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SCREAM by Whispering Jack

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The Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch painted a number of versions of his famous work “Scream” and, every time my mind goes back to last year’s Preliminary Final at Optus Stadium between Melbourne and the West Coast Eagles, each and every one of them reverberates through my mind as if my head is being pummeled by a sledgehammer. 

When I think of that half time scoreboard from that match showing West Coast at 10.9.69 to Melbourne 0.6.6, I feel like the man standing by the railing, hands cupping his ears in horror at the disaster unfolding at the place where, only a matter of weeks earlier, the Demons had sealed a place in their first finals series for a dozen seasons against the very same opposition. 

After the game, I  thought time would heal the wounds and the Demons would take the result both as a character-building lesson and a stepping stone to bigger and brighter things. They were, after all, the competition’s highest-scoring team for the season with plenty of attacking targets fed by a potent midfield and underpinned by an adequate and improving defence that had recruited a top notch key defender in Steven May and was expecting the early return from injury of another in Jake Lever?

What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you could fill the pages of the Encyclopedia Brittanica with the answer to that question and the various solutions that have been posited by all and sundry to restore the confidence of the Demon faithful and to end the nightmares endured  since the 2019 season began. Not even the last two matches with their come-from-behind, get out of gaol free, nail biting wins against Hawthorn and the Gold Coast Suns have put an end to the screaming fits.

The most common attempt to explain the reversal from last season to now, has been centred on the team’s decline in attacking strength from one that averaged almost 105 points a game in the home and away season to this year’s output of less than 70 - a startling statistic, especially in light of the fact that week after week, they are still getting the ball inside the 50 metre arc many more times than their opponents.

So far nobody, least of all, Simon Goodwin has been able to explain the club’s impotence in attack. Perhaps there is a light on the horizon after last week with Tom McDonald getting his biggest return for the season (3 goals) or perhaps they can take heart from the fact that in the space of 40 seconds at the end of last week’s game, they scored more than 10% of their entire score?

But even that will need to be augmented by a lot more work on the defensive side. For much of the season, the Demons have been leaking goals too easily and the following statistic shows up the fact that they have been unable to impose sufficient pressure on opposition forwards.

Since the opening round against Port Adelaide when they fell victim to sheer fatigue, the Demons have conceded 31 goals and only 9 behinds. 

In three of their last four games, the opposition have been deadly straight in these final quarters  –  St Kilda managed three straight and Hawthorn and the Gold Coast Suns kicked four. In between, Richmond kicked 5.4, while earlier the Cats scored 7.3 (after 6.0 in the third), Essendon 6.1 and Sydney 2.1. In other words, the pattern shows Melbourne struggling to kick goals while, at the other end, its opponents rarely miss.

If Goodwin can overcome this phenomenon, made all the more difficult by the fact that the club is ravaged by injury at the moment, he will be entitled to the tag of “genius”.  

The fact that the club has been hit by those injuries might in fact help because he has no option but to make changes to his line up this week.

Hopefully, he will find a way to ensure that, we the fans, will be screaming with delight on Friday night.

However and unfortunately, I can’t see that happening this week.

West Coast by 27 points. 

THE GAME

West Coast v Melbourne at Optus Stadium Friday 17 May 2019 at 8.10pm.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall West Coast 34 wins Melbourne 17 wins

At Optus Stadium West Coast 1 win Melbourne 1 win

Past five meetings West Coast 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins

The Coaches Simpson 1 win Goodwin 2 wins

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7 Fox Footy Channel Live at 8.00pm

RADIO - 3AW Triple M ABC SEN

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

West Coast 18.13.121 defeated Melbourne 7.13.55 defeated Melbourne in the Preliminary Final, 2018 at Optus Stadium

In a sad end to their 2018 campaign, the Demons were humiliated in this game, failing to score a goal for the entire first half. Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver never gave up.

Injury List: Round 9

Jake Lever (knee) – test
Jordan Lewis (ankle) – test
Corey Maynard (hip) – test
Charlie Spargo (foot) – test
Sam Weideman (hip) – test
Mitch Hannan (knee) – 1 week
Jay Kennedy Harris (knee) – 1 week
Michael Hibberd (collarbone) – 2 weeks
Steven May (groin) – 2-3 weeks
Jake Melksham (foot) – 4-5 weeks
Joel Smith (groin) – 4-6 weeks
Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion) – TBA
Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBA 
Neville Jetta (knee) – 8-10 weeks
Guy Walker (shoulder) – Indefinite
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – Season

THE TEAMS  

Screenshot_2019-05-16 AFL Team Line Ups - AFL com au.png

 

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