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WHADDA WE SING? by Whispering Jack

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When the Melbourne team sang “The Grand Old Flag” last Saturday at Marvel Stadium in the absence of skipper Max Gawn, Ed Langford and Adam Tomlinson who were first time winners at their new club and Jayden Hunt, the leading goal kicker of the day it was passed off as an honest mistake. Taken in isolation, it most probably was accidental but the problem is that little accidents have been happening far too often in the club’s recent history and, in this case, it was symptomatic not only of a day that almost turned very sour for the Melbourne Football Club but of the general malaise that has affected it since it was unceremoniously bundled out of the finals of September 2018.

That might sound harsh but the disjointed end of the day after the team squandered a seven goal lead from midway through the second term when the pressure valve from an outstanding start released was embarrassing. This simply cannot be repeated if the club is to be a contender in 2020 and forward into the future.

The signs are there in this Covid 19 era that no opponent can be taken for granted and every team has to be switched on for the entire journey at a time of unusual preparation, mental battles to get on the park, no crowds and little atmosphere with shortened quarters and game time.

The Demons meet the Bombers in their first foray onto the MCG turf this Sunday as the notional visitor playing against one of only three teams in the competition that have an unblemished record after only two rounds. Essendon’s wins have come against two unfancied clubs in Fremantle and Sydney. Each of them was by a single goal so they are certainly not unbeatable against a Melbourne team that will be stung by the negative feedback from its two performances to date.

One of the byproducts of the criticism the team copped after being let off the hook was the amount of debate about who had their heads on the chopping block and who was going to replace them. And with a shorter injury list than it had last year, that’s a healthy sign because it gives the coach and selectors an opportunity to rectify some of the issues from last week and to also send some messages to the squad.

The ability to apply pressure in the midfield and to set up scoring opportunities throughout the game is paramount and defensive match ups will also be important. The supporters would like to see players hitting forward targets or setting up scoring opportunities rather than poor choices and disposal leading to the constant sight of opposing back men taking intercept marks which become disheartening to witness. We don’t want Hurley or Hooker to become this weekend’s McGovern and Weitering from rounds 1 and 2.

The inclusion of some pace and marking strength on the forward line would be helpful and I would have liked to have seen Max Gawn resting up forward more to put pressure on those intercept defenders. Indeed, the problem from my perspective last week was that the coaches simply didn’t do enough to wrest back the ascendancy in the latter part of the game.

One thing that impresses is the emphasis on the new faces at the club and hopefully the Demons will persevere with young legs - Kysaiah Pickett will be a welcome acquisition to the team and Harley Bennell should be better in his second game after a long time out of the game. The enthusiasm they generate should get the team up by a point for the second week in a row.

Melbourne by 1 point

THE GAME

Essendon v Melbourne at the MCG Sunday, 21 June, 2020 at 3.35pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 83 wins Essendon 130 wins 2 draws

At MCG Melbourne 45 wins Essendon 67 wins 1 draw

The last five meetings Melbourne 3 wins Essendon 2 wins

The Coaches  Goodwin 2 wins Worsfold 1 win

MEDIA

TV – Fox Footy Channel Channel 7 Live at 3.30pm

THE LAST TIME THEY MET Essendon 20.10.130 defeated Melbourne 18.4.112 at the MCG, Round 3, 2019

The Bombers had a strong start but the Demons reeled them in to lead by 7 points at half time. The Dons kicked 7 straight in the third term and another 5 in the last to win a high scoring shootout by 3 goals. Melbourne’s accurate kicking for goal was deceptive because it had 63 inside 50s (10 more than Essendon) at only 35% inside 50 efficiency.

THE TEAMS  
 


ESSENDON

FB Aaron Francis, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley
HB Adam Saad, Mason Redman, Jordan Ridley
C Tom Cutler, Andrew McGrath, David Zaharakis
HF Devon Smith, Zach Merrett, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
FF Will Snelling, Shaun McKernan, Jacob Townsend
FOL Tom Bellchambers, Dylan Shiel, Darcy Parish
I/C Brayden Ham, Kyle Langford, Conor McKenna, Jake Stringer
EM Patrick Ambrose, Matt Guelfi, Jayden Laverde, Andrew Phillips

IN Brayden Ham, Conor McKenna

OUT Matt Guelfi (omitted) Dyson Heppell (ankle)

MELBOURNE 

FB Christian Salem, Steven May, Neville Jetta
HB James Harmes, Jake Lever, Trent Rivers
C Ed Langdon, Clayton Oliver, Adam Tomlinson
HF Angus Brayshaw, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt
FF Harley Bennell, Bayley Fritsch, Jake Melksham
FOL Max Gawn, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney
I/C Mitch Hannan, Kysaiah Pickett, Joel Smith, Aaron vandenBerg
EM Michael Hibberd, Luke Jackson, Nathan Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen

IN Mitch Hannan, Kysaiah Pickett, Aaron vandenBerg

OUT Luke Jackson (omitted), Nathan Jones (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted)

Umpires Leigh Haussen, Robert Findlay, Craig Fleer 

Injury List: Round 3

Braydon Preuss (Achilles) – 3-4 weeks
Marty Hore (toe) – 5-7 weeks
Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite
Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season

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