attended at Kardinia. I would have been in my early teens at the time (so comfortably over 20 years ago now). We had been down at Airies Inlet for the weekend at my uncles house (he goes for Geelong of course), we had had a great weekend of spear fishing, walks on the beach and mountain bike riding through the back blocks up on the hill.

We were standing on the gravel hill on the Moorabool St side of the ground, amongst a bunch of Collingwood’esk type supporters of the hoops. Now, as anyone knows, when faced with such surroundings, it is prudent to keep things pretty cool and not get carried away with your supporting. This we did and were very civilised all game. Unfortunately we lost the game and were stollling across the oval after the game had finished to get to the car park only to be affronted half way across by another Dad and his son (who would have been about 8-10years at the time). This Dad was clearly in a rage about something and was hurling some seriously obscene abuse in our direction from about 10m away, Dad gave a little bit back but but was very reserved probably taken aback that a bloke with his young son would be so eager to use the c, f, s words and every other profanity you can mention at full voice. One can only assume that he had some sort of problem and was struggling with something that we can only imagine. We still talk about it today and shake our heads in disbelief. That young boy would be in his late 20s to early 30s today and I wonder what would have become of him. Would he follow in the footsteps of his Dad and use footy as an outlet for his inner rage or would he have realised that his Dad was a [censored] and have disowned him years ago?

Who knows.

What I do know, is that in years gone by I always dreaded playing Geelong anywhere, but especially at Kardinia. But this year, I am not the least bit concerned about playing them there, instead I’m glad it’s there and not at the G. Time will tell if my confidence was misplaced.

Please Melbourne, bring your A game and get the job done. You’ve put us through many years of pain and suffering, now it’s time to realise the potential and shut that bloke from 20 years ago up!

??????????????

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49 minutes ago, Goodvibes said:

Did you see Geelong play last week? Their defence was mistake-riddled when rebounding and their forwardline looked one-dimensional. Their much talked about midfield has lost contested possessions and clearances most of the year. I just came from the 'Mr Jones' thread. The negativity about our own players is incredible. Jones and Viney bagged and now Hogan can't lead. I think most here think a team can only win a premiership with 22 super stars. Plenty of role players with obvious flaws have tasted premiership success. We're a pretty handy team that is getting better. Sure we have a few deficiencies and a few players who can turn it over but so does every team. We also have the most impressive contested ball winning midfield in the league, two quality key position forwards and the form ruckman of the competition. We might just be ok.

Yes, I watched their entire game. 

I'm going off of what we've seen to date.

Geelong lost to a fired up Adelaide away from home and are now in jeapody of losing their position in the 8. Do you believe they won't respond? 

I'm the realist anonymous Melbourne supporter you'll meet. If I think we're a good bet, I'll say so. And I'm simply saying that I can't see us winning this weekend given my reasoning. Which is backed off an entire season of results and trends in our play. We're yet to take a scalp. We're yet to win a prime time game. And we're yet to make a statement. 

Also, there's a difference between "Can't" lead and "leading to the wrong spots far too often". And if you don't agree, I suggest you watch how often Hogan and McDonald get in the way of each other during games. 

I admire what Goodwin has done since his takeover. It's nice to know that we're one of the best contested possession sides in the AFL, even 'the' best. But maybe unlike you, I don't get carried away with those positives due to the good work that comes undone so often in games. 

In short, if those areas of our game are even a little off, we're an extremely vulnerable side because of our inability to stop opposition scores once inside our defensive 50. All the top sides know this. And they've beaten us by outcoaching and outsmarting us. 

 

Edited by stevethemanjordan
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Massive Massive Game.  Geelong almost back to full strength, will they bring back Henderson and Taylor?

We are setting ourselves for this one and I am confident we will play hard and either win well or it will be very close. Geelong's bottom 10 are inexperienced and average imo.

I'm fired up!!

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24 minutes ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Yes, I watched their entire game. 

I'm going off of what we've seen to date.

Geelong lost to a fired up Adelaide away from home and are now in jeapody of losing their position in the 8. Do you believe they won't respond? 

I'm the realist anonymous Melbourne supporter you'll meet. If I think we're a good bet, I'll say so. And I'm simply saying that I can't see us winning this weekend given my reasoning. Which is backed off an entire season of results and trends in our play. We're yet to take a scalp. We're yet to win a prime time game. And we're yet to make a statement. 

Also, there's a difference between "Can't" lead and "leading to the wrong spots far too often". And if you don't agree, I suggest you watch how often Hogan and McDonald get in the way of each other during games. 

I admire what Goodwin has done since his takeover. It's nice to know that we're one of the best contested possession sides in the AFL, even 'the' best. But maybe unlike you, I don't get carried away with those positives due to the good work that comes undone so often in games. 

