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TRECIMATED by George on the Outer

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A little more than two months have passed since Melbourne met and came close to beating the reigning premier West Coast in the preliminary final replay over in the West. At the time, the Demons had three wins on the board and now, nine rounds later and going into this week’s match, they have managed to add a paltry two more wins to the ledger. 

The Eagles, in contrast, have moved to within percentage of second spot on the ladder despite their loss at home this week against Collingwood. While the news is their main ruckman in Nic Natanui has been put on ice for an indefinite period, they will still go into the match with only six men on their injury list, most of who wouldn’t be first 22 selections.

A loss in this match will almost certainly see the Blues leap-frog the Demons on the ladder, since Carlton is playing the hapless Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on Saturday and these days, that’s a given win.

A fully fit West Coast Eagles v an injury ravaged Melbourne?  The Demons can’t even rely on the old Roman term “decimated” since that means 1 in 10.  As it stands, close to a third of their list is unavailable.

Trecimated?

The team has certainly been given a scalping in terms of personnel available. A comparison of the injury list, then and now -
                            
Round 9 Jake Lever (knee) – test OK now 
Round 9 Jordan Lewis (ankle) –test OK now 
Round 9 Corey Maynard (hip) – test OK but just a few VFL appearances to his name since
Round 9 Charlie Spargo (foot) – test has played but not selected for Casey last week
Round 9 Sam Weideman (hip) – test OK from that but back on the list with a calf injury
Round 9 Mitch Hannan (knee) – 1 week OK now but struggled since returning 
Round 9 Jay Kennedy Harris (knee) – 1 week OK now but has been a regular at Casey
Round 9 Michael Hibberd (collarbone) – 2 weeks OK now
Round 9 Steven May (groin) – 2-3 weeks OK now
Round 9 Jake Melksham (foot) – 4-5 weeks has been sitting at around that number ever since until this week when it finally dropped down to 3-4 weeks
Round 9 Joel Smith (groin) – the 4-6 week curse out for the season now Round 9
Round 9 Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion) – TBA keep watching this space
Round 9 Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBA keep watching this space
Round 9 Neville Jetta (knee) – 8-10 weeks OK now but a little rusty
Round 9 Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite remains indefinite
Round 9 Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season remains season
                                                   
Since Round 9, it’s been a movable feast but as it stands, we can add the players in bold to achieve the Injury List: Round 18

Tim Smith (calf) – test
Sam Weideman (calf) – test
Marty Hore (collarbone) – 2-3 weeks
Billy Stretch (foot) – 3-4 weeks

Jake Melksham (foot) – 3-4 weeks
Tom Sparrow (knee) – 3-4 weeks
Tom McDonald (knee) – TBC

Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – TBC
Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC
Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season
Joel Smith (groin) – season
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite

It wasn’t long ago that the team’s back line was completely trecimated (or worse) but now it’s spread to the team’s attack with three key position forwards on that list all out last week against the Doggies.

At their last meeting, the Demons were seemingly in control a few minutes before the final break but we now know that they kicked themselves out of victory with a final score of 9 goals 15 behinds. Jeff Garlett contributed 3 of those goals, but he is out for the season now, likewise Tom McDonald and Tim Smith is somewhere, but not playing football not long after kicking a career best 3.3 against the Dockers (T Mac also scored three goals that day).

This necessitated the playing of defender Harrison Petty at full forward in his seventh league game (and first up forward). He acquitted himself well against the Bulldogs with three goal and might get some assistance from the resting ruckmen who are also, of necessity because there’s no choice, being used together in the same game. Melbourne have gone from a side that can’t kick straight to a side that can’t kick much!

Let’s not forget that this is an Eagles side that has the likes of Hurn, McGovern, Masten and Barrass in their backline.  Poor Petty was thrown to the wolves in his first game against the Saints, trying to hold back the big bodies of Bruce and Membrey.  What nightmare awaits the kid this week?

The game itself is in Alice Springs, which brings the promise of the warmer climate.  Traeger Park is a beautiful site with the green of the ground contrasting to the red of the nearby desert and McDonnell Ranges.  Given the forecast weather in Melbourne this coming week, the players will welcome this short trip north-west.

But the game is all about the football.  West Coast were premiers last season for very good reasons. They have a highly talented list with experienced big bodies across every line, a relentless attitude from their long club history of success and they will be seething after their close loss to the Magpies on Friday night.

At least they can’t count on their parochial crowd who have influenced umpiring decisions for years. And surely, they can’t count on two of their own locals in Margetts and Dalgleish to have the umpiring responsibilities like the last time these two teams met?

Melbourne should and will be competitive in the middle of the ground.  More so with Gawn and Preuss now able to show the advantages of the double ruck combination.  Without Natanui, West Coast is relying on a below par Hickey in the ruck as Vardy is still not available. Despite their far different ladder positions, the Demons lead in contested possessions and disposals over the season and are well ahead in the the inside 50 count.

The Melbourne backline has finally got some certainty with Lever and Jetta returning last week after long lay-offs, adding to the strength provided by May and Hibberd. They, together with Salem and Frost, should account for the twin towers of Darling and Kennedy with Kennedy unable to get his hands on the ball for a couple of weeks now.

But it’s up forward where the trecimation will hurt as the Demons will definitely struggle, against that formidable WCE backline and it’s hard to see Melbourne able to kick a winning or even a reasonable score (how things have changed since their last visit to the Red Centre when they trecimated the Crows last year!).

West Coast in a low scoring match by 25 points.

THE GAME

Melbourne v West Coast v at TIO Traeger Park, Alice Springs Sunday 21 July 2019 at 3:20pm.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 17 wins West Coast 35 wins 

At TIO Traeger Park Melbourne 0 wins West Coast 0 wins 

Past five meetings  Melbourne 2 wins West Coast 3 wins

The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Simpson 2 wins 

MEDIA

TV - Channel 7, Fox Sports 3 Live at 3:00pm

RADIO -  TBA

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

West Coast 13.7.85 defeated Melbourne 9.15.67 defeated Melbourne in Round 9, 2018 at Optus Stadium

 A routinely inaccurate Melbourne led at every change and the lead had been out to as much as 19 points when Jeff Garlett booted his third just before the three quarter time break. The Demons were made to pay for their earlier inaccuracy and the Eagles got all the breaks as they piled on 6.1 to 1.3 in the final term.

THE TEAMS 

MELBOURNE 

B Jake Lever Steven May Neville Jetta
HB Harrison Petty Sam Frost Michael Hibberd
C Jayden Hunt James Harmes Nathan Jones
HF Jordan Lewis Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch
F Clayton Oliver Braydon Preuss Christian Salem
FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Angus Brayshaw
I/C Jay Lockhart Alex Neal-Bullen Corey Wagner Josh Wagner  
EMG Oskar Baker Kyle Dunkley Mitch Hannan Tim Smith

IN Corey Wagner Josh Wagner  

OUT Kyle Dunkley (omitted) Mitch Hannan (omitted)

WEST COAST EAGLES

B Shannon Hurn Tom Barrass Brad Sheppard
HB Lewis Jetta Jeremy McGovern Tom Cole
C Andrew Gaff Elliot Yeo Chris Masten
HF Jarrod Cameron Jack Darling Willie Rioli
F Liam Ryan Josh Kennedy Oscar Allen
FOLL Tom Hickey Jack Redden Luke ShueyI/C Jackson Nelson Jack Petruccelle Dom Sheed Jake Waterman 
EMG Matthew Allen Will Schofield Francis Watson Bailey Williams

IN Jack Petruccelle Jake Waterman

OUT Jamie Cripps (adductor) Nic Naitanui (ankle)

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