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WEATHERING THE STORM by Mel Rundle



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The magic of Melbourne’s magnificent start to 2021 is beginning to wear off. In its past six matches it lost to three teams that were outside the eight, out of form —  teams which it had very little trouble bearing last year. This week, the temperature is turned up even higher with the hard fought spot in the top four at risk.

The really ominous factor about the Demons’ upcoming Thursday night meeting with Port Adelaide this week is that it is due to take place at the very place where its decline began this year — at the Adelaide Oval. It was here that lowly Adelaide Crowd rode the waves of a roaring crowd and some generous umpiring interpretations to end Melbourne’s opening 2021 nine match winning streak by a solitary point. 

But if we did it tough against the Crows, then what chance against Port Adelaide coming off a big win over the Hawks who a week ago conquered our nemesis from last week, the Giants? 

Port Adelaide is one of the AFL’s form sides because the week before, they beat the Sydney Swans who annihilated West Coast last week. They have class all over the field and the best big bodied midfielder in the competition in Ollie Wines who is leading in many best and fairest awards. They’re well served in all departments around the field, well coached and have the capacity to control their games. The upshot is they are making the most of their opportunities and kicking winning scores.

Melbourne, on the other hand, has a brilliant defence, a midfield that has touches of brilliance but has lost some of its direction lately and a forward line that has descended in the past few games into the dyslectic. Against the Giants they managed 56 entries into their forward 50 of which only 36% were converted into scores (a statistic not too dissimilar to that of their opponents). But the Demons’ shooting  accuracy of only 35% compared to the Giants’ 47% made the difference between a win and a loss. 

This week the selectors have gone for the additional marking option of Ben Brown who, in hindsight, should have been selected off the back of his previous effort of 5 goals 2 behinds against Essendon VFL. Apparently, someone at the club *believed* a weather bureau report suggesting storm clouds were forming and that there was a high chance that heavy rain would fall over the MCG in large patches over the course of the game. In fact, not a drop fell and in the dry conditions, the opportunities went begging and the club lamented. 

But it’s not just that key forward position that requires a shake up. The Demon small forwards who were so potent up to a month ago, have gone missing in action. It was clear to all and sundry that some players were getting tired and an attitudinal change was needed . The selectors however, were too slow in dealing with the issue and, as a consequence, the problem has gotten out of hand.

By contrast, Port Adelaide is in good shape and welcomes the return of Tom Clurey into defence and playmaker Zak Butters into the midfield/forward mix. Even though fine weather is predicted for Adelaide on Thursday night, these changes should freshen up the Power and enable them to weather any storm.

Port Adelaide to win by 18 points.

THE GAME

Port Adelaide v Melbourne on Thursday 7 July, 2021 at 7.40pm at Adelaide Oval

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Port Adelaide 21 wins Melbourne 13 wins 

At Adelaide Oval Port Adelaide 3 wins Melbourne 1 win

Past five meetings Port Adelaide 4 wins, Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Hinkley 3 wins Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

Port Adelaide 12.11.83 defeated Melbourne 4.8.32 in Round 9, 2020 at the Gabba

The Demons were a tired looking bunch as they came off a four day break and were hammered by the then premiership favourites Port Adelaide in a performance that prompted club chairperson Glenn Bartlett to come out and state the obvious — that the team was rancid. The usuals, Gawn, Petracca and Oliver performed at an acceptable standard for AFL football. The rest, languished for all four quarters.

THE TEAMS

PORT ADELAIDE

B: T. Clurey 17 T. McKenzie 12 A. Aliir 21
HB: R. Burton 3 T. Jonas 1 D. Byrne-Jones 33
C: M. Bergman 14 O. Wines 16 K. Amon 15
HF: C. Rozee 20 T. Marshall 4 S. Motlop 6
F: M. Georgiades 19 C. Dixon 22 Z. Butters 18
Foll: S. Lycett 29 T. Boak 10 W. Drew 28
I/C: Powell-Pepper 2 D. Houston 5 J. Lienert 40 S. Mayes 32
Sub: M. Frederick 45 Emerg: J. Garner 27 P. Ladhams 38 B. Woodcock 36

In: Z. Butters T. Clurey

Out: R. Bonner (omitted) K. Farrell (ACL)

MELBOURNE

B: M. Hibberd 14 S. May 1 J. Lever 8
HB: J. Hunt 29 H. Petty 35 C. Salem 3
C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15
HF: A. Neal-Bullen 30 T. McDonald 25 J. Harmes 4
F: L. Jackson 6 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31
Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 J. Viney 7
I/C: J. Jordon 23 K. Pickett 36 T. Rivers 24 C. Spargo 9
Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: J. Melksham 18 J. Smith 44 A. vandenBerg 22

In: B. Brown

Out: A. vandenBerg (omitted)

Injury List: Round 17

Mitch Brown (heel) — 2 Weeks
Bailey Laurie (shoulder) — 4 to 5 Weeks
Nathan Jones (calf) — TBC
Marty Hore (knee) — 7 to 8 Weeks
Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season
PreviewRd172021.png
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