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FRENZY by Whispering Jack


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The Melbourne Football Club should hand out an award to the person who came up with the concept of the 20 day football frenzy the football world experienced from Round 9 to the completion of Round 12 on Monday. When the AFL fixture was moved into a state of perpetual motion, things changed so quickly that it was difficult to fathom exactly what was happening to the competition but the Demons have been one of the beneficiaries to date.

The flogging the team received at the hands of Port Adelaide at the Gabba in late July that evoked the Chairman’s angry response seems a distant memory. Melbourne’s plight was considered with shock and awe by all and sundry in the football world in much the same way as the world looked at the Titanic when it hit that iceberg in the North Atlantic; left sinking near the bottom.

Then, in the short space of eleven days, the ship was salvaged, the engine room was restored to full capacity and the vessel was last seen steaming towards safe harbours. A football miracle!

The miracle can be explained in terms of the resolution of problems exposed in the game against Port and earlier losses during this season and the last. A number of selection issues were dealt with, we saw better and more efficient composition from the midfield, there was better spread and more creativity from the forwards, more composure around the ground and a strengthening of the already solid back half. In short, things began to gel - and with the team at peak fitness, they rolled over three opponents with massive final quarters. Suddenly, they were in the top eight.

As Angus Brayshaw said in an interview earlier this week, “It's taken a bit to get going but we feel like now when we go out and play there's a bit of a blueprint on how to do it. You just have to keep doing it against the best teams.”

And that final sentence is the crux of the matter going forward. The first two teams in the triple header of wins in a fortnight are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, while facing an injury depleted Collingwood coming off a four day break was like approaching road kill. So while the frenzy has seen a restoration of belief, it has yet to answer the big question facing the Demons in 2020.

This year, Melbourne has lost to the five teams in the competition that have a superior percentage and, of the teams above it on the ladder, it has yet to play against St Kilda. The Saints are coming soon but in the meantime, the Demons face a major challenge in the big eight point game against the Western Bulldogs who were catapulted into form by the hapless Crows at the weekend.

The importance of a win this week simply cannot be underestimated as it would virtually see off a major competitor in the quest for a finals place. In the run up to finals, you must win the games where you have the control of your own destiny. This is therefore, where the team has to address and fulfill Glenn Bartlett’s call to arms from the early days of the frenzy.

For their game against the Bulldogs, Melbourne faces the strongest midfield it has come against since the games against Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Led by Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore and with an up and coming ruckman in Tim English, this is as tough an on-ball division as you can meet. And with Aaron Naughton back at full forward, the Doggies’ attack looks so much more assured than it was just a few weeks ago. The teams look evenly matched and there’s no doubt, that the Western Bulldogs present a formidable opposition that will be desperate to win.

This is Melbourne’s big moment. The team has won three nice games in a row, each by more than fifty points but this week will be different. I’m banking on superior fitness and the momentum built up during the weeks frenzy to continue to give them victory, but only just.

Melbourne by 5 points.

THE GAME 

Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 22 August 2020 at 1.45pm 

HEAD TO HEAD 

Overall Western Bulldogs 77 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw  
At Metricon Stadium Western Bulldogs 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins 
Last Five Meetings Western Bulldogs 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins 
The Coaches Beveridge 1 win Goodwin 3 wins 

MEDIA 

TV – Fox Footy Channel live at 1.30pm

Radio –  Triple M 3AW SEN ABC 774 AFL Nation

THE LAST TIME THEY MET Western Bulldogs 10.14.74 defeated Melbourne 9.12.66 at Marvel Stadium in Round 17, 2019

The teams slugged it out until well into the final quarter when Bayley Fritsch was awarded a free kick close to goal with minutes to go. A goal would have put the Dees 2 points in arrears with enough time to turn the result around. However, Fritsch played on and his snap for goal just missed. The Bulldogs had their eyes on the finals and they managed to hold on for a vital win.

THE TEAMS

WESTERN BULLDOGS

FB Easton Wood Alex Keath Caleb Daniel
HB Bailey Williams Ryan Gardner Hayden Crozier
C Bailey Smith Jack Macrae Lachie Hunter
HF Toby McLean Josh Bruce Mitch Wallis
FF Tom Liberatore Aaron Naughton Ben Cavarra
FOL Tim English Marcus Bontempelli Josh Dunkley
I/C Jason Johannisen Patrick Lipinski Ed Richards Laitham Vandermeer,
EM Tory Dickson Riley Garcia Roarke Smith Lewis Young

IN Josh Bruce Hayden Crozier Jason Johannisen Laitham Vandermeer

OUT

Bailey Dale (omitted) Sam Lloyd (omitted) Roarke Smith (managed) Rhylee West (groin)

MELBOURNE 

FB Jay Lockhart Steven May Jake Lever
HB Christian Salem Adam Tomlinson Michael Hibberd
C Ed Langdon  Jack Viney James Harmes 
HF Nathan Jones Sam Weideman Christian Petracca
FF Kysaiah Pickett Tom McDonald Bayley Fritsch
FOL Braydon Preuss Jake Melksham Clayton Oliver
I/C Angus Brayshaw Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow Aaron vandenBerg
EMG Mitch Brown Mitch Hannan Trent Rivers Joel Smith

NO CHANGE

Injury/Suspension List: Round 13

Max Gawn (knee) – test
Braydon Preuss (hip) - test
Alex Neal-Bullen (suspension) – 2 matches
Luke Jackson (hamstring) –  4 - 6 weeks
Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite
Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite
Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite
Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season

PreviewRd132020.png

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