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  1. A 34-point win in the nation’s capital has seen the Demons kill the Giants hopes early in the 2021 season. It wasn’t only the scoreboard, but a succession of injuries to major players for GWS that has put paid to their aspirations. The winning result wasn’t just due to the opposition losing players, but also to the relentless pressure from this 2021 Melbourne side that put them in the winners circle. In past years, a 16 point deficit at the first change combined with a rampant Toby Greene with two majors to his name would have foretold a far different result for the Demons. But not for this side as they tightened up in the second quarter, shut Greene down temporarily, and started to kick straight in front of goal. Tom McDonald and Bailey Fritsch hadn’t touched ball in the first quarter, but finally Kysaiah Pickett showed the others where the big sticks lay. Clayton Oliver had taken a beating from Matt DeBoer and others, and had yet to shake the tag, but that caused others in the mid-field to take up the responsibility. The Demons’ situation was made easier when GWS lost Coniglio and Davis before ½ time and they went into the major break just two points adrift. That minor scoreboard deficiency was removed within seconds in the third quarter, and Pickett put in another contender for Goal of the Year to lift team spirits even further. Oliver was sent forward to break the tags, and unfortunately couldn’t kick straight to drive the dagger into the GWS hearts. But worse came for them when DeBoer left the field with yet another injury, and the pressure was off. The Demons should have put the Giants to the sword, but continued to give them opportunities with a couple of silly errors. Still, they took an 18 point lead into the final quarter to continue the turn-around. The injuries continued for GWS with Keefe and Daniels playing out the game, but barely able to put up more than a trot. The dam wall broke, and Pickett continued his startling form to finish with 4 goals for the game, and certainly being the reason for a couple more attributed to team-mates. A 34 point victory continue the winning start to the season to put the Demons at 3-0, something not achieved since 2005. Around the ground, Max Gawn showed the way as captain with 24 disposals, but importantly 6 contested marks out of 9 total, and then two goals to his name. A different game plan sees him roaming the backline and now forward line, because Luke Jackson is proving to be more than capable in the rucking role, with 10 hitouts and 15 touches as a back-up to Max. This will become more critical in future games, since two mobile ruckmen creates huge nightmares for opposition. The forwards still struggle, particularly Tom McDonald, who looked injured similar to last year. Unable to accelerate and jump off the ground he could only manage 3 marks and 8 disposals for the game. Fortunately, Fritsch came back from a slow start to finish with 3 majors, and the mids finally made some contributions with Christian Petracca, Alex Neal-Bullen, Jackson, Angus Brayshaw, James Jordon and of course Gawn all making the goal umpire do some work. Like many other teams this round, the backline wasn’t as strong as we have come to expect. There were dropped marks and too many easy “out the back” goals to the Giants. Are we seeing the exposure of the zone defence, as teams are able to move the ball into the forward line more quickly and are able to change up options in front of them? Now after three rounds, there are only three undefeated teams, Melbourne being one of them. The importance of putting wins ”in the bank” should be well known to this club, and to date they have achieved that. They may have killed the Giants, a team with regular final appearances in recent history, but it is a long season. There will be no better KPI for the team when they face Geelong in the next round. They also have been regulars at the pointy end of the season, and have loaded up with veterans from other clubs in an attempt to continue that. Do the Demons have the capital to continue their successful run, and in doing so gain the interest of their supporters and critics? MELBOURNE 2.3.15 6.5.41 10.7.67 15.12.102 GWS GIANTS 5.1.31 7.1.43 8.1.49 11.2.68 GOALS Melbourne Pickett 4 Fritsch 3 Gawn 2 Brayshaw Jackson Jordan Neal-Bullen Petracca Spargo GWS Giants Greene 5 Kelly 2 Green Himmelberg Hopper O’Halloran BEST Melbourne Gawn Viney Hunt Brayshaw Pickett Langdon GWS Giants Taranto Greene Kelly Ash Haynes Hopper INJURIES Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Davis (ankle), Coniglio (ankle), de Boer (hamstring) REPORTS Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne Melksham (unused) GWS Giants Shipley (replaced Davis) UMPIRES O'Gorman Williamson Findlay CROWD 9,563 at the Manuka Oval
  2. Despite the chaotic events occurring in Canberra over the past few weeks, one thing is for certain. This weekend’s game at Manuka Oval in the nation’s capital between the GWS Giants and Melbourne will decide which of Scott Morrison or Leon Cameron is the most under the pump at this point in time. This time twelve months ago, the Giants were coming off a season in which they had played off in a grand final. They opened up their 2020 campaign with a resounding 32-point victory in round 1 against Geelong before the Covid19 closure came along to ruin their season. However, things really haven’t been the same for them since the return to play and their heartless display against the Dockers last Sunday suggests they’re in for a world of pain as the club feverishly works in damage control mode to prevent the further defection of star players to other clubs. We’ve only had two rounds but the talk of the week has been at which club and for what pay Josh Kelly will command in 2022. That’s hardly promising news when you’re on 0-2 and a tough few weeks loom ahead. The Giants have a good recent record at Manuka. The Demons beat them with relative ease in their early days but in their last two encounters they were rubbish. In early 2015 they kept the home side goalless and led by an excess of 5 goals before half time before an avalanche of 14 consecutive goals saw them falter to a 45-point embarrassment. In 2017, when a long-awaited finals place was on offer, Melbourne scored three goals to nothing in the first ten minutes and then conceded the next 8.6.54 to Greater Western before the first break. The eventual 35-point loss was flattering thanks to their accuracy in front of goals. I’m expecting much better this time. That’s because the Demons are looking at their best since their break out year of 2018. The playing conditions of this season are seeing a return of more contests and faster movement which appears to suit their style much better than the game of the past couple of seasons. Despite the loss during the pre season of their two main tall forwards, the injury situation is nowhere near as catastrophic as it was when they went into decline in 2019 (they haven’t yet had to activate the new sub rule) and their youngsters are not only standing up — they are coming to the fore at important moments of their games. Now, if only they could get their kicking boots on in front of goal ... The Giants’ kicking for goal has also been shaky so far but they will need to be at the top of their game against Melbourne’s defence headed by Steven May and Jake Lever. With the Demon midfield back at close to full strength and showing greater depth, the odds are strongly in favour of a big victory for the visitors. Melbourne by 41 points. THE GAME GWS Giants v Melbourne at Metricon Stadium, Sunday 4 April, 2021 at 6:10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall – Melbourne 7 wins GWS Giants 6 wins At Manuka Oval – GWS Giants 2 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings – Melbourne 3 wins GWS Giants 2 wins The Coaches – Goodwin 2 wins Cameron 2 wins THE MEDIA TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.7.79 defeated GWS Giants 11.8.74 at the Gabba, Round 17, 2020 The Demons led early but were reeled in by half time and the Giants took the ascendency after half time. Melbourne came back in the final term with the first three goals including a bottler from first year player Trent Rivers seeing the team home despite a very late goal from GWS’s Brent Daniels. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: S. Taylor 15 L. Keeffe 25 M. Buntine 21 HB: I. Cumming 13 N. Haynes 19 L. Ash C: J. Kelly 22 S. Coniglio 3 J. Buckley 44 HF: T. Taranto 14 T. Greene 4 M. de Boer 24 F: B. Hill 37 H. Himmelberg 27 B. Daniels 16 Foll: M. Flynn 30 J Hopper 2 C. Ward 8 I/C: P. Davis 1 T. Green 12 C. Idun 39 X. O'Halloran 33 Sub: N. Shipley 34 Emerg: K. Briggs 32 Z. Sproule 28 C.Stone 18 In: M. Buntine T. Green C. Idun X. O’Halloran Out: T. Bruhn (Omitted) H. Perryman (Illness) S. Reid (Suspension) Z. Sproule (Omitted) MELBOURNE B: N. Jetta 39 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: Christian C Salem 3 A. Tomlinson 20 J. Hunt 29 C: E. Langdon 15 C. Petracca 5 N. Jones 2 HF: K. Pickett 36 T. McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30 F: C. Spargo 9 L. Jackson 6 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C.Oliver 13 J. Viney 7 I/C: A. Brayshaw 10 J. Jordon 23 T. Rivers 24 T. Sparrow Sub: J. Melksham 18 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 M. Hibberd 14 H. Petty 35 In: J. Melksham Out: O. Baker (Omitted) Round 3: Injury List Mitch Brown (calf) — Available Joel Smith (finger) — Available Jay Lockhart (groin) — Available Sam Weideman (leg) — 2 to 3 Weeks Ben Brown (knee) — 3 to 5 Weeks James Harmes (wrist) — 5 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
