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BLUES FREE FOOTY by George on the Outer

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Long time supporters would be all too familiar with the call “free kick, Hawthorn”, as umpires seemed to gift certain teams an inordinate amount of free kicks in the game. Similarly, in the Melbourne v Carlton game a 22 to 13 free kick count, was grossly out of place given the dominance of Melbourne in just about every other statistic for the game.  

However, for the Blues with only 4½ wins from their 12 games, their season is rapidly heading the same way as Hawthorn, despite all the help they receive from umpires and tribunals. But enough of umpires who seem to be having an even worse season, despite there being four of them officiating now (Memo to Gill or Dill: The AFL is a billion dollar enterprise with the available umpiring talent spread too thinly, given their semi-amateur status - surely something can be done?).

The win by Melbourne could only be described as “uninspiring”.  For the second week in a row, the kicking for goal from set shots was simply appalling, and were it not from some boundary line efforts from Max and Jacob van Rooyen, the picture would have been even worse with the Demons putting through 13 minor scores.  

Once again, the game should have been put away as early as the first quarter, but the door was left open to Carlton, and of course they took the advantage to keep themselves in the game.  The two goal lead at the first break only managed to increase to 3 or thereabouts for the rest of the match, with the final margin an uninspiring 17 points.

With the lack of acceptable output up forward, the task was left to the defenders who only allowed Carlton 39 forward entries during the game. This contrasted with the 59 for the Demons, but that only showed up the poor return for all that effort upfield.

Steven May dominated Charlie Curnow, holding the Coleman medal leader to a single goal.  Adam Tomlinson was given the job on Harry McKay, who finished with three majors but this meant both May and Jake Lever were able to play their natural games with the latter taking 12 intercepts. The return of the three tall structure then saw flow on effects to others, with Jake Bowey amassing 8 intercepts, while Christian Salem and Trent Rivers picked up 20 and 24 touches respectively. The defence was back to its humming self, even despite the absence of Hibberd and Petty.

The other absence in the game was Clayton Oliver, and his presence probably would have seen a more inspiring scoreline and game to watch. He was covered successfully by Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and others.  Petracca with 32 touches including 17 contested possessions was the real standout in the middle while Viney’s grunt at critical times of the game was sorely needed.  The return of Lachie Hunter to the wing filled the gap that enable delivery upfield, so sadly missed last week.  

While Bayley Fritsch couldn’t find his set shot kicking boots again, at least van Rooyen took another step forward in his development with his aerial power and bullocking to create those one on one chances. And in only his second season, don’t forget he was matched against Weitering, who is one of the best backs in the business today.
Max and Brodie Grundy won the ruck battle together against De Koning, but they were aided by the loss of Silvagni in the second half, which corresponded to their increased marking around the ground.  They are still a work in progress and once again were aided by the lack of entries into the 50m area for Carlton, which has been an achilles heel for the Demons in goals from stoppages.

The four points was banked by the Demons, who now face the perennial enemy in Collingwood on Kings Birthday. There is no doubt a vocal, rabid and one-eyed crowd of Pies supporters will seek to influence the outcome of umpiring decisions, but like this game against the Blues, it is something which the Demons have shown they can overcome. They will need to do so, because the crowd size will be nearly double what it was this week.

And the best way to silence them is to kick straight when the opportunity presents itself.  

MELBOURNE 3.3.21 5.6.36 7.11.53 8.13.61

CARLTON 1.2.8 2.5.17 5.6.36 6.8.44


MELBOURNE Fritsch 2 Gawn Neal-Bullen Petracca Pickett Spargo van Rooyen

CARLTON McKay 3 Acres Curnow Fisher


MELBOURNE Petracca Viney Langdon Lever van Rooyen Rivers

CARLTON Cripps Cerra Docherty McKay Weitering Kemp


MELBOURNE Jake Bowey (concussion)

CARLTON Jack Silvagni (hip)





MELBOURNE James Harmes (replaced Jake Bowey in the third quarter)

CARLTON Paddy Dow (replaced Jack Silvagni at half-time)

UMPIRES Chris Donlon Robert O'Gorman Andrew Stephens Robert Findlay

CROWD 49,872 at the MCG


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