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HEARTBEAT by George on the Outer

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A five goal lead at ¾ time; now with a minute to go in the last, eight points the difference and Eddie Betts breaks his tag to kick the ball goalward for Adelaide.  

The Demon fans could see another Geelong-like result coming ... their collective hearts stop. It couldn’t happen again, could it?  

The ball curls inward toward the uprights, the hearts now aching for relief, but the shot grazes the post and Melbourne hangs on to win, after scoring another major for itself before the final siren.

There remains a heartbeat again for the Demon faithful. Not only a win, but combined with other favourable results in other games, the lure of September action is now within grasp.

The fans have booked themselves in to see the cardiologists this week, as this sort of pressure cannot have good outcomes, especially since it seems to be becoming a regular event for Melbourne in 2018. Or are the cardiologists seeking to do some scientific study on the ability of MFCSS sufferers to get up week after week?

Make no mistake, there was plenty at stake in this match. Another season of effort depended upon the outcome. The players needed to show their resilience after the heart-breaking result from the previous week. A rejuvenated Adelaide at their home ground, also seeking finals action themselves.  

But the hearts of the Melbourne players were bigger, like their fans. Big Max Gawn must have a heart the same size as Phar Lap’s with a monstrous 66 hitouts, 24 of which were to advantage.  Max now has 303 to advantage in Season 2018, with no CLUB to yet reach the 250 mark collectively!

Clayton Oliver having just turned 21 racked up another 31 touches and blew away the previous record for 1,000 handballs in only his 53rd game, leaving behind such greats as Greg Williams, and surpassing Patrick Cripps by 10 games.  

And in those dying minutes the willingness and heart of the players shone out, as they battled physical injury to hold on gallantly to their lead. Christian Petracca with a shoulder injury, Jetta with a knee complaint, after hitting the goal post, Jesse Hogan with groin and knee problems, Angus Brayshaw with a cut to the head, James Harmes with a broken hand. 

The fact that Hogan and Harmes could even put themselves on the ground this week showed the size of their commitment and heart, with Harmes not only playing with a plate in his hand but completely shutting down Sloane, to a meagre 17 touches while getting 23 touches himself. He has turned into a first class tagger, but also a mid-field threat with 13 contested possessions to top out his day.  

The first half of the match was an even affair, even though Adelaide opened up a 3 goal lead early in the first quarter.  In the past, particularly at a venue like Adelaide Oval with its raucous crowd, that would have signaled the end of the game, since the Crows with their tails up have been virtually unstoppable. But the Demons stopped giving the likes of Greenwood and Gibbs freedom to move, and the source of supply dried up. By the end of the first quarter, a goal the difference resulted and a similar margin was there at half-time.  

Then the heart of Melbourne really got beating.  Gawn completely overpowered Jacobs in the ruck, Oliver, Brayshaw and Nathan Jones took full advantage around the packs, and just kept putting the ball forward.  Although Hogan was barely able to move or jump, he just kept willing himself to contests, and although he wasn’t to benefit from the fruits of his labour, others like Jeff Garlett, Bayley Fritsch and Jake Melksham were.

Jordan Lewis in his 300th game chipped in with a couple of truly telling long-range goals which broke the backs of Adelaide at critical times.

Should anyone doubt the value of his positioning and game sense, then this was the game to witness a master in action.  

Tom McDonald became the target up front and finished with 3 goals, again from his strength and running capacity - he covered 15.3 km in the game - extraordinary for such a big man and while he is doing exactly this the opposition have no answers. After missing the first 5 games he has now scored 40 goals for the season with a conversion rate far better than anyone in the competition.

Down back the defenders were magnificent.  Marshalled by Lewis, Sam Frost and Oscar McDonald held the main Adelaide forwards in Walker and Jenkins to a single goal, and that from a free kick in the dying minutes!

Neville held the dangerous Betts to a couple, while Lynch had little to no effect on the game as Joel Smith matched him in the air. Smith had a few anxious failures, but the kid has only played nine games. We all had similar feelings about Oscar in his first couple of seasons, but the coaches are now getting games and experience into him, which will put us in a better position come September and next season.

At ¾ time, the margin had blown out to 31 points and the game was all but over. Until Adelaide started their run and threatened to snatch an unlikely victory.  The rain came down mid-way during the quarter, and made Melbourne’s job easier, as it turned into a contested ball scenario, which Melbourne love.  Time and time again bodies were thrown without abandon to stop the forward thrusts of the Crows.  

Eddie’s last throw of the dice could have stolen the game, as the ball would have been returned to the centre with a minute to go. In the event, the kickout went well down the line and Jones, Petracca, Oliver and Brayshaw made sure it wasn’t going back. Petracca continued bullocking to get it forward and with Hogan willing himself to create the contest, got it back to Christian, who fed Alex Neal-Bullen the ball to seal the match.   

All heart!

With the body still alive after this match, and the heart beating true, the Red and the Blue now have the chance to put into action what they have hoped for in the past, yet failed.  

While other results can improve the situation, the players seem to now know that their future lay in their own hands and whether they have the heart to succeed when the going gets tough ... which is what finals action demands. 
 
Melbourne 3.1.19 5.7.37 12.11.83 13.12.90

Adelaide 4.4.28 6.8.44 7.10.52 10.17.77

Goals

Adelaide Betts Greenwood 2 Atkins Gallucci Gibbs Murphy Seedsman Walker

Melbourne T McDonald 3 Fritsch Lewis Melksham 2 Hogan Jetta Kennedy Harris Neal-Bullen 

Best

Melbourne Oliver T McDonald Petracca Gawn Harmes Lewis  

Adelaide M Crouch Milera Laird Gibbs Atkins

Injuries 

Melbourne Nil 

Adelaide Seedsman (hamstring)

Reports

Melbourne Nil 

Adelaide Nil

Umpires Stevic, Meredith, Harris 

Official crowd 45,880 at the Adelaide Oval

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