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  1. Melbourne’s twenty eight point loss to Geelong down at Taxpayer Funded Park provided plenty of cat-nip for the Geelong fans and their team. After all, the Cats go away thinking they have now got the Demons sorted after the embarrassments heaped upon them last season and their taste of this cat-nip will get even stronger in the coming weeks, courtesy of the AFL draw which gives them three more home games at the same venue in the six remaining rounds. Yet Melbourne, despite this loss, were within a kick half way through the final quarter, and were they to steal a win, would have truly put terror into Geelong’s future prospects when playing the Demons. It wasn’t to be, but just as equally it should be recognised how well Geelong prepared for the game and executed that tactic so well. Within the skinny confines of Mordor oval, the Cats have completely changed their approach and tactics. Last season it was all about possession, chip and kick, move around the flanks until sending the ball to the tall forwards. In this match it was all about territory, something at which Melbourne has been the exponent experts for quite a while. Equally, Melbourne were forced into the “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scenario with its forward structure. Without a second tall, the plan was to move Petracca forward more often and deeper. Yes, it produced three goals from him, but what was the cost to the midfield? Centre clearances 16:8. …. Clearances around the ground, 54: 36. Problem for Melbourne was that with this skinny ground, and losing particularly the centre square, is that the ball finished in the Geelong forward line again and again. Putting Harmes into the middle means Petracca wasn’t there. Petracca finished with only 2 clearances for the game. Two!! Can’t blame him because he was cooling his jets trying to mend a forward line hole. No Petracca made it doubly easy for the Cats. Stick a tag on Oliver, and while you can’t hold him back, he has no partner in crime to get the ball to, when things get tight. And it releases Guthrie from having to go head to head with the best in the competition. The backs simply played magnificently considering the onslaught coming in from the middle. At one point in the game the ball stayed in Geelong’s forward line for 15 minutes straight!. The Demons simply couldn’t get the ball out of there….why? Skinny ground and compounded by Geelong defenders, particularly their tall ones moving up the ground. De Koning, Blicavs and Henry only had to worry about Ben Brown, and they could set a wall up across the centre. And with Gawn and Jackson returning from injury, their output proved to be severely curtailed with Gawn not managing to record a single mark in the game! But Geelong were smart. They moved the ball through the centre with long kicks to gain territory. This completely nullified the advantage of James Jordan and Ed Langdon on the wings, and more importantly stopped the up-ground pressure from the likes of Alex Neal-Bullen, Toby Bedford and Kozzy Pickett. Without that pressure it has to be questioned the value of a couple of those players to the overall performance, if they can’t do anything else other than run around. Not much use if the ball has gone over your head and is 40 m away in the opposition forward line. Cameron was playing a long way up the ground instead of out of the goal square. This dragged the Melbourne defenders further forward, but while they didn’t follow blindly, it just left Cameron free-wheeling in the middle of the ground, with his long kicking capability. Melbourne goes away licking its wounds from this game. However, the problems they faced in this game will not be replicated on grounds where finals are played. There is also the lesson questioning the role allocated to certain players, when the environment has changed, and the opposition utilise different tactics. But the Cats have exposed themselves now. This plan works in one location only. Their ageing legs are not producing as they once were. Hawkins 1 goal for the game. Selwood barely 60% time on ground. 15 minutes of attack without barely a score. Just getting over the line against a side bereft of tall forwards. When the next meeting comes the flowering hopes of the already cat-nipped Geelong supporters will be nipped in the bud! MELBOURNE 3.1.19 5.4.34 7.6.48 9.9.63 GEELONG 3.3.21 5.8.38 8.12.60 12.19.91 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 3 Bedford Brown Fritsch Neal-Bullen Oliver Pickett GEELONG Duncan C Guthrie Rohan 2 Atkins Close Hawkins Holmes Smith Stengle BEST MELBOURNE Viney Petracca Oliver Neal-Bullen Brayshaw Petty GEELONG Atkins Henry C Guthrie Dangerfield Smith Duncan INJURIES MELBOURNE C Oliver (thumb) GEELONG Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil SUBSTITUTES MELBOURNE J Hunt (unused) GEELONG Q Narkle (unused) UMPIRES Justin Power Simon Meredith Robert Findlay CROWD 21,501 at GMHBA Stadium
  2. Who could ever forget last year’s Preliminary Final? THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: C. Salem 3 S. May 1 J. Lever 8
 HB: J. Bowey 17 H. Petty 35 T. Rivers 24 
 C: T. Sparrow 32 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15
 HF: B. Fritsch 31 T. McDonald 25 J. Viney 7 
 F: A. Neal-Bullen 30 B. Brown 50 C. Spargo 9
 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 A. Brayshaw 10
 I/C: J. Harmes 4 M. Hibberd 14 L. Jackson 6 K. Pickett 36 
 Sub: J. Jordon 23 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 N. Jones 2 J. Melksham 18 IN: M. Hibberd OUT: J. Smith (hamstring)
 GEELONG B: J. Henry 38 L. Henderson 25 Z. Tuohy 2 HB: J. Kolodjashnij 8 M. Blicavs 46 J. Bews 24 C: M. Duncan 22 C. Guthrie 29 I. Smith 7 HF: E. Ratugolea 17 J. Cameron 5 G. Rohan 23 F: S. Menegola 27 T. Hawkins 6 G. Miers 32 Foll: R. Stanley 1 J. Selwood 14 P. Dangerfield 35 I/C: T. Atkins 30 B. Close 45 Z. Guthrie 39 M. Holmes 9 Sub: S. Higgins 4 Emerg: L. Dahlhaus 40 D. Fort 28 S. Higgins 4 Q. Narkle 19 IN: S. Higgins OUT: B. Parfitt (hamstring)
  3. Please don’t talk to me about Melbourne’s lack of ruckmen last week at the Adelaide Oval. Or the discrepancy in the free kick numbers. Those things might have played a role in the way that the game unfolded but if you focus on them, then you are missing some truly significant pointers as to how the rest of the season is going to pan out for the Melbourne Football Club and in particular, on what happens on Thursday night when the team plays against Geelong at the Cattery. Here are some of the things that happened at the Adelaide Oval that should send shivers down the spines of opposing coaches. Clayton Oliver — after inking a playing contract to set up his career, he might have been forgiven for slacking off a little against a team in the bottom third of the competition but that was the furthest thing from his mind as he continued to amass a 36 possession game (a game high) with 13 tackles (equal game high) and plenty of score involvements. Clarrie is playing at a different level to the rest of the competition. Christian Petracca — after several weeks playing well below 100% fitness and spraying his shots at goal, Tracc produced the best ratings game of his career, kicking three goals, causing havoc with 11 score involvements and amassing bundles of contested possession. He’s back in town. Jack Viney — he might have trailed Oliver and Petracca (and Ed Langdon for that matter) in the number of touches but he’s been in good form of late and never drops his intensity and aggression at the football. When the game was still in the balance, he bustled his way through for the goal that finally settled the issue. Collectively, Oliver, Petracca and Viney are the toughest starting midfield at the elite level of the game. They're not just back in town — they are brutal as a combination of players. The stuff of nightmares for opposing coaches. Speaking of being back in town, Ed Langdon, who was almost lost in the bush after being subbed out with broken ribs against North Melbourne a month or so ago, has finally found his way back to the Bourke Street Mall after his 33 touches against the Crows. The modern day Demons have been good defensively but experienced a few shaky weeks in the absence of Steven May. Now that he’s settled back into the side and the rest of the key defenders are spending more of their time on the ground than in the hands of the trainers, they’re playing with that purpose again. Last Saturday’s effort in breaking the club’s intercept record was outstanding. There’s been some criticism of the Demon forwards but the two Browns contributed two goals each and the small forwards continued to bring their low possession, high pressure system to the game. With the likelihood of at least one, if not both of the club’s tall giants returning to the team for the Cats on Thursday night, the side is regaining the look and feel of September. The question therefore is whether we can gauge if the home side has improved enough to recover from the “wave of illness” that covered them when they were comprehensively smashed by the rampant Demons as they headed towards a premiership flag late last year. I’m not convinced by the Cats. They somehow have managed to score a sensational fixture given they finished top four last year. They have two major additions to the side that capitulated in the Preliminary Final, namely Tyson Stengle and Sam De Koning but the balance of the side are still old men who are going to be put under immense pressure. This should be even more so given that their most recent game wasn’t particularly challenging and therefore not much preparation for a top-of-the-ladder tussle against the reigning premiers. As long as Melbourne’s defenders can stay out of the way of the odd errant elbow, I think they have the strength and ability to hold the Geelong twin towers of Hawkins and Cameron to manageable levels of scoring. And if they do that, the Demons should beat the Cats by 27 points at at GMHBA Stadium. THE GAME

 Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday 7 July 2022 at 7.20pm HEAD TO HEAD

 Overall Geelong 132 wins Melbourne 88 wins 2 draws
 At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 40 wins Melbourne 19 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins
 The Coaches Scott 5 wins Goodwin 4 wins

 MEDIA

 TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on the Seven Network and Foxtel. Check your local guides.

