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“No-one let the Dogs out” was the Demons response for the (former) top side.  The Melbourne defence, capably lead by Steven May and Jake Lever simply suffocated any hopes that the Western Bulldogs might have had about leading the competition at the mid-way point.

Instead, it is the Demons who now sit at the top of the ladder, again a game clear, while their supporters are starting to believe that this side is the real deal.  Pity is that those same supporters couldn’t watch their team demolish the opposition live, due to the latest Covid19 outbreak restrictions.  But the eerie silence at the ground would have been in contrast to the excitement being displayed within Demon households throughout the State.

Right from the start Melbourne was obviously fired up.  A goal within 30 seconds to James Harmes should have served as a warning to the Bulldogs of the fine form to come for the night.  Tom Liberatore became his direct opponent for the majority of the game, and was physically attacked and smothered at any opportunity he had. Averaging nine clearances a game, he was held to a mere four and without that, the Bulldogs wave of runners simply didn’t get the ball. Harmes on the other hand cleared the ball five times and laid seven tackles stamping out any Bulldog flicker of hope.

Bontempelli was similarly attacked, and denied the freedom he has usually experienced.  Without their usual style of attack, the ball was often sent skyward under pressure, but into the waiting arms of the Demon defensive lines.  Time and time again, Lever and May with 20 intercepts together, were on the end of the opposition balls into their forward line, with the rest of the defenders taking care of Bruce and Naughton. 

Harry Petty has now slotted into the system down back, and Michael Hibberd and Trent Rivers were the strong reliable sweepers who denied any crumbs that may have fallen the Bulldogs way. It is too easy to forget that Petty and Rivers have barely played 20 games, yet both have already cemented long term places in the side. 

With the mids denying access to the ball, and the backs cleaning up the forward moves, the Bulldogs simply couldn’t get any meaningful score on the board.  Meanwhile the Melbourne forward line enjoyed a night out, particularly as the Demons pressure caused multiple turnovers in the forward half, and this week Melbourne took full use of those opportunities.

The four goal lead at ¼ time was to be ultimately the difference for the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs couldn’t find an avenue that wasn’t blocked by Melbourne players.
 
This season we have witnessed their fast transition and flicking it around to open up gaps, but all too often they stood flat-footed looking for something that wasn’t there. 

Credit must go the wingers who covered the ground to frustrate the switch that was being attempted, as it gave the rest of the defensive structure time to swing in behind them.  They don’t get a statistic for that, but in this game Angus Brayshaw and Ed Langdon had six intercepts between them, showing how hard they were working.  

The forwards in this game were kicking more goals than behinds, but in all honesty, the Bulldogs backline without Easton Wood lacked any real composure.  Goals to Tom McDonald, Sam Weideman and Bayley Fritsch had come from uncontested marks, showing the structure just kept breaking down.  Still, Melbourne exploited that situation. 

Unfortunately, Weideman showed little to commend despite two goals, as he had amassed only 1 handball up to half way in the third quarter, and finishing with six touches in total.  As a full forward he needs to be demanding the ball, and holding marks, something he is yet to show on a consistent basis in his career.

Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca ... well just the usual day at the office for them — 33 touches for Oliver, 24 Petracca and Max dominating the ruck, along with his partner in Luke Jackson. They move onto the next job with the opposition coaches still unable to work out how to stop them. 

The Dee-fence of the Melbourne kept the opposition away from the ball, but we are hoping that the Covid fence currently in place will not stop their fans being able to watch their side, on their relentless march to September action for too much longer. 

MELBOURNE 6.5.41 9.6.60 12.8.80 13.9.87

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.2.14 6.5.41 6.8.44 8.11.59

GOALS

Melbourne Fritsch McDonald 3 Weideman 2 Gawn Harmes Jordon Petracca Pickett

Western Bulldogs Bruce 3 English 2 Daniel Naughton Weightman

BEST

Melbourne Oliver Petracca May Harmes Gawn Lever

Western Bulldogs Macrae Dale Smith Daniel Bontempelli

INJURIES

Melbourne Langdon (concussion)

Western Bulldogs Garcia (concussion)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Western Bulldogs Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne Sparrow (replaced Langdon)

Western Bulldogs Butler (replaced Garcia)

UMPIRES Andrew Stephens Ray Chamberlain Nathan Williamson

OFFICIAL CROWD 0 at Marvel Stadium

ReportRd112021.png

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