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Match Preview and Team Selection - Preliminary Final

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MATHEMATICAL POSSIBILITY by Whispering Jack

For well over a decade, Melbourne fans have been sitting back at various times during the football season (more often than not in the early parts), contemplating the AFL ladder and pondering on the mathematical possibilities available to their team of making the finals or winning the premiership. Rarely have they been equally or better placed than the others except when this particular event was taking place at the very beginning of the year or possibly after a the opening round of the season. 

This week, at long last, things are different. 

When Preliminary Finals week comes around, there are four teams left in the contest for the premiership flag. All four of them face a task which only one of them can successfully achieve and that is to win both remaining games. The mathematics are simple - each club has a 25% chance of making it to the Holy Grail. Nothing could be more simple than that, could it?

Except that in Melbourne’s case, it has to win its first contest outside of its home territory. That being the case, while Richmond, Collingwood and West Coast players will be waking up in their own beds on the morning of their game (well, hopefully), the Melbourne team will be waking in some hotel room after having flown a distance of approximately 2,722.36 kilometres from their home town to play in front of a crowd made up of mainly rabidly hostile natives.

The prospect would be a daunting one but for another interesting mathematical equation. In past years, an out-of-town trip to anywhere else in the country spelled doom and gloom for Melbourne and the loyal fans who traveled with the side. Interstate wins were as rare as hen’s teeth. In real terms, the mathematical possibility was as close to zero as you could possibly get.

But not this team and not this year. 

The Demons have played seven home and away games - almost a third of the season - outside of their home State and won all but one of those contests (and you could mount a strong argument to say that even the Port Adelaide game was a victory of sorts in every aspect except on the Adelaide Oval scoreboard) which gives you a very healthy 85.7% win/loss ratio. In those games, it was Melbourne that dominated most of the statistical data such as clearances, contested football, inside 50 entries and shots at goal*. 

To emphasize the point, you only have to look back a little over a month to Round 22 when the Eagles and Demons clashed at Optus Stadium in which the visitors prevailed by 17 points to understand that the idea of traveling across the continent holds little fear for the Melbourne of 2018 which has an away record that is the envy of all others in the competition.

Not even the Tigers who are everybody’s favourite at very strong mathematical odds to win this year’s flag, can boast a victory against this team at this venue this year. Indeed, they had to wait until Round 21 against the ailing Suns at Metricon Stadium to record their only interstate win of the season.  

The fight for the flag is an even money proposition and Melbourne’s mathematical odds are as good as those of anybody else left in the race.

THE GAME

West Coast v Melbourne at Optus Stadium Saturday 22 September 2018 at 3.20pm.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall West Coast 33 wins Melbourne 17 wins

At Optus Stadium West Coast 0 wins Melbourne 1 win

Past five meetings West Coast 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins

The Coaches Simpson 0 wins Goodwin 2 wins

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7, Fox Footy Channel, Live at 2.30pm

RADIO - Triple M SEN 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 16.12.108 defeated West Coast 14.7.91 in Round 22, 2018 at Optus Stadium

The Eagles were reeling at the time, having recently lost Nick Naitanui and the Andrew Gaff incident was still very fresh in the mind. They were also without Josh Kennedy and their other tall marking forward, Jack Darling, was out off the game with concussion after only ten minutes. As a consequence of the Demons taking full advantage of the situation, they were four goals in front in the blink of an eye. With the home crowd behind it but not as much noise of affirmation as usual, West Coast gradually fought its way back into the contest and momentarily took the lead by a point in the final term before Melbourne showed its mettle and kicked the game’s last three goals. 

THE TEAMS  
 
WEST COAST EAGLES
 

B: Shannon Hurn, Tom Barrass, Will Schofield 
HB: Thomas Cole, Jeremy McGovern, Lewis Jetta 
😄 Dom Sheed, Luke Shuey, Chris Masten 
HF: Mark LeCras, Jack Darling, Mark Hutchings 
F: Willie Rioli, Josh J. Kennedy, Jamie Cripps 
Foll: Scott Lycett, Elliot Yeo, Jack Redden 
I/C: Liam Duggan, Liam Ryan, Nathan Vardy, Daniel Venables  
Emg: Brayden Ainsworth, Brendon Ah Chee, Oscar Allen, Jackson Nelson  

In: Will Schofield

Out: Brad Sheppard (hamstring)

MELBOURNE 

B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd
😄 Mitch Hannan, Nathan Jones, Angus Brayshaw
HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, James Harmes
F: Aaron vandenBerg, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen
Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney
I/C: Christian Petracca, Joel Smith, Charlie Spargo, Dom Tyson
Emg: Bayley Fritsch, Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Tim Smith

In: Joel Smith 

Out: Bayley Fritsch (omitted)

Melbourne dropped a bombshell at selection when it omitted first year player Bayley Fritsch who has surprised all and sundry with an excellent debut season in which he filled a number of roles for the team. One has to feel sorry for the kid but he will have lots of opportunities in the future and, of course, can’t be ruled out of a place if the Demons make it to this year’s Grand Final.

However, the fact that the selectors have taken the ballsy option of making a decision that is considered controversial and risky is the very thing that sets the Melbourne of 2018 apart from the Melbourne of past days.

