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  1. Q: How to crack a tough nut? A: Use a bigger hammer! It took Melbourne until the last quarter to crack the Hawthorn nut. These days, the Hawks under Alastair Clarkson simply don’t have the talent that served them so well in years gone, and they have to rely on not losing rather than trying to win. The result is that the match became a slog for three quarters, as Hawthorn clogged the game, flooded heavily and simply stopped the Melbourne run. Even in the first quarter the signs were already there, as they managed four goals, but three of those came from the Demons’ mistakes. It wasn’t helped with Melbourne continuing to mis-fire in front of goal, although constantly forcing the ball into the 50m arc again and again. As in previous weeks, the set-shot kicking wasn’t up to standard and this kept Hawthorn within striking range. The reality was that the Hawks lack any reputable forward line, and with Jake Lever having another day out marshalling the troops in defence, they were denied any avenues to goal. The first quarter saw a masterclass in ruckwork from Max Gawn with nine hitouts and nine disposals to put McEvoy in his place. But the Demons could not capitalise, and despite the same number of shots at goal, they trailed by ten points at the first break. The second quarter was much the same, with Melbourne slowly pegging back the lead to be down by just 2 points at the main break. It was not great football to watch, and Clarkson’s tactics of denying Ed Langdon the ball, by playing away from his wing, resulted in fewer possessions to him, but he managed to hit the scoreboard a couple of times instead. More was to come. But he was doing it on his own as at least three other easy set shots were squandered. The third quarter was a repeat of the first two but this time the Demons pegged the lead back and by the end of the term they held a ten point lead. A miraculous save on the goal line by Hibberd, stopped a certain goal to the opposition, and this seemed to lift the side from their stupor. Cue the final stanza, and the paranoia of the doubters among the supporter group must have risen to high levels, as the Hawks jagged a goal within 30 seconds. The lead was only four points ... And at this point in time, out came the large sledgehammer for use on the Hawthorn nut! And what a sledgehammer! Max led the way by slotting a magnificent goal from outside 50m. And Jack Viney decided he had had enough and simply threw himself at everything and everyone. Tom McDonald was marking everything coming his way finishing with ten for the game, and Mitch Brown also found himself on the end of a couple of clean entries, and kicked truly. Even Jake Melksham was gifted a couple of majors, as the Hawks struggled to clear the Melbourne 50m zone, while former Demon Sam Frost managed one of his “Frost balls” following a run out of defence and duly depositing the ball onto Trent Rivers’ chest. Let’s not forget the mids with Clarry Oliver leading the way with 30 disposals. Unlike Mitchell and O’Meara, his touches are effective and paired with Christian Petracca they eventually wore down the Hawthorn midfield. Mitchell had a single clearance for the game, showing how statistics for possessions mean nothing if they are dinky handballs and kicks to no-one in particular. After being only four points in front just seconds into the final term, it became all one-way traffic for the Demons. Eight goals and four behinds, essentially all in succession just blew the opposition away. Make no mistake, the Demons were still going strong and we are now seeing the results of our superior fitness levels. We are also seeing the outcomes of our recruiting and development strategies from previous years, as the coach now has the enviable task, after five successive wins, of deciding who gets to play next week. The Casey side demolished the Box Hill Hawks as well, with Sam Weideman scoring seven majors and Ben Brown three. The Melbourne side against the Hawks were missing their full-back and full-forward, yet still pulled off a 50 point win. Yes, we can all say we were playing a team barely off the bottom rung of the ladder, but you can only beat what is given to you as opposition. Importantly although challenged, yet again, Melbourne decisively put the challenger to the sword. So next week, we have a bigger nut to crack in Richmond. Will Nathan Jones play his well-deserved 300th game in front of the home crowd? We couldn’t wish for a more suitable hard-nut as our own to run onto the field. And we still have some even bigger sledge-hammers to bring to the contest as well. MELBOURNE 2.5.17 4.7.31 7.10.52 15.14 104 HAWTHORN 4.3.27 5.3.33 6.6.42 8.6.54 GOALS Melbourne Langdon Melksham 3 Brown T McDonald Petracca Pickett 2 Gawn Hawthorn Breust Hanrahan O'Brien 2 McEvoy, Moore BEST Melbourne Gawn Langdon Salem Oliver Hibberd McDonald Petracca Hawthorn O'Meara, Mitchell, Impey, Wingard Scrimshaw INJURIES Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Nil REPORTS Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne T. Sparrow (unused) Hawthorn J. Cousins (unused) Umpires Dean Margetts Brendan Hosking Cameron Dore CROWD 36,337 at the MCG
