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THERE’S STILL A HEARTBEAT by George on the Outer



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When bottom side Adelaide scrapped together a win over the Giants last week, a tiny glimmer of hope opened up for the Demons’ finals chances. The patient was in intensive care but not quite finished — there was a faint pulse, a heart beating ever so slightly but was it enough when two more wins and other results were needed to fall their way?

The first step was the resuscitation of a team that had lost its last two matches against sides then sitting fifteenth and sixteenth on the ladder. Once again, the whole year was “on the line”, so would the Demons splutter out ignominiously again or would they finally show some ticker?

A win meant as much for the Giants as they included a series of their better players with Mumford, Perryman, Kelly and Williams taking their places, making the task for the Demons more difficult.

It all started well for Melbourne which bounced out of the blocks to lead by three goals in the first quarter. Jake Melksham was assigned Josh Kelly right from the start, which meant that Christian Petracca was pushed out of the middle to a forward role.

Max Gawn against Mumford was to be the battle of the day, one of them hoping to ruck but the other was trying to act as a wrecking ball. Fortunately Max was the one playing football, but once again the mids failed to win the clearance contest. By half time, the scores had levelled out, setting the stage for a slog-fest to the line.

Silly errors, particularly from Melksham, gave the Giants a series of goals, and the Melbourne fans once again witnessed the side failing to stop a run of opposition goals. At one stage in the third quarter the Demons had conceded six of the last seven but still, the Giants’ led at the final break by seven points.

It was all or nothing for the final term, with Melbourne getting the all and GWS the nothing. The Demons lifted and hit the lead with a Bayley Fritsch goal with ten minutes time left. Thanks to some brilliant running from Ed Langdon the ball finished up in the Demons forward line again to see Trent Rivers snap truly to give Melbourne an eleven point margin with only two minutes to go. The Giants managed another goal with barely thirty seconds on the clock, so players threw themselves at the ball with reckless abandon. A Rivers spoil stopped the final advance and the fat lady final sang to keep the Demons heart beat ticking over.

The backs held the side together when needed, particularly Steven May and Rivers. May’s strength and football smarts saw him repel multiple attacks. Eight marks in the full back position was telling, but it was his cool head that kept the opposition at bay when needed. Rivers has not only cemented his role in the backline, but his accurate kicking and ability to read the play is what the side has been searching for to complement Salem on the other flank. In a score of 12 goals, Rivers and Salem contributed a quarter of the team’s score including two of the last three.

The mids had some hard competition and lowered their colours in clearances again. However, Petracca, when moved through the guts had 19 contested touches out of 22 in total. And on the wing, Langdon just did what he does best, by running to create the outlet options for the backs, and then sending the ball forward.

Unfortunately, the forward line was only semi -functional. Sam Weideman’s seven touches and a solitary mark, was sub par by any standard. Alex Neal-Bullen ran around and around and did little other than high five others while managing only nine disposals. Jayden Hunt probably wrote himself out of contention for the next game with a sub par five disposals.

Mitch Brown did his job as expected with 13 touches and seven marks. Kysaiah Pickett was his usual busy self and his 15 touches was in sharp contrast to the other small forwards. But with half of the forward line not firing in any way, the side was fortunate that the half back flankers were able to step up.

With one more game to come, there is still a chance. The losses against Sydney and Fremantle in the heat and humidity of Cairns mean that Melbourne depends on other teams to fall over. Most of those matches will happen after the game against Essendon and to win that match it must bring the same level of intensity as it took to the Gabba for without it, the heart beat will flat line.

MELBOURNE 5.2.32 7.5.47 9.6.60 12.7.79

GWS GIANTS 2.3.15 7.5.47 10.7.67 11.8.74

GOALS

Melbourne Baker Rivers Spargo 2 Fritsch Hunt Neal-Bullen Petracca Pickett Salem

GWS Giants Daniels Lloyd Williams 2 Cameron de Boer Finlayson Perryman Williams

BEST

Melbourne May Langdon Gawn Petracca Oliver Rivers

GWS Giants Kelly Hopper Daniels Williams Green

INJURED

Melbourne Neville Jetta (ankle)

GWS Giants Nil

REPORTED

Melbourne Nil

GWS Giants Brent Daniels for rough conduct on Christian Petracca in the second quarter

UMPIRES Stevic, O'Gorman, Williamson

CROWD 1,204 at The Gabba

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