 Radio - check your local guides.

 LAST TIME THEY MET 

Melbourne 19.11.125 defeated Geelong 6.6.42 at Optus Stadium in the 2021 Preliminary Final You couldn’t ask for more than a 14 goal win in a Preliminary Final, could you? Chris Scott sooked about his players being sick which demonstrated as much, if not more, poor form from the coach than from the Geelong players on the night. THE TEAMS

 GEELONG B: Z. Guthrie 39 S.De Koning 16 J. Bews 24 HB: J. Henry 38 M. Blicavs 46 Z. Tuohy 2 C: M. Duncan 22 J.Cameron 5 I. Smith 7 HF: T. Atkins 30 T. Hawkins 6 P. Dangerfield 35 F: B.Close 45 G.Rohan 23 T.Stengle 18 Foll: R. Stanley 1 C. Guthrie 29 J. Selwood 14 I/C: M. Holmes 9 S. Menegola 27 G. Miers 32 M.O'Connor 42 Sub: Q.Narkle 19 Emerg: F.Evans 31 M.Knevitt 10 S.Neale 33 In S.De Koning J. Selwood Out S.Higgins (omitted) J.Kolodjashnij (concussion) MELBOURNE B: H.Petty 35 J.Lever 8 S.May 1 HB: C.Salem 3 M.Hibberd 14 J.Bowey 17 C: A.Brayshaw 10 C.Oliver 13 E.Langdon 15 HF: K.Pickett 36 L.Jackson 6 T.Bedford 12 F: A.Neal-Bullen 30 B.Brown 50 C.Spargo 9 Foll: M.Gawn 11 C.Petracca 5 J.Viney 7 I/C: B.Fritsch 31 J.Jordon 23 J.Harmes 4 T.Sparrow 32 Sub: J.Hunt 29 Emerg: J.Melksham 18 A.Tomlinson 20 S.Weideman 26 In: M.Gawn J.Hunt L.Jackson Out: M.Brown (omitted) A.Tomlinson S.Weideman (omitted) Injury List: Round 17 Max Gawn - Ankle | Test Luke Jackson - Knee | Test Blake Howes - Foot | 1-2 Weeks Andy Moniz-Wakefield - Groin | 1-2 Weeks Daniel Turner - Face | 1-2 Weeks Joel Smith - Ankle | 2-4 Weeks Tom McDonald - Foot | 8-10 Weeks
  4. They were leading by 44 points well into the third quarter of a game to decide the minor premier, having kicked nine unanswered goals. The Cats were about to lap up their bowl of cream, dreaming of next week but the Demons led by Max Gawn had other ideas. In a stunning finish, they stole the game from under them to claim the plaudits as best team and top of ladder position. In a remarkable game, it all came down to Max having to kick the winning goal after the final siren, something which seems to have become a regular feature in Geelong-Melbourne games in the past few years. This time Max struck the ball truly and ignited a riot of emotion among the Melbourne players, coaches and supporters glued to their TV screens throughout the country. The vision of scenes that will become iconic. The game started as expected, given this was a match between the top two sides in the competition. It was hard contested football with neither side conceding. The Demons had the upper hand but small mistakes were costly. Once again, their set shot kicking was slipping with both Jack Viney and Bayley Fritsch missing chances to put the side well in front early in the piece. Tom Sparrow was showing all his nervousness with kicks into the man on the mark, but composed himself to provide a good shut-down job on Dangerfield during the quarter. At the first change, for all their troubles, the Demons led by a mere two points. The second quarter was a complete disaster for the Demons. The Cats kicked eight goals in a row, mostly in a 15 minute patch, where they simply got one centre clearance after another, and their forwards capitalised on the free entry coming their way. Max Gawn was being given a bath in the middle by Stanley, who was simply jumping over him to provide his mids with first touch. It wasn’t helped with James Harmes time and time again losing his man at centre bounces, as he often did last week. The rot was finally stopped when Viney was re-introduced late in the quarter and the Demons finally began to get their hands on the ball again. But the damage had been done, and the Cats took a 39 point lead into the main break. Something had to change. Early in the third, Luke Jackson missed a set shot, to continue the goal drought for the side, which had recorded a single goal from their previous 23 entries into the forward 50m. But slowly the pattern of the game began to change with Clayton Oliver finally kicking a major to put an end to the sequence of nine unanswered goals for the Cats. Jackson was thrown into the ruck, and matched Stanley’s athleticism. Geelong’s clearances stopped. The conditions also became slippery which was inhibiting the Demons skills and swift ball movement. By three quarter time, they had clawed back the Cats lead but it was only to a deficit of 32 points. All seemed lost from the fans’ perspective. Although the momentum had swung through persistence and hard work, nobody in the history of the game had come back from this far behind at the final break to win against Geelong on its home turf. Cue the Gawn and Oliver show. Within the first minute a swift clearance resulted in a Kozzy Pickett goal. This was quickly followed up when Charlie Spargo got his toe to the ball in the goal square to record another major. Max was winning the taps now, and the clearances from the middle continued. Clarrie snapped truly from the pocket and the Demons had put three in a row on the board. Spargo crumbed and snapped truly with 15 minutes to play to bring the score within seven points. Suddenly, it was game on. With seven minutes to play, Fritsch who had been absent for a majority of the game, outbodied his opponent to run into the open goal and the Demons were only a point down. The Cats seemed to be floundering and their main playmakers Dangerfield and Selwood were on the interchange, spending seven or eight minutes resting in an attempt to revive the old legs. Geelong had a chance to put it beyond doubt with Cameron missing and a collision between two Cats players in the dying minutes denied them a certain goal. It was all down to the final minute and a quick kick forward by Angus Brayshaw was inexplicably deemed deliberate out of bounds. Fortunately, Guthrie put the resultant free over the boundary on the full, and in a game already on a knife edge, Close punched the ball away after the whistle had blown. Lever took the resultant 50m penalty, spotted Gawn unattended, standing 15 metres out from the goal with Harmes by his side. The kick to the spot that Max pointed out was perfectly placed and he obliged with the mark. The siren sounded and Max converted truly - the smile on his face could have been compared to a Cheshire cat. The look on the face of Chris Scott and the finger pointing of the Geelong defenders in the vicinity was priceless. The outcome from the Melbourne perspective gave the true meaning of the phrase… “a game-changer” with Gawn going from being soundly beaten to a match winner. Clayton Oliver with 37 touches and 9 clearances simply moved the goal posts. Chipping in with two goals of his own put the icing on the cake for his performance, and may well have put the Chas Brownlow medal around his neck for the season. Down back Lever took twelve intercepts including nine marks to turn the tide and those who questioned the draft picks that Melbourne gave to secure his services had only to look at this game to see his value. Jackson had reversed the ascendancy of Stanley at a low point of the game for the side. All these little things caused others to come into the game and make the contributions needed to get over the line. It is worth remembering that this was the side’s third successive six day break. That they still got the job done was another big credit to Darren Burgess and his team. Kudos must also go to the coach who was able to inspire the remarkable turn-around and has now finished up with a 17 win and 1 draw season. The side now has belief entering the finals series. When they encounter the same situation in coming weeks, they know they can overcome what previously would have been impossible. For them, the cream at the top is now theirs for the taking. MELBOURNE 2.3.15 3.5.23 6.7.43 12.9.81 GEELONG 2.1.13 10.2.62 12.3.75 12.5.77 GOALS Melbourne Pickett 3 Brown Oliver Spargo 2 Fritsch Gawn Viney Geelong Hawkins 4 Cameron Rohan 2 Close Dahlhaus Dangerfield Selwood BEST Melbourne Oliver Petracca Gawn Salem Lever Pickett Geelong Selwood Dangerfield Hawkins Smith Henderson Guthrie INJURIES Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil REPORTS Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne J. Jordon (unused) Geelong S. Higgins (unused) UMPIRES Matt Stevic Craig Fleer Jacob Mollison Official Crowd 0 at GMBH Stadium
