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SOUTH OF THE BORDER by Paddy Gosch

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The Demons will go into their final Marsh Series match with a strong lineup against the Hawks in Tasmania. Both Max Gawn and Steven May, who were recovering from injuries in first Marsh Series match, have both been named. It is unclear whether Max will be on restricted minutes and will likely get breaks in the ruck with Sam Weideman and rookie Luke Jackson getting their turns in the middle.

Angus Brayshaw will be getting his first taste of competitive football despite playing in last week’s scratch match against the Kangaroos at Arden Street. Gus injured his elbow late in the preseason but has been able to keep his core fitness up sans contact at training.

With Max back in the middle it gives the Dees an opportunity to see how key forwards Tom McDonald and Sam Weideman perform together given Weids was forced to ruck most of the day against Adelaide. Discarded Bomber Mitch Brown performed admirably in the first hit out of the season against Adelaide kicking 3 goals up forward and presented well in the scratch match last week but his kicking let him down and he ended the match with 5 behinds. Brown has been named on an extended bench so it will be interesting if they experiment with having 3 taels in the team. Weideman must take the opportunity to stamp his authority on the position with a good showing against the Hawks.

Christian Petracca will be looking to capitalise on his impressive performance two week ago where he amassed 38 possessions (27 contested), 7 tackles and 3 goals. Dees fans have been salivating at the prospect of Petracca finally having that “breakout” year and with more time in the midfield and a solid preseason under his belt 2020 could be the year.

Dees fans have also been starved of seeing Aaron vandenBerg run out in the red and blue with on 7 games in past 3 seasons (all in 2018) and after some bone crunching tackles against the Crows we were reminded why we have missed him so much.

The Dees head into the season with a relatively healthy list. Only Mitch Hannan (Groin), Joel Smith (Quad) Braydon Preuss (Knee), Kade Chandler (Wrist), Kyle Dunkley (Ankle), Harrison Petty (Groin), Harley Bennell (Calf), Kade Kolodjashnij (Head) & Aaron Nietschke (Knee) are unavailable.

Other players not injured but left out of the game are Christian Salem (sick) & Kysaiah Pickett (personal reasons). James Jordan, Jayden Hunt, Tom Sparrow & Josh Wagner have been named as emergencies whilst players not selected include Oskar Baker, Austin Bradtke, Trent Rivers & Corey Wagner.

Dees fans will also get another look at rookie Luke Jackson who will get another opportunity to put his hands up for a Round 1 berth.

Traded recruits Ed Langdon & Adam Tomlinson were both impressive in their first hit out for the Dees a fortnight ago and reminded Dee fans just how important regular full time wingmen are to a team that has struggled to fill the position with part timers.

We’ll also get another week to see whether the experiment of James Harmes in his new role across the half back line works. Dees fans were divided on this change but the move is in its early days so Harmes and the coaching staff have time to experiment before the seasons proper.

The Hawks have also named a strong lineup with Brownlow medalist Tom Mitchell playing his first game for the Hawks since he broke his leg in the preseason last year missing the entire of 2019. The midfield duel between Mitchell, Worpel & O’Meara and Oliver, Petracca & Viney should be exciting to watch. The Demon defenders will have their hands full with new recruit Jonathon Patton with Steven May likely to get first dibs. We’ll also get our first look at former Dee Sam Frost in the Brown and Yellow and no doubt he’ll be looking to prove a point as to why he was discarded.

With this being both teams last opportunity to trial different tactics and positions before the season starts in 2 weeks time I’m expecting both teams to go out hard. It should be an even contest from two teams expecting to work their way back into the final 8.

Demons by 8 points.

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