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THE TWO ELEPHANTS NOT IN THE ROOM by WJ



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After another slow start when they conceded 2.3.15 to nothing in a handball-happy opening 15 minutes, the unflappable Demons delivered a warning sign of major proportions to the rest of the competition with their 34-point win over the reigning premiers in their Anzac Eve contest.

And what made things even more ominous is that they did it without two elephants in the room - key forwards Ben Brown and Sam Weideman who have been amassing goals at VFL level while coming back from injuries that interrupted their starts to the 2021 while meanwhile, Melbourne has collected six straight wins in its best start to a season since 1965.

The Tigers’ embarrassment was brought about by a number of factors but none was more important than the Demons’ defensive efforts underpinned by the complete blanketing of Dustin Martin by Michael Hibberd, the dominance of Steven May and Jake Lever aided by Adam Tomlinson and the breathtaking steadiness of Christian Salem (39 disposals) who has taken his game to new levels in 2021.

Martin was ultimately forced from the field with concussion but he was well and truly spent as a force in the game by the time he left the field of play. The master’s humbling was made complete by another best on ground performance (38 possessions) from Christian Petracca who is swiftly shaking off his tag of “apprentice” to the Tiger star.  It was fitting that he took out the F. V “Checker” Hughes Medallion for the game’s best player named after the old warhorse coach of both competing clubs though there were a few teammates who pushed him for that award.

It was after that first 15 minutes when the Demons were held scoreless and the Tigers had nine of the first ten inside-50 entries that the midfield showed its might and muscle. The twin tower rucking combination of Max Gawn and the very up-and-coming Luke Jackson led a dominant on ball brigade of Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney with Ed Langdon and Angus Brayshaw holding court on the wings.

We also saw Tom McDonald now emerging out of a two year hiatus, running hither and thither amassing 18 touches and kicking three goals, sending a warning to the two elephants that they might be waiting in the wings a little longer if they want to take his spot in the side.

With the likes of Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen, Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett buzzing around and causing havoc near goal, the Tigers languished and fell to three games behind the emerging Dees with the Bulldogs sitting in waiting for them next week.

The win was the icing on the cake for 300 game Demon hero Nathan Jones who was there at the toss of the coin and held his own with his characteristic courage and toughness, playing a major role in intimidating and taming the Tigers. Little wonder that he was cheered every time he touched the footy - well played, champ!

MELBOURNE 2.2.14 6.6.42 10.8.68 12.10.82

RICHMOND 3.3.21 3.7.25 5.8.38 6.12.48

GOALS

Melbourne McDonald 3 Fritsch Jackson Neal-Bullen 2 Petracca Pickett Salem

Richmond Edwards Riewoldt 2 Aarts Bolton

BEST

Melbourne Petracca Salem Lever Oliver Gawn Langdon May

Richmond Bolton Nankervis Edwards Baker Short

INJURIES

Melbourne Nil

Richmond Lambert (calf) Martin (concussion)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Richmond Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne Kade Chandler (unused)

Richmond Jack Ross (replaced Kane Lambert in the third quarter)

Umpires Andrew Stephens Jeff Dalgleish Nathan Williamson

CROWD  56,418 at the MCG

ReportRd062021.png

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