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KANGAROO CAUGHT by Whispering Jack

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There was a fair amount of debate in our area as to whether the game warranted a full blown match report because it was felt that it was really an elevated version of a training session with match simulation but against a team in opposition colours. Although notionally the stronger side, North seemed to be using the occasion for the purpose of working on aspects of their game plan, one of the features of which seemed to be based on taking the longest possible route out of defence and good luck with that — I’m sure it’s not going to be a major feature when the the real thing starts but it explains in part why the Kangaroos were restricted to eight scoring shots. They were lucky that their kicking for goal was fairly good — it was the only part of the game where they were far superior to Melbourne.

That’s the background to a game that never reached great heights in terms of quality apart from the performance of Jake Melksham before he departed the game at half time. Angus Brayshaw lifted his game almost to those heights when he went to the middle in the second half after a lacklustre first 40 minutes. He was immediately manhandled by the North on ball division which was a clear mistake — you ruffle his feathers at your own peril. In this case, Gus was stirred into demonstrating, albeit briefly, to all those standing in the shadows of the now non-existent gasometer, the ingredients of a third placed Brownlow finish. Let’s hope that it’s back because it was sorely missed in the Demon midfield in 2019. 

The area around Arden Street has certainly changed since the 60s and 70s but, despite the million dollar amenity at the southern end  of the ground, it still feels like the home of one of the AFL’s poorer clubs. With a decent crowd in place, they didn’t look keen on making dollars from the sale of food to the hungry fans on hand — one of my takeaways from the game therefore is there were no takeaways; not even a single sausage roll!

And on the subject of sausage rolls, the last few premiership teams have set the pace in terms of dangerous little men up forward to kick goals and while scoring was at a premium, this seemed to be a focus in yesterday’s game with Kozzie, Toby Bedford, Charlie Spargo and Oskar Baker all featuring around goal with livewire performances. 

I liked Tom Sparrow’s efforts, particularly in the first half before he was shoved aside in the middle by the Brayshaw cameo. Jay Lockhart is coming on and looks like being understudy to our All Star Nev down back. Mitch Brown was good too although his kicking for goal let him down. 

A word of commendation to the Casey boys who filled in — a good few of them including the veteran Jimmy Munro and the underrated Mitch Lewis (who always seems to be out with injury) showed they weren’t out of place at this standard which is probably half way between AFL and VFL.

The team had no trouble finishing off the game which is again a contrast to 2019 but one of my highlights was Trent Rivers. His form showed why the club’s recruiters were so delighted that he was available at pick #32 in last year’s National Draft. The All Australian Under 18 has pace and, despite one blooper, disposes of the ball efficiently and gets his hands on it often. 

So they were my takeaways apart from the reasonably good news on the injury front which I mentioned elsewhere. 

Melbourne 2.4 3.8 6.12 7.13 (55)

North Melbourne 2.2 3.2 3.2 5.3 (33)

Goals 

Melbourne Bedford 2 Baker Fritsch Melksham Pickett Spargo

Best

Melbourne Melksham Brayshaw Spargo Rivers Lockhart Sparrow Bedford Fritsch Lewis (Casey VFL) Munro (Casey VFL)

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