  3. Melbourne is currently enjoying a four game winning streak (when was the last time you could say that?). It all started in Round 17 at the Gabba:- THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS FB Sam J Reid Lachlan Keeffe Heath Shaw HB Adam Kennedy Nick Haynes Zac Williams C Lachie Whitfield Jacob Hopper Harry Perryman HF Jeremy Cameron Harry Himmelberg Matt de Boer FF Toby Greene Jeremy Finlayson Brent Daniels FOL Shane Mumford Josh Kelly Tim Taranto I/C Jack Buckley Tom Green Connor Idun Daniel Lloyd EMG Matt Buntine Isaac Cumming Bobby Hill Sam Jacobs IN Jack Buckley Brent Daniels Tom Green Connor Idun Josh Kelly Shane Mumford Harry Perryman Zac Williams OUT Lachie Ash (omitted) Sam Jacobs (omitted) Jye Caldwell (omitted) Stephen Coniglio (omitted) Aidan Corr (ankle) Jackson Hately (omitted) Bobby Hill (managed) Jake Riccardi (managed) MELBOURNE FB Joel Smith Steven May Jake Lever HB Jayden Hunt Trent Rivers Christian Salem C Ed Langdon Christian Petracca Adam Tomlinson HF Aaron vandenBerg Sam Weideman Bayley Fritsch FF Mitch Brown Jake Melksham Charlie Spargo FOL Max Gawn Jack Viney Clayton Oliver I/C Oskar Baker Neville Jetta Alex Neal-Bullen Kysaiah Pickett, EMG Mitch Hannan Jay Lockhart Tom McDonald Josh Wagner IN Mitch Brown Neville Jetta Charlie Spargo OUT Toby Bedford (omitted) Michael Hibberd (ankle) Braydon Preuss (omitted)
  4. When bottom side Adelaide scrapped together a win over the Giants last week, a tiny glimmer of hope opened up for the Demons’ finals chances. The patient was in intensive care but not quite finished — there was a faint pulse, a heart beating ever so slightly but was it enough when two more wins and other results were needed to fall their way? The first step was the resuscitation of a team that had lost its last two matches against sides then sitting fifteenth and sixteenth on the ladder. Once again, the whole year was “on the line”, so would the Demons splutter out ignominiously again or would they finally show some ticker? A win meant as much for the Giants as they included a series of their better players with Mumford, Perryman, Kelly and Williams taking their places, making the task for the Demons more difficult. It all started well for Melbourne which bounced out of the blocks to lead by three goals in the first quarter. Jake Melksham was assigned Josh Kelly right from the start, which meant that Christian Petracca was pushed out of the middle to a forward role. Max Gawn against Mumford was to be the battle of the day, one of them hoping to ruck but the other was trying to act as a wrecking ball. Fortunately Max was the one playing football, but once again the mids failed to win the clearance contest. By half time, the scores had levelled out, setting the stage for a slog-fest to the line. Silly errors, particularly from Melksham, gave the Giants a series of goals, and the Melbourne fans once again witnessed the side failing to stop a run of opposition goals. At one stage in the third quarter the Demons had conceded six of the last seven but still, the Giants’ led at the final break by seven points. It was all or nothing for the final term, with Melbourne getting the all and GWS the nothing. The Demons lifted and hit the lead with a Bayley Fritsch goal with ten minutes time left. Thanks to some brilliant running from Ed Langdon the ball finished up in the Demons forward line again to see Trent Rivers snap truly to give Melbourne an eleven point margin with only two minutes to go. The Giants managed another goal with barely thirty seconds on the clock, so players threw themselves at the ball with reckless abandon. A Rivers spoil stopped the final advance and the fat lady final sang to keep the Demons heart beat ticking over. The backs held the side together when needed, particularly Steven May and Rivers. May’s strength and football smarts saw him repel multiple attacks. Eight marks in the full back position was telling, but it was his cool head that kept the opposition at bay when needed. Rivers has not only cemented his role in the backline, but his accurate kicking and ability to read the play is what the side has been searching for to complement Salem on the other flank. In a score of 12 goals, Rivers and Salem contributed a quarter of the team’s score including two of the last three. The mids had some hard competition and lowered their colours in clearances again. However, Petracca, when moved through the guts had 19 contested touches out of 22 in total. And on the wing, Langdon just did what he does best, by running to create the outlet options for the backs, and then sending the ball forward. Unfortunately, the forward line was only semi -functional. Sam Weideman’s seven touches and a solitary mark, was sub par by any standard. Alex Neal-Bullen ran around and around and did little other than high five others while managing only nine disposals. Jayden Hunt probably wrote himself out of contention for the next game with a sub par five disposals. Mitch Brown did his job as expected with 13 touches and seven marks. Kysaiah Pickett was his usual busy self and his 15 touches was in sharp contrast to the other small forwards. But with half of the forward line not firing in any way, the side was fortunate that the half back flankers were able to step up. With one more game to come, there is still a chance. The losses against Sydney and Fremantle in the heat and humidity of Cairns mean that Melbourne depends on other teams to fall over. Most of those matches will happen after the game against Essendon and to win that match it must bring the same level of intensity as it took to the Gabba for without it, the heart beat will flat line. MELBOURNE 5.2.32 7.5.47 9.6.60 12.7.79 GWS GIANTS 2.3.15 7.5.47 10.7.67 11.8.74 GOALS Melbourne Baker Rivers Spargo 2 Fritsch Hunt Neal-Bullen Petracca Pickett Salem GWS Giants Daniels Lloyd Williams 2 Cameron de Boer Finlayson Perryman Williams BEST Melbourne May Langdon Gawn Petracca Oliver Rivers GWS Giants Kelly Hopper Daniels Williams Green INJURED Melbourne Neville Jetta (ankle) GWS Giants Nil REPORTED Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Brent Daniels for rough conduct on Christian Petracca in the second quarter UMPIRES Stevic, O'Gorman, Williamson CROWD 1,204 at The Gabba
  5. It was bad enough that the Demons “necked” themselves yet again, as the opportunity to cement a finals spot was once again blown through the simple inability to play to the conditions. But the freezing conditions at Manuka did no favours to the multitudes of Demon fans who had made the trip to Canberra, only to see those hopes dropped through the trapdoor of failure. And although there were more Melbourne supporters at the game than those from GWS, the wind flowing from the Brindabella ranges only exacerbated the punishment meted out to them from the on-field display. It would have been easy to think that the experience gained from Hobart the week before with the simply mantra of kick long with the wind and kill the contest when not, should have been learned. Yet Melbourne still played the dinky short kicks with the wind and handballed relentlessly when not kicking short. The coach said we butchered the ball and that was the obvious outcome. The fact was that the ball was being butchered because we weren’t taking advantage of the conditions, and imagining it was a fine spring day with the style of play being adopted. The wind was a good five goal breeze in the first half and the ability of the Giants to use it correctly was shown when they piled on eight goals straight, even after the Demons had kicked the first three. Despite all that, Melbourne was in the game with that same advantage to come in the second quarter. Incredibly they could only manage two majors with the same wind in the second, which signalled the finish of the game. GWS showed exactly how to play against the wind as they bottled the ball up on the Hill side wing with contest after contest. And when the Demons managed to break the shackles, they kept looking for short options or leading options which were covered by the GWS man on man backline with Heath Shaw running riot as an unmarked spare. It was telling that the only two players who seemed to be able to adjust to the conditions were Vince and Lewis. No surprise they were also the top possession getters, but they used the wind to their advantage and just didn’t try to do anything too fancy. That worked but others didn’t follow their lead and kept up the handball and dinky kick barrage. For the third, the wind blew across the ground and neither team had any real advantage, but the damage was done, even though the Demons outscored the Giants after 1/4 time. To top it off for the fans the weather was at the point of snowing, which made Jayden Hunt’s tactic of long sleeves in the first half, but short in the second half all the more strange. It was an arm wrestle in the second half, and Melbourne gained some credibility against a side who will finish at least top two by season end, and without the likes of Patton, Cameron and Greene playing. To say they are the better side gives little solice to the punishment the Demon fans face, as their team has a hoard of players who simply didn’t give enough or are playing injured or just don’t care. With Garlett and Watts failing to get a single kick between them in the first ½ and only 2 touches in total in that same period, it signified a complete failure in the forward line and its structure. GWS fell back when defending against the wind, leaving no space to run into, but Melbourne helped them out by trying to kick to the top of the square all the time rather than at the upright targets at the end of the ground. Tom McDonald tried hard but without space and proper delivery he too was hampered. In the ruck Max Gawn did magnificently against the aggression of Mumford, as Max played the ball unlike Mumford who plays the man, and will probably pay a price again at the MRP this week for a couple of incidents. Incredibly, a hit to the head of Max happened not five metres in front of umpire Williamson who called "play on, nothing to see here ... " as he did all day. It is a sad state of umpiring affairs when you credit Razor Ray as being by far the best umpire on the ground. Corey Maynard made a more than credible debut and will work his way into the mid-field team well with his strength and attack on the ball. While we now have the best side “inside” it exposes our weaknesses on the outside as Tyson, ANB and Harmes are inefficient users of the ball when in their hands. It was a sharp contrast to the skills of Scully, Coniglio, Shiel and Kelly who run and hit targets rather than contests. The punishment for the Demon fans is probably over now for the season. Already we have dropped to tenth on the ladder and can kiss goodbye to finals short of some miracle results in other games. It is almost an exact replica of season 2016, and the only thing that will keep the supporters coming back is that Capital punishment is no longer an option in this country. Melbourne 3.0.18 5.1.31 7.1.43 10.2.62 Greater Western Sydney 8.6.54 10.7.67 13.12.90 14.13.97 Goals Melbourne Melksham Neal-Bullen 2 Gawn T. McDonald Maynard Pedersen Tyson Watts Greater Western Sydney Kelly 3 Johnson Smith 2, Coniglio Deledio , Himmelberg Mumford Scully Shiel Ward Best Melbourne Gawn Lewis Oliver Hibberd Vince Greater Western Sydney Kelly Ward Coniglio Scully Shiel Mumford Williams Changes Greater Western Sydney Patton (hamstring tightness) replaced by Himmelberg in the selected side Melbourne Nil Injuries Greater Western Sydney Nil Melbourne Nil Reports Greater Western Sydney Nil Melbourne Nil Umpires Chamberlain Williamson Ryan Official crowd 14,274 at UNSW Canberra Oval
