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PRETENDERS SENT PACKING by George on the Outer

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Fremantle, the Perth pretenders at sixth on the premiership table should have easily accounted for the Demons, sitting barely a game off the bottom of the ladder.  

And for the majority of the game, it certainly looked that would be the case, until the final quarter, when the Demons stopped giving the Dockers easy chances, or making plain, dumb decisions. Not that their situation was helped by some simply appalling umpiring during the match, that kept gifting Fremantle easy scores. 

The Demons chances were boosted in the first quarter, when former player, Jesse Hogan went down with yet another foot injury, and despite what Ross Lyon has said post game, this is looks very muck like a repeat of his previous ongoing issues that were a contributing factor in his trade back home.  

Still, Melbourne has missed his presence up front for 2019, as its own forward line is still utterly dysfunctional.  At ¾ time it was the same old story, many more inside 50’s and marks in that zone than the Dockers, and yet they trailed on the scoreboard.  

Tom McDonald couldn’t get into the game early, Sam Weideman barely had a touch, and only for Tim Smith and Jay Lockhart the scoreboard barely kept ticking over.  

Then whatever they put in the refreshments in the ¾ time break worked a treat. McDonald went berserk, and after struggling to kick more than 35m in the first half of the season, he nailed a long outside 50 set shot, and the Demons were away.  He followed up with a brilliant snap along the ground from the pocket and the game was as good as over, especially with James Harmes marking and scoring from the goal square, that followed a series of accurate and precise kicks started in the backline.  That in itself represented a first for the Demons in this game, as time and time again, they had squandered chances.  Finally they hit targets and the game was over.

The addition of Stephen May to the backline was one of the big positives.  He generalled the players around him, and provided a rock solid wall to Fremantle attacking moves.  Ably assisted by Sam Frost, with some telling intercept marks and dashes out of defence, which he has become famous for, the backline is starting to look composed.  

Even so, we have to remember that up to this point in the season we have been missing Nev Jetta, Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Jordan Lewis, May himself and Christian Salem from defence at some point or other.  Now we are seeing stability and none more so than Marty Hore, who just keeps popping up with those telling marks at critical points in the game.  He reads the ball and the play beautifully, and when the fully contingent of players become available, it will be hard to overlook him.

As usual, Max Gawn dominated in the middle and around the ground.  Even with 46 hitouts, his opponent managed 31, but it was Max’s 20 disposals to Darcy’s 8 and his 8 contested possessions with 7 clearances that was telling.

Assisted in the middle by Clayton Oliver with 28 touches (16 contested) and Jack Viney also with 28 (15 contested), they provided plenty of drive.  

Unfortunately, Nate Fyfe gave James Harmes a bath, with 31 touches, but it would have been a job that nobody could have done better, as Fyfe was in as good form as he has been since his Brownlow season.  

Jay Lockhart was a brilliant promotion into the side, and with a 21 possession, 10 contested, two goal game, he has cemented a spot in the side as that small forward that we have been lacking since the season started. He simply has “football smarts” and knows where to be, when to go and when to sit off the pack.  

Harrison Petty did his job again, and while not exemplary, this is what development of young players is all about.  He is finding his feet when surrounded with older, wiser heads, and hopefully by season end he will have a dozen games to his name, and be a more regular fixture in the backline.  

Tim Smith likewise did his job on his return, and contributed three telling goals to keep the side in the hunt in those poor first ¾’s.  He at least provides a target and takes a strong defender, especially when Weideman is so far off contributing in a meaningful way.  We probably will persist for the remainder of the season, just to get games and valuable experience into him, but he doesn’t read the ball well in flight, and is too slow to react to movement of the ball at the moment.
  
Before this game Melbourne was four points off the bottom of the ladder, and this win probably keeps it away from this position.  To be sitting three games and percentage outside the top eight is unfortunate, and once again a season of lost opportunities is looming.

But the second half of this season also gives plenty of those opportunities to build and showcase and provide hope and expectations for the future, something that was lacking with the horrible injury situation the Demons found themselves in for the first half.  

Melbourne must prove that it isn’t just making up the numbers, that we are not pretenders after a Preliminary final position last year - unlike Fremantle which on Saturday’s effort will struggle to make it to September.
 
Melbourne 2.1.13 5.4.34 9.6.60 13.7.85

Fremantle 4.1.25 6.4.40 10.5.65 11.5.71

Goals

Melbourne T McDonald T Smith 3 Lockhart 2 Gawn Harmes Oliver Petracca Weideman

Fremantle Matera Walters 3 Brayshaw Cox Darcy Langdon Tucker

Best

Melbourne Oliver Gawn T McDonald Viney Lockhart Brayshaw

Fremantle B Hill Fyfe Matera Walters Conca Langdon

Injuries

Melbourne Nil

Fremantle Stephen Hill (hamstring) Jesse Hogan (foot) 

Reports

Melbourne Nil

Fremantle Michael Walters (Fremantle) reported for headbutting

Umpires Deboy Dore Findlay Foot 

Official Crowd 20,211 at MCG

118129AE-2A27-418A-9462-07938AAF9258.jpeg

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