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SUNSMART by George on the Outer

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If you don’t want to get sunburnt, you follow the Sunsmart rules.  Melbourne took the advice and with their season on the line, avoided getting burnt by the Gold Coast Suns, with a gripping 17 point win.

It was a match that could have gone either way, with the sides within a kick of each other for all but the final minutes of the final quarter. Melbourne had stretched the lead earlier in the game to 18 points, but that quickly evaporated to a neck and neck race to the finish. 

Finally, Christian Petracca put the game beyond doubt with a 55m goal after a strong contested mark. The icing was provided by Harley Bennell after the siren to record his first major for the club, and hopefully to end his long injury riddled time away from the game.

In the week before the match there were multiple questions raised about how the Demons were playing, and to the coach’s credit, in this game, those concerns were addressed. A tighter defensive structure up the ground, Max Gawn rucking in the defensive part of the ground, composure with kicking into the forward 50, more than one tall forward, and match day moves to counter the opposition were all visible ... and they worked!

The value of two talls in the forward line was highlighted in the first minutes of the game when Tom McDonald was forced from the game with an eye injury. That left the Demons solely with Sam Weidemann up front as the target.  What would have been the situation were he not there?  We can only wait for the medical reports, but the TV vision showed a scratch to the side of the eye, and hopefully nothing more, although it was reported that he had trouble seeing after the incident.

Weidemann contributed with two goals, although he was beaten on the day by a combination of Collins and Ballard, who picked off anything that came into the forward line in the air.  Tellingly, Weidemanns second goal came after Steven May was moved forward in the final quarter, and took the heat away at a critical time of the game. Hopefully, the small forward line theory has now been shelved.

In the middle Max Gawn simply “owned” Witts both in the ruck and around the ground.  With his positioning in defence, he took eight telling marks including four contested. Witts in previous games had been a problem for Max with his extra height, so for Max to be able to provide the mids with more opportunities in a tight game was decisive.

Jack Viney was back to his bullocking best, while Clayton Oliver contributed with his not unusual 24 touches, but this time with 14 kicks and 10 handball - it’s usually the other way around!  Petracca was the star of the mids providing similar bullocking in the packs and only let himself down with his wayward kicking during the match.  Importantly, this week the mids contributed three or four goals, something that has been absent in previous matches in 2020. 

The forward line performed well enough considering the loss of TMac, although questions must still remain about the contribution of Melksham who disappears for long periods and fails to provide any real defensive efforts, especially compared with the work of Pickett, Hannan and Fritsch, while seeming to give away 50m penalties on an all too regular basis.

Down back May held the team together, and the much vaunted Ben King only bothered the goal umpire once for the game.
 
Unfortunately, in his return game, Neville Jetta came up against debutee Izak Rankine, who put on a display of his sublime skills to score three goals, and probably could have got more in his first game for the Suns.  Jake
Lever was back to his intercepting best with six marks and Michael Hibberd provided those telling possessions when all was otherwise lost. Oscar McDonald showed why he is needed in the defensive team, as he just turns up at critical times and is the safety backstop to May and Lever. His presence just releases Lever, in particular, to do his thing, and more importantly, he doesn’t interfere with the others work. Jay Lockhart had a busy but indifferent game, but only four touches is inadequate to keep a spot in the side.

Finally, with everything on the line in the last quarter, the tide was turned by the combined efforts of Gawn, Viney and vandenBerg.  VDB in particular, just erupted to provide the strength and the ability to win contests at critical times.  Furthermore, he seemed to have got some speed back in his legs, as he made up ground that would have been beyond him up to now.  May we seem more of his best in the coming weeks. 

Then the man we had all been waiting for, Harley Bennell, came back into the side and showed his true value. While he only scored that one goal after the siren, he had six score involvements during the game in which he played over 80% time.  His vision and skills in tight situations were telling and he could be the feel good story for the club and the competition in 2020.

This was the win that the club needed. Without it 2020 would be a virtual write-off and more pressure would have been put on coach and club in the coming week/weeks. 

Now the media can concentrate on Adelaide or next week’s opponent in Hawthorn instead.  But we cannot afford to walk away from a winning formula.  Those minor on-ground changes mooted in the previous week, all worked. 

So let’s see the “keep it simple” scenario maintained in the next match, or we will be burnt again.

MELBOURNE 2.1.13 6.5.41 8.8.56 12.8.80

GOLD COAST SUNS 3.2.20 5.4.34 8.5.53 9.9.63

GOALS

Melbourne Fritsch Petracca Weideman 2 Bennell Hannan Harmes Hibberd Melksham Salem

Gold Coast Suns Rankine 3 Ellis 2 Ainsworth Fiorini King Weller

Melbourne Gawn Viney Petracca Oliver vandenBerg May Langdon

Gold Coast Suns Miller Ballard Rankine Collins Greenwood Lukosius

INJURIES

Melbourne Tom McDonald (right eye)

Gold Coast Suns Holman (ribs)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Gold Coast Suns Nil

VENUE

Giants Stadium

ReportRd062020.png

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