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Well, the 2023 season is over for the Demons after a two point loss to the Blues in the First Semi Final. All season WE have been hearing about the “learnings” that the team needed to make after each loss, but how much have we actually learnt when they:
1. Lost four successive finals at our own home ground;
2. Fell in five of their last six losses despite having more shots at goal and in the sixth, they had an equal number of shots;
3. Lost seven games by under two goals;
4. Kicked 118.51 (69.8%) in the first 7 games, but scored 203.226 (45.2%) for the remainder of the season. In the finals it was 16.28 at 36.4%.
What has been learnt is that kicking straight wins matches. But that blatantly obvious notion seems to have eluded the MFC as they burned numerous opportunities to ice games.
With Melbourne recording yet another miserable 9.17 in front of goal, the result left the door ajar for Carlton, and they bumbled their way through it with seconds remaining to send their obnoxious fans into delirium.
Chances, chances and straight out failure to score a major when the opportunity presented. The captain fluffed two straightforward attempts from close range. The side’s last five shots for the season were all behinds at a time when the game and the season was on the line.
We have heard that finals football is a different game.  It certainly is, since it becomes a matter of centimetres and individual wins over an opponent.  With two goals denied because of touched calls, including one by Max as well, the line between success and failure was once again, quite literally a fingernail.
A season finished and a real opportunity lost.
Have the team and coaching panel learnt the lesson? Hard to see that they have when the results are the same.
It was also hard to understand both the selections and the non-use of the sub.  The claim that Schache was to be insurance for Max, frankly fails the “pub test” when he wasn’t used at all. The non selection of Grundy also fails the same test, since Max was forced to play 87% game time against two ruckmen, including no break at all in the third quarter!  Grundy had an exemplary performance in his last game at Casey while playing in the ruck, something which Schache didn’t do!
The defenders held up strongly all night led by Steven May with ten interceptions, while Jake Lever backed up with nine. May took seven marks, Lever eight, but it was those truly telling contested marks, not just the three he took, but that they were at critical points in the game. Adam Tomlinson returned to the side, and managed to lose De Koning in his first venture, and in his second pushed him in the back, so gifting Carlton their first two goals. What was the margin in the end?  Why Turner wasn’t given the role, when he reads the play so much better and is streets ahead in mobility is another conundrum. Big shout out to Trent Rivers with an amazing ten contested possessions while playing off half back.
But it was up forward that the side was let down. They missed Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham, Jacob van Rooyen and Ben Brown although they had co-opted Joel Smith to be the leading target.  He certainly performed well above expectations with three goals and (unlike others) zero behinds.
The same could not be said for Tom McDonald who simply looked slow and unable to impact any aspect of the game. Wasn’t he brought in as the back up ruck?  Or was that Schache?  Well in that role he only had 1 hit out and no score for the match, so that was another piece of brilliance, with Schache sitting on the bench for the whole game.
The mids did their best against quality opposition, Jack Viney with a credible 15 contested touches from his 31 overall.  Petracca also 15 contested, but in the absence of Brayshaw, he was unable to be used up forward as much, and the forwards certainly needed all the help they could get.
The supporters were burnt again, but we all know they will come back. They have learnt to take defeat all too often and it is no surprise that  “Melbourne Football Club Supporter Syndrome” is burnt into their psyche when their side blows a two goal lead with minutes to go … again.
One would think those supporters would learn?

MELBOURNE 3.3.21 4.7.31 7.11.53 9.17.71
CARLTON 2.2.14 5.3.33 7.5.47 11.7.73
MELBOURNE Smith 3 Fritsch Pickett 2 Langdon Petracca
CARLTON Acres De Koning Motlop Walsh 2 Curnow Kennedy Owies
MELBOURNE May Oliver Viney Smith Petracca Sparrow
CARLTON Walsh Cripps Newman De Koning Weitering Saad 

CARLTON Cripps (nose) Docherty (shoulder)
CARLTON Ollie Hollands replaced David Cuningham in the fourth quarter
UMPIRES Simon Meredith Nathan Williamson Andre Gianfagna Jacob Mollison 
CROWD 96,412 at the MCG
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