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At a little after 4.00pm last Saturday, the MCG ceased to be the centre of the AFL universe. That was when the AFL’s el supremo Gil McLaughlin announced that the Bombers’ Conor McKenna had returned a COVID-19 positive result and declared that the game set for the following day between Essendon and Melbourne was postponed. 

What followed was truly the stuff of a pulp fiction novel. We witnessed a suitcase load of mental gymnastics and spin calculated to let McKenna (and the Essendon Football Club) off the hook for breaching the pandemic rules. Never mind that he reportedly attended at least five house inspections, spent time with his host family and trained with a number of teammates in the Bomber backline: the only other player denied a game for the coming rounds was forward James Stewart who wasn’t selected last week but was ordered quarantined with his Irish mate while the defenders in the side were somehow permitted to play. Then came the news that McKenna’s next test came back negative and doesn’t that question the credibility of the science that we’ve been following assiduously for the past three months? 

After all the brouhaha, the final scene of this cheap, laughable dime store novel has Essendon going into Saturday night’s clash with Carlton at close to full strength.

This has nothing to do with the fact that our premier is a Bomber fan or that the whole state has been shut down in the wake of a narrative about our testing regime, but one must ask the question where does this all leave the Melbourne Football Club - you know, the innocent bystander in the script of this pulp fiction story!

Well, for starters, we have the unique scenario of the Demons playing at their home ground for the first time in the 2020 season on the last Sunday in the month of June. They move on to their clash with Geelong compromised by the fact that their already disjointed season has been further disrupted - and who knows what effect that will have on the team’s performance?

Coach Simon Goodwin has no option but to shrug his shoulders and say - “it is what it is” as his charges take on a deflated Geelong reeling from its home ground defeat at the hands of Carlton but pumped up to atone for the loss. 

On the other hand, where will Melbourne get its motivation for the game? Had the Demons emerged victorious last weekend, they would have been sitting in the top eight but instead, we are all left wondering. There’s no forward momentum from what could have been a win or even a backs to the wall striving for vindication after a defeat - just nothingness.

We can only hope that this game is allowed to go ahead and something happens to trip the switch that causes the Demons to recall their dominance over the Cats at their last meeting at the MCG in halcyon days of 2018 when they crushed them in the Elimination Final and like the protagonists in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, took the money and ran.

Which brings me to my weekly tip - follow our premier’s advice and stay home.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Sunday 28 June 2020 at 3.35pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 85 wins Geelong 131 wins 2 draws
 
At the MCG Melbourne 52 wins Geelong 53 wins
 
The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win
 
The Coaches Scott 4 wins Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

TV -  Fox Footy Channel 7 live at 3.30pm
 
LAST TIME THEY MET 

Geelong 20.6.126 defeated Melbourne 6.10.46 in Round 2, 2019

The Cats extracted extreme vengeance for their elimination final defeat from the previous year’s finals with an 80 point victory. This was despite the fact that the Demons were winners at the clearances and went inside fifty 73 times to 48. Figure that out.

THE TEAMS 

MELBOURNE 

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

IN Mitch Hannan, Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart, Kysaiah Pickett, Aaron vandenBerg

OUT Harley Bennell (managed), Luke Jackson (omitted), Neville Jetta  (omitted), Nathan Jones  (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted)

GEELONG 

FB Jake Kolodjashnij, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry
HB Mark O'Connor, Tom Stewart, Jed Bews
C Sam Menegola, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood
HF Tom Atkins, Gary Rohan, Mitch Duncan
FF Esava Ratugolea, Tom Hawkins, Gryan Miers
FOL Darcy Fort, Gary Ablett, Cameron Guthrie
IC Luke Dahlhaus, Brandan Parfitt, Jack Steven, Zach Tuohy
EM Jordan Clark, Lachie Henderson, Quinton Narkle, James Parsons

IN Darcy Fort, Jake Kolodjashnij, Brandan Parfitt

OUT Quinton Narkle (omitted), Rhys Stanley (injured), Harry Taylor (managed)

Injury List: Round 4

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

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