  6. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT by George on the Outer It was bad enough that the Demons “necked” themselves yet again, as the opportunity to cement a finals spot was once again blown through the simple inability to play to the conditions. But the freezing conditions at Manuka did no favours to the multitudes of Demon fans who had made the trip to Canberra, only to see those hopes dropped through the trapdoor of failure. And although there were more Melbourne supporters at the game than those from GWS, the wind flowing from the Brindabella ranges only exacerbated the punishment meted out to them from the on-field display. It would have been easy to think that the experience gained from Hobart the week before with the simply mantra of kick long with the wind and kill the contest when not, should have been learned. Yet Melbourne still played the dinky short kicks with the wind and handballed relentlessly when not kicking short. The coach said we butchered the ball and that was the obvious outcome. The fact was that the ball was being butchered because we weren’t taking advantage of the conditions, and imagining it was a fine spring day with the style of play being adopted. The wind was a good five goal breeze in the first half and the ability of the Giants to use it correctly was shown when they piled on eight goals straight, even after the Demons had kicked the first three. Despite all that, Melbourne was in the game with that same advantage to come in the second quarter. Incredibly they could only manage two majors with the same wind in the second, which signalled the finish of the game. GWS showed exactly how to play against the wind as they bottled the ball up on the Hill side wing with contest after contest. And when the Demons managed to break the shackles, they kept looking for short options or leading options which were covered by the GWS man on man backline with Heath Shaw running riot as an unmarked spare. It was telling that the only two players who seemed to be able to adjust to the conditions were Vince and Lewis. No surprise they were also the top possession getters, but they used the wind to their advantage and just didn’t try to do anything too fancy. That worked but others didn’t follow their lead and kept up the handball and dinky kick barrage. For the third, the wind blew across the ground and neither team had any real advantage, but the damage was done, even though the Demons outscored the Giants after 1/4 time. To top it off for the fans the weather was at the point of snowing, which made Jayden Hunt’s tactic of long sleeves in the first half, but short in the second half all the more strange. It was an arm wrestle in the second half, and Melbourne gained some credibility against a side who will finish at least top two by season end, and without the likes of Patton, Cameron and Greene playing. To say they are the better side gives little solice to the punishment the Demon fans face, as their team has a hoard of players who simply didn’t give enough or are playing injured or just don’t care. With Garlett and Watts failing to get a single kick between them in the first ½ and only 2 touches in total in that same period, it signified a complete failure in the forward line and its structure. GWS fell back when defending against the wind, leaving no space to run into, but Melbourne helped them out by trying to kick to the top of the square all the time rather than at the upright targets at the end of the ground. Tom McDonald tried hard but without space and proper delivery he too was hampered. In the ruck Max Gawn did magnificently against the aggression of Mumford, as Max played the ball unlike Mumford who plays the man, and will probably pay a price again at the MRP this week for a couple of incidents. Incredibly, a hit to the head of Max happened not five metres in front of umpire Williamson who called "play on, nothing to see here ... " as he did all day. It is a sad state of umpiring affairs when you credit Razor Ray as being by far the best umpire on the ground. Corey Maynard made a more than credible debut and will work his way into the mid-field team well with his strength and attack on the ball. While we now have the best side “inside” it exposes our weaknesses on the outside as Tyson, ANB and Harmes are inefficient users of the ball when in their hands. It was a sharp contrast to the skills of Scully, Coniglio, Shiel and Kelly who run and hit targets rather than contests. The punishment for the Demon fans is probably over now for the season. Already we have dropped to tenth on the ladder and can kiss goodbye to finals short of some miracle results in other games. It is almost an exact replica of season 2016, and the only thing that will keep the supporters coming back is that Capital punishment is no longer an option in this country. Melbourne 3.0.18 5.1.31 7.1.43 10.2.62 Greater Western Sydney 8.6.54 10.7.67 13.12.90 14.13.97 Goals Melbourne Melksham Neal-Bullen 2 Gawn T. McDonald Maynard Pedersen Tyson Watts Greater Western Sydney Kelly 3 Johnson Smith 2, Coniglio Deledio , Himmelberg Mumford Scully Shiel Ward Best Melbourne Gawn Lewis Oliver Hibberd Vince Greater Western Sydney Kelly Ward Coniglio Scully Shiel Mumford Williams Changes Greater Western Sydney Patton (hamstring tightness) replaced by Himmelberg in the selected side Melbourne Nil Injuries Greater Western Sydney Nil Melbourne Nil Reports Greater Western Sydney Nil Melbourne Nil Umpires Chamberlain Williamson Ryan Official crowd 14,274 at UNSW Canberra Oval
  7. THE TWENTIETH ROUND by The Oracle Melbourne wasted yet another opportunity to establish a strong grip on a top eight placing for 2017 last week and, as a result, is back among a large pack of clubs contesting against each other for a spot on one of the lower rungs in the finals series. Whether it was a case of stage fright, tiredness or something else, the Demons really blew it after taking the lead against the Kangaroos halfway through the final quarter with a strong breeze at their backs. They desperately missed the presence of experienced heads like co-captain Nathan Jones out with a quad injury and fellow leader Bernie Vince who was serving a two-match suspension after his second indiscretion this season. Both are likely to return this week along with another tall to replace Jesse Hogan who is out with a broken collarbone. The Giants also have their share of injury problems so there are no excuses on either side. The Giants will open as firm favourites in this twentieth round of the season and the memory of the Demons' last outing on this track when they kicked 14 out of the last 15 goals of the game would seem to justify this although that game took place two years ago and the visitors have matured as a team since then. More pertinent is the fact that GWS can hardly claim to be in form at the present time and they also have more injury worries than Jeremy Cameron to contend with in the lead up to the game. Melbourne has to deal with the demons inside their heads - will they come out as the quick starters of the Port Adelaide game or will it be the sleepy slow opening that we witnessed up in Darwin a few weeks ago? That may well be the key to this game but I think there is also some significance in the fact that this game comes on the Saturday afternoon of the twentieth round of the season exactly twelve months after the Demons announced themselves as a team of the future by coming in as the underdog against the premiership favourites Hawthorn without key forward Jesse Hogan and beating them hands down. That was the day that Sam Weideman made his debut for the club and a number of other young Demons excelled on the big stage. Although Manuka is not as big a stage as the MCG, I have this feeling in my bones that history is about to repeat itself. THE GAME Melbourne v GWS Giants at Manuka Oval, Saturday 5 August, 2017 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall GWS Giants 4 wins, Melbourne 5 wins At Manuka Oval GWS Giants 1 win, Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings GWS Giants 3 wins, Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Cameron 0 wins, Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel Live at 1.40pm RADIO - SEN THE BETTING GWS Giants to win - $1.48, Melbourne to win - $2.65 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.8.80 d GWS Giants 10.18.78 at The MCG, Round 1, 2016 Melbourne came back from the dead with a six goal final quarter thanks to some late goal kicking heroics from Jesse Hogan. Jack Viney (32 possessions) was best afield for the Demons and was ably supported by Nathan Jones and first-gamer Clayton Oliver in the middle. