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Melbourne’s recent win against Hawthorn highlighted how important Max Gawn’s ruck domination is for the team. A week later however, that domination continued but its effect was totally blunted by the Brisbane Lions midfield and, as a consequence, what could have been an easy win over a leading AFL contender turned into a disappointing but close loss and a sense of desperation now looms over the club as the halfway mark of the season approaches.

This week’s opponent in Port Adelaide also understood the need to undermine Gawn’s influence but applied a different tactic when the teams last met in the 2019 season opener. This involved attacking Gawn with physical aggression, whether legal or otherwise and it worked beautifully. In both instances, the Demons failed not only because they lost the ruck battles but because there were also other factors at work. Poor forward conversion lost the game against the Lions and a lack of ability to run out the game was a telling factor last year.

For this week’s game, the latter issue appears to have been dealt with, thanks to the hard work and expertise of new fitness guru Darren Burgess. The problems in front of goal and inability to capitalise on a champion ruckman remain intact and given the importance of winning this game to the Melbourne Football Club’s cause, they need to be solved or at least covered by Thursday evening because the Power are not the top side in the competition for nothing. Nor will they be complacent about things in this game as they are smarting after a rare loss on home soil.

What Melbourne does have going for it this time around is that it has a list that is reasonably fit and strong and Port Adelaide might not find the Gabba to its liking either. The backline is also coming together and it was a touch unfortunate that an officious goal umpire lost the plot when Jake Lever marked and released the ball to the fat side of the ground in the game’s dying moments last week.

So how do the Demons go about getting things right?

Gawn and the midfield have to take the responsibility for converting opportunities and this requires some flexibility at the stoppages. The only initiative the Melbourne rucks took last week in this area was by refraining to nominate for the ruck contest leaving a bemused Oscar McInerney on his own to get the hit out. The surprise aspect of such a tactic has a short shelf life and didn’t make a difference anyway at Metricon Stadium on Sunday night. Perhaps the coaches and players involved might get together and come up with a couple of strategies to deal with the situation - some versatility and adaptability around the ball at stoppages on the night is called for because you simply can’t keep on making the same errors throughout a game and expect to come out on top.

I’m hoping that the forwards and on ballers all watch the vision of St Kilda from their game against Port Adelaide. If they can replicate the Saints they will be well on the way to victory. Karen the psychic from Bunnings thinks the Demons will get up and I’m inclined to agree. I just have a feeling that the desperation of the moment will be enough to get them through by the narrowest of margins.

Melbourne by 1 point.


Melbourne v Port Adelaide on Thursday 30 July, 2020 at 7.50pm at The Gabba


Overall Melbourne 13 wins Port Adelaide 20 wins

At the Gabba Melbourne 0 wins Port Adelaide 0 wins

Past five meetings Port Adelaide 4 wins, Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Goodwin 1 win Hinkley 2 wins


TV - Fox Footy 7.45pm live



Port Adelaide 12.15.87 defeated Melbourne 9.7.61 Round 1, 2019 at the MCG

 On a warm, humid day the Demons started strongly with the game’s first three goals and while, for much of the afternoon, the teams remained within a couple of goals of each other, Port Adelaide dominated the final quarter keeping their hosts scoreless for the entire term. The Port big men ganged up on Max Gawn and for once they kept the Demons’ big man down.



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

IN Tom McDonald Tom Sparrow

OUT Harley Bennell (managed) Neville Jetta (omitted)


FB Sam Mayes Tom Clurey Jarrod Lienert
HB Hamish Hartlett Tom Jonas Darcy Byrne-Jones
C Xavier Duursma Ollie Wines Karl Amon
HF Sam Powell-Pepper Brad Ebert Connor Rozee
FF Zak Butters Charlie Dixon Robbie Gray
FOL Peter Ladhams Dan Houston Travis Boak
I/C Kane Farrell Mitch Georgiades Tom Rockliff Justin Westhoff
EM Riley Bonner Willem Drew Joel Garner Boyd Woodcock

IN Jarrod Lienert Tom Rockliff

OUT Riley Bonner (soreness) Todd Marshall (broken thumb)

Injury List: Round 9

Aaron vandenBerg (fractured cheekbone) – 1 week
Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite
Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite
Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season


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