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IN THE PINK by George on The Outer

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A five point victory against the eternal nemesis in Hawthorn, didn’t put the Demons back in the black for the 2019 season ... but rather, it added a touch of pink to their fortunes, now showing some sign of life after an underwhelming start to the year.

And pink was the most appropriate colour for the side and the supporters, given this game was the annual “Pink Ladies” match.  And none more so than this proud Demon fan who turned up to add his support to the cause and his team at the same time ...


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By the end of the game there were many more Demons fans a little flushed, not just with this small success, but having missed numerous heartbeats in the final minutes as the game held in the balance.

The first quarter saw a very ordinary show of  football from both sides. Hawthorn’s lead was simply because it was less atrocious than Melbourne. The fans were seeing a repeat of previous weeks with only five shots at goal while the opposition nearly doubled that. 

It was a familiar story in every statistic flashed up on the screet at ¼ time.  Contested possessions, marks, disposals - the list went on.  The Hawks essentially doubled the Demons on all those markers and it was looking like another long, unenjoyable afternoon.

Then after the first bell, slowly began to change.  James Harmes went to O’Meara who had 12 touches in the first quarter, but then was held to a mere seven for the rest of the game.  Harmes doubled up on this shut-down effort with 31 touches of his own and a goal which was to be the winner for his side.

But this was still not a display of AFL football which could promote the game, as both teams fumbled, dropped marks, kicked directly to the opposition and turned the ball over again and again.  By half time the Demons were back in the game, but still nine points adrift.

Based on previous games, the third quarter was when the Melbourne supporters were expecting the familiar “goal-less term”, but this game was different. The Demons piled on five goals five behinds to really put the game back in their favour. 

Led by Max Gawn with an enormous 46 hitouts, importantly around the ground and with six telling marks, he showed the way for the others.  Clayton Oliver chimed in with a mere 30 touches of his own, but it was the old stager, Nathan Jones who, once again, put his body on the line when necessary to ensure possession was either kept or gained. 

Michael Hibberd returned to form in the backline, and his long raking kicks set up opportunities which weren’t there in previous weeks.  Christian Salem was, as usual, magnificent with his precise kicking, vision and skills.  Jay Lockhart put in another performance which will keep him in the side for the future, and his coolness in the dying minutes of the game to “milk” the clock to ensure a win was vital and impressive in someone so new to the game.

Declan Keilty in his first game showed more than his statistics would indicate, as he was to fill the second ruck role and as another big body in the forward line. He was mis-matched against McEvoy a couple of times, but on each occasion actually beat him to the ball, and provided a telling centre clearance in the final term. 

In the end, the Demons got across the line, despite some truly appalling umpiring decisions in the dying minutes.  Tom McDonald should have been awarded a 50 metre penalty when the Hawthorn player kicked the ball away after very plainly being penalised.  A “non decision” of incorrect disposal against Roughead was another telling clanger, again to Hawthorn’s advantage and ultimately a score. 

But the Demons held on. Jeff Garlett and Sam Frost in the dying minutes performed miracles to give Lockhart a chance. Christian Petracca and Frost again threw their bodies in furiously to deny Hawthorn in the dying seconds.  And when the final bell sounded with Jayden Hunt streaming forward the noise from the fans was enormous. 

Make no mistake, while the Demons won the game, it was truly an ugly win.  Still too many players are getting a game, simply because we have no other option at the moment due to injuries. 

Alex Neal-Bullen with 4 disposals to ¾ time wasn’t enough.  Lewis with three direct turnovers resulting in Hawthorn goals is a sign of the game going past him. Garlett, despite his last quarter cameo could only manage nine touches and 2 tackles.  Petracca likewise, simply is not doing enough when the ball is not close and, like Garlett, has to provide much more defensive work to stop the ball rebounding from the forward line.

Still a win is a win is a win, and the flush of pink that returned to the cheeks of the Demon fans was welcomed.  Perhaps the sign of life could become stronger next week against the Suns in Queensland, but we don’t want the colour to be the result of sunburn, unless we put in a similarly gutsy effort. 

Melbourne 2.3.15 4.5.29 9.10.64 11.13.79

Hawthorn 4.5.29 5.8.38 7.8.50 11.8.74

Goals

Melbourne Hunt 2 Brayshaw Fritsch Garlett Harmes Jones Lockhart T McDonald Neal-Bullen Stretch

Hawthorn Breust 4 Gunston 3 Lewis O'Meara  Roughead Shiels

Best

Melbourne Harmes Gawn Hibberd Salem Oliver Lockhart

Hawthorn Gunston Shiels O'Meara Hardwick Worpel

Injuries

Melbourne Nil

Hawthorn Nil

Reports Nil

Umpires Dalgleish Gianfagna McInerney

Official crowd 40,864 at the MCG

 

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