  5. The task ahead for the Demons as they wend their way down the Princes Freeway to Geelong on Saturday night will be to skin the Cats. For them to come away with the points from this game would mark an historic occasion for the club as it will finish on top of the ladder for the first time since its last premiership year, 1964. And it was in that year, that a trip to Corio Bay to meet the reigning premiers in Round 12, was one of the catalysts for Melbourne’s surge to the flag. It was a top of the table game that went the way of the visitors and while the Cats remained contenders into the finals series, the Demons had taken away their momentum. They had become the team to beat for premiership glory. They had skinned the Cats. Incidentally, animal lovers need not be alarmed by the expression because it doesn’t mean what you might think it does. According to American lexicographer, Charles Earle Funk (of Funk & Wagnalls fame), the expression refers to a boy's gymnastic trick: "In America, as any country boy knows, this means to hang by the hands from a branch or bar, draw the legs up through the arms and over the branch, …” That’s how I expect it to be done — by the younger but maturing Demons running rings around the aging Cats. As the season draws to an end, those old bodies down at the Cattery are beginning to feel the pinch. A few weeks ago, it was a struggle for them to get over the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena. Then they lost at home to the Giants while it took most of their most recent game to get the better of 12th placed St Kilda. Despite the heroics of some of their longtime stars and home ground advantage in their last two matches, they seem to be spluttering their way towards season’s end with far too many components on the wrong side of thirty. You sometimes feel that some of them are playing with their eyes on next month’s pension cheque. By way of contrast, the Demons are young, fresh and exuberant, crashing through opponents with the enthusiasm of a team with just the right mix of experience and youth, of players reaching maturity as footballers with a mission. They’ve crunched their last three opponents and the bad news for the Cats is that with the likely return of Steven May, Tom McDonald and Jack Viney for this week’s game, they are looking more potent than ever. I’m not underestimating the Cats and their experience but the demands on players’ bodies this year have made life harder for teams with too many players on the wrong side of thirty. This point was virtually acknowledged a little while ago when Chris Scott called for shorter quarters. The name of the game is the survival of the fittest and I think the Demons’ fitness and talent will go a long way to helping them skin the Cats. Melbourne to win by 27 points. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 21 August 2021 at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 132 wins Melbourne 86 wins 2 draws At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 40 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Scott 5 wins Goodwin 2 wins MEDIA TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.13.85 defeated Geelong 9.6.60 at the MCG in Round 4, 2021 The Cats had a few of their stars missing but they were never really in the hunt on a soggy MCG. The Demons received great drive from Max Gawn’s ruck dominance (41 hit outs, 23 disposals) and he was superbly supported by Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver with 36 and 34 possessions respectively. THE TEAMS GEELONG B: J. Henry 38 L. Henderson 25 J. Kolodjashnij 8 HB: M. O'Connor 42 M. Blicavs 46 J. Bews 24 C: S. Menegola 27 C. Guthrie 29 I. Smith 7 HF: B. Parfitt 3 J. Cameron 5 G. Rohan 23 F: B. Close 45 T. Hawkins 6 G. Miers 32 Foll: R. Stanley 1 J. Selwood 14 P. Dangerfield 35 I/C: T. Atkins 30 L. Dahlhaus 40 M. Holmes 9 S. Simpson 37 Sub: S. Higgins 4 Emerg: Z. Guthrie 39 Q. Narkle 19 E. Ratugolea 17 IN: T. Atkins G. Miers G. Miers OUT: Z. Guthrie (omitted) Q. Narkle (omitted) E. Ratugolea (omitted) MELBOURNE B: J. Smith 44 S. May 1 H. Petty 35 HB: T. Rivers 24 J. Lever 8 C. Salem 3 C: J. Harmes 4 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15 HF: J. Viney 7 T. McDonald 25 A. Brayshaw 10 F: A. Neal-Bullen 30 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 T. Sparrow 32 I/C: J. Bowey 17 L. Jackson 6 K. Pickett 36 C. Spargo 9 Sub: J. Jordon 23 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 M. Hibberd J. Melksham 18 IN: T. McDonald S. May J. Viney OUT: M. Hibberd (omitted) J. Melksham (omitted) A. vandenBerg (omitted) Injury List: Round 23 Tom McDonald (back spasms) — Test Marty Hore (knee) — 3 to 4 Weeks Jayden Hunt (ankle) — 3 to 4 Weeks Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season
  6. The football world began to sit up and take notice of Melbourne when it took Geelong to task on a wet afternoon in Round 4 MELBOURNE B: N. Jetta 39 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: J. Hunt 29 A. Tomlinson 20 T. Rivers 24 C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Oliver 13 E. Langdon 15 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. Petracca 5 J. Viney 7 I/C: N. Jones 2 J. Jordon 23 J. Melksham 18 C. Salem 3 Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 M. Hibberd 14 H. Petty 35 No change GEELONG B: L. Henderson 25 M. Blicavs 46 Jed Bews 25 HB: T. Atkins 24 T. Stewart 30 J. Kolodjashnij 8 C: I. Smith 7 M. O'Connor 44 Z. Tuohy 22 HF: M. Duncan 22 G. Miers 32 L. Dahlhaus 40 F: S. Menegola 27 T. Hawkins 26 B. Close 45 Foll: R. Stanley 1 C. Guthrie 29 J. Selwood 14 I/C: J. Clark 6 Z. Guthrie 39 J. Henry 38 Q. Narkle 19 Sub: M. Holmes 9 Emerg: C. Constable 18 J. Jenkins 11 In: B. Close Z. Guthrie S. Menegola Q. Narkle Out: C. Constable (omitted) F. Evans (ankle) S. Higgins (thumb) B. Parfitt (hip soreness - late withdrawal)
  7. Enough said 55 years will be 56 yrs of failure
  8. It truly became a “Cat Run” with an 80 point win to the home side, an outcome that had us wondering what happened to the Demons of 2018 when they got to a Preliminary final on the basis of their “brand” of contested football? Well that part hasn’t changed any, since the likes of Clayton Oliver can win the ball 44 times in a game including 15 clearances, Angus Brayshaw racks up 33 touches with Jack Viney chipping in for 27 of this own. In the ruck Max Gawn had 53 hitouts on the night, and yet on a wet and continuously raining night the team get beaten by 80 points! The Demons went inside their forward line 25 more times than the Cats for the game, this should have been a comprehensive Melbourne victory, based on these overwhelming statistics. But to lose instead by 13 goals means that something else is seriously, seriously out of whack! There is no doubt the forward line is completely dysfunctional. For the second week in a row Melbourne robbed the forwards of a tall to replace Gawn in the ruck to give him a rest. For the second week in a row it failed, and failed big time. Geelong didn’t have two rucks, they just used Hawkins in the forward line, Blicavs in the backline and Ratugolea as backups. This gave Stanley free reign to run Max around and into the ground. Unless Gawn can run the whole game, and around the whole ground at full pace, then perhaps the selectors could try bringing a second ruckman in to the side on selection night. And a forward line with the likes of Sparrow, Fritsch, ANB, first gamer Lockhart, even Melksham and Hunt simply isn’t going to match it for height against Taylor, Stewart and Blicavs. The constant bombing inside by Melbourne just meant Geelong were able to spoil or outmark their Melbourne opponents since it had only Weideman and Tom McDonald as talls, (when they weren’t dragged into the ruck). One spare Geelong tall all the time, or even more when Ratugolea or Stanley dropped back as well. Small wonder Melbourne wasn’t able to score, with yet another goal-less quarter (this time the third) which is too often now becoming part of “the Brand”. The other troubling re-emergence is the inability to stop an opposition teams “run on”. In the first quarter, the Cats kicked 5 unanswered goals in a 13 minute period and it was effectively game over in the wet. But they followed it up with a six goal unanswered period in the third and a 4 goal run in the last. This was emblematic of the worst of Melbourne sides prior to the arrival of Paul Roos. The mids were fantastic as seen by the simply enormous touches, contested possessions and simply drive they provided. The backs did their job well as evidenced by Hawkins only producing two goals for the night in a team which kicked 10 times as much. And the backline coaches have to stop the ridiculous habit we are developing of kicking short from the point-kick-ins. Clearing the danger zone should be critical. Again, that was a hallmark of Roos, which seems to have disappeared. The loss was simply the lack of pressure coming from too many around the ground, and the lack of scoreboard pressure caused by the forwards. The selectors have got to stop putting debutants into the side and expecting more. They have got to provide assistance to Gawn with another ruck or tall who can double as a forward. Losing the first two games, and not being competitive in either is a troubling sign. Can it be turned around? First step is the selection table, or we will face another blow-up against the hapless Bombers next game. Melbourne 2.2.14 3.4.22 3.9.27 6.10.46 Geelong 6.1.37 7.4.46 13.4.82 20.6.126 Goals Melbourne Melksham 2 Brayshaw Lockhart Viney Weideman Geelong Rohan 3 Dahlhaus Dangerfield Hawkins Selwood 2 Clark Constable Duncan Kelly Menegola Miers O'Connor Parfitt Ratugolea Best Melbourne Oliver Gawn Brayshaw Viney Geelong Dangerfield Selwood Kelly Stewart Dahlhaus Taylor Hawkins Constable Injuries Melbourne May (groin) Geelong Henry (hamstring) Reports Nil Umpires McInerney, Williamson, Wallace Official crowd at GMHBA Stadium Too many Cats sycophants to count so the figure has yet to be released
