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HOME AND AWAY by Whispering Jack


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After the game, Simon Goodwin bemoaned the fact that his team’s performance against St Kilda was far from perfect but given it was an important contest between fourth and fifth, it matters little that the win against a team battered from pillar to post and minus key players was ugly. The win was the main objective as it is again this week against the Brisbane Lions.

The Demons desperately needed validation in the form of victory in their third straight game away from the MCG in a season where the advantage of playing on your home turf can not be underestimated. 

More than a month since their victory from left field over Collingwood, they return to take a 7 - 1 win/loss record at the home of football into their game against third placed Brisbane who seem to have a primeval fear of this neck of the woods — for the Lions it’s the ultimate hoodoo ground. Up north they’re called Brizvegas suggesting they’re bright and glitzy (except when their light towers crash) but the minute they hit the concourse at Yarra Park they turn into Brizghanistan, a mostly dark place where lights flicker only intermittently. And we know too well how poorly they play in those circumstances.

I’m discounting the outcome of last year’s semi final between the clubs as an aberration, the result of a banged up Melbourne side running out of puff and bereft of the fitness required to win a finals matchup. 

Still, while the Demons’ form has by no means been decisive and they need to improve considerably to beat Brisbane on Friday night. The Lions might have a blind spot when it comes to playing on the MCG but you need do more than just turn up to the ground if you want to win.

Since Round 10, Melbourne has undergone what’s known as a “midseason slump” but things definitely started to turn around last week with some subtle changes to the team mix caused by the necessity to take on new challenges after failing to grab winning opportunities in their previous two matches against Geelong and GWS. 

Despite the fact that Melbourne had less time in the forward half against St Kilda, it managed 50% more goals than in any of its past five games. It marked a desperately needed correction in the way the team converts its opportunities when transitioning into attack, in the first instance delivering much better efficiency in front of goal. This came in a number of forms, resulting from the inclusion of Ben Brown, Christian Petracca spending more time up forward, playing fewer small forwards and a changed midfield mix.

The Demons still have the ability to defend ball movement with precision and control from the backline through the middle, an important aspect both against the opposition and in taking field position into attack. But …

… still have to lift a few extra cogs if they want to seriously return to the race for the flag and they have all the incentive in the world to do so on Friday night against the Lions. They must surely recall the smarmy way their former captain Dayne Zorko and his entourage acted in their meetings late in the season, the humiliating fall out of the finals in straight sets on home territory and the touch up meted out in their Round 2 encounter up north until the lights went out.

All emotional stuff but in every high powered game, there’s always an element of bottled up emotion and energy a team needs to unleash in order to set up victory.

The time is right for the Demons to step up to home plate and I’m tipping them to do exactly that. Melbourne to win by 41 points.

THE GAME

Melbourne v  Brisbane Lions at The MCG, Friday 14 July, 2023 at 7.50pm

HEAD TO HEAD *

Overall: Melbourne 29 wins Brisbane Lions 24 wins

At The MCG Melbourne 15 wins Brisbane 4 wins

Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins

The Coaches: Goodwin 7 wins Fagan 4 wins

* does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games

LAST TIME THEY MET

Brisbane Lions 14.9.93 defeated Melbourne 13.4.82 at The Gabba, Round 2, 2023

It was best known as the night when the lights went out at the Gabba but also for Max Gawn’s early exit from a knee injury and Melbourne’s inability to handle the footy in the humid, soppy conditions in the opening term. The Lions had a big lead when the darkness set in but when the lights went back on the accurate Demons stormed home and came close to bridging the gap before time ran out. Ben Brown claimed his second four goal bag in a row.

THE TEAMS 

MELBOURNE 


B J. McVee H. Petty J. Lever 
HB J. Bowey S. May A. Brayshaw
C T. Rivers J. Viney T. Woewodin 
HF K. Pickett J. Melksham E. Langdon
F J. Jordon B. Brown C. Spargo
FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter
I/C A. Neal-Bullen C. Salem T. Sparrow J. van Rooyen SUB J. Smith EMG K. Chandler L. Dunstan B. Grundy 

IN J. van Rooyen

OUT B. Grundy (omitted)

BRISBANE 

B B. Starcevich H. Andrews J. Payne
HB C. McKenna R. Lester K. Coleman
C H. McCluggage Z. Bailey J. Fletcher
HF C. Cameron E. Hipwood L. McCarthy
F D. Zorko J. Daniher C. Rayner
FOLL O. McInerney L. Neale W. Ashcroft
I/C J. Berry J. Gunston J. Lyons D. Wilmot 
SUB D. Robertson EMG D. Fort D. Joyce K. Lohmann 

IN J. Berry L. McCarthy

OUT J. Madden (shoulder) K. Lohmann (omitted)

Injury List: Round 18

Harry Petty - Ribs  | Available 
Michael Hibberd - Kidney | Test
Tom McDonald - Ankle | 3 - 5 Weeks 
Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 4 Weeks
Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 6 - 7 Weeks
Daniel Turner - Hand | 6 - 7 Weeks
Kye Turner - Groin | TBC  

STATS HURT by Sam the Stats Man

Melbourne has had a moderate run with injuries this year although the loss of a few key players here and there to various ailments has hurt the club’s 2023 campaign.