  2. I’m not one who likes mixing politics with sport but it should be noted there have been some unusual trends in the world of sport lately. In the US, Major League Baseball announced that it’s moving the 2021 All-Star Game and the 2021 MLB Draft out of Georgia, in response to the state’s new voting law. Over here, there’s a move to force Carlton to change its club song because the original song on which it was based (written in the late 1800s) has “racist connotations”. The Blues maintain the current version of the song, “Lily of Laguna”, was changed several decades ago and, in any event, their theme song doesn’t have a racist bone in its body. I hope the controversy gets resolved but I wonder where this movement to cancel anything that offends is going to lead us? Personally, I’ve been offended by the sight of Hawthorn guernseys for a very long time. It began when I was just a kid in the early 1960s when the Hawks started kicking the Demons around the park. When they beat us in the 1961 second semi and effectively ended our pursuit of a second threepeat in less than a decade, my sensibilities were so hurt that I couldn’t sleep for a week. This state of affairs continued for decades. Hawthorn premiership stars of the 70s like Leigh and Kelvin Matthews, Alan Martello and Michael Moncrieff were all plucked out of the Chelsea region immediately before that area became zoned to Melbourne. Their great goalkicker Peter Hudson chose the Hawks ahead of us even though his cousins, the Minton-Connells, were with the Demons. Later on, the Jarman brothers snubbed us in favour of them (even after we had drafted Darren). Then there was the humiliation of the ‘87 Preliminary Final and the ‘88 Grand Final. The bastards even refused to merge with us in ‘96 and then continued to belt us for a decade while they won premiership after premiership. It’s little wonder that the sight of those sickening brown and yellow stripes offends me to the core (and I leave aside all connotations to bodily functions from this equation). Yes, it’s about time we gave some serious thought to cancelling the Hawks. When I come to think of it, now is the perfect time for it all to happen. They’ve lost their last three games this season and now is the time to make it zip four. They have lost their last three games against us - starting with the 2018 semi final - and now is the time to make it zip four for them (and when was the last time that happened?). And let’s go back to the concept of club songs. Does anyone really believe that they’re a happy club at Hawthorn these days? But in the final analysis, it’s never the song, it’s the singer. Melbourne’s “singers” are its players and they’re all singing together from the same hymn book. As Christian Petracca said after last week’s game against Geelong, the boys are playing together as a team. It’s one for all, all for one and they’re doing all the things that are necessary to cancel out the once mighty, high flying Hawks. So come Sunday, the hundreds of our fans who bring along their cheeseboards replete with the “Cheers” brand of the product for sustenance will be celebrating the long awaited cancellation of the brown and gold menace with a 59-point victory for their Demons. THE GAME Melbourne v Hawthorn at the MCG Sunday 18 April 2021 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Hawthorn 87 wins Melbourne 78 wins At the MCG Hawthorn 46 wins Melbourne 38 wins Last 5 meetings Hawthorn 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches Clarkson 2 wins Goodwin 3 wins 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 14.7.91 defeated Hawthorn 7.6.48 in Round 7, 2020 at Giants Stadium This was a Demon master class inspired by Max Gawn’s ruck domination and the brilliance of Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca on the ball. The forward line with Sam Weideman 3 goals and Bayley Fritsch and Kozzy Pickett, 2 each, functioned beautifully in another pleasing performance that underlined the team’s recent improvement. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: C. Jiath 29 K. Hartigan 28 B. Hardwick 15 HB: D. Howe 17 Sam Frost 8 J. Impey 4 C: J. Scrimshaw 3 T. Mitchell 3 L. Shiels 26 HF: D Moore 36 T. O'Brien 23 S. Burgoyne 9 F: L. Breust 22 J. Koschitzke 34 C. Wingard 20 Foll: B. McEvoy 7 J. Worpel 5 J. O’Meara 10 I/C: C. Nash O. Hanrahan H. Morrison T. Phillips Sub: J. Cousins Emerg: T. Brockman J. Ceglar M. Hartley In: O. Hanrahan J. Koschitzke C. Nash Out: T. Brockman (managed) J. Ceglar (omitted) M. Hartley (omitted) M. Lewis (suspended) MELBOURNE B: T. Rivers 24 H. Petty 35 A. Tomlinson 20 HB: C. Salem 3 J. Lever 8 J. Hunt 29 C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Oliver 13 E. Langdon 15 HF: K. Pickett 36 T. McDonald 25 N. Jones 2 F: A. Neal-Bullen 30 L. Jackson 6 J. Melksham 18 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Petracca 5 J. Viney 7 I/C: M. Brown 38 M. Hibberd 14 Jordon 23 C. Spargo 9 Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: O. Baker 33 M. Daw 28 N. Jetta 39 In: M. Brown M. Hibberd H. Petty Out: B. Fritsch (hand fracture) N. Jetta (omitted) S. May (facial fracture) T. Sparrow (omitted) Injury List: Round 5 Sam Weideman (leg) — 1 Week Ben Brown (knee) — 1 to 2 Weeks Bayley Fritsch (hand fracture) — 2 Weeks Steven May (facial fracture) — 2 to 4 Weeks James Harmes (wrist) — 3 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
  3. It’s a bit of a blur but we played the Hawks at Giants Stadium back in the day when they had a player called “Scully”. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Jay Lockhart Jake Lever Oscar McDonald HB Christian Salem Steven May Michael Hibberd C Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver James Harmes HF Kysaiah Pickett Sam Weideman Aaron vandenBerg FF Angus Brayshaw Mitch Hannan Harley Bennell FOL Max Gawn Christian Petracca Jack Viney I/C Bayley Fritsch Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Jake Melksham EM Nathan Jones Alex Neal-Bullen Joel Smith Adam Tomlinson IN Luke Jackson OUT Tom McDonald (eye) HAWTHORN FB Sam Frost James Frawley Ben Stratton HB Harry Morrison Ben McEvoy James Sicily C Tom Scully Jaeger O'Meara Isaac Smith HF Will Day Tim O'Brien Chad Wingard FF Ricky Henderson Jack Gunston Shaun Burgoyne FOL Mitch Lewis James Worpel Tom Mitchell I/C Blake Hardwick Darren Minchington Josh Morris Liam Shiels EM Jonathon Ceglar Harry Jones Paul Puopolo Jack Scrimshaw IN Shaun Burgoyne Mitch Lewis Darren Minchington OUT Jonathon Ceglar (broken toe) Jonathon Patton (hamstring) Paul Puopolo (omitted) NEW Darren Minchington
