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THE BUBBLE by The Oracle


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"I feel like we've got more than enough experience in close games. It'd be nice to win one by five or six goals and have that pulse lower a little bit late in games, but that's not our story."Scott Pendlebury on the eve of his team’s forthcoming Round 21 game against Melbourne.

When you read words such as these, you know it’s time for Melbourne fans to be humble. The old enemy is up and about while our mantle of invincibility has vanished into thin air. A Magpie win against the Demons would not only see them better our 10 game winning run from earlier in the season, it will also allow them to replace us in the top two on the AFL ladder.

Our bubble was always going to burst at some stage but when it did, we came down with a thud. Melbourne’s 17 game winning streak that began in Round 20, 2021, saw the club through to a premiership and ran well into this season before ending in Round 11 with the Freo debacle. That was the start of a horror month as the Demons limped through three defeats ending with that humiliating loss at the hands of the Magpies on Queens Birthday.

It took several weeks, but the first of that trio of losses was wiped out by Melbourne’s win last Friday night against the Dockers with its 14 goal turnaround from the last time they met. A week later, the opportunity is there to do likewise against the Pies who have been bullying teams from mostly the bottom half of the ladder for weeks on end. Even though they face a challenging run home with clashes against the Demons, Swans and Blues, they have developed their strength and focus with each victory. Their record this season against other top-eight teams is 4-2 so this will not be easy, even for the resurgent Demons.

And speaking of streaks, Collingwood has its own mini streak against Melbourne in the form of two wins on the trot which is quite an achievement against a reigning premier. The circumstances in which those wins were achieved however, were different to what promises to be the case in this encounter.

Despite the fact that the Entrecôte hi jinks and Steven May suspension were front and centre in their minds, the Demons were in control early but things went off the rails late in the second term with key defenders in Petty and Turner off the field and Max Gawn and James Harmes in discomfort, causing havoc in terms of limited interchange rotations. The Pies took full advantage of the situation and swept away to kick six goals straight in the final term and record a 26-point victory. Full credit to them … but how likely is a recurrence of that scenario?

With the memory of that defeat still fresh in the minds of the battle hardened Demons, I expect them to relish the role of the hunter rather than the hunted. It’s the Magpies who are going into this game with players under injury clouds — the loss of vice-captain Taylor Adams with an adductor injury is a huge blow. On the other hand, Melbourne’s defence will be much better able to contain Collingwood with May, Lever and Petty ready for duty and with Gawn and Jackson coming back to full fitness, the rucks will be a more formidable proposition for Cameron and Cox than they were last time when Jackson was visibly gasping for air after not being able to find time and space in rotation.

During the week, coach Simon Goodwin emphasised that “… internally, we know we’re tracking in the right direction.” Since the bye, the coaches have been able to make subtle adjustments to enable the Demons’ game stand up in the end. The most noticeable aspect of last week’s win was the return of the high pressure game all over the ground that allows them to strangle the opposition into submission.

That is precisely what will happen on Friday night when they finally burst the Collingwood bubble.

Melbourne by 33 points.

THE GAME

Melbourne v Collingwood at the MCG Friday 6 August, 2022 at 7.50pm

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HEAD TO HEAD

Overall Melbourne 84 wins Collingwood 152 wins 5 drawn At the Melbourne 63 wins MCG Collingwood 84 wins 3 drawn Last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Collingwood 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins McCrae 1 win

MEDIA

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LAST TIME THEY MET

Collingwood 12.10.82 defeated Melbourne 8.8.56 at the MCG in Round 13 2022

The Demons built a solid 22 point lead at the 20 minute mark of the second term. It could have been more but the usually reliable Christian Petracca fluffed an easy chance to take the ball in front of goal. Then the injuries came in quick succession. Harrison Petty went off for 20 minutes undergoing a concussion protocol, first gamer Daniel Turner who was holding Brody Mihocek went off concussion (substituted by a small mid), Max Gawn went off for a long period with leg and back injuries and the Pies took over.

Mihocek kicked two goals before the break to bring them within range (he finished with four), Mason Cox was able to utilize his height in the absence of any marking talls and Darcy Cameron took over in the ruck. The Demons still led at three quarter time but were unable to stem the tide. Kudos to Clayton Oliver with his brilliant 43 possible game in a losing side.

THE TEAMS

MELBOURNE
 
B: T. Rivers 24 H.Petty 35 S.May 1 
HB: J. Jordon 23 J.Lever 8 M.Hibberd 14
C: A.Brayshaw 10 C.Oliver 13 J.Hunt 29
HF: K.Pickett 36 B.Fritsch 31 E.Langdon 15
F: A.Neal-Bullen 30 B.Brown 50 C.Spargo 9
Foll: M.Gawn 11 J.Viney 7 C.Petracca 5
I/C: L.Jackson 6 J. Melksham 18 C.Salem 3 T.Sparrow 32
Sub: J.Harmes 4 Emerg: K.Chandler 37 A. Tomlinson 20 J.Van Rooyen 21
 
In: B.Brown
 
Out: S.Weideman (omitted)

COLLINGWOOD
 
B: N.Murphy 28 D.Moore 30 J.Howe 38
HB: S.Pendlebury 10 B.Maynard 37 I.Quaynor 3
C: J.Daicos 7 J.Crisp 25 J.Noble 9
HF: J.Elliott 5 D.Cameron 14 S.Sidebottom 22
F: Beau McCreery 31 B.Mihocek 41 J.De Goey 2
Foll: M.Cox 46 N.Daicos 35 P.Lipinski 1
I/C: J.Carmichael 45 J.Ginnivan 33 W.Hoskin-Elliott 32 A.Johnson 40
Sub: Trent Bianco 8 Emerg: C.Brown 17 O.Henry 16 W.Kelly 20

In: J.Mihocek
 
Out: T.Adams (groin)

Injury List: Round 21

Deakyn Smith - Jaw | Available
James Harmes - Concussion | Test
Ben Brown - Knee | Test
Fraser Rosman - Hamstring | 3-4 Weeks
Tom McDonald - Foot | 4-6 Weeks

PreviewRd212022.png

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