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GIVE THE DOGS A BONE by George on the Outer



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The winner of the game is in the top eight and the loser out. Had Melbourne won, it would have consigned the Bulldogs season to the scrapheap given their remaining fixture which still includes a bye. The Demons led at half-time but they gave the Dogs a bone which was willingly accepted — they notched 6 goals in the third quarter and dumped the Demons out of the eight.

This game simply saw all the bad habits return for Melbourne players.  When they serve up dinky kicks, dinky handballs, little forward pressure, inaccurate kicking for goal, unpressured turnovers, and lack of discipline against a side that runs and spreads, the failings of the team and particular individual players was on display for all to see. 

In a game decided by four and a bit goals, Melbourne gave away two 50m penalty gifts and themselves had two goals disallowed due to a lazy approach and a failure to kick strongly with a flukey wind. As we saw a week ago, accuracy wins matches but it was not to be this time. 

While most statistics were surprisingly equal (except for handballs where the Dogs excelled, and hitouts to advantage where Melbourne did) the most telling and damning statistic was the scores from turnovers. They scored 59 points to 23, a six goal differential in a game that was lost by less than five.

No matter how much contested ball won by either side, no matter how many ruck contests won, no matter how many marks, if you give the ball to the opposition, particularly one that runs and runs, the game will be lost. 

And don’t blame the backline for the opposition scoring, when they defend again and again, only to see it handed back. No surprise Wallis kicks 4 goals when it gets put on his chest at least 3 of those times.  Aaron Naughton, the shining hope for the Dogs was held scoreless by Stephen May who dominated down back. Jake Lever continued to intercept and spoil, but they can’t hold back the deluge coming in from upfield when our mids don’t work hard enough on their opponents.

The small forwards for the Demons were simply horrible. The Bulldogs were able to waltz the ball out of their defence multiple times without so much as a smattering of pressure, during the game in general it was much the same.  Plenty of déjà vu from the Geelong game there!

Hannan, Spargo, Pickett and Melksham in particular failed to do the work to keep the ball in the forward 50m and provide further scoring opportunities. Once again Melksham could only muster a single tackle for the whole game, and his refusal to contest marking opportunities, seeking the cheap kick over the back has surely been noticed by the coaching staff?

Sam Weideman continues to mature, and his marking was telling, but when Tom McDonald gets thrown into the ruck, Sam is left all on his own.  Footscray at least rested English down forward to provide a threat when he wasn’t rucking, but we failed to do likewise. 

It became easy for Gardner and Keath to double team a solitary tall forward. How many times have we fallen into that trap this year?

The mids on the statistics pages equaled the Bulldogs for possessions and clearances. You wouldn’t have known it with the output from the middle in terms of quality.  Too often Melbourne reverted to the short quick handball rather than the decisive break-out and kick we had seen over the past three weeks.  The Bulldogs mids just kept pumping the ball long and deep and five of their mids scored goals themselves. For the Demons only Oliver troubled the goal umpire.

Before the game the side lost Nathan Jones to a “quad niggle”, and his hardness around the contest was sorely missed.  His replacement in Hannan had a meagre six touches for the game, and has probably burnt his opportunity for next week although the Jones and Sparrow injuries might keep a spot for him. 

What to do now?  We gave the Dogs a bone, and they wolfed down the opportunity.  We have opened the door to other sides now, and failed ourselves to demonstrate we are a capable finals contender.  We have given Carlton a bone to chase next week, the prospect of finals for them. 

Next week we come up against St.Kilda already two games ahead of us.  Fail that test, and we give the finals chances to Carlton, GWS Giants and Collingwood along with the Bulldogs. 

Our season will be over. 

Will the Demons have the strength of will to go for the bone on offer, or will they allow their bones to be picked over resulting in another wasted season?

MELBOURNE 1.3.9 5.5.35 5.8.38 7.10.52

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.4.16 4.4.28 10.5.65 12.8.80

GOALS

Melbourne Weideman 2 Fritsch T McDonald Melksham Oliver Spargo

Western Bulldogs Wallis 4 Bontempelli Cavarra English Liberatore McLean Smith Vandermeer Williams

BEST

Melbourne May Viney Petracca Weideman Lever Salem

Western Bulldogs Bontempelli Liberatore Smith Wallis Macrae, Hunter

INJURED

Melbourne Tom Sparrow (shoulder), Nathan Jones (quad) replaced in selected side by Mitch Hannan

Western Bulldogs Nil

REPORTED

Melbourne Nil

Western Bulldogs Nil

UMPIRES Chris Donlon, Nick Brown, Shaun Ryan

VENUE Metricon Stadium

ReportRd132020.png

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