  9. How much should we be making out of Melbourne’s opening round loss on its home ground against an unfancied team from interstate in Port Adelaide? The game was barely over before the excuses were coming out that about the lack of preparation of the team, the fact that some players were playing injured or unfit and unable to handle the humidity and the heat, the team’s lack of run and spread, the lack of experience and having too many key players injured or (in the case of Steven May) suspended. The resort to excuses or reasons for failure should not sit well in light of the fact that it was not that long ago when Melbourne was being strongly touted as a top four team, if not a strong contender for the flag. There really will be no excuses this week with the game played at night (17 degrees and possible showers predicted), players returning from injury and big Maxy over the after effects of his minor skin surgery and the challenge of winning in Sleepy Hollow awaiting a team that will benefit from having the run of last week’s game out of its legs. In many ways this will be a game of redemption for both sides. The Cats will be looking to redeem themselves for their humiliating exit from last year’s final series when they were overpowered early by the enthusiastic Demons while Melbourne will be looking to redeem itself for last week’s crushing loss where it was made to look slow and without any focus up forward. In fact, it has been horrific in front of goal in its last two matches - no goals in the entire first half of the Preliminary Final and none in more than a quarter and a half at the end of last week’s game. The club will also be looking to redeem itself for that nightmare after-the-siren defeat late last year at at GMHBA Stadium which put paid to its efforts to finish in the top four before the finals. This week will be different with the long anticipated debut of Steven May who will no doubt be called upon to stop Tom Hawkins who was the match winner booting seven straight when the teams last met at this ground. The strength and aggression of the former Gold Coast skipper should certainly be significant after the limp efforts of the Demons’ key backs last week on the MCG. And speaking of skippers, one would hope that Melbourne co-captains Nathan Jones and Jack Viney will provide the sort of leadership that was sorely lacking last week and led to a diminished output from the rest of the midfield. I expect Max Gawn to stand up strong and proud and for a much better midfield which faces the quality of Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett and Tim Kelly. In the end however, the team is coming from a long way back on the basis of its lethargic performance against Port Adelaide and I fear that they aren’t ready yet to redeem themselves in the hostile territory of GMHBA Stadium. Geelong by 10 points. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 30 March 2019 at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 130 wins Melbourne 85 wins 2 draws At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 39 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Scott 3 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel 7 live RADIO - ABC Triple M 3AW LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 10.15.75 defeated Geelong 6.10.46 Elimination Final 2018 at the MCG It was happy days for the Demons as they booted the first five goals for the game to hammer home an advantage through Max Gawn’s ruck dominance over the inexperienced Ryan Abbo tt provided silver service to the midfield led by Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw and full forward Sam Weideman delivered with three goals. Two quarters of inaccuracy in front of goal prevented a complete slaughter. THE TEAMS Round 2 Injury List: Harry Petty (foot) – Test Tim Smith (calf) – Test Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – 1 - 2 weeks Jordan Lewis (hamstring) – 2 - 3 weeks Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – 4 - 6 weeks Joel Smith (groin) – TBA Mitch Hannan (knee) – 6-10 weeks Jake Lever (knee) – 6-10 weeks Jay Kennedy Harris (knee) – 10-12 weeks Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  10. Glory days THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C : Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Angus Brayshaw F: Bayley Fritsch, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo, Aaron vandenBerg Emg: Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Joel Smith, Tim Smith In: Mitch Hannan, Jack Viney Out: Jay Kennedy Harris (omitted) Kent (AC joint) GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Lachie Henderson, Tom Stewart HB: Jed Bews, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy C : Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Cameron Guthrie HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Tim Kelly F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Jordan Murdoch Foll: Ryan Abbott, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan I/C: Jack Henry Mark O'Connor Brandan Parfitt Scott Selwood Emg: Lachie Fogarty, Quinton Narkle, Zac Smith, Jackson Thurlow No change
  11. If only ... Max! MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones ? Bernie Vince, Jordan Lewis, Christian Salem HF: Christian Petracca, Cam Pedersen, James Harmes F: Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Alex Neal-Bullen I/C: Jake Melksham, Mitch Hannan, Corey Maynard, Josh Wagner Emg: Angus Brayshaw, Tom Bugg, Sam Frost, Dom Tyson NEW: Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons), Jake Lever (Adelaide) GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy HB: Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart, Jed Bus ? Cam Guthrie, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan HF: Cory Gregson, Esava Ratugolea, James Parsons F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Brendan Parfitt R: Zac Smith, Gary Ablett, Sam Menegola I/C: Lachie Fogarty, Zac Guthrie, Tim Kelly, Mark O’Connor Emg: Charlie Constable, Jordan Cunico, Jordan Murdoch, Rhys Stanley NEW: Lachie Fogarty (Western Jets), Tim Kelly (South Fremantle), Esava Ratugolea (Murray Bushrangers)
  12. DEJA VU by George on the Outer It couldn’t possibly happen, could it? It was just like last time. With a 2 point, after the siren loss to Geelong at Goomba stadium, the Demons fans were (once again) experiencing that feeling of Déjà vu that leads to an outbreak of MFCSS. Not just that feeling of losing after heading the Cats by nearly 4 goals into the final quarter, but the feeling that this loss may be just another version of the 2017 season when the Demons failed to make the finals by a kick or 2. For this loss puts Melbourne back in the pack fighting for a spot in the final 8, and should that happen then the fans will be entitled to ask how a whole season hinged on the dying minutes of one game. And not for the first time. A loss to Geelong in Round 1 by 3 points when Max had the chance to seal the game with less than a minute, the Port Adelaide game, the St.Kilda match. All of these had a similar feel. Melbourne managed to snatch defeat from a position of strength and come away with nothing. Despite losing the match, the effort from the players with only a few exceptions was exemplary. Right from the start they had come with an intent and a fire that was indicative of the style of play necessary to perform in September action. The pity is that like September you cannot get across the line unless you have 18 players on the field who do that for the full match. And unfortunately, there are still a couple who think they can put in when they feel like it. They are the ones who keep finding themselves down at Casey Fields on a regular basis. They will be getting that feeling of déjà vu once again in coming weeks, because we have seen the same patterns before. Those performances were in sharp contrast to the likes of Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and Christian Petracca who drove themselves and the side to that winning position with sheer grunt and ability. James