  4. Your votes for today's game please - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  5. So the new man under the pump is Clarko, which demonstrates how sad but predictable the football media is these days. In an age where each AFL team’s form can be topsy turvy and unpredictability is the order of the day, the coach of a team that has played five out of the top six teams from the previous season and sits with a 3/3 win loss record is this week’s whipping boy. This comes admittedly on the back of a bad fortnight from the Hawks who in recent years have exhibited an enormous gap between their best and worst but still manage to regularly feature in the top half of the ladder. All of which means that they are due to revert back to their best this week. And as luck would have it, Hawthorn is scheduled to meet the team that allowed its own coach off the hook with its win over the Suns at Giants Stadium last Saturday. And, unless NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian decides in the interim that it’s time to toss those pesky Victorian intruders out of her state, the teams will meet at the scene of last week’s crimes - Giants Stadium. This is where the new look Demons could have an advantage over the Hawks. This boutique football stadium in the wilderness of Western Sydney is Melbourne’s home away from home: a veritable fortress for a team that’s desperate to reestablish itself in the competition. The ground suited them well last week while Hawthorn had their problems at the same ground. The pity is that the nomadic Demons who really haven’t bathed in the luxury of a home ground at all in 2020 will have little time to relish the stadium because next week they’re again heading north of the border to the province of Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Queensland Premier who’s running the AFL and demanding a grand final in her home state. But first, the match up against Hawthorn and Clarko the genius. A few weeks back he prepared for this game by intimating that he fancied Melbourne after it managed only two goals to half time to lead Geelong by a point. He didn’t mean it - he was simply playing mind games with the opposition although he would know his own team’s limitations. Clarko would be aware of the fact that the Demons have a superior ruckman who usually gives his opponents a drubbing although not always providing an armchair ride for his midfielders. Last week he was at his sparkling best (except for that hit out he fed for a goal to Izak Rankine). What that means is that it gives his midfielders lead by Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and James Harmes the advantage over a strong Hawk midfield and it goes without saying that the battle at the stoppages will be crucial to the game’s outcome. Melbourne got a lot of things right with it’s team selection last week - every change was beneficial to the ultimate result. And while every opponent is different in make up and requires close consideration of all match ups as well as the need to take into account that the coming weeks will involve a condensed fixture, let’s hope the selectors don’t get too cute with team selection. The team found some form last week and while their scoring efficiency was still well below the expectations for a top side, they looked a lot better. They need to maintain that level of improvement again this week in order to join the challengers for a top eight position at the end of the season - that’s if the competition makes it to the end of the season. And if that happens they’ll be playing in a state where the Premier has an exotic name like Gladys or Annastacia rather than in Victoria where our Premiers are dull and colourless and go by handles such as Jeff and Daniel. Pfft ... Melbourne by 11 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Hawthorn at Giants Stadium Sunday 19 July 2020 at 3.35pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 77 wins Hawthorn 87 wins At Giants Stadium Melbourne 0 wins Hawthorn 0 wins Last 5 meetings Melbourne 3 wins Hawthorn 2 wins The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Clarkson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 Fox Footy Channel RADIO - TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 11.13.79 defeated Hawthorn 11.8.74 in Round 7, 2019 at the MCG The Demons trailed up to half time but were inspired by a mammoth effort in the ruck from Max Gawn to grab the ascendency in the third term and then held off a late charge from the Hawks to win by 5 points. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Jay Lockhart Jake Lever Oscar McDonald HB Christian Salem Steven May Michael Hibberd C Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver James Harmes HF Kysaiah Pickett Sam Weideman Aaron vandenBerg FF Angus Brayshaw Mitch Hannan Harley Bennell FOL Max Gawn Christian Petracca Jack Viney I/C Bayley Fritsch Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Jake Melksham EM Nathan Jones Alex Neal-Bullen Joel Smith Adam Tomlinson IN Luke Jackson OUT Tom McDonald (eye) HAWTHORN FB Sam Frost James Frawley Ben Stratton HB Harry Morrison Ben McEvoy James Sicily C Tom Scully Jaeger O'Meara Isaac Smith HF Will Day Tim O'Brien Chad Wingard FF Ricky Henderson Jack Gunston Shaun Burgoyne FOL Mitch Lewis James Worpel Tom Mitchell I/C Blake Hardwick Darren Minchington Josh Morris Liam Shiels EM Jonathon Ceglar Harry Jones Paul Puopolo Jack Scrimshaw IN Shaun Burgoyne Mitch Lewis Darren Minchington OUT Jonathon Ceglar (broken toe) Jonathon Patton (hamstring) Paul Puopolo (omitted) NEW Darren Minchington Round 7: Out of Hub and Injury List Oskar Baker (out of Sydney hub) Toby Bedford (out of Sydney hub) Austin Bradtke (out of Sydney hub) Kade Chandler (out of Sydney hub) Kyle Dunkley ((out of Sydney hub) Braydon Preuss (out of Sydney hub) Corey Wagner (out of Sydney hub) Josh Wagner (out of Sydney hub) Tom McDonald (eye ) – test Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  6. VINCIMUS by George On The Outer Who was Braniac at Hawthorn who decided to teach Latin to their fans? The club motto “spectemur agendo” was plastered all over the ground but the Hawks could not match the Demons at playing football and, when the final siren sounded, it was the Melbourne Football Club that was able to chant, “vincimus” ... we are victorious! And who was Braniac at the