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Last week I predicted a comfortable Melbourne victory for its game against Adelaide. “Something in the order of 61 points”, I opined. Well, after the game, I checked the wording of my preview very carefully from all angles and I have now concluded that I have to issue an apology to Demon fans. I got it wrong.

I’m not bitter and twisted about my error in failing to predict the coaching errors, defensive mistakes, lack of forward pressure and, of course, the complete failure of those officiating to do so in a professional manner. Really, I’m not. So let’s get over it and discuss Friday’s game between the two top teams in the AFL competition.

The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne had a number of items on their to do lists in common last week. One of the main ones was that both had to beat opponents sitting in the bottom third of the ladder. Accordingly, both were expected to win — and win well. However, their respective encounters could not have produced different outcomes.

The Bulldogs tore the Saints apart from the get go. Jack Macrae (41 touches), BaIley Dale (34) and Tom Liberatore (31) dominated proceedings while skipper Marcus Bontempelli and forward Aaron Naughton kicked nine goals between them. It was a slaughter, a 111 point victory that tore the heart and soul out of the St Kilda. On the other hand, Melbourne ... could I please apologise again? I got it wrong.

Now to the game itself ... and quite a pall has been cast over a matchup that’s been rare in the recent history of both football clubs - a top two clash. It should have been a high profile contest attracting maximum publicity for reasons purely related to the football contest that was about to unfold.

Unfortunately, just when we thought it was safe to go outside and enjoy the finer things in life like football, that dreadful bug once again managed to walk undetected right under the noses of our gold standard quarantine watchdogs. Most discussion this week has therefore been as to whether the round will go ahead. The Bulldogs had to be isolated earlier in the week and even the venue for the contest was considered a Covid19 hotspot with another game between the Hawks and the Suns already scrapped (really, would anyone have noticed?).

Assuming it goes on, this game will provide a fascinating contest for the depleted midfields of both clubs with Jack Viney missing from the Demons and Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar out for the Doggies. A lot will depend on the winner of the contest between the remaining midfielders which might boil down to an arm wrestling match with an ascendency for only one part of a quarter proving the difference. In looking at the midfields, Melbourne might have the ascendency through its rucks with Luke Jackson the most mobile two metre midfielder in the game these days.

The Bulldogs appear to have the superior forward line on current form and despite an off week against the Crows last week, the Demons’ strength is in its defence and the pressure that division is able to impose on its opponents (and Christian Salem’s return from last week’s mystery injury will be a help).

I’m finding it difficult to separate the teams in this top of the table clash so out of an abundance of caution and in order to enable me to avoid issuing another apology next week, I’m tipping the Dishlickers to win by a point.

THE GAME

Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, Friday, 28 May, 2021 at 7.50pm

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Western Bulldogs 77 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw

At Marvel Stadium Western Bulldogs 10 wins Melbourne 8 wins

Last Five Meetings Western Bulldogs 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins

The Coaches Beveridge 2 wins Goodwin 3 wins

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

Western Bulldogs 12.8.80 defeated Melbourne 7.10.52 at Metricon Stadium in Round 13, 2020

This game marked Melbourne’s ultimate downfall for 2020. Leading by 7 points at the half time break, the Demons capitulated to the superior Bulldog midfield which carved them up both on the inside and outside in the half hour that followed. Christian Petracca and Jack Viney were Melbourne’s best but on the whole, the team wasn’t good enough.

THE TEAMS

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: T. Duryea 15 A. Keath 42 H. Crozier 9

HB: B. Williams 34 Z. Cordy 12 C. Daniel 35

C: B. Dale 31 T. Liberatore 21 J. Johannisen 39

HF: L. Hunter 7 J. Bruce 17 C. Weightman 19

F: T. English 44 A. Naughton 33 M. Bontempelli 4

Foll: J. Sweet 41 J. Macrae 11 B. Smith 6

I/C: R. Garcia 38 P. Lipinski 27 L. McNeil 30 R. Smith 37

Sub: L. Butler 18 Emerg: R. Gardner 43 R. West 14 L. Young 2

In: T. English R Garcia P. Lipinski

Out: M. Hannan (calf)A. Scott (managed) A. Treloar (ankle) 

MELBOURNE

B: J. Hunt 29 S. May 1 J. Lever 8

HB: C. Salem 3 H. Petty 35 M. Hibberd 14

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

HF J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 J. Melksham 18

F: B. Fritsch 31 S. Weideman 26 C. Spargo 9

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

I/C: J. Harmes 4 L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30 T. Rivers 24

Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: J. Bowey 17 B. Brown 50 K. Chandler 37 

In: C. Salem

Out: N. Jetta (omitted) 

Injury List: Round 11

Christian Salem (groin) — Available

Aaron vandenBerg (quad) — Available

Jack Viney (toe) — 2 to 3 Weeks

Joel Smith (knee) — 3 to 4 Weeks

Deakyn Smith (ankle) — 4 to 5 Weeks

Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 5 to 6 Weeks

Marty Hore (knee) — Season

Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season

PreviewRd112021.png

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