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DEES UNLEASHED by George On The Outer


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On a balmy Saturday night in March, the Demons of 2023 were unleashed and, in a show of strength, they sent the Bulldogs packing to their kennel to lick their wounds after their resounding 50-point opening round victory.
 
Things looked ominous early for the Demons with Bayley Fritsch, Steven May, Jack Viney and Christian Salem from their best 23 unavailable, compounded by the threat of facing up to a four man tall forward line of Darcy, Lobb, Ugle-Hagan and Naughton.  
 
However, in the end the Bulldog threats came to nothing — it was all bark and no bite with some simply appalling coaching moves removing any advantage they may have had.  
 
One had to feel for Tim English, who rucked essentially the whole match on his own against two AA quality players in Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy.  He certainly was dominant before half time and over the match took six marks and 22 hit-outs.  But he was never really rested against the double onslaught and it was not surprising they simply ground him into the turf.  With other rucking options in Lobb, Darcy and Bruce it was astounding they were not used except for short cameo roles.
 
When English waned, the ball just stopped coming out of the middle and around the packs, as the Melbourne mids led by Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver started to take advantage of the service from the double G’s.  Instead of the Melbourne defenders trying to cover the multiple forays into their zone, the ball just stopped coming in.  
When the Sherrin stopped heading one way, it turned up multiple times in the Melbourne forward line. Taking full advantage of the offerings Kysaiah Pickett cut the particularly ineffective Bulldogs defence to pieces to amass four goals. And Ben Brown found the space he hadn’t experienced for years and picked up four of his own, while other Melbourne forwards also found a dysfunctional Bulldog defensive system easy to overcome.
How many of the Melbourne goals came from players sitting on their own or out the back? Again something not seen for years since most sides employ zone defence to cover those types of options, but amazingly not the Bulldogs.  Make no mistake, this goal avalanche wasn’t due to a change in Demon tactics of moving the ball into the forward line. To the fans it looked great as time and time again targets were hit with ease. But it was the complete collapse of the Bulldogs defence that left Tom McDonald, Brown, Kade Chandler and Pickett standing on their own inside the 50m line, dead in front. 
How could a coach allow this to happen?  The same coach who left English to flounder on his own against overwhelming odds. The same coach who sent Mitch Hannan to Judd McVee instead of one of his experienced talls to create a mis-match. 
The Demon defenders put up a magnificent effort to deny the first half attacks of the Dogs. Jake Lever with nine marks and 13 intercepts was a central figure, while Harry Petty with six marks and seven intercepts backed him up again and again.  The Bulldogs sole effective target in Naughton threatened constantly with his marking capability, but let the Demons off the hook with wayward kicking.  Not a single Bulldogs forward bothered the goal umpire more than once and it was telling for them that majority of their score came from their mids and wingers. 
 
The question remains whether the Demons are that good, or were the Dogs that bad?  
Melbourne certainly looked far, far fitter than their opposition, and the prospect of the Double G’s doing similar damage in coming weeks is daunting for other coaches. More so when one considers the Demons will be bringing back a couple of their better premiership players in the coming weeks, making them even stronger.
With a a day break to the trip to Brisbane who themselves were pulverised by Port in this round, we should get an even better picture of the strength and fitness of the side. After all the Lions made it to Preliminary finals last year, after disposing of the Demons.  
 
A bit of payback to come?  
The fans should be hoping to see more of the Dees that they know come out again after the glimpse seen against the Bulldogs.   MELBOURNE 3.3.21 9.4.58 13.8.86 17.13.115 WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.4.16 5.9.39 8.10.58 9.11.65 GOALS MELBOURNE Brown Pickett 4 Gawn Spargo 2 Chandler Grundy Melksham Neal-Bullen Sparrow WESTERN BULLDOGS Baker Bontempelli Johannisen Liberatore Macrae Naughton Treloar Ugle-Hagan Williams BEST MELBOURNE Pickett Brown Gawn Petracca Rivers Lever WESTERN BULLDOGS Liberatore Richards Bontempelli Treloar Macrae INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS L Jones (neck) SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jake Melksham (replaced Bailey Laurie at three-quarter time) WESTERN BULLDOGS Toby McLean (replaced Liam Jones at half-time) REPORTS MELBOURNE K Pickett for rough conduct on Bailey Smith WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Andrew Stephens Andrew Heffernan Jacob Mollison OFFICIAL CROWD 48,103 at The MCG
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