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LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY by Whispering Jack


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When the combatants that are due to face off on Monday night at Optus Stadium last met, it was 11 days after the World Health Organization had declared the Covid19 outbreak a global pandemic. In Australia, the first cases had just come to light, including visiting US actors Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, the toilet paper panic was in full flight and the world was starting to reel in anticipation of impending disaster.

Half an hour before this last game of the opening round was due to commence, the AFL season was postponed, effective from the final siren. Not for the only time during the plague, was Melbourne to be shunted across the country under difficult circumstances. Despite a solid fight back after a slow start, they capitulated. When the season resumed after a break of one and a half months, the Demons went through their share of ups and downs and in the end they just missed out on making the finals.

Things have been turned around on their head since that day almost 1½ years ago. Millions have died, world leaders have come and gone and the delayed Tokyo Summer Olympics will have come to an end before the opening bounce of this match. The Eagles are no longer a force to be feared, even on their home turf. In the Bizarro World of today, the Demons are still accumulating frequent flyer points but their arrival and stay in Perth is expected to be more comfortable than last time when a late evening hotel switch was said to be one of many disruptions they faced in their match preparation.

The Demons are on the home stretch of their most successful season in decades after a fantastic start, a few hiccups along the way but fresh from a strong showing in their last outing against the hapless Suns. They face an out of form Eagles who are struggling for consistency and are low on confidence but Melbourne knows only full too well that such a situation must not be taken lightly. This however, is a different West Coast, one so very long ago and far away from the powerful combination that strangled Melbourne at this ground in the preliminary final of 2018, in May 2019 and again in March 2020.

The Demons overcame a listless month or so with a return of their early season high pressure game against the Gold Coast Suns last week. Admittedly, the opposition were in disarray from the start and appeared to be a young, tiring team nearing the end of a tough season but the Demons were relentless in their attack on the ball throughout the game. There’s no reason why they can’t repeat the dose on the Eagles and return in kind the treatment that West Coast meted out to them in the faraway past before the world took its dramatic turn in mid Autumn of last year.

The Demons solid defence and dominant midfield were in their element as they cut a swathe through the Suns’ resistance. As a consequence, the forwards looked irresistible as they took advantage of the constant supply and kicked their highest score for the season. We can expect more of the same this week against the Eagles who are looking old, frail and well past their use by date.

Melbourne to win by 29 points.

THE GAME

West Coast v Melbourne at Optus Stadium Monday 9 August, 2021 at 8.10 pm.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall West Coast 37 wins Melbourne 17 wins

At Optus Stadium West Coast 3 wins Melbourne 1 win

Past five meetings West Coast 4 wins Melbourne 1 win

The Coaches Simpson 4 wins Goodwin 1 win

MEDIA

TV - live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel & Ch7. Check your local guides for details.

Radio - check your local guides

THE LAST TIME THEY MET

West Coast Eagles 12.6.78 defeated Melbourne 7.9.51 at Optus Stadium in Round 1, 2020

Melbourne went into the game with five new faces - Mitch Brown, Ed Langdon and Adam Tomlinson along with youngsters Toby Bedford and Kysaiah Pickett but the team failed to overcome five unanswered goals in the opening term and went down by 27 points.

THE TEAMS

WEST COAST EAGLES

B: T. Cole 28 H. Edwards 42 S. Hurn 25

HB: L. Edwards 35 J. McGovern 20 B. Sheppard 5

C: A. Gaff 3 T. Kelly 11 J. Redden 8

HF: C. West 36 J. Darling 27 J. Cripps 15

F: J. Petruccelle 21 J. Kennedy 17 O. Allen 12 

Foll: N. Naitanui 9 E. Yeo 6 D. Sheed 4

I/C (from): M. Hutchings 34 J. Nelson 30 N. Varda 19 A. Witherden 23

Emerg: L. Edwards 35 Z. Langdon 16 J. Rotham 35 J. Waterman 2

IN: L. Edwards J. Nelson N. Vardy A. Witherden

OUT: L. Duggan (knee) X. O'Neill (omitted) J. Rotham (omitted) J. Waterman (omitted)

MELBOURNE

B: J. Bowey 17 S. May 1 H. Petty 35

HB: J. Hunt 29 J. Lever 8 C. Salem 3

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

HF: K. Pickett 36 J. Melksham 18 C. Spargo 9

F:  Neal-Bullen 30 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31

Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 J. Harmes 4

I/C: L. Jackson 6 J. Jordon 23 T. Rivers 24 T. Sparrow 32 

Sub: A. vandenBerg 22 Emerg: M. Hibberd 14 S. Weideman 26

IN: J. Melksham A. vandenBerg

Out: T. McDonald (back) J. Viney (suspended) 

Injury and Suspension List: Round 21

Tom McDonald (back spasms) — Test

Mitch Brown (heel) — Test

Deakyn Smith (concussion) — 1 Week

Jack Viney (suspension) — 2 Weeks

Marty Hore (knee) — 4 to 6 Weeks

Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season

Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season

PreviewRd212021.png

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