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DUCKING A PLUCKING by George On The Outer



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With seven consecutive wins for 2021 behind it, and not having played well in its previous game,  Melbourne was ripe for the picking (or plucking) by the Sydney Swans.

However, in the end, it was the Ducks who found themselves plucked by a Demons side that continues its relentless successful roll for the Season.

Or did the Demons narrowly duck a plucking themselves?

Sydney brought its usual game style to the M.C.G.  Get in front and then shut down the game, scrap and refuse to move the ball forward, just to deny the opposition possession.  It worked so well for the Swans is against Richmond earlier this year so why not try again? 

Two early goals saw them institute their typical scenario, but it doesn’t make for enjoyable football from the spectators perspective.

But Melbourne is not Richmond and it pulled back the lead to only two points come the bell to end the first term.

In the drizzling rain, that blighted the match Melbourne then pressed hard in the second quarter, but one farcical error after another saw it fail to capitalize on the scoreboard.  A certain goal to Bayley Fritsch was already marked down, all he had to do was get his foot to the ball in the empty goal-square, but he couldn’t pick up the footy and fumbled it through for a minor score. 

Fritsch wasn’t alone, and the normally efficient Demons squandered numerous chances and managed only 2.5 for the quarter.  Still they had opened the margin to nearly two goals, and again unfortunately for the spectators the score was to revolve around this mark for the rest of the game. Sydney would close the gap, only for Melbourne to widen it again.  

In the final quarter, a Sydney goal brought the margin back to merely four points and the ever present MFCSS was starting to boil, if not already overflowing ...

A sharp snap from Charlie Spargo gave the fans some breathing space, but again the Swans replied.  Then Tom McDonald took a spectacular pack mark on the edge of the goal square to open the game to a ten point margin with about seven minutes on the clock.

Further scraps took place with Sydney threatening to score again, but two game saving tackles from Spargo and then Jordon, ensured the Demons had plucked the Ducks before the final siren sounded.

Make no mistake, this was a game in which Melbourne did not play well.  Around the ground players were well below their best, and the Swans, despite their abysmal playing method were sitting fourth on the ladder prior to the game.

This game style also denied Melbourne their modus operandi that comes from an intercepting back-line.  When they refuse to enter the 50m zone and chip it around until a shorter target is reached, it means Lever, May and the other defenders cannot zone and intercept. 

But the defence still held strong, and May in particular put Franklin to the sword with his strength.

Franklin is a shadow of his best, and cannot run or kick as once before, now depending on out muscling his opponent.  Not against Steven.  Franklin often found himself on the ground instead having been beaten in the strength contest, and could only finish the game with six touches and no score!

The mids were beaten comprehensively.  The addition of James Harmes was questionable, for although he finished with plenty of touches, he failed to shut down the Sydney mids, and it resulted in clearance differential of 17 to 4.  We really could have used the second and third efforts that Viney would have provided in the engine room. 

This was further compounded by Max Gawn’s drop off in output, as Tom Hickey had six clearances despite losing the tapouts.  We have become accustomed to Max’s marking around the ground, but he managed only three of those for the game.  Without Clayton Oliver’s 35 touches in the middle and around the ground, the Demons would have been in real trouble. 

James Jordan is proving his worth in this season, and had 11 touches in the 1st quarter, 17 to half time, but dropped off in the second half. 

As mentioned his game saving tackle in the final minutes denied Sydney that last roll of the dice, emphasizing the importance of never giving up.

The forwards provided a mixed bag.  Brown and McDonald were fantastic and provided the targets we needed, especially and critical times in the game.  Between them they put seven goals of the team’s total of ten on the board.  Charlie Spargo was the spark and threat around the packs, but Pickett went missing this week. 

Melksham was horrible, and once again his commitment has to be questioned as he allows his opponents to influence the game. He failed to follow Lloyd into the 50m arc in the third quarter, that ensured an easy goal instead of a kick from outside. In a game where they only managed eight goals this becomes critical.

Fritsch had a “mare” of a game and couldn’t get into the action, even when presented with gimme opportunities.  Fortunately, the slack was taken up by TMac and BBB.  That also put paid to any suggestions of a role for Sam Weidemann next week, especially since the Casey game was postponed due to Covid restrictions.

Another win puts the Demons in top spot with eight wins in 2021. With the two wins to close off the 2020 season, this means the club has won ten in succession! 

However, unless a good number of players can lift their output in the next game against Carlton, (which will turn out to be a goal-scoring fest), then it will be the Demons who might find themselves ripe for the plucking ...

MELBOURNE 3.1.19 5.6.36 8.6.54 10.7.67

SYDNEY SWANS 3.3.21 3.7.25 6.8.44 8.10.58

GOALS

Melbourne T McDonald 4 Brown 3 Melksham Petracca Spargo

Sydney Swans Hayward 2 Hickey Lloyd McInerney Mills Papley Sinclair

BEST

Melbourne Oliver McDonald Petracca Harmes Salem Jordon

Sydney Swans Parker Rampe Mills Lloyd Rowbottom Hickey  

INJURIES

Melbourne Nil

Sydney Swans Nil

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Sydney Swans Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne Kade Chandler (unused)

Sydney Swans Nick Blakey (unused) 

Umpires Jeff Dalgleish Curtis Deboy Brendan Hosking

Crowd 35,567 at the MCG

ReportRd082021.png

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