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THAT’S FOOTBALL by Whispering Jack

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As the season rolls on towards the finals and the football world witnesses the aftermath of the sacking of the league’s unsuccessful coaches, it’s almost  inevitable that the spotlight will turn firmly upon the complete and utter failure of season 2019 - the Melbourne Football Club. 

For a team that finished in fourth place last year and was heavily touted as a premiership contender, the fall from grace has been dramatic. As things stand, the Demons look certain to finish 13 places down on their 2018 placing and even below the Blues who, they beat last year by 109 points and who only a month ago, they took apart for three quarters before their injury curse saw them almost drop the unlosable game. Since then, Carlton has won three on the trot while Melbourne has been winless, allowing it to be leapfrogged by last year’s wooden spooner. 

The only positive I can come up with about Melbourne is that the team is undefeated at its MCG home since the Queens Birthday loss to Collingwood back in early June. But that’s only two games and this week the team comes up against Richmond which seemingly plays every week at that ground and usually thumps the opposition every week.

It’s not as if the injury-dogged Demons are being routinely thrashed. In every one of their four defeats since the mid season bye they’ve been either in front or close to the mark at the start of the final term before fading out late in each game. And before the break, they also dropped a couple of games when they were in winning positions late in their contests. 

The statistic that stands out here is the one that says that over their past four games, the Demons have scored an average of 13.3 points  in the final quarter, while conceding an average of 28.5 points. That’s a damning statistic when looking at close encounters - in fact, it’s the stuff that forces the fans to collectively tear their hair out.

It might be argued that the team’s depth has been tested by a season from hell on the injury front and therefore, the fade outs are understandable. Possibly understandable but still not forgivable in light of the number of unforced errors leading to turnovers that should never happen and missed shots at goal that were so easily converted last year.

My fear is that coming up against a resurgent and rampant Richmond which is overcoming its earlier injury woes and consequent drop in form, the club’s confidence crisis brought upon by the negativity now surrounding it, will result in a Saturday night blowout. 

The main thing Melbourne has going for it is Max Gawn. It’s midfield is well down on last year. The defence hasn’t been together for most of the year and the forward line is decimated. Simon Goodwin is on a hiding to nothing and I’ll make the following predictions for Saturday night -

1. Tigers by 85 points

2. Goodwin will really be facing the blow torch by the end of the round.

That’s football.

THE GAME  

Melbourne v Richmond on Saturday 3 August 2019 at 7.20pm at the MCG  

HEAD TO HEAD  

Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 106 wins Drawn 2  

At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 71 wins Drawn 1  

Past five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Richmond 3 wins  

The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Hardwick 3 wins  

MEDIA  

TV - Channel Seven Live at 7.00pm  Fox Footy Channel Live at 7.20pm

Radio -  TBA

THE LAST TIME THEY MET  

Richmond 12.13.85 defeated Melbourne 6.6.42 in Round 6, 2019 at the MCG  

Melbourne decided to try something different for this game in an effort to revive its season. The team went super defensive - Tom McDonald was moved back into a defensive role and some strong tags were put onto the star Tigers but the tactic backfired after a competitive first half. Melbourne managed just two goals after quarter-time and with the exception of Max Gawn in the ruck, Michael Hibberd’s tagging of Dustin Martin and hardworking midfielders Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw who picked up 29 touches each, the effort on Anzac Eve was nothing short of miserable.

THE TEAMS  

Screenshot_2019-08-01 AFL Team Line Ups - AFL com au.png

MELBOURNE 

B Michael Hibberd Oscar McDonald Jake Lever
HB Christian Salem Sam Frost Jordan Lewis
C James Harmes Christian Petracca Nathan Jones
HF Kyle Dunkley Harrison Petty Jayden Hunt
F Jake Melksham Clayton Oliver Bayley Fritsch
FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Angus Brayshaw
I/C Oskar Baker Jay Kennedy Harris  Braydon Preuss Corey Wagner
EMG Kade Chandler Marty Hore  Alex Neal-Bullen Josh Wagner

IN  Kyle Dunkley Jay Kennedy Harris Jake Melksham Braydon Preuss

OUT Neville Jetta (knee) Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted) Tim Smith (foot) Josh Wagner (omitted) 

RICHMOND

B David Astbury Nathan Broad Dylan Grimes
HB Bachar Houli Nick Vlastuin Shane Edwards
C Jayden Short Dion Prestia Shai Bolton
HF Daniel Rioli Brandon Ellis Kane Lambert
F Liam Baker Jack Riewoldt Tom J. Lynch
FOLL Ivan Soldo Josh Caddy Dustin Martin
I/C Dan Butler Jason Castagna Mabior Chol Jack Graham 
EMG Callum Coleman-Jones Connor Menadue Patrick Naish Jacob Townsend

IN Dan Butler Josh Caddy

OUT Trent Cotchin (hamstring) Sydney Stack (calf) 

Injury List: Round 20

Mitch Hannan (groin) – test
Steven May (hamstring) – test
Charlie Spargo (calf) – 1 week
Tom Sparrow (knee – 2-3) weeks
Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC
Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season
Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – season
Tom McDonald (knee) – season
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
Joel Smith (groin) – season
Sam Weideman (jaw) – season
Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite

PreviewRd202019.png

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