Harmes shut down a couple of handy Geelong players in both J Selwood and Dangerfield, and up front Tom McDonald held his own with 4 goals to keep the side in the match. Down back Jordan Lewis showed why he is in the side when he had 30 touches and just kept filling the massive hole created by the losses of Hibberd and Lever. Although Hawkins kicked 7 for the match, it was too much to expect any different outcome from Oscar McDonald. Without the support around him and in the absence of any other “gorilla tamer” at the club, it was a near impossible task. Having seen it before, the feeling of déjà vu was well justified. In the ruck Max Gawn and Rhys Stanley fought each other to a draw. The mids fought each other to a draw. The respective forwards and backs fought each other to a draw, and but for the sake of 2 points, the match deserved to be a similar outcome. Sadly, the umpires intervened yet again gifting Geelong a goal when Dangerfield was awarded a free as a ruck when never in a position to be the ruck contest. Perhaps it was gamesmanship, but the umpire fell for it ... again. Most Demon supporters would not have put this match down as a win. The MFCSS determined that we had seen a loss at this venue too often to think a win possible. Déjà vu determined that gut feeling, even when controlling the game deep into the final quarter. It is now up to the side to overcome the same feelings heading into the final weeks. Have we lost regularly at Adelaide - sure have. Have we dropped games against lowly sides like Gold Coast - sure have. How about Sydney and West Coast? Mmmm, that seems familiar. Another wasted season after falling at the final hurdle? It's starting to look that way. It’s about time the MFCSS and sense of Déjà vu were dispelled. Melbourne 2.3.15 5.8.38 11.9.75 14.14.98 Geelong 2.1.13 5.3.33 8.4.52 16.14.100 Goals Melbourne T McDonald 4 Garlett Melksham 2 Brayshaw Gawn Hogan Jones Spargo Geelong Hawkins 7 Dangerfield 2 Duncan Henry Jones Kelly J Selwood Tuohy Best Melbourne Oliver T McDonald Harmes Petracca Lewis Brayshaw Geelong Hawkins Dangerfield Kelly Stewart Blicavs Ablett Stanley Injuries Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Rosebury, Brown, Nicholls Official attendance 30,125 at GMHBA Stadium
  13. Please cast your votes for the best players in today’s game on a 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 basis.
  14. Well some of the players have been gobbing off again in the media prior to a big game against the Cats. Lets hope this time the “talk” can be backed up on the field. It’s time Dees.
  15. ON THE ROAD AGAIN by Whispering Jack The highway to Geelong has long been a well travelled road for Victorians, used for a variety of purposes ranging from trade, commerce and industry, education, leisure and entertainment. One could include sport as part of the last category but, for fans of the Melbourne Football Club, trips down that road have rarely reached any definition of the word "entertainment". Rather, they have often been equated with horror stories ending in long, silent and forlorn wintertime trips back to the city and home. Those days are over now with the Demons on the cusp of their first finals appearance in a dozen seasons. That's not to say the flakey up and down Cats will be easy meat on their home turf this week at GMHBA Stadium but they are now better rounded, more experienced and are traveling the road to Sleepy Hollow on a mission. Melbourne has been bruised many times at this venue in the past. Even as its teams were on the improve and coming out of their dark times, they would sometimes get ahead of themselves and falter. When they last ventured down that highway, in Round 23, 2016, they were massacred by 111 points only weeks after beating the then reigning premiers Hawthorn. The Demons are therefore well aware as they journey on the road again that they will definitely have to leave at home the accolades and adulation they have been receiving as a result of that blistering third quarter against the Western Bulldogs with its highlights reel on constant rotation of big Max slapping the ball down to his young midfielders toying with Doggie on ballers and spearing the ball forward at will. Such moments are rare in football. They have fallen for the hype on one or two occasions already this year but this time they know they have to focus on Geelong, its strong midfield and defence, the narrow ground and on overcoming the advantage a feral home crowd gives to the Cats and to be able to play their game on their terms. I'm confident Melbourne can do this. The players are demonstrating a strong belief in each other and trust in themselves. These are elements that make a team capable of taking on the big challenges ahead of them, the first of which they face on Saturday night at the end of the highway. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 21 March 2018 at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 129 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 38 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Scott 2 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 live at 7:00pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:20pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 14.13.97 defeated Melbourne 13.16.94 at the MCG in Round 1, 2018 The game will best be remembered for that missed shot at goal by Max Gawn in its last minute but the Demons lost it in the last ten minutes of the second quarter when they let four goals slip past to give the Cats a stranglehold on the game. THE TEAMS GEELONG Tom Stewart, Jake Kolodjashnij, Zach Tuohy HB: Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Jack Henry ? Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Brandan Parfitt F: Quinton Narkle, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan I/C: Jed Bews, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly Emg: Ryan Abbott, Jordan Murdoch, Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow In: Jordan Cunico, Lachie Henderson Out: Wylie Buzza (omitted), Sam Simpson (omitted) MELBOURNE B: James Harmes, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis ? Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, N at han Jones HF: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo Foll: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Bernie Vince I/C: Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Joel Smith Emg: Oskar Baker Cameron Pedersen Josh Wagner Sam Weideman In: Joel Smith, Dom Tyson Out: Mitch Hannan (jarred knee), Michael Hibberd (quad) There’s been a lot written and spoken about the inconsistency of the Cats in recent times but the reality is that they have recorded just one victory since their last game at GMHBA Stadium when they beat North there in Round 12. That one win was against the Swans in Sydney and might appear to have been impressive but given the question marks about that club, one wonders. Geelong has dropped games in the past couple of months to clubs out of the top eight in Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide and it wasn’t all that long ago (Round 10) that a late surge saved them them from football’s ultimate humiliation in 2018 - a home defeat at the hands of a woefully inaccurate Carlton. By comparison, it could be said that the Demons seem to have shed their three game mid season slump after recording consecutive wins in impressive style against albeit weaker opponents (noting that two of the losses during that “slump” were by less than two goals in games that were controversial for some of the umpiring decisions that went against them). All that said, the questions confronting Melbourne are whether it is capable of claiming a big “scalp” and whether its recent uptick in injuries will hurt the club in the tough lead up to the finals. In assessing this game, the midfield battles will - as they always are these days - be crucial. The Demons have the competition’s outstanding ruckman and a young emerging midfield while the Cats have those seasoned campaigners in their engine room. Clearly, the winner in that contest is the one most likely to take the spoils. And then there is also the battle between Melbourne’s attack which averages 105 points per game and is ranked first in the competition and the Cats’ defence which has conceded just 56 points on average from five matches at GMHBA Stadium although that figure includes games against the Blues, the Saints and GWS when the Giants were decimated by injury. For this game, much will depend on the key forwards. If one of Jesse Hogan, Tom McDonald or Tom Hawkins have a big night out, that could be decisive. I think the Demon ship has been steadier and this, plus the team’s greater depth will get it home in the end for a narrow win on the road. Melbourne by 8 points.