AFL who decided that one club would be designated as the home club in a finals game? This is the Finals, not the home and away, and to have to put up with the trash served up by Hawthorn in the name of “entertainment” both before and during the intervals did nothing for the AFL football brand. If people want that sort of inane excuse for entertainment, they can stay at home to watch some trashy lifestyle nonsense or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mind you, if we wanted to watch Hawthorn’s slow moving style of play we could torture ourselves viewing an episode of The Block! With 90,000 spectators on hand (and the majority were Demon fans again), this was a true finals game. The MCC was packed to the rafters for the second week in a row and hopefully all these closet Melbourne supporters will actually join as members next year. The rest of the ground was equally loaded with the red and blue colours and the vocal support from those fans was something to be heard, as the sounds of “The Grand Old Flag” and the “M-E-L-B-O-U-R-N-E” chants continued throughout the match. In typical finals match style, the game was one contest followed by another and then another which is exactly the type of play of which the Demons of 2018 are the masters. The scores at the first break were level although the Hawks had received two goals courtesy of umpiring calls close to goal. All that mattered for nothing, as even by this time, the Demons were playing the better football. In particular, Tom McDonald was provided a huge target up forward with some telling contested marks. It was to be a sign of his dominance in the forward line to finish the match with four majors. In the middle, the relentless attack at man and ball, saw both teams evenly matched, with Mitchell again racking up possessions, but none of them really hurt. Importantly, the run of Smith on the wing was shut down at various times through Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen and Mitch Hannan. Without the ball in his hands, Hawthorn don’t move forward, and even when they did the Melbourne defenders had them well covered. The second term was much the same, but this week it was the Demons who were more accurate in front of goal. Hawthorn had ten shots at goal to the Demons’ eight at the major change but they found themselves 13 points in arrears. Then it happened in the third when Melbourne outscored Hawthorn by six goals to three which effectively sealed the game. The youth of Melbourne was starting to stand out with the leadership of Jack Viney in particular, inspiring to his team-mates. The ruck duel between Max Gawn and Ben McEvoy, previously an even struggle, saw Max gain overall control thanks to the coaching staff, who had giving him longer breaks in the first half with Sam Weidemann filling the gap left by his absence. Importantly, during those times, the team lost nothing as the Weid’s athleticism enabled him to match the Hawthorn rucks. With Viney running riot and hitting every contest, the Hawks found themselves in real strife unable to handle Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, James Harmes, and another old fellow by the name of Nathan Jones backing him up. This proved to be the telling factor in the result. Shiel and Mitchell could only do so much against this relentless onslaught and they were finally overrun. Harmes had 19 disposals, with 12 contested, Oliver 22 with 11 contested, Viney 27 with 17 contested and Brayshaw had 12 and 8. As a force, they simply could not be denied. This relentless pressure suited the Melbourne game style much more so, as it denied Hawthorn the ability to retain possession and move it by foot and run around the flanks. The few times they were able to execute this, the Demons were found wanting, and if it weren’t for a better final quarter Tyson would not be playing next week, as he lost his opponent time after time. With the Demons hitting the final quarter nearly six goals ahead, it was difficult to see how the Hawks could make a come-back having only kicked six in total to that point. However, by the four minute mark of the final term, they had added two majors and the margin was down to 20 points. When Jarryd Roughhead goaled at the 11 minute mark, there were only two goals in the game. In the past, panic would have kicked in and the fans would have watched in despair as the game slowly slipped away from their team’s grasp but ... not the 2018 side. The defenders threw everything at the Hawks to deny them the momentum, and then drove the ball forward where firstly Jake Melksham drilled one from 50m, to be followed by yet another Tom McDonald contested mark and conversion to put the game beyond doubt. Melksham chipped in with another and the Hawthorn bubble deflated while the Demon voices in the outer and around the ground just got louder and louder. With ten minutes to go, “The Grand Old Flag” was being sung loudly as the Hawks fans streamed from the ground. Then, at the final siren, it was sung again and again and again just to let them know that it was the Demons who were the one who could say: Vidimus nos vincimus - we came, we saw, we conquered. [with apologies to Julius Caesar] Melbourne 3.1.19 6.2.38 12.5.77 16.8.104 Hawthorn 3.1.19 3.7.25 6.9.45 10.11.71 Goals Melbourne T McDonald 4 Brayshaw Melksham 2, Spargo Weideman 2 Gawn Hannan Neal-Bullen Petracca Hawthorn Gunston 3 Roughead Schoenmakers 2 Puopolo Smith Worpel Best Melbourne Viney T McDonald Jetta Hibberd Oliver Spargo Hawthorn Gunston Mirra Howe Shields Mitchell Henderson Injuries Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Mitchell (AC joint) Puopolo (hamstring) Reports Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Nil Umpires Rosebury Stevic Nicholls Official crowd 90,152 at the MCG
