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TROUBLE by The Oracle

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Situated roughly in Australia's geographic centre, Alice Springs has for many years been a troubled town suffering from intermittent crime waves, particularly among its younger residents. There was a time a little while ago when things were so bad that some even doubted the annual AFL game in the town would proceed. 

Now, the hope is that this Sunday’s Melbourne vs Fremantle encounter will bring joy to the residents of the town and that through the sport and the example of the participants, better times will perhaps come to the people of Australia’s red heart, so bring it on!

This week’s round involves the first of the second group of byes in 2024 and added attention to the two teams fighting for ascendancy in the logjam of clubs in the race for one of the competition’s vital top four spots. 

While the Demons will be keen to win this one to create a buffer against the other contenders, the Dockers have had the edge on them since they won their premiership in the West in 2021. Those defeats in 2022 and 2023 were particularly galling as not only were they unexpected, but because they were also played on Melbourne’s home ground at the MCG. This time, the match up is on neutral territory.

The Demons are not yet to be entitled to call TIO Traeger Park their home away from home. Last year, the weather played its tricks when unseasonal rain turned the ground into a sodden mess so that despite their dominance everywhere around the ground, they lost to the Giants by two points thanks to an ugly score line of 5.15.45 to 7.5.47. Melbourne’s score was the lowest ever in AFL history at the venue. 

But if history means anything then this could be a turning point for the Dees against the Dockers. Their midfield, which came back well against the Saints last week, usually fares well at the ground. Jack Viney is due to register his  tenth game at the ground on Sunday to become the first AFL player to make double figures in this category and last year, he became the first player to record 40 possessions at the ground. His midfield partners in crime, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca are regular high disposal winners at the ground. Kozzie Pickett has the record number of goals in a match there - six (scored against Port Adelaide in 2022). 

Of course, records mean very little when the team plays there more often than others, especially when their Freo counterparts have never played there at all, but there’s no doubt about the Demons’ capacity to play good footy in the Red Centre. I wouldn’t underestimate the opposition’s midfielders either with Brayshaw, Serong and Young all racking up good numbers in the middle recently and Jackson backing them up as a mobile ruckman. Whoever gets on top in this department, will go a long way to winning this game.

I also put the Demons ahead marginally in measuring the strength of the respective defences even in the absence of Jake Lever. The Melbourne forwards looked better and more balanced last week with the return of Jacob van Rooyen. 

Essentially, Melbourne will win the battle of the nation’s red heart if it can bring its usual intensity to this troubled area. The Demons have put a lot of effort into working with the local community. They won’t let them down. 

Melbourne to win by 13 points.


Melbourne v Fremantle at TIO Traeger Park, Alice Springs on Sunday 2 June, 2024 at 1.00pm


Overall Melbourne 18 wins Fremantle 25 wins

At TIO Traeger Park Melbourne 0 wins Fremantle 0 wins 

Last five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 3 wins

The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Longmuir 3 wins


Fremantle 12.7.79 defeated Melbourne 10.12.72 at The MCG, Round 20, 2023

The Demons were on top of the Dockers early with Gawn and Grundy dominating the rucks and Petracca and Brayshaw controlling ground level. Freo ground its way back into the game with their superior kicking for goal and held Melbourne out to record a 7 point victory away from home.



B J. Bowey, S. May, T. Rivers
HB C  Salem, A. Tomlinson, T. McDonald
C E. Langdon C. Oliver, C. Windsor
HF S. McAdam, B. Fritsch, K. Chandler 
F K. Pickett, H. Petty A. Neal-Bullen
FOLL M. Gawn, J. Viney, C. Petracca
I/C L. Hunter, J. McVee, T. Sparrow, D. Turner, T. Woewodin
EMG J. Billings, B.Brown, B. Laurie

IN D. Turner

OUT J. van Rooyen (adductor)


B H. Chapman, A. Pearce, J. Draper
HB J. Aish, L. Ryan, J. Clark
C J. Sharp, A. Brayshaw, H. Young 
HF J. O'Meara, S. Switkowski, M. Frederick
F J. Treacy, J. Amiss, L. Jackson
FOLL S. Darcy, C. Serong, N. Fyfe
I/C B. Banfield, S. Sturt, C. Wagner, B. Walker, M.  Walters
EMG T. Emmett, N. Erasmus, M. Johnson 

IN M. Frederick, S. Sturt

OUT T. Emmett (omitted), M. Johnson (managed)

Injury List: Round 12  

Tom Fullarton — hamstring / Test

Harrison Petty — ankle / Test

Daniel Turner — calf / Test 

Marty Hore  — calf / 2 - 3 weeks

Josh Schache — Achilles / 2 - 3 weeks 

Jake Lever — knee / 3 - 4 weeks 

Jake Melksham  — knee / 3 - 5 weeks 

Charlie Spargo — Achilles/ TBC


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