  16. The highway to Geelong has long been a well travelled road for Victorians, used for a variety of purposes ranging from trade, commerce and industry, education, leisure and entertainment. One could include sport as part of the last category but, for fans of the Melbourne Football Club, trips down that road have rarely reached any definition of the word "entertainment". Rather, they have often been equated with horror stories ending in long, silent and forlorn wintertime trips back to the city and home. Those days are over now with the Demons on the cusp of their first finals appearance in a dozen seasons. That's not to say the flakey up and down Cats will be easy meat on their home turf this week at GMHBA Stadium but they are now better rounded, more experienced and are traveling the road to Sleepy Hollow on a mission. Melbourne has been bruised many times at this venue in the past. Even as its teams were on the improve and coming out of their dark times, they would sometimes get ahead of themselves and falter. When they last ventured down that highway, in Round 23, 2016, they were massacred by 111 points only weeks after beating the then reigning premiers Hawthorn. The Demons are therefore well aware as they journey on the road again that they will definitely have to leave at home the accolades and adulation they have been receiving as a result of that blistering third quarter against the Western Bulldogs with its highlights reel on constant rotation of big Max slapping the ball down to his young midfielders toying with Doggie on ballers and spearing the ball forward at will. Such moments are rare in football. They have fallen for the hype on one or two occasions already this year but this time they know they have to focus on Geelong, its strong midfield and defence, the narrow ground and on overcoming the advantage a feral home crowd gives to the Cats and to be able to play their game on their terms. I'm confident Melbourne can do this. The players are demonstrating a strong belief in each other and trust in themselves. These are elements that make a team capable of taking on the big challenges ahead of them, the first of which they face on Saturday night at the end of the highway. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday 21 March 2018 at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 129 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 38 wins Melbourne 18 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Scott 2 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 live at 7:00pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:20pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 14.13.97 defeated Melbourne 13.16.94 at the MCG in Round 1, 2018 The game will best be remembered for that missed shot at goal by Max Gawn in its last minute but the Demons lost it in the last ten minutes of the second quarter when they let four goals slip past to give the Cats a stranglehold on the game. THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Tom Stewart, Jake Kolodjashnij, Zach Tuohy HB: Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Jack Henry ? Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Brandan Parfitt F: Quinton Narkle, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan I/C: Jed Bews, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly Emg: Ryan Abbott, Jordan Murdoch, Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow In: Jordan Cunico, Lachie Henderson Out: Wylie Buzza (omitted), Sam Simpson (omitted) MELBOURNE B: James Harmes, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis ? Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo Foll: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Bernie Vince I/C: Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Joel Smith Emg: Oskar Baker Cameron Pedersen Josh Wagner Sam Weideman In: Joel Smith, Dom Tyson Out: Mitch Hannan (jarred knee), Michael Hibberd (quad) There’s been a lot written and spoken about the inconsistency of the Cats in recent times but the reality is that they have recorded just one victory since their last game at GMHBA Stadium when they beat North there in Round 12. That one win was against the Swans in Sydney and might appear to have been impressive but given the question marks about that club, one wonders. Geelong has dropped games in the past couple of months to clubs out of the top eight in Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide and it wasn’t all that long ago (Round 10) that a late surge saved them them from football’s ultimate humiliation in 2018 - a home defeat at the hands of a woefully inaccurate Carlton. By comparison, it could be said that the Demons seem to have shed their three game mid season slump after recording consecutive wins in impressive style against albeit weaker opponents (noting that two of the losses during that “slump” were by less than two goals in games that were controversial for some of the umpiring decisions that went against them). All that said, the questions confronting Melbourne are whether it is capable of claiming a big “scalp” and whether its recent uptick in injuries will hurt the club in the tough lead up to the finals. In assessing this game, the midfield battles will - as they always are these days - be crucial. The Demons have the competition’s outstanding ruckman and a young emerging midfield while the Cats have those seasoned campaigners in their engine room. Clearly, the winner in that contest is the one most likely to take the spoils. And then there is also the battle between Melbourne’s attack which averages 105 points per game and is ranked first in the competition and the Cats’ defence which has conceded just 56 points on average from five matches at GMHBA Stadium although that figure includes games against the Blues, the Saints and GWS when the Giants were decimated by injury. For this game, much will depend on the key forwards. If one of Jesse Hogan, Tom McDonald or Tom Hawkins have a big night out, that could be decisive. I think the Demon ship has been steadier and this, plus the team’s greater depth will get it home in the end for a narrow win on the road. Melbourne by 8 points.
  17. There are days when you can't hit the side of a barn door and days when you can't miss. Each of the team's had one of those days today. SLIP, SLIDING AWAY by George on the Outer Geelong dedicated the third round match against Melbourne to the 1980’s and, in doing so, featured some of the worst music to come out of that era with their fans stupidly dancing around to Brian Mannix and other such forgettables. It was cringeworthy but has the desired effect because it provided their opposition with another 80’s song as backdrop- Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away". For those born in more recent times, the lyrics of the song include this line:- "You know the nearer your destination, the more it slips slides away”... And that was true for the 19 shots on goal that the Demons had which failed register a six point outcome and included in that were no less than ten set shots from inside a distance of 40 metres that resulted in not a single major! As a consequence of that factor alone, for the Demons, this very winnable game was slip sliding away... At ¾ time there were a bare three points in the match, but Geelong had scored 14 majors with only two behinds. In the second and third quarters combined, the Cats had kicked nine straight goals to 10.13 - they were in the game because of their accuracy, and the Demons failed to hold a match winning lead because of their inaccuracy. Tellingly, in the warm-up before the game, Melbourne ran their usual drills. In contrast Geelong spent the majority of their time with goal kicking. Etihad stadium is different to the MCG or Kardinia Park and the extra time spent finding out the difference was critical in front of goal for both sides. For Melbourne the game turned significantly in the second quarter, when Max Gawn left the ground with what the early reports indicate was a hamstring injury. Before that, he was truly fired up and was urging his team to overcome the three goal deficit at the first break. His efforts were working, but unfortunately, he was unable to carry them through as he hobbled from the field. Desperate times called for desperate measures and Jack Watts was called upon to ruck against Clarke and Blicavs, a monumental ask. But he responded and while they continued to dominate the taps, the differential to advantage wasn’t great. He became an extra mid and Melbourne led the clearances out of the centre. When guts was required, it brought out the best from Nathan Jones, who produced one of his best games with 36 touches and his toughness around the packs was telling, especially when facing off against Dangerfield and Selwood. Clayton Oliver had another 28 touches to keep his star shining brightly, but there was a fairly dim effort from Dom Tyson when we needed more. His 57% kicking efficiency is deplorable, but his unwillingness to run when the opposition mids were streaming forward told in multiple Geelong goals. He must do better and needs to lift soon. The backs held their own given the height of the Geelong forwards and their ability to drop one of their rucks into the spot as well, once Gawn had departed. However, there were too many occasions when the half backs simply didn’t get back far enough and quickly enough to help out. As a result we often saw Neville Jetta having to try to out mark Hawkins or Blicavs. The coach fortunately gave up on part of the zone defence at half time and stuck Tom Macdonald onto Hawkins, who then kept him quiet. Bernie Vince was uninspiring after his return from suspension. Even when thrown forward in the last quarter, he didn’t put in the required effort to have an impact. His position will also be in doubt for the future once more efficient ball distributors like Lewis and Hibberd return. The loss of Gawn in itself wasn’t the cause of the loss. The poor kicking and the loss of forward structure when Watts was press-ganged into ruck service left Melbourne severely stretched. Sam Weidman was all at sea, without big bodies like Hogan's around him, and there is a direct comparison to Darcy Moore who hasn’t had a touch since Cloke left Collingwood for Footscray. When younger-bodied players get the best defender they struggle. This was a game that got away. It WAS the game that Melbourne had the opportunity to stamp its mark on the competition to say it had arrived. It didn’t happen, and in one fell swoop, the team has even slipped out of the top eight - a sign of danger is that if the Demons of the recent past resurface, then the season itself will start "slip sliding away ..." Melbourne 2.4.16 7.11.53 12.17.89 13.19.97 Geelong 5.2.32 9.2.56 14.2.86 20.6.126 Goals Melbourne Kent Watts 2 Garlett Hannan Harmes Hunt Jetta Petracca Neal-Bullen T. Smith Stretch Geelong Hawkins 5 Menzel 4 Dangerfield 3 Blicavs Motlop 2 McCarthy Parfitt Selwood Smith Best Melbourne Jones Hunt Watts Viney Stretch Kent Jetta Geelong Selwood Dangerfield Menzel Hawkins Blicavs Ruggles Parfitt Changes Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Injuries Melbourne Gawn (right hamstring) Kent (cut head) Geelong Selwood (cut head) Hawkins (corked quad) Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Hosking, Ryan, Mollison Official crowd 29,733 at Etihad Stadium