  7. Who was Braniac at Hawthorn who decided to teach Latin to their fans? The club motto “spectemur agendo” was plastered all over the ground but the Hawks could not match the Demons at playing football and, when the final siren sounded, it was the Melbourne Football Club that was able to chant, “vincimus” ... we are victorious! And who was Braniac at the AFL who decided that one club would be designated as the home club in a finals game? This is the Finals, not the home and away, and to have to put up with the trash served up by Hawthorn in the name of “entertainment” both before and during the intervals did nothing for the AFL football brand. If people want that sort of inane excuse for entertainment, they can stay at home to watch some trashy lifestyle nonsense or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mind you, if we wanted to watch Hawthorn’s slow moving style of play we could torture ourselves viewing an episode of The Block! With 90,000 spectators on hand (and the majority were Demon fans again), this was a true finals game. The MCC was packed to the rafters for the second week in a row and hopefully all these closet Melbourne supporters will actually join as members next year. The rest of the ground was equally loaded with the red and blue colours and the vocal support from those fans was something to be heard, as the sounds of “The Grand Old Flag” and the “M-E-L-B-O-U-R-N-E” chants continued throughout the match. In typical finals match style, the game was one contest followed by another and then another which is exactly the type of play of which the Demons of 2018 are the masters. The scores at the first break were level although the Hawks had received two goals courtesy of umpiring calls close to goal. All that mattered for nothing, as even by this time, the Demons were playing the better football. In particular, Tom McDonald was provided a huge target up forward with some telling contested marks. It was to be a sign of his dominance in the forward line to finish the match with four majors. In the middle, the relentless attack at man and ball, saw both teams evenly matched, with Mitchell again racking up possessions, but none of them really hurt. Importantly, the run of Smith on the wing was shut down at various times through Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen and Mitch Hannan. Without the ball in his hands, Hawthorn don’t move forward, and even when they did the Melbourne defenders had them well covered. The second term was much the same, but this week it was the Demons who were more accurate in front of goal. Hawthorn had ten shots at goal to the Demons’ eight at the major change but they found themselves 13 points in arrears. Then it happened in the third when Melbourne outscored Hawthorn by six goals to three which effectively sealed the game. The youth of Melbourne was starting to stand out with the leadership of Jack Viney in particular, inspiring to his team-mates. The ruck duel between Max Gawn and Ben McEvoy, previously an even struggle, saw Max gain overall control thanks to the coaching staff, who had giving him longer breaks in the first half with Sam Weidemann filling the gap left by his absence. Importantly, during those times, the team lost nothing as the Weid’s athleticism enabled him to match the Hawthorn rucks. With Viney running riot and hitting every contest, the Hawks found themselves in real strife unable to handle Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, James Harmes, and another old fellow by the name of Nathan Jones backing him up. This proved to be the telling factor in the result. Shiel and Mitchell could only do so much against this relentless onslaught and they were finally overrun. Harmes had 19 disposals, with 12 contested, Oliver 22 with 11 contested, Viney 27 with 17 contested and Brayshaw had 12 and 8. As a force, they simply could not be denied. This relentless pressure suited the Melbourne game style much more so, as it denied Hawthorn the ability to retain possession and move it by foot and run around the flanks. The few times they were able to execute this, the Demons were found wanting, and if it weren’t for a better final quarter Tyson would not be playing next week, as he lost his opponent time after time. With the Demons hitting the final quarter nearly six goals ahead, it was difficult to see how the Hawks could make a come-back having only kicked six in total to that point. However, by the four minute mark of the final term, they had added two majors and the margin was down to 20 points. When Jarryd Roughhead goaled at the 11 minute mark, there were only two goals in the game. In the past, panic would have kicked in and the fans would have watched in despair as the game slowly slipped away from their team’s grasp but ... not the 2018 side. The defenders threw everything at the Hawks to deny them the momentum, and then drove the ball forward where firstly Jake Melksham drilled one from 50m, to be followed by yet another Tom McDonald contested mark and conversion to put the game beyond doubt. Melksham chipped in with another and the Hawthorn bubble deflated while the Demon voices in the outer and around the ground just got louder and louder. With ten minutes to go, “The Grand Old Flag” was being sung loudly as the Hawks fans streamed from the ground. Then, at the final siren, it was sung again and again and again just to let them know that it was the Demons who were the one who could say: Vidimus nos vincimus - we came, we saw, we conquered. [with apologies to Julius Caesar] Melbourne 3.1.19 6.2.38 12.5.77 16.8.104 Hawthorn 3.1.19 3.7.25 6.9.45 10.11.71 Goals Melbourne T McDonald 4 Brayshaw Melksham Spargo Weideman 2 Gawn Hannan Neal-Bullen Petracca Hawthorn Gunston 3 Roughead Schoenmakers 2 Puopolo Smith Worpel Best Melbourne Viney T McDonald Jetta Hibberd Oliver Spargo Hawthorn Gunston Mirra Howe Shields Mitchell Henderson Injuries Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Mitchell (AC joint) Puopolo (hamstring) Reports Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Nil Umpires Rosebury Stevic Nicholls Official crowd 90,152 at the MCG
  8. Bugger the emotion-free alternative thread this weekend. I'm pumped as fu(gazi). 15 hours to go - and somehow I have to sleep before now and the match. Four goal Demon win. Yee-haw!
