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HIT OUT by Paddy Gosch

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As far as preseason hit outs go, the Demons’ first JLT Community Series fixture against the Tigers in the blistering heat at Shepparton, was instructive of a number of things but not really conclusive as to how each team will fare in the regular season against the competition's big guns (which includes against each other).

That’s the way these practice match hit outs go. Neither of the teams was at full strength, particularly Melbourne but if you were looking for the reason for the 12 point loss (a meaningless exercise in such games anyway), then you need look no further than the decision made to rest Max Gawn (which I am not criticising). Throughout the preseason, the emphasis at preseason training has been on how the club will combine its two big men - Gawn and Braydon Preuss - competing for hit outs and also their roles within the forward structures. In this game however, the club went with only one of them, leaving the latter to battle in the searing heat against three Richmond ruckman including the young athletic Noah Balta who kicked a couple of goals to go along with Nankervis’ three - stats that were as decisive to the result as the fact that the hit out numbers were about equal for the day instead of a huge deficit for the yellow and black as we would be entitled to expect if Max was out there.

The other important indicator was the strength of the Demons’ midfield - particularly with  Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver dominating around the stoppages, even in the absence of the two skippers et al and in the extreme conditions. Brayshaw and Oliver amassed big numbers and looked great while also receiving good assistance from Christian Salem, James Harmes and Bayley Fritsch.

The team ran strongly in the early stages but the brakes were put on just before quarter time when they led at one stage by 28 points. After that, the Tigers got on top and their greater experience stood out, along with their more mobile ruck brigade. In spite of that, Melbourne was still in with a chance at the commencement of time on in the last - thanks mainly to their greater accuracy in front of goal.

Not much else can be made from the game apart from the loss of Jeff Garlett through a shoulder injury, some quality efforts from Marty Hore in the back half and flashes of promise from former Kangaroo Corey Wagner, Declan Keilty and newcomers James Jordon and Tom Sparrow who will all no doubt have to bide their time with so many of the big guns to come back into the line up in the coming weeks.

Melbourne 7.2.44 9.2.54 11.3.69 16.5.101

Richmond 3.4.22 8.8.56 13.15.93 16.17.114

Goals

Melbourne: T.McDonald 2, Weideman 2, Smith 2, Stretch, Petracca, Garlett, Fritsch, Harmes, Maynard, Wagner, Kennedy-Harris, Oliver, Neal-Bullen

Richmond: Nankervis 3, Riewoldt 2, Martin 2, Balta 2, Baker 2, Higgins, Short, Ellis, Rioli, Weller

Best

Melbourne: Brayshaw, Oliver, Salem, Fritsch, Harmes, Petracca

Richmond: Houli, Balta, Martin, Short, Lambert, Higgins, Rioli

Injuries

Melbourne: Garlett (shoulder) 

Richmond: Nil

Reports

Melbourne: Nil

Richmond: Nil

Umpires: Stevic, Whetton, Hay, Meredith

Official crowd: 5,190 at Deakin Reserve, Shepparton

ReportJL012019.JPG

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