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THE GABBA DEMON...STRATION by George



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Melbourne took on Collingwood at the Gabba with its season at stake. The alternatives were a win and a place in the final eight would be on the cards or a defeat in which case the season would be as good as finished. From the very start, the Demons put on a demon...stration of their hunger and their willingness to put everything on the line to win when it mattered.
 
Right from the first bounce, Braydon Preuss knew that he had to nullify Brodie Grundy. Though his opponent looked tired, he’s one of the competition’s foremost ruckmen and Preuss did exactly what he needed to do in the circumstances. He competed strongly for the hitouts and while he was just shaded in that department, he matched Grundy around the ground. And he was ably backed up by Tom McDonald, who doubled in the ruck role and as a forward target.  
 
The mids demon...strated they had learnt the lessons from earlier in the season, and simply pressured the opposition until they made errors. A clean clearance was not the norm for Collingwood, but as the game wore on, it became standard for the Melbourne players around the ball.
 
Naturally, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca led the way, but Angus Brayshaw was given more time at the centre of the action, and these three had 25, 24 and 23 touches respectively. The coach moved Jack Viney away from the engine room for a good part of the match, but he also demon...strated that this didn’t matter, as he chipped in with 19 touches including 6 clearances.
 
The first quarter demon...strated how serious the side was. When a Collinwood player had an opportunity with the ball, he would be attacked ferociously. So even though there were missed opportunities early on, the Demons already had a 14 point lead by the first break.  
 
A crunching spoil from Aaron Vandenberg saw Mihocek leave the ground early in the second and from then on, the Demon onslaught began. The goals came thick and fast, and none more so than from Charlie Spargo, who after waiting for his chance to play this season, has well and truly cemented his spot in the forward line. Three goals in 10 minutes from him almost blew the opposition away on his own.  
 
But he was surrounded by the others in the forward line and a seven goal term as good as put the game away.  Even more so when it was an accurate 7.1 quarter, so as not to give the Pies a sniff of a chance of success.  
 
The rain came down in the third, and the match levelled out for a while in the slippery conditions, but it was still the Demons who extended their lead, to be nearly seven goals in front as siren sounded to end the third term.  
 
The final quarter of every Demon game is becoming a demon...stration of the fitness of the team. A further four goals while keeping the Pies goalless, added to an amazing statistic for Melbourne final quarters over the past three games with a total of 15.9 to 1.2.  
 
The final margin of 56 points with a score of 100 points sent an emphatic message to the others in the competition. This was a score against a side that averaged less than 50 points conceded up to date. Melbourne had passed that by half time!
 
The forwards are now looking like a settled side. Sam Weideman was not only a solid target, but when Moore was moved to him, Collingwood virtually conceded any hope of winning. Normally Moore is the rebound general from which their attacks start, but only ten touches for the game indicated the problem he was having with Sam and his ability to get to the contest. Kysiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo are a livewire act, and Bayley Fritsch, Jake Melksham and Tom McDonald just kept on being in the right spots to deliver.  Particularly Fritsch as he became the link man further up the ground, with his strong overhead skills and then ability to deliver accurately into the forward 50m  
 
The backs conceded little and the feed that Christian Salem and Michael Hibberd provided to those up the ground, ensured plenty of forward thrusts.  Langdon on the wing was unstoppable with 22 touches, and while Tomlinson was assigned to Hoskin- Elliot and didn’t have his best game, neither did H-E, normally a real threat during a game.
 
The old champion Nathan Jones continued to do his job, and seems to have found a new role of cleaning up the disputed ball when needed.  His experience shows, by just being at the right place at the right time.  
 
While this game demon...strated that Melbourne can seriously challenge for the finals, the task is still before them.  With games to come next against the Bulldogs and St.Kilda these are also “8 point” contests as they are the sides that must be beaten to justify that spot in the eight. The good news is in this unusual season, the club gets a seven day break before both of them, and once again, as far as we’ve been told, there were no further injuries from this game.  
 
Now it’s up to the team to continue its forward momentum in this crazy season and to demon...strate its credentials to go on and play good football until deep in October.
 
MELBOURNE 3.3.21 10.4.64 12.4.76 16.4.100
 
COLLINGWOOD 1.1.7 5.2.32 6.6.42 6.8.44
 
GOALS
 
Melbourne Spargo 3 Fritsch Langdon Melksham Weideman 2 Brayshaw T McDonald Petracca Pickett Sparrow
 
Collingwood Reid 2 Adams Brown Elliott Hoskin-Elliott
 
BEST
 
Melbourne Oliver Langdon Petracca Brayshaw Hibberd May Spargo
 
Collingwood Sidebottom Adams Grundy Daicos
 
INJURIES
 
Melbourne Nil
 
Collingwood Mihocek (concussion) Reid (hamstring)
 
REPORTS
 
Melbourne Nil
 
Collingwood Nil
 
UMPIRES Matt Stevic Hayden Gavine Brendan Hosking
 
VENUE The Gabba
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