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: Zac Williams, Adam Tomlinson, Nathan Wilson HB: Nick Haynes, Phil Davis, Heath Shaw C: Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Lachie Whitfield HF: Devon Smith, Rory Lobb, Harrison Himmelberg F: Dylan Shiel, Steve Johnson, Matt de Boer FOLL: Shane Mumford, Jacob Hopper, Matthew Kennedy I/C: Stephen Coniglio, Aidan Corr, Brett Deledio, Josh Kelly EMG: Daniel Lloyd, Harry Perryman, Dawson Simpson IN: Brett Deledio, Harrison Himmelberg, Jacob Hopper, Steve Johnson, Shane Mumford OUT: Jeremy Cameron (hamstring), Jonathon Patton (hamstring tightness), Harry Perryman (omitted), Will Setterfield (concussion), Dawson Simpson (omitted) NEW: Brett Deledio (Richmond) MELBOURNE B: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jordan Lewis, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C: Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince, Christian Salem HF: Clayton Oliver, Cameron Pedersen, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, James Harmes FOLL: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones I/C: Corey Maynard, Jake Melksham, Christian Petracca, Jack Watts EMG: Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner, Sam Weideman IN: Nathan Jones, Corey Maynard, Cameron Pedersen, Bernie Vince OUT: Mitch Hannan (rested), Jesse Hogan (shoulder), Jay Kennedy-Harris (omitted), Jack Trengove (omitted) NEW: Corey Maynard So it's crunch time for the Demons who face a tough battle on enemy soil to maintain their spot in the top eight. The two teams have been hit hard by injury and suspension in recent months and both will be buoyed by the return of some important members of their respective teams while, at the same time, they will each miss their injured spearheads in Jeremy Cameron and Jesse Hogan. The Giants welcome back veterans in ruckman Shane Mumford and forward Steve Johnson and have included former Tiger Brett Deledio for the first time having missed most of the season battling persistent calf injuries. The Demons have also brought in some experienced heads with co-skipper Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince and Cam Pedersen and given a mature age rookie and convert from basketball, Corey Maynard his first opportunity. The experience of Jones and Vince was sorely missed last week and might well have made the difference between winning and losing in Hobart. For some strange reason Melbourne often plays at its best when it's not favoured to win so they will relish being the underdog in this game. They come up against a tough opponent with the Giants ranked as the number one clearance side in the competition in 2017 at an average of 42.3 per game (the Demons are third at 38.8). That makes for an exciting contest in the middle where youngster Clayton Oliver is second in the league for contested possessions while the Giants' best is Dylan Shiel (15th). The Giants have been strong all year in winning the ruck contests and while this has been a Demon weakened for most of the season, it has been addressed by the return from injury of Max Gawn. While there's no doubt that the battle in the middle will be critical, the manner in which each team covers the loss of their main key forward could well determine the outcome. GWS have Johnson at full forward amid rumours of hamstring issues with Jonathon Patton. The Demon backs might struggle if he comes up because they will also have to contain Rory Lobb. They have struggled with tall, strong opponents this year. The Demons will be hoping for a return to form from Jack Watts who has been quiet since his return. All in all, a fascinating tussle is on the cards. It could go either way but I'm going for the home team by 18 points.
  8. Melbourne wasted yet another opportunity to establish a strong grip on a top eight placing for 2017 last week and, as a result, is back among a large pack of clubs contesting against each other for a spot on one of the lower rungs in the finals series. Whether it was a case of stage fright, tiredness or something else, the Demons really blew it after taking the lead against the Kangaroos halfway through the final quarter with a strong breeze at their backs. They desperately missed the presence of experienced heads like co-captain Nathan Jones out with a quad injury and fellow leader Bernie Vince who was serving a two-match suspension after his second indiscretion this season. Both are likely to return this week along with another tall to replace Jesse Hogan who is out with a broken collarbone. The Giants also have their share of injury problems so there are no excuses on either side. The Giants will open as firm favourites in this twentieth round of the season and the memory of the Demons' last outing on this track when they kicked 14 out of the last 15 goals of the game would seem to justify this although that game took place two years ago and the visitors have matured as a team since then. More pertinent is the fact that GWS can hardly claim to be in form at the present time and they also have more injury worries than Jeremy Cameron to contend with in the lead up to the game. Melbourne has to deal with the demons inside their heads - will they come out as the quick starters of the Port Adelaide game or will it be the sleepy slow opening that we witnessed up in Darwin a few weeks ago? That may well be the key to this game but I think there is also some significance in the fact that this game comes on the Saturday afternoon of the twentieth round of the season exactly twelve months after the Demons announced themselves as a team of the future by coming in as the underdog against the premiership favourites Hawthorn without key forward Jesse Hogan and beating them hands down. That was the day that Sam Weideman made his debut for the club and a number of other young Demons excelled on the big stage. Although Manuka is not as big a stage as the MCG, I have this feeling in my bones that history is about to repeat itself. THE GAME Melbourne v GWS Giants at Manuka Oval, Saturday 5 August, 2017 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall GWS Giants 4 wins, Melbourne 5 wins At Manuka Oval GWS Giants 1 win, Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings GWS Giants 3 wins, Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Cameron 0 wins, Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel Live at 1.40pm RADIO - SEN THE BETTING GWS Giants to win - $1.48, Melbourne to win - $2.65 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.8.80 d GWS Giants 10.18.78 at The MCG, Round 1, 2016 Melbourne came back from the dead with a six goal final quarter thanks to some late goal kicking heroics from Jesse Hogan. Jack Viney (32 possessions) was best afield for the Demons and was ably supported by Nathan Jones and first-gamer Clayton Oliver in the middle. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: Zac Williams, Adam Tomlinson, Nathan Wilson HB: Nick Haynes, Phil Davis, Heath Shaw C: Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Lachie Whitfield HF: Devon Smith, Rory Lobb, Harrison Himmelberg F: Dylan Shiel, Steve Johnson, Matt de Boer FOLL: Shane Mumford, Jacob Hopper, Matthew Kennedy I/C: Stephen Coniglio, Aidan Corr, Brett Deledio, Josh Kelly EMG: Daniel Lloyd, Harry Perryman, Dawson Simpson IN: Brett Deledio, Harrison Himmelberg, Jacob Hopper, Steve Johnson, Shane Mumford OUT: Jeremy Cameron (hamstring), Jonathon Patton (hamstring tightness), Harry Perryman (omitted), Will Setterfield (concussion), Dawson Simpson (omitted) NEW: Brett Deledio (Richmond) MELBOURNE B: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jordan Lewis, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C: Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince, Christian Salem HF: Clayton Oliver, Cameron Pedersen, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, James Harmes FOLL: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones I/C: Corey Maynard, Jake Melksham, Christian Petracca, Jack Watts EMG: Billy Stretch, Josh Wagner, Sam Weideman IN: Nathan Jones, Corey Maynard, Cameron Pedersen, Bernie Vince OUT: Mitch Hannan (rested), Jesse Hogan (shoulder), Jay Kennedy-Harris (omitted), Jack Trengove (omitted) NEW: Corey Maynard So it's crunch time for the Demons who face a tough battle on enemy soil to maintain their spot in the top eight. The two teams have been hit hard by injury and suspension in recent months and both will be buoyed by the return of some important members of their respective teams while, at the same time, they will each miss their injured spearheads in Jeremy Cameron and Jesse Hogan. The Giants welcome back veterans in ruckman Shane Mumford and forward Steve Johnson and have included former Tiger Brett Deledio for the first time having missed most of the season battling persistent calf injuries. The Demons have also brought in some experienced heads with co-skipper Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince and Cam Pedersen and given a mature age rookie and convert from basketball, Corey Maynard his first opportunity. The experience of Jones and Vince was sorely missed last week and might well have made the difference between winning and losing in Hobart. For some strange reason Melbourne often plays at its best when it's not favoured to win so they will relish being the underdog in this game. They come up against a tough opponent with the Giants ranked as the number one clearance side in the competition in 2017 at an average of 42.3 per game (the Demons are third at 38.8). That makes for an exciting contest in the middle where youngster Clayton Oliver is second in the league for contested possessions while the Giants' best is Dylan Shiel (15th). The Giants have been strong all year in winning the ruck contests and while this has been a Demon weakened for most of the season, it has been addressed by the return from injury of Max Gawn. While there's no doubt that the battle in the middle will be critical, the manner in which each team covers the loss of their main key forward could well determine the outcome. GWS have Johnson at full forward amid rumours of hamstring issues with Jonathon Patton. The Demon backs might struggle if he comes up because they will also have to contain Rory Lobb. They have struggled with tall, strong opponents this year. The Demons will be hoping for a return to form from Jack Watts who has been quiet since his return. All in all, a fascinating tussle is on the cards. It could go either way but I'm going for the home team by 18 points.
