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REACH FOR THE STARS by George on the Outer


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It was a game of great significance for the Melbourne Football Club. A win would see them keep top spot on the ladder with one round remaining. To achieve top place in the Round for Reach when we are all inspired to “Be Like Jim” and reach for the stars was a great way of honouring one of our heroes. All the better given that it was done by way of an emphatic 41 point win against Adelaide!

It is worth remembering that, but for the umpiring mistake in the previous encounter with the Crows, the Demons might well have had top place for the season already sown up. As in that game, Adelaide sought to bring Melbourne down to its level with scrappy contested stoppage ball, a tactic that worked for a good part of the game with the Demons only leading by nine points at ¼ time. While they extended that to 21 points at half time, they only managed to increase the margin to 23 by the final break.

In fact, during the third term, the margin was brought back to three points after the Crows scored the first three goals. At this time Max Gawn simply decided that enough was enough and began to pile on the pressure. By the end of the game he had amassed an incredible ten clearances, most of which were penetrating kicks into the forward line. This came on top of his 27 hit-outs. It is fair to note that Adelaide were without their first line ruck in O’Brien and could only put up Strahan who was playing his second game. In addition, Melbourne’s second ruck in Luke Jackson was equally damaging and matched Max’s game with 19 hitouts, 16 disposals and two goals.  His athleticism is extraordinary and with this performance has surely sewn up the AFL’s Rising Star award for 2021.

Melbourne blew the game wide open in the final quarter, which was not unexpected, save for those people seriously affected by the negative supporter’s syndrome. It was almost a repeat for Adelaide who last week held Port until 10 minutes into the final quarter then collapsed.  This week the collapse came courtesy of one Bayley Fritsch who kicked Melbournes last five goals to finish with seven for the game and reach a total of 46 for the season. To put that in perspective, he’s on only four less than Geelong’s Tom Hawkins!

The backline was less settled this week, following the late withdrawal of Steven May who was replaced by Joel Smith. Smith did an okay job, but without the marshalling of May and his direction to fellow defenders, things looked a bit frayed around the edges. The defence lost the kick-in surety and distance of May, around which it has built its strategy for exiting the defensive 50m.  

Fortunately, Adelaide lost its main target in the first quarter in Himmelberg, and of course without Tex Walker, the whole job was left to Fogarty who finished with 3 majors.

Next week and into finals, Melbourne can’t afford to give the opposition that level of freedom and May will be a certain inclusion for the next game. Some degree of slack was picked up by Bowey, Rivers and Petty, none of who are yet to hit 21 years. Bowey 18 touches, Rivers 16 (15 kicks) and Petty with 11 of which 8 were intercepts. Christian Salem looked to be more at ease physically, and he racked up 29 touches with 20 of those being his customary accurate kicks. And Jake Lever was always thereabouts with his exquisite intercepts.

The mids did what they had to do, but went through phases when there simply wasn’t enough pressure. James Harmes will surely lose his centre bounce role to Jack Viney next week, as he struggles to keep control of his man when needed, and his kicking and skill level was simply sub-standard in situations where there was zero pressure.  

However, he is unlikely to be dropped as Tom Sparrow had a shocker as well, although putting on seven tackles.  But this can only be expected of a young player.  He will be better for the experience.

Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver were their usual starring selves, and did what was needed when required. Petracca finished with a couple of goals, and if Clarrie could improve his kicking in front of goal, he would have jagged a couple as well, but put them to the wrong side of the big sticks.

On the wings, the game might as well have been played to the old VFL or the AFLW rules, with 1 less winger.  Langdon and Seedsman on one side totaled 63 touches between them, and it could be argued who was the most effective.

Up forward, we have mentioned Fritsch, who has simply blossomed with the presence of Ben Brown. Not having to take the big defender leaves him free, and Brown is a master of running first class forward leading patterns.  No small wonder Fritsch finds himself all alone or one on one with the number 2 or 3 defender. Kysaiah Pickett chipped in for a single along with Charlie Spargo and both were busy and workmanlike.  

Unfortunately, Jake Melksham reverted to type with half paced efforts resulting in only 7 touches for the game, and conceding stupid frees, the likes of which will cost the side dearly in the pressure cooker environment of finals. Tom McDonald should take his spot in the side for the coming game.

Something special is now within reach.  Still there is work to be done next week, to guarantee that home final (wherever that may be) rather than a trip to Adelaide Oval. All the side can do is keep winning, and continue to honour Big Jim and reach upward for the stars.

MELBOURNE 3.3.21 7.4.46 12.7.79 16.8.104

ADELAIDE 1.6.12 3.7.25 8.8.56 9.9.63

GOALS

Melbourne Fritsch 7 Brown Jackson Petracca 2 Melksham Pickett Spargo

Adelaide Fogarty 3 McAdam 2 Lynch McKay Murphy Seedsmam

BEST

Melbourne Fritsch Jackson Salem Petracca Langdon Oliver

Adelaide Seedsman Sloane Keays Fogarty Laird

INJURIES

Melbourne S. May (general soreness) replaced by J. Smith

Adelaide E. Himmelberg (hamstring)

REPORTS

Melbourne Nil

Adelaide Nil

SUBSTITUTES

Melbourne A. vandenBerg (unused)

Adelaide L. Sholl (replaced E. Himmelberg)

UMPIRES: Chris Donlon Leigh Haussen Robert Findlay

Official Crowd 0 at The MCG

Support the Reach Foundation -

https://www.melbournefc.com.au/news/999089/get-your-be-like-jim-badge

ReportRd222021.png

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