These days, the Demons stand tall; they are prepared to take the game and any opponent on with their high risk, boisterous, crisis style of play. It’s a feature that was evident earlier in the season and has only solidified in later days. When they last traveled across the Nullarbor, they did so knowing that their place in the finals was not yet booked and that in order to make it, they needed to achieve something they hadn’t done all season - beat a top eight side.

In the case of the Eagles that meant winning in unfamiliar territory in a noisy cauldron with 50,000 hostile fans willing them on to their doom. That they came out of the game with a stirring victory achieved after fighting back when the Eagles took the lead for the first time in the last ten minutes of the game and then have backed that effort up against top eight sides another three times speaks volumes.

In physical and mental terms the achievements that have led them here is already far in excess of the mathematical distance of approximately 2,722.36 kilometres that the players have traveled to get to Saturday night’s game. In terms of development of the team over the past five years, its more akin to traveling in space at the speed of light and a foreign ground, the noise of affirmation, the return to the opposition of their twin towers are all powerless to stop this team’s forward surge.

Melbourne by 27 points.

* the Adelaide game was an exception by one inside 50 and a few shots at goal due to a late flurry in the wet but the Demons were the stronger side on the night.

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Everyone mentions the WCE players missing but we have some handy outs as well.

Hogan, Lever and Stretch will all be good “recruits” for next year and in their absence, we have some good replacements coming up. I expect Jayden Hunt to be much better with a good preparation for 2019.

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We. Are. In. A. Prelim.

Holy Sheeeet

Still sinking in

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2 minutes ago, SFebes said:

Rumour has it, we have both Matt Nicholls and Razor Ray vs WCE, be warned.

Razor has been pretty good to us. Obviously loves Gus. 

Nicholls is the sort of turd you can’t flush. 

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1 minute ago, Jaded said:

Razor has been pretty good to us. Obviously loves Gus. 

Nicholls is the sort of turd you can’t flush. 

Throw in a bit of Meredith and we should forfeit! 🤣

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Nicholls and Meredith are killers...

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At the start of the week I was not confident at all, I think this is more from disbelief we are in a prelim and thinking this season couldn't possibly get better... 

Now I have sat back & really thought about this game I think we are probably the favorites, for one reason, our midfield

We have some seriously tough, talented & elite boys in there fed by one of the greatest ruck men in the modern era. We really seem to gel as a team & our run & carry is what has significantly approved in the past month. (Just look at the passage of play from our first goal from last week). If we implement that style of transition this is exactly how you either make Hurn & McGovern accountable for a man or you will get goals over the back like we did 5 weeks ago. They wont be able to drop off and intercept how they want to and will become quite frustrated. 

The ONLY way I can see Meth Coast winning is if they can limit our slick hand ball game & force us to bomb it long to Hurn & McGovern, where they can then slingshot and move the ball quickly the other way catching our mids off for a split second. This will leave OMAC & Frosty quite vulnerable. To me this sounds a lot more like a game plan hoping your opponent stuffs up rather than making the play yourself, its almost seems a little to safe (especially in finals) & sure it got them pretty far this year but I think this will ultimately lead to their undoing. 

I also think Meth Coast will be much to tall for a ground which plays similar to the dome.... Hurn, Barass, McGovern, Darling, JK, Lycett & Vardy are all KPP. 

I really think this 2 talls to many especially during finals where the game naturally becomes more contested. It is amplified against a team like us who thrive on that contest & also have of players that are so diverse for instance Hibberd & Jetta can hold their own in a marking contest, Frosty can chase down a small running into goal. 

I could just be waffling on here in hope of a Grand Final dream, I was only 6 in 2000 & didn't really care about the game, I was just keen on the Micky Dees my Dad bought me. 

I hope you all share my optimism!!

GO MELBOURNE! 

 

 

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1 hour ago, SFebes said:

Rumour has it, we have both Matt Nicholls and Razor Ray vs WCE, be warned.

Just confirmed on SEN. Both of them.

😬

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2 minutes ago, demonstone said:

Good teams don't worry about who the umpires are.

Normally id agree with you, but when it comes to those 2 - I know before the game begins we are gonna be up against it.

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15 minutes ago, demonstone said:

Good teams don't worry about who the umpires are.

Crap.

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We can win this game. As long as the midfield refuses to lie down in any contest. 

This is absolute pressure football. The Jeelong game down at Kardinia Park looks to have steeled this group, to be on a mission. I am sure Meth Coke are thinking the same way. 

We have travelled well this year....

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Smith for Tyson wouldn't be a bad decision IMO, coinsidering WCE forward line, I'm happy either way but another intercept defender wouldn't hurt IMO. I've warmed to it.

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51 minutes ago, Redleg said:

Nicholls, Razor and Meredith.

Were any of them umpiring our game vs Hawks and did either of them give those two ridiculous 'sliding' free kicks against us?

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Not Nicholls again. Surely this cant be so. Please tell me I have been misreading the above comments.

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Should have brought the gun last week!

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43 minutes ago, Petraccattack said:

Were any of them umpiring our game vs Hawks and did either of them give those two ridiculous 'sliding' free kicks against us?

Yes Nicholls was umpiring and I'm pretty sure he paid the Brayshaw sliding free from 30m away as the non-controlling umpire

I was sure he'd be dropped as he paid the Oliver free off the ball, failed to pay HTB against Roughead who dived on it, and paid a the HTB against Jetta whihc was harsh and ended in a goal - clearly Hayden Kennedy doesn't pick on form because Nicholls had a stinker

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