  9. Those were the days ... MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Matt Jones, Oscar McDonald, Christian Salem C: Bernie Vince, Jack Viney, Aaron vandenBerg HF: Jack Watts, Sam Frost, James Harmes F: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Tomas Bugg, Ben Kennedy, Clayton Oliver, Cameron Pedersen EMG: Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes, Billy Stretch NEW: Tomas Bugg (GWS Giants), Ben Kennedy (Collingwood), Clayton Oliver (Murray Bushrangers) GWS GIANTS B: Heath Shaw, Aidan Corr, Matt Buntine HB: Nathan Wilson, Phil Davis, Adam Kennedy C: Lachie Whitfield, Callan Ward, James Stewart HF: Rhys Palmer, Rory Lobb, Tom Scully F: Toby Greene, Adam Tomlinson, Devon Smith FOLL: Shane Mumford, Ryan Griffen, Dylan Shiel I/C: Steve Johnson, Josh Kelly, Caleb Marchbank, Jack Steele EMG: Stephen Coniglio, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Zac Williams NEW: Steve Johnson (Geelong)
  10. HELLS BELLS by George on the Outer "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee." John Donne There are plenty of reasons not to like playing GWS at Star Track oval ( Manuka): 1. Having to listen to that god-awful Cossack dance of a club song; 2. Only 2 gates for entry and exit to the ground; 3. No pies or hot dogs for sale; 4. 1 drinks stand; 5. 1 ticket seller window; 6. 1 icecream stand; 7. Did I mention that god-awful Cossack dance of a club song? Well that Cossack song became even more unbearable when it sounded out around the ground at the end as well, following a complete and utter capitulation by the Demons after leading by more than five goals late in the second quarter. This gave the Demon fans one more good reason the hate the place ... Last week, the Demons set about removing some diabolical history, and finally won an opening round game for the first time in ten years. After conceding eleven goals straight and kicking a solitary major in a half of football, they are well on the way to plumbing new depths. Everything was there to be taken by the team and the club. A good opening game win, playing against a perennial bottom side full of youngsters, at least half the spectators decked out in Red and Blue and showing much more voice than their counterparts in orange. There was much hope and rightly so, after the suffering that the fans had faced for the past 7 years. And the fans had every reason to think there was something special about to happen. Similar to last week as the team ran onto the ground to the AC-DC theme of Hells Bells the bells of the local Catholic church rang out loud and strong. Trouble was that it was merely a wedding taking place, and those bells were more of a portent of things to come, with the words of John Donnes famous poem ringing true ... know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee ... your time is up Demons! After a promising first quarter when the team took all before it, and even the opening fifteen minutes of the second, all seemed well. Compatriots at the game noted that halfway through its second game, Melbourne had yet to lose a single quarter of football this season ... Then the bells started ringing again! Opportunities to seal the game were squandered, and despite being absolutely pantsed by Mark Jamar in the first quarter, Shane Mumford began a steady and relentless comeback in the ruck. A goal just before half-time to GWS was the start of an avalanche of goals that didnt stop until just before the final bell ... and thank goodness that Tom McDonald was playing in our backline, because the result may have been even more ugly without his constant rejection of the GWS attacks. Leadership was lacking when it was most needed, and the much vaunted leadership group was nowhere to be seen. Sadly, the captain appeared to be operating under an injury cloud ( I hope he was), for he had no spark, run or the normal levels of aggression that he displays week in week out. Jamar was still getting his hands on the ball in the middle, but Shiel, Treloar, Ward and Coniglio just kept sharking it, while our mids stood by looking on. There were at least nine successive clearances from the centre without a single Melbourne player touching the ball or the opposition player who had it in his hands. Particularly troubling was that nothing was done to stem this rampage. The same players were left in the middle, even when it was obvious that the GIants' pace was killing us. Surely it was the time to try something different, but it wasnt until the last quarter that Brayshaw, Garlett and Lumumba got a chance to show some spirit on behalf of the team by playing in the middle? But by then it was all over, and the hopes of the Demon fans who had travelled by road and air to support their team, not to mention the hordes of local supporters, were dashed well and truly YET AGAIN. How many time have the fans been asked to dig deep over these past hard years, and when the opportunity to lift the club from its doldrums is left up to the players they fail? So when the 2015 season draws to a close, and those same players want to know whether they will see season 2016, remember the tolling of the bells and remember that they toll for thee!! Melbourne 4.2.26 7.3.45 7.6.48 8.8.56 GWS Giants 0.2.2 2.6.18 11.8.74 15.11.101 Goals Melbourne Hogan Newton 2 Garlett Jamar Kent T McDonald GWS Giants McCarthy Shiel 3 Coniglio Smith 2 Cameron Mumford Scully Treloar Wilson Best Melbourne T McDonald Viney Salem Cross Tyson Lumumba GWS Giants Coniglio Kelly Haynes Greene Shaw Shiel Changes Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Substitutions Melbourne Brayshaw replaced Vince in the fourth quarter. GWS GiantsWilson replaced Tomlinson in the second quarter. Reports Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Umpires Stevic Hat Pannell Official crowd 7,760 at the StarTrack Oval
  11. Voting for the second round of the DEMONLAND PLAYER OF THE YEAR begins with the final siren. Votes on a 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis (best gets 6 and so on to sixth best which gets 1). As usual, we will select three sets of votes as the official Denonland votes for the round.
  12. "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee." ~ John Donne There are plenty of reasons not to like playing GWS at Star Track oval ( Manuka): 1. Having to listen to that god-awful Cossack dance of a club song; 2. Only 2 gates for entry and exit to the ground; 3. No pies or hot dogs for sale; 4. 1 drinks stand; 5. 1 ticket seller window; 6. 1 icecream stand; 7. Did I mention that god-awful Cossack dance of a club song? Well that Cossack song became even more unbearable when it sounded out around the ground at the end as well, following a complete and utter capitulation by the Demons after leading by more than five goals late in the second quarter. This gave the Demon fans one more good reason the hate the place ... Last week, the Demons set about removing some diabolical history, and finally won an opening round game for the first time in ten years. After conceding eleven goals straight and kicking a solitary major in a half of football, they are well on the way to plumbing new depths. Everything was there to be taken by the team and the club. A good opening game win, playing against a perennial bottom side full of youngsters, at least half the spectators decked out in Red and Blue and showing much more voice than their counterparts in orange. There was much hope and rightly so, after the suffering that the fans had faced for the past 7 years. And the fans had every reason to think there was something special about to happen. Similar to last week as the team ran onto the ground to the AC-DC theme of Hells Bells the bells of the local Catholic church rang out loud and strong. Trouble was that it was merely a wedding taking place, and those bells were more of a portent of things to come, with the words of John Donnes famous poem ringing true ... know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee ... your time is up Demons! After a promising first quarter when the team took all before it, and even the opening fifteen minutes of the second, all seemed well. Compatriots at the game noted that halfway through its second game, Melbourne had yet to lose a single quarter of football this season ... Then the bells started ringing again! Opportunities to seal the game were squandered, and despite being absolutely pantsed by Mark Jamar in the first quarter, Shane Mumford began a steady and relentless comeback in the ruck. A goal just before half-time to GWS was the start of an avalanche of goals that didnt stop until just before the final bell ... and thank goodness that Tom McDonald was playing in our backline, because the result may have been even more ugly without his constant rejection of the GWS attacks. Leadership was lacking when it was most needed, and the much vaunted leadership group was nowhere to be seen. Sadly, the captain appeared to be operating under an injury cloud ( I hope he was), for he had no spark, run or the normal levels of aggression that he displays week in week out. Jamar was still getting his hands on the ball in the middle, but Shiel, Treloar, Ward and Coniglio just kept sharking it, while our mids stood by looking on. There were at least nine successive clearances from the centre without a single Melbourne player touching the ball or the opposition player who had it in his hands. Particularly troubling was that nothing was done to stem this rampage. The same players were left in the middle, even when it was obvious that the GIants' pace was killing us. Surely it was the time to try something different, but it wasnt until the last quarter that Brayshaw, Garlett and Lumumba got a chance to show some spirit on behalf of the team by playing in the middle? But by then it was all over, and the hopes of the Demon fans who had travelled by road and air to support their team, not to mention the hordes of local supporters, were dashed well and truly YET AGAIN. How many time have the fans been asked to dig deep over these past hard years, and when the opportunity to lift the club from its doldrums is left up to the players they fail? So when the 2015 season draws to a close, and those same players want to know whether they will see season 2016, remember the tolling of the bells and remember that they toll for thee!! Melbourne 4.2.26 7.3.45 7.6.48 8.8.56 GWS Giants 0.2.2 2.6.18 11.8.74 15.11.101 Goals Melbourne Hogan Newton 2 Garlett Jamar Kent T McDonald GWS Giants McCarthy Shiel 3 Coniglio Smith 2 Cameron Mumford Scully Treloar Wilson Best Melbourne T McDonald Viney Salem Cross Tyson Lumumba GWS Giants Coniglio Kelly Haynes Greene Shaw Shiel Changes Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Substitutions Melbourne Brayshaw replaced Vince in the fourth quarter. GWS GiantsWilson replaced Tomlinson in the second quarter. Reports Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Umpires Stevic Hat Pannell Official crowd 7,760 at the StarTrack Oval
  13. Paul Roos has taken 23 players up to the national capital today, the majority of who were not on the club's primary list when he was appointed as coach of the club late in 2013. I'm counting the eleven players recruited since then (the travelling emergency JKH was drafted in November 2013) and Jesse Hogan who was on the club's books as a GWS compensation pick but not officially listed until the National Draft. Then there's Neville Jetta who was delisted at the season's end but provided with another chance and redrafted as a rookie for the 2014 AFL season who grabbed that chance and is now established as a senior player. That makes a majority of the players making up what I would call Roosy's new age team. I'm looking forward to them taking another step forward this afternoon.
