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THE PREMIER LEAGUE by Whispering Jack


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So the new man under the pump is Clarko, which demonstrates how sad but predictable the football media is these days. In an age where each AFL team’s form can be topsy turvy and unpredictability is the order of the day, the coach of a team that has played five out of the top six teams from the previous season and sits with a 3/3 win loss record is this week’s whipping boy.
 
This comes admittedly on the back of a bad fortnight from the Hawks who in recent years have exhibited an enormous gap between their best and worst but still manage to regularly feature in the top half of the ladder. All of which means that they are due to revert back to their best this week.
 
And as luck would have it, Hawthorn is scheduled to meet the team that allowed its own coach off the hook with its win over the Suns at Giants Stadium last Saturday. And, unless NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian decides in the interim that it’s time to toss those pesky Victorian intruders out of her state, the teams will meet at the scene of last week’s crimes - Giants Stadium.
 
This is where the new look Demons could have an advantage over the Hawks. This boutique football stadium in the wilderness of Western Sydney is Melbourne’s home away from home: a veritable fortress for a team that’s desperate to reestablish itself in the competition. The ground suited them well last week while Hawthorn had their problems at the same ground.
 
The pity is that the nomadic Demons who really haven’t bathed in the luxury of a home ground at all in 2020 will have little time to relish the stadium because next week they’re again heading north of the border to the province of Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland Premier who’s running the AFL and demanding a grand final in her home state.
 
But first, the match up against Hawthorn and Clarko the genius. A few weeks back he prepared for this game by intimating that he fancied Melbourne after it managed only two goals to half time to lead Geelong by a point. He didn’t mean it - he was simply playing mind games with the opposition although he would know his own team’s limitations. 
 
Clarko would be aware of the fact that the Demons have a superior ruckman who usually gives his opponents a drubbing although not always providing an armchair ride for his midfielders. Last week he was at his sparkling best (except for that hit out he fed for a goal to Izak Rankine). What that means is that it gives his midfielders lead by Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and James Harmes the advantage over a strong Hawk midfield and it goes without saying that the battle at the stoppages will be crucial to the game’s outcome.
 
Melbourne got a lot of things right with it’s team selection last week - every change was beneficial to the ultimate result. And while every opponent is different in make up and requires close consideration of all match ups as well as the need to take into account that the coming weeks will involve a condensed fixture, let’s hope the selectors don’t get too cute with team selection. The team found some form last week and while their scoring efficiency was still well below the expectations for a top side, they looked a lot better. They need to maintain that level of improvement again this week in order to join the challengers for a top eight position at the end of the season - that’s if the competition makes it to the end of the season.
 
And if that happens they’ll be playing in a state where the Premier has an exotic name like Gladys or Annastacia rather than in Victoria where our Premiers are dull and colourless and go by handles such as Jeff and Daniel.
 
Pfft ...
 
Melbourne by 11 points.
 
THE GAME  
 
Melbourne v Hawthorn at Giants Stadium Sunday 19 July 2020 at 3.35pm  
 
HEAD TO HEAD  
 
Overall Melbourne 77 wins Hawthorn 87 wins  
 
At Giants Stadium Melbourne 0 wins Hawthorn 0 wins  
 
Last 5 meetings Melbourne 3 wins Hawthorn 2 wins   
 
The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Clarkson 2 wins  
 
MEDIA  
 
TV - Channel 7 Fox Footy Channel
 
RADIO -  TBA
 
THE LAST TIME THEY MET 
 
Melbourne 11.13.79 defeated Hawthorn 11.8.74 in Round 7, 2019 at the MCG  
 
The Demons trailed up to half time but were inspired by a mammoth effort in the ruck from Max Gawn to grab the ascendency in the third term and then held off a late charge from the Hawks to win by 5 points.
 
THE TEAMS   
 
MELBOURNE  

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

IN Luke Jackson

OUT Tom McDonald (eye)

HAWTHORN 

FB Sam Frost James Frawley Ben Stratton
HB Harry Morrison Ben McEvoy James Sicily
C Tom Scully Jaeger O'Meara Isaac Smith
HF Will Day Tim O'Brien Chad Wingard
FF Ricky Henderson Jack Gunston Shaun Burgoyne
FOL  Mitch Lewis James Worpel Tom Mitchell
I/C Blake Hardwick Darren Minchington Josh Morris Liam Shiels
EM Jonathon Ceglar Harry Jones Paul Puopolo Jack Scrimshaw 

IN Shaun Burgoyne Mitch Lewis Darren Minchington 

OUT Jonathon Ceglar (broken toe) Jonathon Patton (hamstring) Paul Puopolo (omitted)

NEW Darren Minchington

Round 7: Out of Hub and Injury List

Oskar Baker (out of Sydney hub)
Toby Bedford (out of Sydney hub)
Austin Bradtke (out of Sydney hub) 
Kade Chandler (out of Sydney hub)
Kyle Dunkley ((out of Sydney hub)
Braydon Preuss (out of Sydney hub)
Corey Wagner (out of Sydney hub)
Josh Wagner (out of Sydney hub)
Tom McDonald (eye ) – test
Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite
Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite
Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
 
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