The loss of Max Gawn through a knee injury in the equivalent game against the Lions in the capital of the sunshine state was the early blow. The impact was felt immediately under the shock of the skipper’s painful departure from the ground and the action. He was out for a month which included the then surprise defeat during the Gather Round at the hands of the Bombers in Adelaide. Christian Salem’s thyroid and knee woes saw him miss a large slab of games early while key talls Ben Brown and Tom McDonald have injuries and form to blame for prolonged absences which affected the team’s forward performance.

The biggest loss to injury by far has been the well-documented saga of Clayton Oliver’s hamstring compounded by a week in hospital with infected blisters on the foot and further compounded by further hamstring damage of a complex nature that sees his return pushed back to somewhere near the finals. Bayley Fritsh is out until the finals - the club having to make do with others up forward in the vital games to come in the interim.

One other statistic stands out to my mind. The Demon’s exciting and electric goalkicking sensation Kozzie Pickett, who booted four goals and earned a two week suspension in Round 1. Since his return from the sin bin, his productivity has gone into decline and from Round 11, he has kicked only four goals in five games. Considering that he booted six in one game against Port Adelaide last year, his lack of productivity in goal scoring is a worry even if the number of his pressure acts may have improved slightly.

The playing list details to date:-

ADAMS, Jed CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0

BOWEY Jake MFC games 14, MFC goals 1, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 

BRAYSHAW, Angus MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 

BROWN, Ben MFC games 5, MFC goals 9, CDFC games 7, CDFC goals 11 

CHANDLER, Kade MFC games 14, MFC goals 13, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 

DUNSTAN, Luke CDFC games 10, CDFC goals 5 

FARRIS-WHITE, Kyah CDFC games  4, CDFC goals 0

FRITSCH, Bayley MFC games 15, MFC goals 16

GAWN, Max MFC games 13, MFC goals 3 

GRUNDY, Brodie MFC games 16, MFC goals 3 

HARMES, James MFC games 7, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 4 

HIBBERD, Michael MFC games 9, MFC goals 0, CDFC games  1, CDFC goals 0 

HOWES, Blake CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 

HUNTER, Lachie MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 

JEFFERSON, Matthew CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 18 

JORDON, James MFC games 12, MFC goals 3, CDFC games 4, CDFC goals  4 

LANGDON , Ed MFC games 16, MFC goals 1

LAURIE, Bailey MFC games 2, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 13, CDFC goals  9 

LEVER, Jake MFC games 15, MFC goals 0 

MCDONALD, Tom MFC games 6, MFC goals 5, CDFC games  3, CDFC goals  5

MCVEE, Judd MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 

MAY, Steven MFC games 14, MFC goals 0 

MELKSHAM, Jake MFC games 6, MFC goals 4, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 17 

MONIZ-WAKEFIELD, Andy CDFC games 13, CDFC goals 10

NEALE-BULLEN, Alex MFC games 16, MFC goals 7

OLIVER, Clayton MFC games 10, MFC goals 4 

PETRACCA, Christian MFC games 16, MFC goals 8 

PETTY, Harrison MFC games 11, MFC goals 2

PICKETT, Kysaiah MFC games 14, MFC goals 22

RIVERS, Trent MFC games 16, MFC goals 1

SALEM, Christian - MFC games 7, MFC goals 0 

SCHACHE, Josh- MFC games 1, MFC goal 1, CDFC games  11, CDFC goals 27

SESTAN, Oliver CDFC games  14, CDFC goals 11 

SMITH, Deakyn CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 

SMITH, Joel - MFC games 5, MFC goal 0, CDFC games  5, CDFC goals 11 

SPARGO, Charlie MFC games 12, MFC goals 6. CDFC games 2, CDFC goal 1 

SPARROW, Tom MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 

TOMLINSON, Adam MFC games 5,  MFC goals  0, CDFC games 8, CDFC goals 0 

TURNER, Daniel - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games  9, CDFC goals 0 

TURNER, Kye CDFC games 2, CDFC goals 0 

VAN ROOYEN, Jacob MFC games 12, MFC goals 10, CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 6 

VERRALL, Will CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 0 

VINEY, Jack MFC games 15, MFC goals 3

WOEWODIN, Taj - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 9, CDFC goals 6

PreviewRd182023.png

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  • Injury List  


      PLAYER INJURY LENGTH
    Daniel Turner Hip Available
    Shane McAdam Hamstring 2-3 Weeks
    Marty Hore Thumb 2-3 Weeks
    Charlie Spargo Achilles 4 Weeks
    Jake Bowey Shoulder 5-6 Weeks
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        PLAYER VOTES
    1 Christian Petracca 55
    2 Max Gawn 49
    3 Steven May 34
    4 Alex Neal-Bullen 27
    5 Jack Viney 24
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    7 Bayley Fritsch 19
    8 Judd McVee 15
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