  14. STARTRACK: THE FINAL FRONTIER by Whispering Jack This week, Melbourne goes on the road to the AFL's final frontier, the national capital Canberra, where it takes on another of the AFL's new franchise clubs in the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Both clubs won their opening rounds but they are considered to be a long way behind the AFL's elite teams and in a different stratosphere completely to the reigning premier, Hawthorn. A win at StarTrak Oval, Manuka will mean a lot to the victor - it will provide confidence, credibility and an excellent starting point for the long year ahead. To the vanquished it will make the long year ahead feel even a little bit longer. Needless to say, a win is important for both clubs. Melbourne has been down for a long time and one wonders how long it can keep treading water. And even though they have been gifted so many drafting concessions in their formative years, the Giants are not without problems of their own - Difficult times for Greater Western Sydney For Melbourne, last week's win, albeit against an undermanned opposition with its main man severely restricted due to not having fully recovered from his shoulder injury, was therapeutic to its players, management and staff and most of all, its supporters to who the adjective "long-suffering" has well and truly outworn its welcome. After all these years there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was neither a mirage nor an express train rumbling down the tracks on its way to cause wreckage and further untold damage to our collective pride. It was a supreme team effort. Every one of the twenty-two players including the seven debutants played his part and for the first time in a long while, the talk of the town around Melbourne is how do you fit two players - one returning from injury, the other from suspension - into the team and who would be the unlucky player or players omitted in order to make way for them. There's something else about this game that also needs to be said. At the last meeting between these teams, Melbourne wasn't just beaten badly, it was smashed and left badly bleeding after a shameful, shambolic display of ineptitude. Up to about two thirds of that team is likely to be playing at Manuka this Saturday and if they have any pride in their ability as footballers they will be out to atone for that performance. There are some obvious reasons why I am confident that they can reverse that horrific outcome. For one, the team has some marking targets and clever smalls up forward and for another, they are more focussed, aggressive and hitting the scoreboard. Although they were well beaten by the Giants last year, the Demons had only four scoring shots less than the winners. They have straightened up and are playing more direct football and though the home side will be no pushover, there's no reason why they shouldn't avenge their two 2014 losses to the AFL's newest franchise team to give themselves and their fans yet another much needed boost. THE GAME GWS Giants at StarTrack Oval, Saturday 11 April, 2015 at 2.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 3 wins At StarTrak Oval GWS Giants 0 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Cameron 2 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 at 2.00pm (live) RADIO - SEN THE BETTING GWS Giants to win - $1.46 Melbourne to win - $2.70 THE LAST TIME THEY MET GWS Giants 15.8.98 defeated Melbourne 3.16.34 at the MCG Round 21, 2014 This game saw Melbourne sink to its lowest ebb in a disappointing season. It was bad enough to lose on the MCG to the newest franchise team by 64 points but to score only three goals for the day and only one (against thirteen) in the final three quarters after starting the game as firm favourites was nothing short of humiliating. And it all happened on Members Appreciation Day. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Joel Patfull HB: Nick Haynes, Aidan Corr, Rhys Palmer C: Tommy Bugg, Callan Ward, Tom Scully HF: Lachie Whitfield, Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy F: Adam Treloar, Adam Tomlinson, Josh Kelly FOLL: Shane Mumford, Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel I/C: Toby Greene, Ryan Griffen, Devon Smith, Nathan Wilson EMG: Matt Buntine, Andrew Phillips, Zac Williams IN: Nathan Wilson OUT: Curtly Hampton (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem C: Daniel Cross, Heritier Lumumba, Ben Newton HF: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Jack Viney F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer IN: Chris Dawes, Bernie Vince OUT: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jimmy Toumpas (both omitted) Melbourne impressed last week with an uncharacteristic style of ball movement that we've rarely witnessed in recent seasons. The defence held tight, particularly in the first half when it conceded only three goals to the Suns. The midfield was neat and impressive and shared the ball around so that it was not left to the few to carry the load and there was plenty of run and contested marking power up forward. The Giants will certainly test them out with their pace and movement in the middle of the ground thanks to the likes of Adam Treloar, Lachie Whitfield, Dylan Shields and Toby Greene while Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy and Adam Tomlinson will test the Melbourne defence. Shane Mumford gave the Demons a workout in the ruck last year and his duel with a rejuvenated Mark Jamar will be crucial to the outcome of this game. The Giants are playing their first home game at their home away from home, StarTrack Oval, Canberra. Their problem however, is that they don't really play well at this venue having just one win from nine games there. They played at Manuka three times last year without victory. Melbourne won there at their only meeting in round 21, 2012 when they emerged 25-point victors. The Dees have played five times in the ACT for two wins. Melbourne is in good form and has been further bolstered by the return from suspension of Chris Dawes and of Bernie Vince from a hamstring injury. These players should give the team the edge in experience which, combined with the fact that the Demons are buoyed with confidence, comfortable with this venue and are capable of using their new found aggression and size to advantage, should see them win their second successive game for a perfect start to the 2015 season. Melbourne by 17 points.
