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UNFINISHED BUSINESS by Whispering Jack



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The Melbourne Football Club has unfinished business with Fremantle after that unexpected loss in their previous clash at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns cost it a place in last year’s finals campaign.

 

Back then, the tired Demons spluttered listlessly through the humid conditions in tropical far North Queensland playing in and losing two games in the space of four days and against two lowly clubs. The end result was much more than an embarrassment for the club given what was at stake at the time. For many supporters, the humiliation of missing out on what was a unique finals series while dwelling in an interstate hub has lingered through the ensuing months.

 

Now, as we sit on the cusp of a new season with the club playing on home soil with supporters in attendance for the first time in about 580 days, the time has come for the club to cast off some of the insults and slurs attributed to it by pundits such as former Carlton forward Mark Maclure who maintains that it’s woes are all a matter of poor culture ... “it’s soft, a soft culture they’ve got.”

 

I’m not so sure that that’s the definitive answer to the complex issues that make the club such an enigma but it’s a convenient line to use when making a casual analysis, especially when you have not much to go on after a limited pre-season that saw practice match highs and lows against Richmond and the Western Bulldogs. Yes, they were only practice matches and they mattered little in terms of ladder position at the end of the year or anything else for that matter, but the inconsistency of effort in those games was not what you would expect from a professional sporting outfit. That has to come to an immediate end.

 

I’m giving Melbourne the benefit of the doubt although it has been hit hard by injury in the early months of the new year, particularly to its key forwards and the midfield stocks. There’s no respite in the former case with Ben Brown and Sam Weideman still weeks away from appearing but relief would appear on the way with the return of some of the team’s most important midfielders. 

 

Against that, the visitors are also far from full strength and that is why I think Melbourne should emerge victors on Saturday at the G for the first time since, well ... a long, long time ago. The overwhelming numbers in attendance will be supporting the Demons so it’s up to the fans to get down to the ground and let their collective crowd noise play a role in getting their team home. It’s a factor when they play interstate, now is our chance to make it work for us.

 

The great unknown of 2021 will be how teams adapt to the longer quarters and reduced rotations. It’s been suggested that fitness and fatigue will come into play, particularly at the end of quarters.

 

Therefore, I would expect a conservative approach to team selection so that players who have had reduced preseasons will have to prove their ability to see out a full game before selection in the team. The noises coming from the club suggest this will be the case. Jack Viney was ruled out well before the time came for team selection and I believe that a couple of others who might be counted as regulars will be kept back out of an abundance of caution. (I thank the premier for that line).

 

The Dockers are not to be taken lightly as they have the dangerous Nat Fyfe heading an emerging midfield group that is chock full of talent but their lack of depth in the ruck and in the key forward and back positions will be their undoing. The absence of Michael Walters who is always a thorn in the Demons’ side will hurt them. In their last encounter, he kicked half of his team’s goals and was the difference between the two competing sides.

 

Melbourne by 22 points

 

THE GAME

 

Melbourne v Fremantle on Saturday 20 March 2020 at 1.45pm.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

 

Overall Melbourne 16 wins Fremantle 23 wins 

At the MCG Melbourne 8 wins Fremantle 7 wins 

Last five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 3 wins

The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Longmuir 1 win

 

MEDIA

 

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel

Radio - check your local guides

 

LAST TIME THEY MET

 

Fremantle 6.11.47 defeated Melbourne 4.9.33 at Cazaly’s Stadium, Round 16, 2020

 

In view of what was at stake, Melbourne’s effort was nothing short of insipid.

 

THE TEAMS 

 

MELBOURNE 

 

B: N. Jetta 39 S. May 1 A. Tomlinson 20

HB: C. Salem 3 J. Lever 8 J. Hunt 29

C: J. Harmes 4 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15

HF: N. Jones 2 T. McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30

F: C. Spargo 9 L. Jackson 6 B. Fritsch 31

Foll: M. Gawn - C 11 C. Oliver 13 T. Sparrow 32

I/C: K. Pickett 36 J. Jordon 23 T. Rivers 24 A. Brayshaw 10  

Sub: K. Chandler 37 Emerg: O. Baker 33 J. Bowey 17 H. Petty 35 

 

FREMANTLE

 

B: T. Watson 38 J. Hamling 21 A. Pearce 25

HB: R. Conca 6 B. Cox 36 L. Ryan 13

C: J. Aish 11 N. Fyfe - C 7 B. Acres 9

HF: C. Serong 3 A. Cerra 5 T .Colyer 33

F: S. Switkowski 39 M. Taberner 20 L. Schultz 28

Foll: L. Meek 22 A. Brayshaw 8 D. Mundy 16

I/C: L. Henry 23 H. Young 26 E. Hughes 15 C. Blakely 19  

Sub: S. Giro 42 Emerg; S. Darcy 4 H. Chapman 27 L. Thomas 24    

 

INJURY LIST: Round 1

 

Angus Brayshaw (foot) — Available
Michael Hibberd (ankle) — Available
Steven May (concussion) — Available
Jake Melksham (hamstring) — Available
Clayton Oliver (soreness) — Available
Christian Salem (hamstring) — Available
Jack Viney (foot) — Available
Mitch Brown (calf) — 1 to 2 Weeks
Joel Smith (finger) — 2 Weeks
Jay Lockhart (testicles) — 2 to 3 Weeks
Sam Weideman (leg) — 4 to 6 Weeks
Ben Brown (knee) — 5 to 7 Weeks
Marty Hore (knee) — Season
Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

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