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METAMORPHOSIS by Whispering Jack


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I’ve always believed that when the home and away matches come to an end, the football season takes on a completely different shape and character. During the regular season, each team’s goals progress as the weeks pass and if you’re good enough to survive and make the grade, the situation changes. The comparison can be made with the life cycle of a butterfly going through stages from egg to larva to caterpillar, cocoon and in the end to a bright and colourful creature that emerges from darkness into the sky. This could easily fit into a description of Melbourne’s journey to date but, as Simon Goodwin put it so aptly this week when he preached to his players about the need to reset and start anew for the finals. “One season's down, another one begins."

The Demons escaped from their cocoon in the dying moments of last Saturday’s game when Maxy’s shot split the goalposts. The euphoria and raw emotion of the occasion took the Demons into a heavenly flight. The feeling for all was one of freedom and liberation much like moment of chrysalis to a butterfly heading skyward for the first time. Goodwin recognised the need for calm. Reaching the finals is not as an end in itself, but a new stage in the quest for a premiership.

The fact that Melbourne finished on top of ladder is now irrelevant. This is a new season to be taken head on with no room for complacency — the minor premiership is part of a past life and should not be treated as our grand final. The Demons might well be favourites in Adelaide against the Brisbane Lions but the game will start with each team on level pegging.

One team had the most premiership points in the competition, the other, the highest percentage and the most quarters won during the regular season. As we saw last week when Geelong surprised Melbourne to pile on what seemed an endless stream of goals on end in the second term, anything can happen in any given game. The minor advantage of top place means that the game is taking place at the preferred location of Adelaide Oval (in the absence of the MCG), a venue where the Demons have tasted some success in recent years. However, it’s still a neutral ground.

The Lions themselves managed to pull off their own minor miracle by running the Bulldogs down in the three weeks after their Round 20 loss to the Hawks and deprived them of the double chance. On the first day of this month, the Western Bulldogs were on top of the ladder with 15 wins and a percentage of 142.0. The Lions were three games behind them and sitting on 124.6%. They overtook the Doggies in the dying seconds of the regular season.

But monstering sides that finished the year in disarray is not in the same category in terms of preparation for the finals season as the pressure cooker of the game at GMHBA Stadium against the Cats was for the Demons. It was a great tune up for the season of finals and mirrored the come-from-behind game they played against the Lions at Giants Stadium in mid season. It epitomised the conversion of this Melbourne team from a failed outsider in 2020 to a formidable contender in 2021.

The metamorphosis began with a preseason that saw their development into a healthy team fit both in body and mind. The players have built an excellent relationship and connection with each other and their game style and team discipline is such that it simply wears the opposition into submission. The more mature Lions in Round 12 and the Cats in Round 23 expended so much energy at various stages of their matches that, in the end, as a collective, they were powerless to stem the tide.

The Brisbane Lions will be no pushover. They have a good spread of talent across the ground including a strong midfield that overcame Max Gawn’s ruck dominance to give them a narrow victory at Metricon Stadium last year. But the Demons have moved forward at a rapid rate since then. They have their fair share of stars but the end result of their metamorphosis is that they have become a team primed and capable of victory every time it takes to the ground in the hard grind of the new finals season.

Melbourne to win by 27 points.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval, Saturday 28 August, 2021 at 7.30pm

HEAD TO HEAD *

Overall Melbourne 26 wins Brisbane Lions 22 wins

At Adelaide Oval Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins

Last Five Meetings Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins

The Coaches Goodwin 3 wins Fagan 2 wins

* does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games

MEDIA

TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides.

Radio - check your local guides.

LAST TIME THEY MET

Melbourne 14.13.97 defeated Brisbane Lions 11.9.75, at Giants Stadium Round 12, 2021

After an even start, the Lions took control of proceedings to hold a 20 point lead at the main break. After half time, the Demons turned things around to take the lead going into the final term and then raced away to win by 22 points. Their best players on the night were Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE

B: Trent Rivers 24 S. May 1 H. Petty 35 
HB: J. Bowey 17 J. Lever 8 C. Salem 3
C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15
HF: C. Spargo 9 T. McDonald 25 J. Viney 7 
F: A. Neal-Bullen 30 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31
Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36
I/C: J. Harmes 4 L. Jackson 6 J. Smith 44 T. Sparrow 32
Sub: J. Jordon 23 Emerg: M. Hibberd 14 N. Jones 2 J. Melksham 18

NO CHANGE

BRISBANE LIONS 

B: D. Gardiner 27 H. Andrews 31 B. Starcevich 37
HB: G. Birchall 14 M. Adams 24 D. Rich 10
C: H. McCluggage 6 Z. Bailey 33 J. Berry 7
HF: L. McCarthy 11 D. McStay 25 D. Zorko 15 
F: N. Cockatoo 12 J. Daniher 3 C. Cameron 23
Foll: O. McInerney 46 J. Lyons 17 L. Neale 9
I/C: K. Coleman 18 T. Fullarton 21 J. Prior 20 M. Robinson 5
Sub: R. Mathieson 36 Emerg: C. Ballenden  38 T. Berry 13 R. Mathieson 36 J. Payne 40

IN: H. Andrews M. Robinson

OUT:  C. Ah Chee (injured) R. Lester (injured)

Injury List: First Qualifying Final

Jayden Hunt (ankle) — 1 to 2 Weeks
Marty Hore (knee) — Season
Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season

PreviewQF2021.png

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