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PASSING OF THE CROWN by George On The Outer


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On the day of Elizabeth II’s death, when her crown was passed on to the new King Charles III, the Melbourne Football Club quietly died in their Semi Final against Brisbane and passed on the Premiership Crown. Just like the Queen in her twilight years, things for Melbourne have not been quite right lately (certainly since mid year) and the cracks were there for all to see in the finals series. The cracks in a dysfunctional forward line were papered over and bandaged but the fundamental lack of a second tall forward that has been exploited in preceding games, and once again in this critical match. Melbourne certainly must have bought shares in knee bandages prior to the game, with Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Trent Rivers, Kysaiah Pickett and Ben Brown all sporting them, and while we know many players carry injuries at this time of the year, even a broken leg wasn’t sufficient to slow down Petracca. But broken was certainly the case for the forward line.  Once again the “resting ruck” model failed, as it has one a number of occasions before. Gawn and Luke Jackson failed to bother the goal umpire in any way, and when Harrison Petty was moved down forward in the dying moments, it was a dramatic expose of why a second tall was needed there. In the last few minutes while he was there, he marked, scored and set up a second major and could even have set up an unlikely comeback victory. It is all well and good when Pickett, Bayley Fritsch and Alex Neal-Bullen score from ground level balls, but the opposition defenders in Andrews, Rich, Coleman, Gardner and Payne took a total of 36 marks between them. Not spoils - marks!.  Our forwards and those when playing forward could only manage 21, and of course most of these were further up the ground.  To put it even more starkly the only major from a tall came from Petty in those last three minutes. Not surprising when apart Brisbane had three talls playing in the backline, all taller than the rest of the Demon forwards.   The problem with a lack of scoring from the forwards was made even worse with their lack of pressure.  Rich had 30 disposals, Coleman 18.  Yet Melbourne players were gifted positions under the guise of “defensive forwards”.  Not much defense happening there and again a repeat of the same experiment having failed in the past. The first and foremost role of a forward is to kick goals! In an often mis-attributed quote from Einstein “ the definition of stupidity is repeating the same experiment and expecting a different result”.  This was the stupidity that was being repeated at Melbourne since mid-year, while alternatives were available yet not explored, until the dying minutes of our season. Now there is no single reason why a game is won or lost, and that was the case in this game as well.  The mids and the rucks were soundly beaten, and in the case of the rucks by a second rate opposition.  Darcy Fort only got a run following McInerney’s concussion, with Fullarton as a backup. Max and Luke were outpointed comprehensively, or at least nullified with Max only contributing 4 marks for the game and Jackson a solitary grab.  Two marks in two weeks for Jackson not a ruckman makes.  Worse, that ability to mark down the line is a fundamental component of the Melbourne game plan and with close to zero output from these two and the absence of a Tom McDonald, means the tactic became meaningless. Yet we kept doing it expecting a different result. Another not so obvious reason is the underlying injuries that players came into the game with. The obvious knee strapping was visible, yet players like Salem, Lever, Rivers and Gawn played well below their capabilities. Not surprising that all of these players had taken time out during the season, but never seemed the same on return.  In one of the small positives, Petty almost held the backline together, before showing what the forwards should have been doing.  Singlehandedly he saved two certain goals with last second lunges yet his efforts and inputs were not replicated by others in the side.  Well this season is now over for the Demons and it was almost ironic that the strains of the French national anthem on which Brisbane’s song is based, rang through the stadium.  The Marseillais symbolizes the removal of the Crown in France to be replaced later by an Emperor.  The question now is whether Melbourne can rise from the ashes of this season to restore itself as the premier side once more? MELBOURNE 3.6.24 6.8.44 8.11.59 11.13.79 BRISBANE LIONS 1.3.9 3.4.23 9.5.59 14.8.92 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch Neal-Bullen Langdon Pickett 2 Brayshaw Melksham Petty BRISBANE LIONS  Hipwood 4 Cameron 3 McStay 2 Ah Che Bailey Fort McCluggage BEST MELBOURNE Harmes Petracca Petty Langdon Oliver Neal-Bullen BRISBANE LIONS Hipwood Neale McCluggage Rich Berry Coleman Zorko Cameron INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS  Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil SUBSTITUTES MELBOURNE Joel Smith (unused) BRISBANE LIONS Rhys Mathieson (unused) UMPIRES Hayden Gavine Brendan Hosking Simon Meredith CROWD 62,162 at The MCG

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