  9. THE VISIT by Whispering Jack Melbourne and Hawthorn have faced each other intermittently on the VFL/AFL finals stage since the latter entered the competition in 1925. In their formative years, the Hawks were the eternal battlers and it took them more than three decades to make the finals. When they finally did make it, they were visitors in the Demons’ golden era, a period during which they won six flags in a decade from 1955 to 1964. Hawthorn literally came out of the cold when it won its first final in 1957 against Carlton on a freezing day that brought hail to the MCG but a fortnight later, it suffered its first finals defeat ever at the hands of Melbourne in the Preliminary Final. Four years later, the Hawks turned the tables in the Second Semi Final on the way to their first premiership in 1961. They also prevailed in the 1963 Preliminary Final before going down to the Cats in the big dance. A year later, the Demons knocked the Hawks out of the finals race thanks to a miraculous late goal from “Hassa” Mann in the penultimate round before going on to win their twelfth and last premiership. Still, Hawthorn’s visit into Melbourne’s parade had produced its first premiership triumph and a 2:1 record in finals against the club:- • 1957 Preliminary Final Melbourne 22.12.144 defeated Hawthorn 11.10.76 • 1961 Second Semi Final Hawthorn 12.8.80 defeated Melbourne 11.7.73 • 1963 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.11.77 defeated Melbourne 10.8.68 The ensuing period saw the clubs gradually change places in the premiership pecking order. In the 70s and 80s, the Hawks were ascendant and the Demons lamentable. When they did recover to return to finals status, it was they who were to be the visitors in Hawthorn’s triumphant years. The teams met three times again in finals for one Melbourne win but the Demons could not sustain a run of form sufficient to gain the ultimate reward, either then or in the years that followed. The finals record in that period between the clubs:- • 1987 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.14.80 defeated Melbourne 10.18.78 • 1988 Grand Final Hawthorn 22.20.152 defeated Melbourne 6.20.56 • 1990 Elimination Final Melbourne 10.13.73 defeated Hawthorn 8.16.64 Their fortunes ebbed and flowed but it was the Hawks that were soon back in the finals, picking up three premierships in the past decade while the Demons again languished. On Friday night, Melbourne will pay another visit to the finals stage when it meets Hawthorn at the MCG in a Semi Final. The fans are asking the question whether the time has come for the Demons to take up the ascendency and to usher in a new golden era for the club. THE GAME Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG Friday 14 September 2018 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Hawthorn 87 wins At MCG Melbourne 36 wins Hawthorn 46 wins Last 5 meetings Melbourne 1 win Hawthorn 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 win s Clarkson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 live at 7:30pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:30pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 18.7.115 defeated Melbourne 6.12.48 in Round 4, 2018 at the MCG It was the worst day of the home and away season for the Demons on a wet MCG. They started well enough and led by 19 points deep in the first term and were still in the game at half time before falling in a heap after the main break. The Hawks were in superlative form and their shots at goal rarely missed while the home side broke down time after time when it went into attack before capitulation in the end. Despite the 67 point flogging, Melbourne made only one less forward 50 entry than did Hawthorn. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Blake Hardwick HB: Jarman Impey, James Sicily, Ryan Burton ? Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels HF: Shaun Burgoyne, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston F: Luke Breust, Conor Nash, Paul Puopolo Foll: Ben McEvoy, Daniel Howe, James Worpel I/C: Ricky Henderson, David Mirra, Harry Morrison, Ryan Schoenmakers Emg: Kaiden Brand, Jonathon Ceglar, James Cousins, Brendan Whitecross In: Taylor Duryea, David Mirra, Ryan Schoenmakers Out: Jonathon Ceglar (omitted), Ben Stratton (hamstring) Jaeger O'Meara (knee) MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd ? Dom Tyson, Jack Viney, James Harmes HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Angus Brayshaw F: Sam Weideman, Aaron vandenBerg, Alex Neal-Bullen Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo Emg: Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Joel Smith, Tim Smith No change Over the past two years there has been a sea change of major proportions in the standing of the clubs sitting on top of the AFL tree with the dominant teams of the past decade in Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong making way to some new faces in the race for premiership honours. The Western Bulldogs led the way in 2016 and, although they stumbled after their premiership victory, their place was taken by Richmond which pushed the boundaries of pressure-cooker football to the limit in last year’s finals. The first week of this year’s final series saw the continuing adjustment in positioning of the game’s leading teams. The Cats and the Swans crashed badly and the Hawks who had already tasted a year out of the finals race, started well enough against the reigning premiers but they were finally worn down by relentless pressure. Hawthorn now face up to a Melbourne combination that was similarly aggressive in their taming of Geelong in their first finals appearance in 12 years. While it would be foolish to simply suggest on the evidence of this one week that the Demons are on the cusp of a new era of supremacy over