In short, if those areas of our game are even a little off, we're an extremely vulnerable side because of our inability to stop opposition scores once inside our defensive 50. All the top sides know this. And they've beaten us by outcoaching and outsmarting us. 

 

@stevethemanjordan - you're bang on. It's an uncomfortable truth, that's for sure. 

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Narrow ground has been made narrower as a result of the Ziebell on LED fence injury which - in theory - should help our zone defence and cluster forward formation

I’m not remotely confident but am mildly optimistic 

Hannan out for Tyson the only change I’d look at at this stage, and even that I’m on the fence over

Puddy Tatts by 13 points 

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3 hours ago, WERRIDEE said:

This match should be a beauty, must win for both clubs. My prediction is the dees by 8 points.

My Preferred Team

B: J.Lewis, O.McDonald, Jetta

HB: Hibberd, Frost, Salem

C : Fritsch, Oliver, Jones

HF: Neal-Bullen, Hogan, Petracca

F: Garlett, T.McDonald, Melksham

FOLL: Gawn, Brayshaw, Harmes'

IC: Spargo, Hannan, Kennedy Harris, Vince

Good margin. The AFL website predicts Geelong by 8 points (however I am travelling down the Geelong Road in anticipation of the Dees prevailing)! Dees by 8 points!

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Wagner? what the hell has he done all year?! (I didn't watch Casey last week)

Goodwin can't keep going down this road though, in/out/in/out/in/out -- Tyson, Weid, T Smith, Tyson, Stretch etc

Edited by MSFebey
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10 minutes ago, sisso said:

Geelong lost to the baby Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago then beat Sydney at the SCG: conclusion like us they are wildly inconsistent so pretty much any result is possible

Think you have to persist and persist against them and eventually they will crack. They're not the side of a couple of years ago. Last week I think they had a shot at goal to go 4 goals ahead early in the game but Adelaide persisted and eventually got over the top of them. They will relish any drop off in intensity, need to bring it for 4 quarters.

 

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35 minutes ago, MSFebey said:

Wagner? what the hell has done all year?! (I didn't watch Casey last week)

Goodwin can't keep going down this road though, in/out/in/out/in/out -- Tyson, Weid, T Smith, Tyson, Stretch etc

The mind boggles. No thanks to Tyson and Wagner.

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3 hours ago, stevethemanjordan said:

Whilst beating an injury hit and out of form bulldogs in a single quarter was nice, I simply cannot see us beating Geelong down there for too many reasons. 

For one, we still make far too many mistakes as a side and Geelong are a team who will punish turnovers from our defensive 50. Frost is my case in point. He is playing, so we're already in trouble in that regard. 

Aside from the third quarter of last week, we were again extremely inefficient when going inside 50. Whether it's Hogan leading to the wrong spots far too often or our mids and half forwards kicking to the wrong spots and refusing to lower their eyes again, it happened all game aside from the third. 

Defensively, last week was an improvement. But it's the first game all year whereby opposition weren't scoring at will when the ball was going inside their forward 50. That body of work doesn't bode well for this game. 

We'll need all those three things to go right as well as having some outstanding indivial efforts for us to get up. We are yet to beat a strong AFL side this year who haven't been hit by injury. 

In short, I think we still have too many major deficiencies as a side that always seem to be magnified whenever we play top sides. 

Geelong by 35

Geelong are nowhere near a top side

demons by 187

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The one thing in the Cats' favour is that it's at their home ground where they are a 5-6 goal better side on most occasions.

However, their ground is narrow and smaller than the G, which plays into our hands in terms of the contested style of footy we like to play.  The Cats are not the gun side they once were, and if you can shut one or two of their good players out of the game like the Crows did last weekend, then you go a long way to beating them.

Outside of Hawkins and the 'tin arse' Menzel, their forward line does not scare me in the slightest.  I know Danger will spend time there, as will GAJ, but I think we have the players (eg. Jetta, Vince) who are big enough and smart enough to hold their own in each contest.  Lewis has been terrific as the general while Frost, outside of the odd mistake, has been pretty good as well.

Gawn should give us first use of the ball and we know that our midfield can easily hold their own against the Cats midfield.  Our forward line is dangerous, and if we move the ball quickly enough then we can kick a winning score.  I feel as though we used it much better last weekend, and with Garlett and Spargo roaming around we had less players going up for contests and more staying down to get the crumb and/or put the pressure on the opposition.

I see no reason at all why we can't win this match, but at the same time, the Cats won't be pushovers.  

Dees by 15 points.

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53 minutes ago, Roost It said:

Geelong are nowhere near a top side

demons by 187

I was there (and stuck fat til the end). I don't like to be reminded of it. Despite my post of a week ago, I am going to venture the 20km up the road, buoyed by our performance of the last two weeks.

They really are a feral bunch of supporters, especially coming from 6 hours of drinking in the Barwon Club.

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