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DEPLETED NOT DEFEATED by George on the Outer



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With Covid 19 ravaging the club, forcing the absence of five players from last week and some more premiership players still sidelined or returning after isolating, it was certainly a depleted Melbourne side that turned up to front Hawthorn in their Round 7 match up at the MCG.

Normally, when a team loses ¼ of its soldiers, you would expect a less than favourable result but after the Hawks opened up a 2 goal lead in the opening minutes (and indeed, it could have been more) the Demon machine started began to grind into action. By quarter time the margin was back to a mere two points and at the major break Melbourne had gained the ascendancy by nine points.  

We all know what happens to teams playing against the Demons in the 3rd quarter, and this game was exactly the same. Four unanswered goals in only a few minutes, and the game was all over for the Hawks.  

What wasn’t expected was that Melbourne would put the cue in the rack and fail to score a single major from half way through the 3rd until the final bell. While a win is a win, adopting this style of shutting up shop, even when five goals up will come under challenge as Sydney proved to Hawthorn the week before.

Perhaps it was the influx of second tier players, players coming back from Covid exposure, or a directive from the bench.  

Whatever it was, it wasn’t pretty, and too often it was only the last line defensive efforts of Steven May and Jayden Hunt which saved scoreboard embarrassment.

The result showed a 10 point win to the Demons and this game will  very quickly be consigned to the forgotten basket.

Max Gawn showed why he is the best ruckman in the competition with 29 possessions including an incredible 14 contested. Then to top it off he manages two “Max classic” goals from the 50m arc to put the icing on the cake.  

Sure, Hawthorn were playing their 3rd best ruck in Lynch, and he acquitted himself admirably, but our Max just didn’t spend his usual amount of time in the rucking role.  A lot of that was left to Sam Weideman - perhaps an inordinate amount of time. But once again the coaching staff were probably trying out options, and regardless, Gawn got a lot of rest during the game, something he needs in such a long season and considering the belting he takes each week.

As this winning streak which now stretches to 14 games, we continue to underestimate the output of the Petracca and Oliver combination. Just a mere 64 touches between the two of them, and Christian Petracca logged an incredible 637 metres gained, of course most of which is driving the ball deep into the forward line.  

Down back Stephen May was even more productive with 687 metres gained from his deep kicking out of defence.

Supporters in the outer continue to ask why he keeps kicking it to the same spot, but the reality is that same spot is two kicks away from the opposition goals, and more often than not starts the next Melbourne thrust forward.  

While the addition of Jake Lever and Joel Smith were made to the backline this week, the team felt the absence of Harry Petty. The structure that has been so dependable, conceded 81 points, well above their usual miserly performance.  

With Michael Hibberd and Christian Salem approaching the range for a return in the coming weeks, and Petty surely for next week, it can be hoped for normal operations to resume soon.  Once again Jayden Hunt excelled himself in his new role down back, and on multiple occasions just willed himself to deny the Hawks.  If the side is heading for another GF appearance, he is making sure that he is well and truly in the mix.

Up forward Big Bad Ben Brown did his job superbly with four goals, and Tom McDonald chimed in with a couple of his own, including one of “was it a mark or a goal” possibly which denied to James Harmes? Whichever way it was 6 points, but the importance of TMac is not the number of majors, but the strength and leading capabilities both in front of goal and up the ground.  

Was Weideman’s performance adequate?  Hard to tell since his time in front of goal was minimal, but it was hardly authoritative enough to guarantee a long term role. And the absence of Kozzie Pickett and Alex Neal-Bullen was sorely missed as the ball rebounded too easily from the forward 50m. So Jake Melksham should find himself spending further time at Casey, even though his 200 game milestone is so close. 

Next week it’s the Saints who, like Melbourne last week, fell in love with the behinds area of the goal front kicking 15 of them after ¼ time. In 100 minutes of football they managed only 4 majors in the trying conditions of Cairns. Demon fans  know all too well how well the players feel following a game in the tropics, so it should be the Saints who are the depleted side next week (Covid19 permitting)

MELBOURNE 3.3.21 7.5.47 13.9.87 13.13.91

HAWTHORN 3.5.23 5.8.38 8.11.59 11.15.81  

GOALS  

MELBOURNE Brown 4 McDonald Bedford Gawn 2 Fritsch Petracca Weideman   

HAWTHORN Koschitzke 4 Breust McDonald Mitchell Moore O’Meara Wingard Worpel  

BEST   

MELBOURNE Gawn Oliver Petracca Brayshaw Brown Viney Bowey May

HAWTHORN Sicily Moore O'Meara Koschitzke Worpel Maginness

INJURIES  

MELBOURNE J. Smith (ankle)

HAWTHORN C. Nash (quadriceps)

REPORTS  

MELBOURNE Nil  

HAWTHORN Nil

SUBSTITUTES  

MELBOURNE K. Chandler (replaced J. Smith at three-quarter time)

HAWTHORN D. Howe (replaced C. Nash in fourth quarter)  

UMPIRES Jamie Broadbent Simon Meredith Andrew Heffernan   

CROWD 39,425 at The MCG 

3853C669-DACF-40F6-9691-604FF6C8EF20.png

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