  18. SLIP, SLIDING AWAY by George on the Outer Geelong dedicated the third round match against Melbourne to the 1980’s and, in doing so, featured some of the worst music to come out of that era with their fans stupidly dancing around to Brian Mannix and other such forgettables. It was cringeworthy but has the desired effect because it provided their opposition with another 80’s song as backdrop- Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away". For those born in more recent times, the lyrics of the song include this line:- "You know the nearer your destination, the more it slips slides away”... And that was true for the 19 shots on goal that the Demons had which failed register a six point outcome and included in that were no less than ten set shots from inside a distance of 40 metres that resulted in not a single major! As a consequence of that factor alone, for the Demons, this very winnable game was slip sliding away... At ¾ time there were a bare three points in the match, but Geelong had scored 14 majors with only two behinds. In the second and third quarters combined, the Cats had kicked nine straight goals to 10.13 - they were in the game because of their accuracy, and the Demons failed to hold a match winning lead because of their inaccuracy. Tellingly, in the warm-up before the game, Melbourne ran their usual drills. In contrast Geelong spent the majority of their time with goal kicking. Etihad stadium is different to the MCG or Kardinia Park and the extra time spent finding out the difference was critical in front of goal for both sides. For Melbourne the game turned significantly in the second quarter, when Max Gawn left the ground with what the early reports indicate was a hamstring injury. Before that, he was truly fired up and was urging his team to overcome the three goal deficit at the first break. His efforts were working, but unfortunately, he was unable to carry them through as he hobbled from the field. Desperate times called for desperate measures and Jack Watts was called upon to ruck against Clarke and Blicavs, a monumental ask. But he responded and while they continued to dominate the taps, the differential to advantage wasn’t great. He became an extra mid and Melbourne led the clearances out of the centre. When guts was required, it brought out the best from Nathan Jones, who produced one of his best games with 36 touches and his toughness around the packs was telling, especially when facing off against Dangerfield and Selwood. Clayton Oliver had another 28 touches to keep his star shining brightly, but there was a fairly dim effort from Dom Tyson when we needed more. His 57% kicking efficiency is deplorable, but his unwillingness to run when the opposition mids were streaming forward told in multiple Geelong goals. He must do better and needs to lift soon. The backs held their own given the height of the Geelong forwards and their ability to drop one of their rucks into the spot as well, once Gawn had departed. However, there were too many occasions when the half backs simply didn’t get back far enough and quickly enough to help out. As a result we often saw Neville Jetta having to try to out mark Hawkins or Blicavs. The coach fortunately gave up on part of the zone defence at half time and stuck Tom Macdonald onto Hawkins, who then kept him quiet. Bernie Vince was uninspiring after his return from suspension. Even when thrown forward in the last quarter, he didn’t put in the required effort to have an impact. His position will also be in doubt for the future once more efficient ball distributors like Lewis and Hibberd return. The loss of Gawn in itself wasn’t the cause of the loss. The poor kicking and the loss of forward structure when Watts was press-ganged into ruck service left Melbourne severely stretched. Sam Weidman was all at sea, without big bodies like Hogan's around him, and there is a direct comparison to Darcy Moore who hasn’t had a touch since Cloke left Collingwood for Footscray. When younger-bodied players get the best defender they struggle. This was a game that got away. It WAS the game that Melbourne had the opportunity to stamp its mark on the competition to say it had arrived. It didn’t happen, and in one fell swoop, the team has even slipped out of the top eight - a sign of danger is that if the Demons of the recent past resurface, then the season itself will start "slip sliding away ..." Melbourne 2.4.16 7.11.53 12.17.89 13.19.97 Geelong 5.2.32 9.2.56 14.2.86 20.6.126 Goals Melbourne Kent Watts 2 Garlett Hannan Harmes Hunt Jetta Petracca Neal-Bullen T. Smith Stretch Geelong Hawkins 5 Menzel 4 Dangerfield 3 Blicavs Motlop 2 McCarthy Parfitt Selwood Smith Best Melbourne Jones Hunt Watts Viney Stretch Kent Jetta Geelong Selwood Dangerfield Menzel Hawkins Blicavs Ruggles Parfitt Changes Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Injuries Melbourne Gawn (right hamstring) Kent (cut head) Geelong Selwood (cut head) Hawkins (corked quad) Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Hosking, Ryan, Mollison Official crowd 29,733 at Etihad Stadium
  19. HONEYMOON OVER? by The Oracle Any thoughts that Melbourne's transition from perennial also ran to finals contender in 2017 would be smooth and uneventful were extinguished at the weekend with the game against Carlton. Not only did the team make heavy weather of a contest it was expected to win without much trouble (and possibly come out with a significant percentage boost), but it emerged from the second round of the season with a slap in the face from the Match Review Panel with gun recruit Jordan Lewis receiving a three-match suspension and forward Jesse Hogan getting a two week holiday for striking opponents to the head. The AFL website even went so far as to suggest that the suspensions had the effect of "crippling the Demons ahead of Saturday's clash against Geelong". The sports betting agencies agreed by installing the Cats as firm favourites to win this week's clash between the sides at Etihad Stadium. According to the pundits, Melbourne's 2017 honeymoon is over and the club has allegedly been crushed into submission as a result of a lack of discipline on the part of two important players. Despite all of that, I don't understand the panic about the fact that these players will be sitting in the bleachers watching on with ordinary people like you and me. After all, the Demons disposed of the then rampant, top-of-the-ladder Hawks in Round 20 late last year in the absence of Hogan and with Lewis batting for the other side. The thing which the pundits are overlooking is that there is so much greater depth at the club in this phase of its development as there was a few years ago. Bernie Vince who picked up 30 touches at his last start, comes back as a direct replacement for Lewis and even though some might say that Hogan is irreplaceable, there are plenty of options available, depending on the style of play coach wants from his forward line and which particular player is going to replace him. A couple of weeks ago, we wondering how about a young team that had lost its last real game of football by more than eighteen goals could win its next. History tells us the team responded magnificently so that it now it has a 2 - 0 record. Things are different now and whilst it comes up this week against the team that destroyed it in such a merciless fashion. Can they turn the tables without the two players outed by the MRP? I've found a way they can do that and will reveal all shortly. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday 8 April 2017 at 4.35pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 127 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws At Etihad Stadium Geelong 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Scott 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel - live at 4.30pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Geelong to win - $1.37 Melbourne to win - $3.10 LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 24.11.89 defeated Melbourne 6.8.44 at Simonds Stadium in Round 23, 2016 A little over a year earlier, Melbourne had shocked the football world with its win over Geelong but this time a tired, dejected outfit limped its way to season's end with the slightest of resistance. THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Zach Touhy, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie HB: Tom Stewart, Lachie Henderson, Jackson Thurlow C: Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola HF: James Parsons, Harry Taylor, Brandan Parfitt F: Steven Motlop, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel FOLL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Cameron Guthrie I/C: Mitch Duncan, Lincoln McCarthy, Jordan Murdoch, Tom Ruggles EMG: Jed Bews, Darcy Lang, Rhys Stanley IN: Cameron Guthrie, Sam Menegola, James Parsons, Zac Smith OUT: Josh Cowan (managed), George Horlin-Smith (hand), Darcy Lang (omitted), Rhys Stanley (omitted) NEW: James Parsons MELBOURNE B: Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, James Harmes HF: Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Christian Petracca, Timothy Smith FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney I/C: Dean Kent, Jake Melksham, Billy Stretch, Jack Watts EMG: Tomas Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Jake Spencer IN: Dean Kent Timothy Smith, Bernie