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THE MOMENT OF TRUTH by Whispering Jack


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The last time I quoted former Kangaroos champion and Foxtel commentator David King in a match preview, the Demons played one of their best games to date of 2023 and beat Collingwood at the MCG on Kings Birthday.
 
This has led me to return to the guru of all things football strategy, tactics and wisdom for another crack because I’m genuinely concerned that Melbourne is not achieving the things of which it is capable. 
 
Speaking on Fox Footy at the weekend, King delivered a significant reality check about the Demons’ forward line arguing that it’s “on life support” and their current mix up forward “is not winning a prelim final” this year. The current mix includes playing elite ruckmen in key forward posts.
 
And based on their recent struggles up forward, the moment of truth is coming quickly for the Melbourne Football Club which earlier in the season was averaging more than 100 points per game (to Round 9) and was leading all AFL clubs for scoring at around that time. However, the past five matches have seen its match totals plummet with scores of 76 (vs Port Adelaide), 72 (Fremantle), 61 (Carlton), 66 (Collingwood) and 63 (Geelong). The team is suddenly bleeding from turnovers, battling to convert scores from inside 50 and in the past four matches has been in the mid 30s goal accuracy percentage range. 
 
Of course, it wasn’t just the forward line that was responsible for capitulating against Geelong, Fremantle and Port Adelaide or the near victory from defeat snatch against Collingwood. It was however, the lapses in the forward line where insufficient pressure was asserted on the Cats’ defence in the forward half that turned momentum in the space of three minutes that destroyed three quarters of hard work in their most recent encounter. That’s a red flag that brings the team to its moment of truth.
 
I’m not sure whether the match committee is on top of this because we’re seeing minor patch up jobs with the forward line on a weekly basis with the same flat line forward scoring outcomes, little signs of pressure exerted on opposing defences and low possession statistics for the small forwards. This was not happening earlier this season and King is right to state the situation is not sustainable — the club remains strong in defence and has an elite level midfield (albeit missing its goat in the hamstrung Clayton Oliver) but to maintain a reasonable prospect of getting to a preliminary final, let alone winning one, it requires the forwards to make more of a contribution to the team effort than eight goals and many more behinds over the course of a game. 
 
The GWS Giants are no slouches. They not long ago bested Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and in their last game thrashed Fremantle on their home turf. This means the trip to Traeger Park, Melbourne’s home away from home, will  present it with more than a few problems. Toby Greene is a likely handful for whoever is chosen to take him on, the Giants have excellent midfield talent in Kelly, Green and Coniglio and a very handy defence. Fortunately for the Demons, the Giants will have little support in the crowd and have to contend with the post bye hoodoo that’s ravaging AFL clubs this year. 
 
By way of a strange twist of fate the weather bureau is predicting heavy rain in the days leading up to the game. This should clear by game day and the Demons will be hoping that the ground drains well because they haven’t handled wet, greasy conditions well this year.
 
On their last visit to the Alice, the Demons overturned a last start defeat against Geelong with the help of a six goal masterclass from Kozzy Pickett and the performances of Christian Petracca and Jack Viney in the middle. They overcame a slow start and focused on maintaining momentum throughout the game. They need to repeat that on Sunday at TIO Traeger Park and the best way to achieving that is by improving their inside 50 efficiency and scoring accuracy. With the moment of truth facing them in the heart of the country, the time has come to prove that there’s plenty of life left in their 2023 campaign.
 
Melbourne by 15 points.
 
THE GAME
 
Melbourne v GWS Giants at TIO Traeger Park, Sunday 2 July, 2023 at 3:20pm
 
HEAD TO HEAD
 
Overall – Melbourne 9 wins GWS Giants 7 wins
At TIO Traeger Park – Melbourne 0 wins GWS Giants 0 wins
Past five meetings – Melbourne 3 wins GWS Giants 2 wins 
The Coaches – Goodwin 0 wins Kingsley 0 wins
 
THE LAST TIME THEY MET
 
Melbourne 19.6.120 defeated GWS Giants 7.11.53 at The MCG, Round 5 2022
 
This was one of Melbourne’s few big victories of the 2022 season, predicated on strong running, heavy defensive pressure and yes, sublime attacking football and superb accuracy when kicking for goal.
 
THE TEAMS 
 
MELBOURNE
 
B J. McVee S. May C. Salem
HB T. Sparrow J. Lever T. Rivers
C L. Hunter J. Viney E. Langdon
HF C. Petracca B. Fritsch J. Smith 
F A. Neal-Bullen B. Grundy K. Chandler
FOLL M. Gawn A. Brayshaw J. Harmes
I/C J. Bowey B. Brown H. Petty K. Pickett SUB J. Melksham EMG J. van Rooyen C. Spargo A. Tomlinson
 
IN J. Bowey B. Brown J. Harmes  J. Melksham 
 
OUT M. Hibberd (kidney) James Jordon (omitted) C. Spargo (omitted) J. van Rooyen
 
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS
 
B J. Buckley S. Taylor C. Idun
HF L. Ash H. Himmelberg N. Haynes
C J. Kelly C. Ward F. Callaghan
HF D. Lloyd J. Riccardi T. Bedford
F X. O'Halloran J. Hogan T. Greene
FOLL K. Briggs S. Coniglio T. Green 
I/C C. M. Brown I. Cumming L. Keefe H. Perryman SUB R. Angwin EMG A. Cadman J. Fahey M. Flynn
 
IN R. Angwin I. Cumming J. Hogan
 
OUT A. Cadman (omitted) J. Fahey (omitted) Whitfield (suspension)
 
Injury List: Round 16
 
Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 - 2 Weeks 
Michael Hibberd - Kidney | TBC
Tom McDonald - Foot | 4 - 6 Weeks
Kye Turner - Groin | TBC
PreviewRd162023.png
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