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It had to happen sooner or later. Melbourne has been riding high through the season to date and, with the exception of a small bunch of nuff nuffs who are never satisfied with anything, the club has attracted more positive vibes from the community in these nine weeks than it did in the past decade. So it came as no surprise to see some low grade stirring of the sort which only the media could come up with at a time like this.

The on line site Zero Hanger came up with an article that opined, “When will the Demons’ first loss come?” It must have been a quiet week for the good folk at ZH who would have spent some time scratching their heads to provide their audience with something of substance to write about the sport. This sort of vapid, speculative exercise is an embarrassment to journalism.

But what about the brouhaha in the Herald Sun about the Melbourne team’s “bizarre post-game antics following Sunday afternoon’s victory over Carlton.”

“Footage from within the sheds showed rookie small forward Kade Chandler covered in milk during the Demons team song, with the 21-year-old struggling to get the liquid out of his hair and face.”

This was the earth-shattering news item that changed the course of journalism in this country and my life as well. The first time I opened my fridge, my perceptions had changed. I could hardly look the milk bottle in the eye.

And that’s what this year is all about — perception. Despite, the media’s earnest attempt to distract our attention, the Demons are unapologetically sitting on top of the AFL table at 9-0 and aiming at a double digit opening to the season. The vibe from the club is that the team is focused on doing the job this week against the Crows at the Adelaide Oval and the perception is that they will win, and win comfortably.

I might well have been thinking much differently had this game been put down on the fixture for Round 2. Back then, the Crows were being hailed as one of the season’s up and comers after their victory over the Cats who were coming off a grand final appearance.

On the other hand, the jury was well and truly out about the Demons. After all, they had just opened the season with an unconvincing win over the Dockers who don’t travel well. The weeks to follow saw the Dees build upon that opening with win after win after win and the Crows’ first month wasn’t too shabby either as they went to a 3-1 win/loss record to take a seat among the top eight.

History tells us that since then, Adelaide’s wheels fell off big time. Our perception of the club changed it proceeded to amass five losses on end. There are statistics that back up the perception and show that the Crows, known for their offensive pressure in the opening rounds, have tailed off considerably in that area. They have gone from a #1 ranking in scores when going inside their forward 50 (51.8% in Rounds 1 to 4) to #18 (at 33.8%) over the subsequent rounds. The result has been a string of heavy losses.

It’s not a good time for them to come up against a team known for its application of pressure all over the ground, particularly in their defence. Moreover, the form of their main forward weapon in Taylor Walker has dropped off after a stellar start and he’s likely to be matched up against in-form defender Steven May who has plenty of tall back ups, all well equipped to lend a hand. As a result, things doesn’t augur well for the home town Crows coming up against a team that has a record of 4 wins to 1 at the Adelaide Oval. Indeed, the perception is that the Demons love this ground. Indeed, I fancy they might have even preferred hub life the in City of Churches to the Sunshine Coast last year but that’s another story.

I haven’t yet mentioned the merits of the Melbourne midfield that includes a number of potential All Australians led by Max Gawn in the ruck. Adelaide’s Rory Laird is doing a good job in his conversion to the midfield but he would have to be at his best to deal with the Demon brigade this week. With fine weather expected on Saturday afternoon, they should provide their forwards with plenty of scoring opportunities. They are going to be difficult to stop.

Adelaide remains a young side with very few aces and, as the season rolls on, they are tiring and playing with reduced enthusiasm. They don’t appear to be enjoying themselves. That’s precisely the opposite to Melbourne, a team that’s loving life, loving the game and having fun celebrating after every win rather than crying over spilt milk.

I can’t perceive of any other result than a comfortable Melbourne victory this week. Something in the order of 61 points.

THE GAME

Adelaide v Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday 22 May 2021 at 4.35pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall - Adelaide 25 wins Melbourne 16 wins

At the Adelaide Oval - Adelaide 1 win Melbourne 4 wins

Past five meetings - Adelaide 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins

The Coaches - Matthew Nicks 0 wins Simon Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides.

Radio - check your local guides.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 13.10.88 defeated Adelaide 5.7.37 in Round 10, 2020 at the Adelaide Oval

The Demons were on top all day but made hard work of it for three quarters before the dam walls burst and they scored a vert creditable 7 goals to 1 in the final term. Clayton Oliver was unstoppable.

THE TEAMS



ADELAIDE 

B: T. Doedee 39 J.  Butts 41 N.  Murray 28

HB: B. Smith 33 C. Jones 1 L. Brown 16

C: L. Sholl 38 B. Keays 2 P. Seedsman 11

HF: N. McHenry 25 T.  Walker 13 S. Berry 21

F: J. Rowe 31 R. Thilthorpe 7 D.  Fogarty 32

Foll: R. O'Brien 43 R. Laird 29 R. Sloane 9

I/C: J. Kelly 8 S. McAdam 23 D.  Mackay 14 H. Schoenberg 27

Emerg: B. Frampton 22 W. Hamill 17 A. McPherson 36 R. O'Connor 37

In: N. McHenry N.   Murray T. Walker

Out: B. Frampton (omitted) W. Hamill  (omitted) A. McPherson (omitted) R. O'Connor (omitted)

MELBOURNE 

B: M. Hibberd 14 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 

HB: N. Jetta 39 H. Petty 35 J. Hunt 29

C: A Brayshaw 10 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15

HF: J. Jordon 23 T.  McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30

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

Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36

I/C: J.  Harmes 4 J. Melksham 18 T.  Rivers S. Weideman 26

Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: B. Brown 50 K. Chandler 

In: L. Jackson N. Jetta T. Sparrow 

Out: B. Brown (omitted) K. Chandler (omitted) C. Salem (groin)

Injury List: Round 10

Jake Bowey (ankle) — Available

Luke Jackson (finger) — Available

Nathan Jones (hamstring) — Available

Christian Salem (groin) — TBA

Aaron vandenBerg (quad) — 2 Weeks

Jack Viney (toe) — 2 Weeks

Joel Smith (knee) — 5 Weeks

Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 5 Weeks

Marty Hore (knee) — 10 to 12 Weeks

Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season

PreviewRd102021.png

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