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DARK NIGHT by George On The Outer


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A pleasant, balmy Brisbane evening with perfect conditions for football turned into a bleak, dark night in more ways than one for the Demons on Friday night at the Gabba.

Coming up against a Lions outfit which had been truly cut to shreds by Port Adelaide the previous week, with the Demons having accounted for the Dogs emphatically, it was reasonable for the droves of Melbourne supporters to expect to witness more pain being inflicted as payback for their loss to the same team in the previous years finals.

Sadly the only pain happened within minutes of the first bounce when Jack Viney crashed into Max Gawn’s leg, damaging his knee. A collective hush passed through the Demons supporters as vision came to the screen of Max sitting on the dressing room floor with ice packed over the knee and him looking despondent.  

The despondency was to last for 24 hours as Demonland erupted into a mass of conjecture about what damage had been done, for how long and who was needed to replace the giant of the Club.  MFCSS had truly arisen again, and it wasn’t until late Saturday that the news came back ... the damage was to a medial ligament, not the feared ACL and the prognosis was 4-6.

However, Melbourne supporters, especially those with a good dose of MFCSS, know all too well that 4-6 is not necessarily 4-6 weeks away, but we will keep the collective fingers and everything else crossed that 6 weeks is the worst outcome.

Back to the game …

Well it may as well have finished at that point, as the Melbourne players seemed utterly deflated, lethargic and couldn’t pick the ball up cleanly or mark the ball when required.  Yes, there was an element of humidity which caused the ball to be slippery, but to counter Brisbane’s Will Ashcroft in only his 2nd game amassed 31 possessions, and he didn’t seem to have any trouble picking up the ball.

The fumbles spread throughout the side over the next 3 quarters, but by the end of the first break Brisbane had opened up a four goal lead.  

The Demons mids were comprehensively outpointed, not just at centre square but around the ground as well with Brisbane essentially doubling all the clearance statistics that Melbourne could produce.  Centre clearances 20 to 10.  Stoppage 40 to 22.  Overall 60 to 32.  Simply unheard of numbers for a Demons outfit which claims to be one of the best in the business!

Thank goodness for the Melbourne defenders, particularly Jake Lever who led the way in the absence of Stephen May.  Thirteen intercept possessions and backed up by Bowey and Rivers with half a dozen each, they kept repulsing the free flow of Lions attacking moves coming out of mid-field.  It wasn’t until later that Angus Brayshaw joined the fray with 12 intercepts, but he often let down his good work with his disposals, coming at only 60 odd percent efficiency.

Still they held back the dam wall as best they could, but by ¾ time the Lions had opened up a 6 goal lead and looked like continuing the demolition of the Demons into the final stanza.  

Things were looking truly dark for Melbourne. It had lost the captain, was losing the match and a right royal drubbing was coming up.

With twelve minutes left in the quarter things got even darker but this time it wasn’t just for the Demons.  A huge bang was heard around the ground and half the lights went out.  And the power to various sections, which wasn’t a bad thing as it stopped the ridiculous blaring music that Queenslanders seem to enjoy being played at anything more than a five second break in play.  

The ground operators even tried to intervene with this cacophany at boundary thow-ins instead of allowing football followers to watch what they had come to see - the football.

Well seeing the football was now out of the question as half the ground was plunged into darkness. Unfortunately, the music came back and we were treated to a singalong session of the worst of Neil Diamond and John Denver.  

Surely things couldn’t get worse for the Demons? 

Fortunately not, as the Gabba electrician finally found the fuse box or the management paid the electricity bill and on came the lights again after 40 minutes.  In true Queensland fashion half the crowd had gone home by now, perhaps thinking it not worthwhile waiting for more than their allotted five second attention span.

What they missed was a monumental comeback for the Demons who piled on five goals in the remaining 12 minutes of play, and among the remaining crowd murmurs were audible of a possible dramatic loss as Ben Brown, Bayley Fritsch and others just kept finding the big sticks.

An appalling failure to pay a front on free to Angus Brayshaw with perhaps two minutes to go may have cost the Demons that chance, but they got to within 11 points when the final siren went.

Good thing it did sound as there was some concern that without power it may not signal the end of the game when the button was pressed.
Well, Brisbane walked away with a win.

Melbourne were horrible until the lights came back on, and utterly deserved to miss out on the four points.  Still they took away some belief for themselves in that things are never quite as bad as it may seem, and they can come back from truly dark situations.

Now they have a chance to prove that, as the captain and main ruck will be absent for the coming games.  Some of the performances on the night will see others also missing in the near future. Their statistics are simply too damning to justify their spot in the side.

Dark days mean the light is coming.  We just have to see who is going to hold up that light.

MELBOURNE 2.1.13 5.2.32 7.3.45 13.4.82

BRISBANE 6.2.38 8.4.52 13.5.77 14.9.93

GOALS

MELBOURNE Brown 4 Fritsch 3  Chandler Hunter McDonald Neal-Bullen Oliver Petracca

BRISBANE Daniher 4 Bailey Cameron Zorko 2 Ashcroft Berry McCarthy McInerney

BEST

MELBOURNE Oliver Lever Brayshaw Fritsch Brown Hunter

BRISBANE Zorko Ashcroft Neale Andrews Dunkley Daniher McKenna

INJURIES

MELBOURNE Max Gawn (knee)

BRISBANE Jarrod Berry (shoulder)

LATE CHANGES

MELBOURNE Steven May replaced in selected side by Adam Tomlinson

BRISBANE Nil

SUBSTITUTIONS

MELBOURNE Jake Melksham replaced Max Gawn in the first quarter

BRISBANE Deven Robertson replaced Dayne Zorko in the fourth quarter

REPORTS

MELBOURNE Nil

BRISBANE Nil

UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Andrew Stephens Andrew Heffernan Jacob Mollison

OFFICIAL CROWD 30,047 at The Gabba

ReportRd022023.png

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