  15. This week, Melbourne goes on the road to the AFL's final frontier, the national capital Canberra, where it takes on another of the AFL's new franchise clubs in the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Both clubs won their opening rounds but they are considered to be a long way behind the AFL's elite teams and in a different stratosphere completely to the reigning premier, Hawthorn. A win at StarTrak Oval, Manuka will mean a lot to the victor - it will provide confidence, credibility and an excellent starting point for the long year ahead. To the vanquished it will make the long year ahead feel even a little bit longer. Needless to say, a win is important for both clubs. Melbourne has been down for a long time and one wonders how long it can keep treading water. And even though they have been gifted so many drafting concessions in their formative years, the Giants are not without problems of their own - Difficult times for Greater Western Sydney For Melbourne, last week's win, albeit against an undermanned opposition with its main man severely restricted due to not having fully recovered from his shoulder injury, was therapeutic to its players, management and staff and most of all, its supporters to who the adjective "long-suffering" has well and truly outworn its welcome. After all these years there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it was neither a mirage nor an express train rumbling down the tracks on its way to cause wreckage and further untold damage to our collective pride. It was a supreme team effort. Every one of the twenty-two players including the seven debutants played his part and for the first time in a long while, the talk of the town around Melbourne is how do you fit two players - one returning from injury, the other from suspension - into the team and who would be the unlucky player or players omitted in order to make way for them. There's something else about this game that also needs to be said. At the last meeting between these teams, Melbourne wasn't just beaten badly, it was smashed and left badly bleeding after a shameful, shambolic display of ineptitude. Up to about two thirds of that team is likely to be playing at Manuka this Saturday and if they have any pride in their ability as footballers they will be out to atone for that performance. There are some obvious reasons why I am confident that they can reverse that horrific outcome. For one, the team has some marking targets and clever smalls up forward and for another, they are more focussed, aggressive and hitting the scoreboard. Although they were well beaten by the Giants last year, the Demons had only four scoring shots less than the winners. They have straightened up and are playing more direct football and though the home side will be no pushover, there's no reason why they shouldn't avenge their two 2014 losses to the AFL's newest franchise team to give themselves and their fans yet another much needed boost. THE GAME GWS Giants at StarTrack Oval, Saturday 11 April, 2015 at 2.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 3 wins At StarTrak Oval GWS Giants 0 wins Melbourne 1 win Past five meetings GWS Giants 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Cameron 2 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Sports 3 at 2.00pm (live) RADIO - SEN THE BETTING GWS Giants to win - $1.46 Melbourne to win - $2.70 THE LAST TIME THEY MET GWS Giants 15.8.98 defeated Melbourne 3.16.34 at the MCG Round 21, 2014 This game saw Melbourne sink to its lowest ebb in a disappointing season. It was bad enough to lose on the MCG to the newest franchise team by 64 points but to score only three goals for the day and only one (against thirteen) in the final three quarters after starting the game as firm favourites was nothing short of humiliating. And it all happened on Members Appreciation Day. THE TEAMS GWS GIANTS B: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Joel Patfull HB: Nick Haynes, Aidan Corr, Rhys Palmer C: Tommy Bugg, Callan Ward, Tom Scully HF: Lachie Whitfield, Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy F: Adam Treloar, Adam Tomlinson, Josh Kelly FOLL: Shane Mumford, Stephen Coniglio, Dylan Shiel I/C: Toby Greene, Ryan Griffen, Devon Smith, Nathan Wilson EMG: Matt Buntine, Andrew Phillips, Zac Williams IN: Nathan Wilson OUT: Curtly Hampton (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe HB: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem C: Daniel Cross, Heritier Lumumba, Ben Newton HF: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Jack Viney F: Jeff Garlett, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Viv Michie, Jake Spencer IN: Chris Dawes, Bernie Vince OUT: Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jimmy Toumpas (both omitted) Melbourne impressed last week with an uncharacteristic style of ball movement that we've rarely witnessed in recent seasons. The defence held tight, particularly in the first half when it conceded only three goals to the Suns. The midfield was neat and impressive and shared the ball around so that it was not left to the few to carry the load and there was plenty of run and contested marking power up forward. The Giants will certainly test them out with their pace and movement in the middle of the ground thanks to the likes of Adam Treloar, Lachie Whitfield, Dylan Shields and Toby Greene while Jeremy Cameron, Cam McCarthy and Adam Tomlinson will test the Melbourne defence. Shane Mumford gave the Demons a workout in the ruck last year and his duel with a rejuvenated Mark Jamar will be crucial to the outcome of this game. The Giants are playing their first home game at their home away from home, StarTrack Oval, Canberra. Their problem however, is that they don't really play well at this venue having just one win from nine games there. They played at Manuka three times last year without victory. Melbourne won there at their only meeting in round 21, 2012 when they emerged 25-point victors. The Dees have played five times in the ACT for two wins. Melbourne is in good form and has been further bolstered by the return from suspension of Chris Dawes and of Bernie Vince from a hamstring injury. These players should give the team the edge in experience which, combined with the fact that the Demons are buoyed with confidence, comfortable with this venue and are capable of using their new found aggression and size to advantage, should see them win their second successive game for a perfect start to the 2015 season. Melbourne by 17 points.
  16. This game saw Melbourne sink to its lowest ebb in a disappointing season. It was bad enough to lose on the MCG to the newest franchise team by 64 points but to score only three goals for the day and only one (against thirteen) in the final three quarters was nothing short of humiliating. And it all happened on Members Appreciation Day! MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Colin Garland HB: Jeremy Howe, Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes C: Bernie Vince, Jack Watts, Daniel Cross HF: Viv Michie, James Frawley, Jack Viney F: Dean Kent, Chris Dawes, Max Gawn FOLL: Mark Jamar, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Dom Barry, Matt Jones, Aidan Riley, Christian Salem EMG: Rohan Bail, Jack Fitzpatrick, Jordie McKenzie IN: Jack Grimes, Christian Salem OUT: Rohan Bail, Jay Kennedy-Harris (both omitted) GWS GIANTS B: Adam Kennedy, Lachie Plowman, Heath Shaw HB: Jono O'Rourke, Phil Davis, Matt Buntine C: Devon Smith, Adam Treloar, Toby Greene HF: Rhys Palmer, Adam Tomlinson, Will Hoskin-Elliott F: Joshua Kelly, Jonathon Patton, Tom Boyd FOLL: Shane Mumford, Callan Ward, Dylan Shiel I/C: Tomas Bugg, James Stewart, Mark Whiley, Nathan Wilson EMG: Jon Giles, Tim Golds, Zac Williams IN: James Stewart, Mark Whiley, Nathan Wilson OUT: Tim Golds, Jed Lamb, Zac Williams (all omitted) NEW: James Stewart (Sandringham U18), Mark Whiley (Finley)
  17. The memory is somewhat blurry but my memory is that we were only a point down early in the last quarter before we were blown off the park in a game in which our rucks were slaughtered and we had no key forwards. GWS had virtually a full side but I suspect that won't be the case this week with the Petracca Cup well and truly up for grabs. GWS GIANTS B: Nick Haynes, Sam Frost, Curtly Hampton HB: Heath Shaw, Lachlan Plowman, Adam Kennedy C: Toby Greene, Adam Treloar, Tom Scully HF: Jacob Townsend, Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Addison F: Devon Smith, Jonathan Giles, Jonathan Patton Foll: Shane Mumford, Stephen Coniglio, Callan Ward I/C: Tomas Bugg, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Josh Hunt, Josh Kelly EMG: Jed Lamb, Adam Tomlinson, Zachary Williams In: Will Hoskin-Elliot Out: Lachlan Whitfield (Inj) MELBOURNE B: Alex Georgiou, James Frawley, Lynden Dunn HB: Jack Grimes, Tom McDonald, Dean Terlich C: Daniel Cross, Bernie Vince, Jack Watts HF: Matt Jones, Jack Fitzpatrick, Jack Viney F: Jeremy Howe, Cam Pedersen, Rohan Bail FOLL: Jake Spencer, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Shannon Byrnes, Michael Evans, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Dean Kent EMG: Dom Barry, Sam Blease, Jack Trengove IN: Michael Evans, Dean Kent, Jack Viney OUT: Viv Michie, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Trengove
  18. SMALL MERCIES by JVM We should be thankful for small mercies but the amazing statistic from Melbourne's visit to rain-drenched Spotless Stadium was that the team recorded its highest goal tally for the season - a measly 7 goals for the game. The significant number for the day however, was 79 - the number of hit outs recorded by the Giants' ruckmen as against Melbourne's 37, less than half of what Shane Mumford and co produced. In conditions where you need ruck domination to win the ball out of packs and stoppages, Mumford had 60 to Jake Spencer's 25. The Snake had very little assistance. Jack Fitzpatrick was no help at all with four hit outs: even Daniel Cross managed more with five. The differential goes a fair way to explaining why the Demons lost. Since the Melbourne forwards started keeling over like flies in a Mortein storm, the mantra has been that no forwards means no scoring power, translating into defeat. Well that was evident again but this time the club's lack of ruck power was more of a factor than anything else. With Mark Jamar back playing at Casey but on restricted time for the sake of conservative treatment for one who has been troubled heavily with injury of late, Max Gawn hamstrung and Mitch Clark's connections possibly looking at an exit strategy, the ruck cupboard is bare when you have to rely on a hardworking but limited big man in Spencil. The club worked hard to add to its midfield depth over the draft/trade period - it would have done well to find a big man like Mummy who it missed out on when he crossed to the Swans from Geelong a few years ago. But that's spilt milk and there's enough of around the club to cry over so why start with the tears now? At least the Demons got good drive in the middle from Dom Tyson and Bernie Vince but they were battling uphill in the conditions where the opposition rucks were giving their direct opponents an armchair ride. GWS won the clearances handsomely. Coach Paul Roos lived up to his promise to change the team around. James Frawley and Lynden Dunn went to the forward line but the conditions and Melbourne's scrappy disposal didn't help matters. After a low scoring scrumfest worthy of a second or third grade amateur contest, there was a brief ray of light in the third term when a Jack Watts goal briefly gave the Demons the lead. Then somebody turned of the lights and the natural order returned to see the team succumb for its twelfth consecutive defeat. Somewhere in the background I could swear I heard the ghost of Mark Neeld mumble something about a reality bus. Melbourne 0.2.2 1.5.11 5.5.35 7.5.47 GWS Giants 1.2.8 2.7.19 5.12.42 10.19.79 Goals MelbourneDunn Watts 2 Frawley Kent M Jones GWS Giants Cameron Kelly Patton 2 Coniglio Mumford Smith Treloar Best Melbourne Tyson Dunn Cross Vince McDonald GWS Giants Mumford Ward Treloar Bugg Shaw Kelly Changes Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Reports Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Umpires Ben Ryan Simon Meredith Ray Chamberlain Attendance 7,016 at Spotless Stadium