the Hawks, there is a strong case to be made that the histories of the two clubs are about to intersect again on Friday night. That case is based on a number of the key indicators of the game that suggest the young Demons are on track to follow in the path of the Tigers not only this week, but in the medium term as well. The major indicator of a team’s strength in the modern game is its midfield and in this regard Melbourne has been to the fore this year. The club boasts the highest-ranked ruckman in Max Gawn and its midfield players are number one in centre clearances. That combination is potent and deadly because when they are at the top of their game the result is a winning brand of high scoring football. This was diminished to an extent last week because of their inaccuracy in front of goal in the second and third quarters but it’s unlikely that this will be repeated twice in a row. Gawn was expected to face a two pronged Hawthorn ruck combination of McEvoy/Ceglar but the latter was dropped this week. In his absence, McEvoy has an unenviable task in stopping the Demons’ All-Australian big man. The Hawks have a very handy mid in Tom Mitchell but will sorely miss Jaeger O’Meara against a mainly youthful Melbourne midfield that is multifaceted and deep in quality. Led by Nathan Jones and Jack Viney, the freakish young talent of Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and the up and coming sensation James Harmes with Dom Tyson and Alex Neal-Bullen in support, it’s hard to see a team that is placed 13th in clearances to overcome this combination. That is not to say that the Hawks will be easy pickings. They have plenty of talent but the Demons have more and they have the momentum and confidence as they go into the game with an unchanged lineup. Melbourne by 18 points
  10. Melbourne and Hawthorn have faced each other intermittently on the VFL/AFL finals stage since the latter entered the competition in 1925. In their formative years, the Hawks were the eternal battlers and it took them more than three decades to make the finals. When they finally did make it, they were visitors in the Demons’ golden era, a period during which they won six flags in a decade from 1955 to 1964. Hawthorn literally came out of the cold when it won its first final in 1957 against Carlton on a freezing day that brought hail to the MCG but a fortnight later, it suffered its first finals defeat ever at the hands of Melbourne in the Preliminary Final. Four years later, the Hawks turned the tables in the Second Semi Final on the way to their first premiership in 1961. They also prevailed in the 1963 Preliminary Final before going down to the Cats in the big dance. A year later, the Demons knocked the Hawks out of the finals race thanks to a miraculous late goal from “Hassa” Mann in the penultimate round before going on to win their twelfth and last premiership. Still, Hawthorn’s visit into Melbourne’s parade had produced its first premiership triumph and a 2:1 record in finals against the club:- • 1957 Preliminary Final Melbourne 22.12.144 defeated Hawthorn 11.10.76 • 1961 Second Semi Final Hawthorn 12.8.80 defeated Melbourne 11.7.73 • 1963 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.11.77 defeated Melbourne 10.8.68 The ensuing period saw the clubs gradually change places in the premiership pecking order. In the 70s and 80s, the Hawks were ascendant and the Demons lamentable. When they did recover to return to finals status, it was they who were to be the visitors in Hawthorn’s triumphant years. The teams met three times again in finals for one Melbourne win but the Demons could not sustain a run of form sufficient to gain the ultimate reward, either then or in the years that followed. The finals record in that period between the clubs:- • 1987 Preliminary Final Hawthorn 11.14.80 defeated Melbourne 10.18.78 • 1988 Grand Final Hawthorn 22.20.152 defeated Melbourne 6.20.56 • 1990 Elimination Final Melbourne 10.13.73 defeated Hawthorn 8.16.64 Their fortunes ebbed and flowed but it was the Hawks that were soon back in the finals, picking up three premierships in the past decade while the Demons again languished. On Friday night, Melbourne will pay another visit to the finals stage when it meets Hawthorn at the MCG in a Semi Final. The fans are asking the question whether the time has come for the Demons to take up the ascendency and to usher in a new golden era for the club. **** SCROLL FOR PREDICTION **** THE GAME Hawthorn v M elbourne at the MCG Friday 14 September 2018 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Hawthorn 87 wins At MCG Melbourne 36 wins Hawthorn 46 wins Last 5 meetings Melbourne 1 win Hawthorn 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 win s Clarkson 2 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 live at 7:30pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:30pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 18.7.115 defeated Melbourne 6.12.48 in Round 4, 2018 at the MCG It was the worst day of the home and away season for the Demons on a wet MCG. They started well enough and led by 19 points deep in the first term and were still in the game at half time before falling in a heap after the main break. The Hawks were in superlative form and their shots at goal rarely missed while the home side broke down time after time when it went into attack before capitulation in the end. Despite the 67 point flogging, Melbourne made only one less forward 50 entry than did Hawthorn. