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ELECTRIFYING by George On The Outer


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What more can they throw at the Demons of 2021?

Covid restrictions, hubs, aircraft circling between airports before landing for games and now a match stopped for 30 minutes to give a flagging opponent its second wind?

To date, none of those distractions has swayed the team from their winning objectives. The game against West Coast in Perth can be marked on their report card as another positive outcome after yet another test.

There was much at stake for both sides.  Melbourne had the opportunity to re-take top spot and assure itself of a top four finish. West Coast had a finals position at stake so, as promised, it was an electrifying match but not in the way that most of us would have imagined.

Even before the start, the sides were making strategic moves off the back of weather reports predicting bucket loads of rain adding to an already wet winter for the State. Tom McDonald was replaced in the side by James Jordon while the Eagles replaced Duggan before the match. 

As it turned out, the boffins at the WA Bureau of Meteorology proved correct when the ground was hit by torrential rain and high winds shortly before game time.

With the match under way, it proved to be everything that was promised. In the first quarter the Demons inched their way to the front with a tactic of long kicking to gain territory.  Ben Brown celebrated with his 300th goal in AFL and followed up with another shortly after.  All around the ground it was contest after contest, with the Demons slightly ahead in the wet conditions.

Ed Langdon must be forgiven for thinking he has done something wrong, as the game was played again on the opposite wing, but with Andrew Gaff alongside, both these brilliant players were more spectators than contributors. A major blow to West Coast was the loss of Shannon Hurn to a hamstring injury early, making the Demons forwards job a little easier.

Much the same happened in the second quarter as the ground dried and more skills could be seen. Then umpire Mathew Nicholls gifted West Coast a goal from a free kick, which was to prove to be not the only one that raised incredulous eyebrows on the night. Rule of the week from the umpires was “not 15m”.  While a good thing, the fans would like to see it applied consistently at every game, every week, not just on a whim.

Melbourne failed to score a major in the second term until Kysaiah Pickett managed a 50 m set shot right on the siren to enable the Demons to take back a four point lead at the main break.  The scoreline was a good indication of the contest with neither side giving much. West Coast had thrown everything at the Demons, and true to the test they were given, they just held up.  None more so than Jake Lever who had amassed eight intercepts to half time.

In the third term, it was Melbourne who came out to put the game beyond doubt (or so we thought) with a five goal to one onslaught.  Alex Neal-Bullen snagged a snap from great Ben Brown ruckwork in the forward line, while Luke Jackson was proving to be too much for Vardy in the ruck with his athleticism which resulted in a number of scoring chances. Max Gawn was noticed to be spending a long time on the bench, but with Jackson ascendant in the ruck, this was to prove to be a fortuitous event. Still, the Demons wasted a number of chances scoring five behinds to match the five goals, and once again Nicholls kept giving West Coast scoring opportunities in front of goal. 

The Demons controlled the first five or so minutes after the final break and the game was in their keeping with a 33 point lead when Mother Nature intervened with nearby lightning strikes halting proceedings. There were many questions to be answered including for how long and what would happen if the storm persisted?

Confused reigned and the difficult situation was thrust upon players and coaches. How to keep the players warm and ready for something which might, may or may not happen in 10, 15 or 30 minutes or not at all. 

After 30 minutes or so, the weather moderated a little and the contestants were allowed back on the field to resume play. Melbourne worked hard but failed to convert a couple of easy shots but the game turned. West Coast was awarded another goal from a free kick, and the Demons lead was being whittled away with desperate attempts to score or repel the attacks. 

The Eagles had their second wind but the time clock was running down and in the end a few critical disposals and marks from the likes of Bowey, Spargo and Brown denied West Coast. Despite not scoring a final term major for themselves, the Demons ran out worthy winners. 

Individual efforts were hard to highlight, simply because there were so many to speak about.  For the Demon fans, Luke Jackson was a standout, and given he is only 19 there is much to look forward to.  In the same way Jake Bowey at 19 and in his second game showed poise beyond his years, and his accurate kicking tells of a bright future.  He earned his 21 possessions at over 80% efficiency in a tough hard contested game and cemented his place for the coming final series. 

This was only the third time Melbourne had been victorious against the Eagles in 18 years.  But this is a very different Demon side.  They have been tried and tested now and have shown they are serious contenders for the premiership. 

Now what an electrifying experience that would be for Demon fans!

MELBOURNE 4.2.26 5.3.33 10. 8.68 10.12.72

WEST COAST EAGLES 2.0.12 4.5.29 5.6.36 9.9.63

GOALS

Melbourne Brown 3 Neal-Bullen Melksham 2 Harmes Petracca Pickett

West Coast Eagles Cripps Kennedy Darling 2 Naitanui Redden West

BEST

Melbourne Petracca Oliver Harmes Brown Jackson May

West Coast Eagles Yeo Naitanui Redden Kelly Cripps Sheed

INJURIES

Melbourne McDonald (back) replaced in the selected side by Jordon Hunt (ankle)

West Coast Eagles Duggan (knee soreness) replaced in the selected side by L. Edwards Hurn (hamstring)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

West Coast Eagles Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne vandenBerg (replaced Hunt)

West Coast Eagles Langdon (replaced Hurn)

UMPIRES Jeff Dalgleish Mathew Nicholls John Howorth

Official Crowd 31,584 at Optus Stadium

ReportRd212021.png

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