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WHERE’S WALYALUP? by Whispering Jack


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Just a few weeks ago when nobody had ever heard or knew about Walyalup, the outcome of Saturday’s clash at the MCG with Narrm would have been considered a foregone conclusion in favour of the Demons. The Purple Haze were wallowing in the depths. They had even lost their Round 2 matchup against North Melbourne at Optus Stadium — that’s how badly they were traveling!

 

Meanwhile, the Demons were monstering weak opponents like the aforementioned North Melbourne to the tune of 15 goals. They were up there along with Collingwood and Brisbane in the race for flag favouritism but, after a rain-soaked night and a narrow defeat in Adelaide and a hamstring strain to one Clayton Oliver, the sky appears to be caving in. The arrival from across the Nullarbor of a Walyalup combination fresh from victories over both of last season’s grand finalists, has some Demon fans quaking in their boots with fear.

 

The fact is that neither the Cats nor the Swans of the last fortnight are the Geelong or Sydney of September, 2022. The Dockers aren’t exactly Fremantle either because they changed their name to Walyalup Football Club for the duration of Sir Doug Nicholls Round. ‘Walyalup’ is Noongar country in and around the Fremantle region. 

 

The change of name certainly brought about a change of luck because they’ve come up against opponents stricken with injuries just as they themselves are striking form and benefiting from some crucial returnees, notably former skipper Nat Fyfe who missed the early part of the season.

 

While the Dockers are gaining momentum, the  elephant in the room for the Demons is the absence of Clayton Oliver for what seems to be at least a fortnight due to hamstring issues and Lachie Hunter for a week due to suspension. The two were close to the team’s best last week. When the Oliver/Hunter door to that room closes, another one necessarily opens for Simon Goodwin. It could invite disaster but it also could well be for the ultimate good of the club. 

 

Despite its elite standard rucks and midfielders, Melbourne/Narrm has been exposed of late in terms of winning clearances and contested ball. It wasn’t just Port Adelaide/ Yartapuulti’s Butters and Rozee last week, it was evident for more than a few brief moments against the Hawks and for much of the game against the Suns as well as in the two defeats earlier in the season. There’s no respite this week with Walyalup boasting ruck pair Darcy and Jackson to go with talented young mids Serong and Brayshaw backed up by dual Brownlow Medallist Fyfe. Demons need not go into panic however, Oliver was there when they last met but it was Viney, Petracca and the elder Brayshaw who did the damage in the engine room.

 

The club’s two way running and tackling from the small forwards which was so effective in the premiership season has also been effectively reduced if not worked out altogether. Goodwin and the brains trust have been tinkering with the system and I don’t think it needs an overhaul, but the forced changes in personnel mean that these issues have to be met head on this week.

 

So watch closely the changes that will be made to the lineup. The expected and logical will happen — Tom Sparrow back from suspension, James Harmes in and James Jordon from sub duties and possibly even more midfield moments from Trent Rivers and Kozzie Pickett but the Demons need a little more in the mix to meet the challenge of not only this week, but also the month to come.

 

The 2022 story of the clashes between these teams was interesting with one win each away from their home turf. Narrm have been unmovable at home this year while Walyalup’s only win away from Noongar country, apart from an unconvincing effort on neutral territory against the Suns in the Gather Round, was over the hugely injury-depleted Swans at the SCG a fortnight ago. 

 

The Demons are goals better at home and, while I don’t condone or encourage gambling, just take a look at the odds framed by the bookies - and they know their stuff! Besides, it’s about time that the Demons proved themselves in what surely is a cutthroat game. I’m tipping them to do that and win by 25 points.

 

THE GAME

 

Narrm v Walyalup on Saturday 27 May 2023 at the MCG at 2.10pm.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

 

Overall Narrm 18 wins Walyalup 24 wins 

 

At the MCG Narrm 9 wins Walyalup 8 wins 

 

Last five meetings Narrm 3 wins Walyalup 2 wins

 

The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Longmuir 2 wins

 

LAST TIME THEY MET

 

Narrm 12.13.85 defeated Walyalup 5.9.39 at Optus Stadium, Round 20, 2022

 

It was a vital game for both sides in terms of protecting their final four aspirations and the Demons were on top of the Dockers from the outset as they overturned their loss at the MCG from earlier in the season. Jack Viney, Christian Petracca and Angus Bradshaw were the team’s shock troops that dominated in the midfield in an emphatic 46 point victory that stunned the West.

 

TEAMS 

 

NARRM

 

B M. Hibberd J. Lever J. McVee

HB C. Salem S. May A. Brayshaw

C E. Langdon J. Viney T. Sparrow 

HF B. Fritsch T. McDonald K. Pickett

F K. Chandler B. Grundy C. Spargo

FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca A. Neal-Bullen

I/C J. Bowey J. Harmes T. Rivers J. van Rooyen SUB J. Jordon EMG B. Laurie J. Smith T. Woewodin 

 

IN J. Harmes T. Sparrow 

 

OUT L. Hunter (suspended) C. Oliver (hamstring)

 

WALYALUP

 

B B. Cox A. Pearce H. Young
HB B. Walker L. Ryan J. Aish
C J. Clark J. O'Meara N. O'Driscoll
HF S. Switkowski N. Fyfe M. Frederick
F M. Johnson J. Amiss L. Schultz
FOLL S. Darcy A. Brayshaw L. Jackson
I/C B. Banfield E. Hughes C. Serong J. Treacy SUB S. Sturt 
EMG W. Brodie N. Erasmus K. Worner

 

IN S. Sturt

 

OUT M. Walters (calf)

 

Injury and Suspension List: Round 11 

 

Jake Bowey - Calf | Test

Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | TBC

Lachie Hunter - Suspension | One Week

Luke Dunstan - Knee | 1 - 2 Weeks

Kye Turner - Groin | 3 - 4 Weeks

Will Verrall - Pelvis | 3 - 4 Weeks

Harry Petty - Foot | 3 - 5 Weeks

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