  19. DEVIL OF A TIME by Whispering Jack The keynote speaker at last night's annual Devil's Advocates dinner was former Demon champion David Schwarz. Most of us know of his exploits on the field in his playing days and how he overcame adversity and the depths of three knee reconstructions to win a club best and fairest and play in a grand final and many would also be aware of how, with the help of his wife, he overcame a gambling addiction that sent him broke and even had him in the grip of criminal elements. Listening to him speak mainly of the latter and of his determination to repay his debts and to resurrect his life reminded me very much of the task his former club now faces to regain its rightful position among other clubs and the message is that the situation is not hopeless. The same story was reinforced by the other speakers starting with club chairman Glen Bartlett who started in football in Western Australia, who suffered a ruptured kidney playing in the WAFL in 1985 and recovered to make it all the way to the Eagles' inaugural list. Bartlett had a similar injury to that of GWS' Phil Davis who recently contacted him to discuss ways of overcoming this serious ailment. Bartlett's AFL career was brief - he was delisted after one year of his three year contract but took on the club in the industrial relations system to successfully win compensation but not reinstatement. He bounced back to have a good enough WAFL career that he was drafted by Brisbane. Later, he found his way to Melbourne and a top legal firm. He says he is at the club for the long haul if the members will have him and describes this journey as one that requires us to keep the faith. He reflects that the club has come a long way off the field in a short time in terms of building new partnerships with sponsors, acquiring new football staff including coaches and the players recruited over the off season. We now need to show resilience, courage and patience. Despite the early setbacks, there are a lot of positives about the club and Bartlett is confident we're on the right track. One of the new coaches is George Stone whose record at one stage was six premierships in nine seasons as an assistant at successful clubs in Hawthorn and Sydney. He told of how he started as a runner to the legendary "Yabby" Jeans who once likened the role of runner to a piano player in a brothel. "Son, you're where the action is, but you're not really a part of it". Like the other speakers, Stone expressed confidence in Paul Roos' ability to turn things around, the club's current situation with its lack of forwards will change and players will learn and develop. The club is starting with a blank canvas and Stone is confident that we will see progress over time. When asked whether Roos would have drafted Buddy Franklin were he still at Sydney, he said probably not because of Roos' emphasis on team play and not individuality. It's good teams that win premierships and he that this can be fulfilled at Melbourne but not without a lot of hard work and an ounce of luck. Auctioneer Phil Kingston of Gary Peer & Associates, a loyal Demon fan and a top operator in the south eastern suburbs emphasised the message of the speakers but added that money was important as well as all of the other things that had been spoken about on the night. He proceeded to auction a number of items including a magnificent framed picture of the 1956 premiership team and his efforts helped make the night a financial success. Considering the week the club has gone through, the turnout for the evening was great. Demon fans from various areas of the legal system were on hand - judges, barristers, solicitors, court personnel and academics were all on hand. One of the guests was human rights commissioner, Tim Wilson. Board member John Trotter was there as were former club chairman Paul Gardner, former board members Karen Hayes and Michael Givoni, barrister Bob Miller who played in the 60s and of course Bev O'Connor who brightened up the evening with a sterling job as master of ceremonies. Chris Dawes, the grandson of the late Chief Justice Sir John Young was there (I think he might be back earlier than some reports this week have suggested) along with Michael "Pickles" Evans, a law student who has also overcome some major injury woes himself and is on the cusp of selection into the Melbourne team. And there we have it ... a night where the theme was one of coming back from adversity. The Ox's story of starting out as a 15 year old Hawthorn fan training with the Under 19s (he was still a member of the Hawks' cheer squad when he made his senior debut at 18), speaking of his appreciation for the Melbourne Football Club which helped him escape from the ordinary life of Sunbury to an AFL career, to the lows of a gambling addiction and the help of his wife, friends and his contacts at Melbourne which helped him rise to overcome his hardships, repay his debts and take a place in society with a family, a home and in a far better place than the one which he once occupied. The narrative is one of recovery through determination and hard effort and is the very story we hope to relive at the Melbourne Football Club in the near future. Thanks to Devil's Advocates convenor Ralph Glezer for putting the night together again and for all those who contributed and showed that their is a way out of the despair of last Sunday's loss. It's now up to the coaches and the players to get it done on the field. Two former MFC Board Members taking in the atmosphere at last night's Devil's Advocate Dinner
  20. We should be thankful for small mercies but the amazing statistic from Melbourne's visit to rain-drenched Spotless Stadium was that the team recorded its highest goal tally for the season - a measly 7 goals for the game. The significant number for the day however, was 79 - the number of hit outs recorded by the Giants' ruckmen as against Melbourne's 37, less than half of what Shane Mumford and co produced. In conditions where you need ruck domination to win the ball out of packs and stoppages, Mumford had 60 to Jake Spencer's 25. The Snake had very little assistance. Jack Fitzpatrick was no help at all with four hit outs: even Daniel Cross managed more with five. The differential goes a fair way to explaining why the Demons lost. Since the Melbourne forwards started keeling over like flies in a Mortein storm, the mantra has been that no forwards means no scoring power, translating into defeat. Well that was evident again but this time the club's lack of ruck power was more of a factor than anything else. With Mark Jamar back playing at Casey but on restricted time for the sake of conservative treatment for one who has been troubled heavily with injury of late, Max Gawn hamstrung and Mitch Clark's connections possibly looking at an exit strategy, the ruck cupboard is bare when you have to rely on a hardworking but limited big man in Spencil. The club worked hard to add to its midfield depth over the draft/trade period - it would have done well to find a big man like Mummy who it missed out on when he crossed to the Swans from Geelong a few years ago. But that's spilt milk and there's enough of around the club to cry over so why start with the tears now? At least the Demons got good drive in the middle from Dom Tyson and Bernie Vince but they were battling uphill in the conditions where the opposition rucks were giving their direct opponents an armchair ride. GWS won the clearances handsomely. Coach Paul Roos lived up to his promise to change the team around. James Frawley and Lynden Dunn went to the forward line but the conditions and Melbourne's scrappy disposal didn't help matters. After a low scoring scrumfest worthy of a second or third grade amateur contest, there was a brief ray of light in the third term when a Jack Watts goal briefly gave the Demons the lead. Then somebody turned of the lights and the natural order returned to see the team succumb for its twelfth consecutive defeat. Somewhere in the background I could swear I heard the ghost of Mark Neeld mumble something about a reality bus. Melbourne 0.2.2 1.5.11 5.5.35 7.5.47 GWS Giants 1.2.8 2.7.19 5.12.42 10.19.79 Goals MelbourneDunn Watts 2 Frawley Kent M Jones GWS Giants Cameron Kelly Patton 2 Coniglio Mumford Smith Treloar Best Melbourne Tyson Dunn Cross Vince McDonald GWS Giants Mumford Ward Treloar Bugg Shaw Kelly Changes Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Reports Melbourne Nil GWS Giants Nil Umpires Ben Ryan Simon Meredith Ray Chamberlain Attendance 7,016 at Spotless Stadium
  21. Last night, the wife and I had dinner with friends at the Railway Club Hotel Steakhouse in Port Melbourne. Apart from the fact that the food's great, the other benefit is that there are a number of television sets placed around the walls so, if you strategically select your seat you can watch a game of footy as well as enjoy your food and take part in the conversation (in the case of the blokes you know what that's about). The game was Collingwood v Geelong and it was a ripper. The Pies were dominated in the first quarter, came back in the second to be level at half time and while neither team was at its top, the second half was close enough and exciting to retain the interest of all for the evening. If you like a comparison between the way these teams and Melbourne play, one of the ladies at the table who follows the Dees expressed it best when she said there's less stuffing around, less mistakes and more direct football. I would have added something about more endeavour from the experienced players in defence - the ones you rely on to save or win games - because as the game went on you could see blokes like Maxwell and Lumumba working their butts off trying to get their side up for a win. The former went off with an ankle injury early, got treatment and came back to play an important role in keeping his team in the game for its full duration. I wondered where are our equivalents? Why the hell do we have defenders not even chasing four minutes into a game? To make matters worse, at the bottom left hand of the screen they kept putting up the scores from the West Coast v St. Kilda game in Perth. To my astonishment, the Saints who a fortnight ago were about on par with us give or take some errant kicking for goal and the unfortunate circumstance of an injury or two incurred during the game, were in front at half time and there was only a goal in it at the final break. This was against a team that monstered us six days ago on our home turf in front of our own people. I was seething. It brought home to me how insulting that display from the team was to the coach and the supporters. I don't care about the fact that we have injuries to our talls or that some players have more important things on their minds like how much money are they going to be on at another club next year, I want to see them playing the sort of football today that ends up in a scoring opportunity and not turned over into an opposition score. Above all, I want to see the same endeavour and purpose shown by every player that Nick Maxwell displayed for Collingwood last night because that bloke plays as if he hates to lose and too many of ours don't. [Rant ends here...]
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