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A POINT OF DIFFERENCE by George on the Outer

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It was Melbourne v Carlton at the comics stadium; a game between 16 and 17 in 2019.

How could anyone pick a winner?  There had to be a point of difference, and so it would prove to be as the Demons literally fell over the line at the end, by a solitary point.

In an almost complete replica of the Richmond v Collingwood game two nights previously, one of the sides (Melbourne in this case) rushed out to a five goal lead in the first quarter, while the Blues failed to bother the goal umpire at all.  Melbourne then piled on two more goals in the opening ten minutes of the second quarter and then we all watched as, (like Richmond), Carlton agonisingly slowly hauled back the score.

What was going on here?  A team that completely dominated the first term suddenly stopped running, playing on and lost all vigour and confidence. That was what the viewers were witnessing.  Players who were everywhere and involved in that first 16 minutes, just simply disappeared for the remainder of the journey. 

The five goals between Jayden Hunt and Alex Neale-Bullen during the period of ascendency was their total contribution (not that we are complaining about that), but these are two “running” players finished the game with only 7 and 9 touches respectively!

And they weren’t alone.  Can anyone remember anything that Jake Melksham (10 touches) did during the game?  Or Tom McDonald (9)?  You can forgive our bevy of 1st game players for having low possession counts, but once again Melbourne were getting virtually zero useful output from its forward line.  Bayley Fritsch was presenting and opened the account for the side, but he too only had nine disposals. 

To quote Guru Bob:

As the commander of the naval vessel Lusitania confided, when the front half of his boat was blown off by a torpedo:      

“We just had nothing up forward”.

But was the real truth further up the field?  The completely dominant mid-field, led by Max Gawn simply stopped firing after that opening salvo.  Clayton Oliver had blanketed Patrick Cripps, but it was the others in the Carlton mid-field who started getting the ball.  It wasn’t pretty the way they did it, and plenty came from fumbling and silly handball courtesy of the Melbourne side.  But they kept getting those chances, and eventually (after 2½ quarters) they drew level, with barely two minutes left to play. 

There were lots of instances of sloppiness from Melbourne as players just kept gifting opportunities to the Blues - three defenders flying against each other only to watch Betts slip out the back on his own and goal; kicking to 2 on 1 situations in the dying seconds, spoiling Max in a marking contest - it was horrible to watch and we just kept doing it.

The point of difference was simply Christian Petracca.  When someone, anyone, was needed to step up he was the one who did it.  He scored the teams solitary 6 pointer from halfway in the second to the end of the game. It came about from a strongly contested mark, brute power and a willingness to take on the opposition.  He was leading when leadership was sorely needed.

Max was equally up to the role of leader of the club, even though his dominance faded after that 1st quarter.  More importantly it wasn’t just his rucking, but his second efforts, roving and telling marks around the ground, while trying to show others what they had to do.  A ruckman is not supposed to get 21 touches, especially in 16 minute quarters, but he did, in addition to his 34 hit outs. 

Ed Langdon was another significant contributor, especially in tight situations, with 23 disposals and Tomlinson on the other wing certainly did his job with 16 touches. 

Trent Rivers deserves a special mention in his first game, showing plenty of poise and kicking skills to guarantee his spot in the future.  Luke Jackson didn’t get much of the ball, but he was always in the contest and presenting.  When he adapts to the game, he will be fine, and hopefully provide more of a target than we saw from the other forwards in this game. 

Plenty of talk about Harley Bennell, who not unsurprisingly, didn’t set the world on fire, since he only played 50% game time.  Importantly, he got through the game unscathed and like Jackson, once he gets back to the pace of the game will be a serious contributor.

And Melbourne certainly does need contributors!  It simply cannot go into games with only five or six players having any meaningful impact or only contributing for 20 minutes and then having a rest for the remainder. Against the top sides, that would be a recipe for a massacre.

The point of difference in this game as it is played today is marginal.  There aren’t “easy beat” sides any more, as the Eagles found out against the Suns last night. 

Some players they will find out that the point of difference is they don’t get a game next week, because we have nearly 20 others waiting to take their place.  If it doesn’t change, for the supporters there will be no point of difference between 2020 and 2019!

MELBOURNE 5.2.32 7.4.46 8.5.53

CARLTON 0.0.0 2.5.17 4.6.30

GOALS

Melbourne Hunt 3 Neal-Bullen Petracca 2 Fritsch

Carlton Betts Casboult Cripps Cunningham Gibbons Lang McGovern

BEST

Melbourne Gawn Petracca Oliver, Salem Langdon Viney

Carlton Murphy Docherty Weitering Petrevski-Seton McGovern Curnow

INJURIES

Melbourne Nil

Carlton Newman (knee)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Carlton Nil

UMPIRES Chamberlain Stephens Brown Broadbent

VENUE Marvel Stadium

ReportRd022020.png

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