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ONE GAME AT A TIME by Whispering Jack

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The perceived wisdom for fans of our code of football is that when you approach the pointy end of the season, it's not proper to discuss anything other than your team’s next game. The unwritten rule is that you must take things one game at a time.

I really would have liked to engage in speculation about what might happen beyond next Sunday and even dared to dream, as was suggested in a newspaper article earlier this week, of a rollicking finish to the season involving action deep into the month of September after a single important win that would engender the necessary self-belief into Melbourne’s team just as one such win did with Richmond last year. The possibilities of such thoughts and dreams are endless but it can’t be done – you must take things one game at a time.

And rightly so when the Demons are part of the conversation. One of their more recent defeats came at the hands of St Kilda, a team with a disappointing record of 4½ wins and a percentage of 75.7 this season. But it was last year that they turned losing games when hot favourite to win into an art form, going down to the lowly Dockers, Hawks, Kangaroos (twice) and Collingwood at the death in the final round of 2017. All that in a season where they missed a finals berth by the narrowest margin in the history of the competition.

And so ... despite the fact that highest and lowest-scoring sides are pitted against each other, one being sixth-placed and the other second from bottom of the ladder, it is with trepidation that I take on the task of previewing Sunday’s game at the MCG between Melbourne, fresh from a strong victory in Adelaide and the Gold Coast Suns who are coming off a shattering defeat at the hands of likely wooden spooners in Carlton.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Gold Coast Suns at The MCG Sunday 5 August, 2018 at 3.20pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall - Melbourne 8 wins Gold Coast Suns 3 wins

At The MCG - Melbourne 4 wins Gold Coast Suns 2 wins

Past five matches - Melbourne 5 wins Gold Coast Suns 0 wins  

The Coaches - Goodwin 1 win Dew 0 wins

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7 Fox Sports 3 - Live at 3.00pm

RADIO - Triple M (Regional) 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 21.20.146 defeated Gold Coast Suns 11.11.77 at The Gabba Round 8, 2018

Melbourne started slowly but the foot went on the accelerator during the third term and finished up winning by 69 points, kicking 13 second-half goals to six. Tom McDonald booted five goals in his third game back after an injury lay-off.

THE TEAMS   

MELBOURNE

B: Bernie Vince, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
😄 Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes
HF: Aaron vandenBerg, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch
F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Jay Kennedy Harris
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Angus Brayshaw
I/C: Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo, Joel Smith
Emg: Jayden Hunt, Dean Kent, Cameron Pedersen, Tim Smith

In:  Aaron vandenBerg

Out: Jake Melksham (hamstring)

GOLD COAST SUNS 

B: Callum Ah Chee, Max Spencer, Jarrod Harbrow 
HB: Pearce Hanley, Jack Leslie, Kade Kolodjashnij 
😄 Lachie Weller, Jesse Lonergan, Jack Bowes 
HF: Nick Holman, Peter Wright, Alex Sexton 
F: Wil Powell, Aaron Young, Sean Lemmens 
Foll: Jarrod Witts, Will Brodie, Touk Miller 
I/C (from): Jacob Dawson, Brayden Fiorini, Jacob Heron, Michael Rischitelli
Emg: Ben Ainsworth, Michael Barlow, Jesse Joyce, Jarryd Lyons

In: Callum Ah Chee, Jacob Dawson, Pearce Hanley, Jack Leslie, Max Spencer  

Out: Jesse Joyce (omitted) Jarryd Lyons (omitted) Steven May (suspension), David Swallow (concussion) Rory Thompson (hamstring) 

After two weeks of high pressure games in hostile territory, the Demons return home and while, the Gold Coast Suns might not be considered capable of applying the sort of pressure experienced against opposition teams at GMHBA or at the Adelaide Oval, they can’t be taken lightly. The AFL is a competition that throws up at least one upset result in almost every round and the Demons can ill-afford another outcome such as the one they experienced early last month against the Saints.

I also harboured some concerns that the Gold Coast Suns players might react aggressively to the revelations about Tom Lynch not being at the club next season and the decision to strip him of the captaincy but upon looking at their “outs” and their injury list, I wonder if any of those left in the team even know their deposed skipper at all.
 
The Suns are one of the strongest tackling sides in the competition, a feature that came to the fore when they defeated the Swans recently on the SCG.  That’s exactly why Melbourne should be going into the game with a mindset intent on winning first and then worrying about the opportunity for as percentage booster.
 
The Demons have dominated Gold Coast in their last five outings at various venues around the country and their style of play should give them the edge again this week. They are the competition’s strongest side in midfield contests, in high scoring and going inside 50. They have experienced few problems getting the ball into scoring range but their efficiency near goal has left something to be desired. There have been a few occasions this year when they dominated the inside 50s and lost games. This is the area where they should be improving their game if they want to play finals.
 
With the likes of Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald and a bevy of small to medium players capable of scoring goals, they should be taking advantage of the midfield dominance of the competition’s leading tap ruckman and the young midfield led by Clarrie Oliver, Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw. 
 
Gold Coast is also struggling for leadership and without co-captains Tom Lynch and Steven May and their most talented player in Jack Martin who starred earlier in the season with four goals in a losing team, I can’t see them kicking anything near to a winning score.
 
Melbourne by 50 points.

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