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OUT OF THE FIRE by George On The Outer


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The Demons pulled one out of the fire, with a one point win over the Brisbane Lions in an enthralling, exciting, frustrating and nail-biting game. The Lions came out on on Bastille Day to the sounds of “La Marseillaise” and they were fired up. They sat two games clear of the Demons on the ladder after having burnt them in the 2022 finals series. And it turned out to be a bad night for the French with their team also going down in a FIFA Womens World Cup practice match across town … I digress. Back to the real footy …

Early on, Melbourne was truly on fire hitting the scoreboard regularly with four goals in the first ten minutes to lead by 25 points before Brisbane had troubled the scorer. The Lions fought their way back a little to reduce the  lead to just under three goals by the first change.

Demon fans were looking at each other in disbelief, as their side seemingly had overcome their lethargy of recent weeks, even scoring more goals in that first quarter than in their entire recent game against the Giants.

Still, the early expectations were soon dashed, as the Lions relentlessly ground down the Demons‘ lead to hit the front by a solitary point just before half-time.  

The third quarter was much the same with Brisbane creating run through the middle, and Melbourne players failing to put in the required effort to cut off or run with their opponents. This was creating plenty of chances for the Lions’ forwards. When Daniher and Hipwood start kicking goals due to the lack of upfield pressure, then you know that things are starting to go the Lions way.  They held a 21-point lead by the final break.

The stage was set for an expected final quarter capitulation by the Demons and the first 10 to 15 minutes were certainly pointing that way.  The visitors got first blood with a goal to Joey Daniher who put on one of his classic diving acts to milk a free kick and then converted to put them ahead by 27 points. Some supporters were heading for the exits at that point - those who did were soon to be burnt by that decision.  

From out of nowhere, the Demons found some fire in the belly but they missed with a few shots at goal until Pickett kicked his third and they were three goals down with only seven minutes left to play. A couple of minutes later, Jake Melksham reduced the deficit down to two goals with a nice shot on an angle. Jack Viney willed himself to win the game, and quite literally ripped the ball out of McInerney’s hands and slotted another major to put the Demons five points down with two minutes to play.  

The crowd of Demons supporters was fired up as had not been seen since the 2021 GF game, shouting and screaming at the top of their voices. 

The sounds had completely reversed from only ten minutes earlier when the Brisbane supporters had started a “L-I-O-N-S” chant. Their team had gone defensive far too early and they were not to see the sight of “Le jour de gloire est arrive”.  

Instead, it was to be a night of doom and gloom for the “enfants de la Patrie” when Melksham managed to mark a Brayshaw snap into the forward line and then truly delivered the six points to put the Demons a solitary point in front with 33 seconds remaining.  

If the Melbourne supporters were fired up before, they were now simply volcanic!  In those 30 seconds remaining Viney again extracted the clearance to pump the ball forward.  But Melbourne were unable to capitalise, and the ball came down the other end where Jake Lever managed to mark a hotly contested football against Hipwood.  

The siren sounded and the noise levels went up again. Melbourne had pulled a victory right out of the fire.

While the four points were needed to keep Melbourne’s position on the ladder in the lead-up to the finals, it was the psychological message that was important. The Demons might well face the Lions at some stage in the finals and they are likely to be affected by the outcome of this game, in an almost identical manner as Geelong in 2021. And Melbourne is sure to be imbued with that same sense of invincibility that they felt in their Premiership year.  

This was a game of 3 v 4 and a one point result was probably a fitting end. The Demons are forging their finals thrust in the furnace of these games. This, without Clayton Oliver or Brodie Grundy in the middle, and having rested players while experimenting with various combinations up forward in particular.

Christian Petracca kicked 4 goals with his power on full display, and importantly, with rediscovered accuracy. Kysaiah Pickett found his fire with 3 majors while Taj Woewodin electrified the crowd and team-mates with his first goal at AFL level in a calm, smooth way reflective of his father’s style. 

Lachie Hunter was responsible for 559 metres gained, while Ed Langdon was down to 285.  This was an indictment against Brisbane who deliberately avoided the Langdon wing, not realising however, that Hunter is just as lethal with his running power and left foot.  

The defenders were back to their best team efforts, and Trent Rivers probably provided the impetus for those last couple of goals, when he grabbed the ball deep in Brisbane territory, sidestepped 3 opposition and drove the ball forward.  It was an action which quite literally changed the course of the game.  

In the ruck on his own, Max had an ordinary phase in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but came back to his best when needed and started to take critical contested marks and clearances. Five marks, three contested and three centre clearances started to drive the Demons, and his grab from the boundary throw in to pass to Brayshaw for that final Melksham goal was telling.

Yes, the Demons pulled one out of the fire, but they are now fired up as one, and the supporters are probably even more so. Bringing the heat at the right end of the season was exactly what is needed.

With Adelaide coming up as next the opponent, do not be surprised if the smell of burnt Crow is wafting around the stands of the G come next Sunday evening.

MELBOURNE 6.2.38 8.3.51 12.4.76 16.9.105

BRISBANE LIONS 3.3.21 8.4.52 15.7.97 16.8.104

GOALS

MELBOURNE Petracca 4 Pickett 3 Melksham 2 Bowey Brown Gawn Neal-Bullen Spargo Viney Woewodin

BRISBANE LIONS Gunston 3 Bailey Cameron Daniher McCarthy 2 Ashcroft Fletcher Hipwood Lyons McInerney

BEST

MELBOURNE Petracca, Gawn Brayshaw Viney Pickett Melksham

BRISBANE LIONS Daniher McCluggage Neale Ashcroft Andrews Bailey

INJURIES

MELBOURNE Harrison Petty (hip)

BRISBANE LIONS Nil

REPORTS

MELBOURNE Nil

BRISBANE LIONS Nil

SUBSTITUTIONS

MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter)

BRISBANE LIONS Deven Robertson (replaced Jarrod Berry in the fourth quarter)

UMPIRES Mathew Nicholls Nathan Williamson Robert Findlay Andre Gianfagna

CROWD 38,030 at The MCG

ReportRd182023.png

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