Vince OUT: Angus Brayshaw (omitted), Jesse Hogan (suspended), Jordan Lewis (suspended) NEW: Timothy Smith It's hard to fathom that it was only three games ago that a listless, rudderless Melbourne was blown out of the water by Geelong in the final round of 2016. Of course, things were different then. The Cats were playing for high stakes - a place in the top four that would provide them with the perfect launching pad for a tilt at the flag. The Demons' season had hit the wall and was ingloriously snuffed out a week earlier when beaten by the Blues. This week the teams meet on an even keel with both on a 2 - 0 win/loss ratio. They meet at the neutral Etihad Stadium rather than at the killing field that Simonds Stadium has, with one rare exception, been to Melbourne over the past decade. The teams had good wins to open the season but stumbled last week when they were expected to do well. Indeed, both of them had to rely on a "get out of gaol card" with strong finishes to score the points. Geelong has the midfield superstars in the AFL's number one ranked player Pat Dangerfield and a close behind Joel Selwood but not the depth of its Melbourne equivalent even in the absence of Lewis (and the omission of Angus Brayshaw). The reigning Brownlow Medallist is very, very good and a model of consistency but how about 19 year old Clayton Oliver who admittedly is a different beast but whose numbers stack up favourably against those of the Cat's pair? Last week he picked up 35 disposals, seven marks and laid nine tackles to almost match his 36 possession game from round one. For the record, he has racked up ten more disposals than Danger. Oliver and the rest of the Demon midfield crew have another major advantage over the Cats in the form of ruckman Max Gawn who is in red hot form and in the absence of any third men up, he is a potent weapon in helping the team win the all-important clearance battle. Let's not underestimate the number of quality players Melbourne has to throw into the midfield mix with Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Dom Tyson and the returning Bernie Vince who was so important in the opening round both in defence and around the ground. The loss of Hogan is quite significant but Jesse hadn't really hit his straps this year. It might well be a stroke of genius that hard nosed, high flying forward Tim Smith has been asked to step into the breach. The Cats got out of gaol last week. This week it will be different. Melbourne by 10 points
  20. Any thoughts that Melbourne's transition from perennial also ran to finals contender in 2017 would be smooth and uneventful were extinguished at the weekend with the game against Carlton. Not only did the team make heavy weather of a contest it was expected to win without much trouble (and possibly come out with a significant percentage boost), but it emerged from the second round of the season with a slap in the face from the Match Review Panel with gun recruit Jordan Lewis receiving a three-match suspension and forward Jesse Hogan getting a two week holiday for striking opponents to the head. The AFL website even went so far as to suggest that the suspensions had the effect of "crippling the Demons ahead of Saturday's clash against Geelong". The sports betting agencies agreed by installing the Cats as firm favourites to win this week's clash between the sides at Etihad Stadium. According to the pundits, Melbourne's 2017 honeymoon is over and the club has allegedly been crushed into submission as a result of a lack of discipline on the part of two important players. Despite all of that, I don't understand the panic about the fact that these players will be sitting in the bleachers watching on with ordinary people like you and me. After all, the Demons disposed of the then rampant, top-of-the-ladder Hawks in Round 20 late last year in the absence of Hogan and with Lewis batting for the other side. The thing which the pundits are overlooking is that there is so much greater depth at the club in this phase of its development as there was a few years ago. Bernie Vince who picked up 30 touches at his last start, comes back as a direct replacement for Lewis and even though some might say that Hogan is irreplaceable, there are plenty of options available, depending on the style of play coach wants from his forward line and which particular player is going to replace him. A couple of weeks ago, we wondering how about a young team that had lost its last real game of football by more than eighteen goals could win its next. History tells us the team responded magnificently so that it now it has a 2 - 0 record. Things are different now and whilst it comes up this week against the team that destroyed it in such a merciless fashion. Can they turn the tables without the two players outed by the MRP? I've found a way they can do that and will reveal all shortly. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday 8 April 2017 at 4.35pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 127 wins Melbourne 84 wins 2 draws At Etihad Stadium Geelong 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Scott 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel - live at 4.30pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Geelong to win - $1.37 Melbourne to win - $3.10 LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 24.11.89 defeated Melbourne 6.8.44 at Simonds Stadium in Round 23, 2016 A little over a year earlier, Melbourne had shocked the football world with its win over Geelong but this time a tired, dejected outfit limped its way to season's end with the slightest of resistance. THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Zach Touhy, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie HB: Tom Stewart, Lachie Henderson, Jackson Thurlow C: Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola HF: James Parsons, Harry Taylor, Brandan Parfitt F: Steven Motlop, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel FOLL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Cameron Guthrie I/C: Mitch Duncan, Lincoln McCarthy, Jordan Murdoch, Tom Ruggles EMG: Jed Bews, Darcy Lang, Rhys Stanley IN: Cameron Guthrie, Sam Menegola, James Parsons, Zac Smith OUT: Josh Cowan (managed), George Horlin-Smith (hand), Darcy Lang (omitted), Rhys Stanley (omitted) NEW: James Parsons MELBOURNE B: Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, James Harmes HF: Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Christian Petracca, Timothy Smith FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney I/C: Dean Kent, Jake Melksham, Billy Stretch, Jack Watts EMG: Tomas Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Jake Spencer IN: Dean Kent Timothy Smith, Bernie Vince OUT: Angus Brayshaw (omitted), Jesse Hogan (suspended), Jordan Lewis (suspended) NEW: Timothy Smith It's hard to fathom that it was only three games ago that a listless, rudderless Melbourne was blown out of the water by Geelong in the final round of 2016. Of course, things were different then. The Cats were playing for high stakes - a place in the top four that would provide them with the perfect launching pad for a tilt at the flag. The Demons' season had hit the wall and was ingloriously snuffed out a week earlier when beaten by the Blues. This week the teams meet on an even keel with both on a 2 - 0 win/loss ratio. They meet at the neutral Etihad Stadium rather than at the killing field that Simonds Stadium has, with one rare exception, been to Melbourne over the past decade. The teams had good wins to open the season but stumbled last week when they were expected to do well. Indeed, both of them had to rely on a "get out of gaol card" with strong finishes to score the points. Geelong has the midfield superstars in the AFL's number one ranked player Pat Dangerfield and a close behind Joel Selwood but not the depth of its Melbourne equivalent even in the absence of Lewis (and the omission of Angus Brayshaw). The reigning Brownlow Medallist is very, very good and a model of consistency but how about 19 year old Clayton Oliver who admittedly is a different beast but whose numbers stack up favourably against those of the Cat's pair? Last week he picked up 35 disposals, seven marks and laid nine tackles to almost match his 36 possession game from round one. For the record, he has racked up ten more disposals than Danger. Oliver and the rest of the Demon midfield crew have another major advantage over the Cats in the form of ruckman Max Gawn who is in red hot form and in the absence of any third men up, he is a potent weapon in helping the team win the all-important clearance battle. Let's not underestimate the number of quality players Melbourne has to throw into the midfield mix with Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Dom Tyson and the returning Bernie Vince who was so important in the opening round both in defence and around the ground. The loss of Hogan is quite significant but Jesse hadn't really hit his straps this year. It might well be a stroke of genius that hard nosed, high flying forward Tim Smith has been asked to step into the breach. The Cats got out of gaol last week. This week it will be different. Melbourne by 10 points
  21. OMG, another nightmare to relive! THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie HB: Corey Enright, Harry Taylor, Mark Blicavs C: Cameron Guthrie, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood HF: Jimmy Bartel, Rhys Stanley, Mitch Duncan F: Steven Motlop, Tom Hawkins, Lincoln McCarthy FOLL: Zac Smith Patrick Dangerfield Sam Menegola I/C: Josh Caddy, Josh Cowan, Daniel Menzel, Tom Ruggles EMG: Jed Bews, Shane Kersten, Darcy Lang IN: Jimmy Bartel, Josh Caddy, Daniel Menzel OUT: Shane Kersten (omitted), Lachie Henderson (knee), Darcy Lang (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Sam Frost, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Tomas Bugg C: Billy Stretch, Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson HF: Sam Weideman, Jack Watts, Aaron vandenBerg F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Dean Kent, James Harmes Christian Salem EMG: Matt Jones, Cameron Pedersen, Jack Trengove IN: Jeff Garlett, James Harmes, Christian Salem OUT: Viv Michie (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted), Clayton Oliver (omitted)
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