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Blake Hardwick HB: Jarman Impey, James Sicily, Ryan Burton C : Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels HF: Shaun Burgoyne, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston F: Luke Breust, Conor Nash, Paul Puopolo Foll: Ben McEvoy, Daniel Howe, James Worpel I/C: Ricky Henderson, David Mirra, Harry Morrison, Ryan Schoenmakers Emg: Kaiden Brand, Jonathon Ceglar, James Cousins, Brendan Whitecross In: Taylor Duryea, David Mirra, Ryan Schoenmakers Out: Jonathon Ceglar (omitted), Ben Stratton (hamstring) Jaeger O'Meara (knee) MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C : Dom Tyson, Jack Viney, James Harmes HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Angus Brayshaw F: Sam Weideman, Aaron vandenBerg, Alex Neal-Bullen Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo Emg: Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Joel Smith, Tim Smith No change Over the past two years there has been a sea change of major proportions in the standing of the clubs sitting on top of the AFL tree with the dominant teams of the past decade in Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong making way to some new faces in the race for premiership honours. The Western Bulldogs led the way in 2016 and, although they stumbled after their premiership victory, their place was taken by Richmond which pushed the boundaries of pressure-cooker football to the limit in last year’s finals. The first week of this year’s final series saw the continuing adjustment in positioning of the game’s leading teams. The Cats and the Swans crashed badly and the Hawks who had already tasted a year out of the finals race, started well enough against the reigning premiers but they were finally worn down by relentless pressure. Hawthorn now face up to a Melbourne combination that was similarly aggressive in their taming of Geelong in their first finals appearance in 12 years. While it would be foolish to simply suggest on the evidence of this one week that the Demons are on the cusp of a new era of supremacy over the Hawks, there is a strong case to be made that the histories of the two clubs are about to intersect again on Friday night. That case is based on a number of the key indicators of the game that suggest the young Demons are on track to follow in the path of the Tigers not only this week, but in the medium term as well. The major indicator of a team’s strength in the modern game is its midfield and in this regard Melbourne has been to the fore this year. The club boasts the highest-ranked ruckman in Max Gawn and its midfield players are number one in centre clearances. That combination is potent and deadly because when they are at the top of their game the result is a winning brand of high scoring football. This was diminished to an extent last week because of their inaccuracy in front of goal in the second and third quarters but it’s unlikely that this will be repeated twice in a row. Gawn was expected to face a two pronged Hawthorn ruck combination of McEvoy/Ceglar but the latter was dropped this week. In his absence, McEvoy has an unenviable task in stopping the Demons’ All-Australian big man. The Hawks have a very handy mid in Tom Mitchell but will sorely miss Jaeger O’Meara against a mainly youthful Melbourne midfield that is multifaceted and deep in quality. Led by Nathan Jones and Jack Viney, the freakish young talent of Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and the up and coming sensation James Harmes with Dom Tyson and Alex Neal-Bullen in support, it’s hard to see a team that is placed 13th in clearances to overcome this combination. That is not to say that the Hawks will be easy pickings. They have plenty of talent but the Demons have more and they have the momentum and confidence as they go into the game with an unchanged lineup. Melbourne by 18 points
  11. The Demons suffered their worst defeat of the year. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Conor Glass, James Frawley, Blake Hardwick HB: Taylor Duryea, Ben Stratton, James Sicily ? Ricky Henderson, Jarman Impey, Isaac Smith HF: Luke Breust, Jack G unston, Tim O’Brien F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli Foll: Ben McEvoy, Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels I/C: Daniel Howe, David Mirra, Harry Morrison, Jaeger O’Meara Emg: Ryan Burton, James Cousins, Mitchell Lewis, Brendan Whitecross In: Conor Glass, Davi d Mirra, James Sicily Out: Kaiden Brand (omitted), Ryan Burton (omitted), Will Langford (omitted) New: David Mirra (Box Hill Hawks) MELBOURNE B: Christian Petracca, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Bernie Vince ? James Harmes, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Sam Frost , Tom Bugg F: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch, Jeff Garlett, Josh Wagner, Emg: Mitch Hannan, Jayden Hunt, Billy Stretch, Sam Weideman In: Angus Brayshaw Out: Dom Tyson (ill)
  12. CHANGING THE NARRATIVE by George on The Outer We’re changing the narrative said the coach over the past couple of weeks. So is there another word that can be used instead of “cr..p” to describe the performance of the MFC against Hawthorn? Every one of the traditional criticisms of how this Club plays football was brought to the fore as the players simply gave up trying in the last quarter. There was simply no excuse for allowing Hawthorn to waltz in seven goals, no matter how badly you have played. Teams that stop trying will NEVER be any influence in Finals, leave alone the possibility of even getting to September action. And this was after Melbourne had allowed Hawthorn to kick 16 goals to 1 from mid way through the first quarter, despite it leading at quarter time. Just to top it off, Hawthorn had lost Rioli and Puopolo at ¾ time, and were forced to bring Frawley back on the ground, despite being him being injured in the first quarter, and sitting on the pine for nearly a ½ of football. And it is not a new narrative needed for a whole raft of players currently playing ( if that’s the word) in the side. A relocation to Casey is all that is required. Tom Bugg was simply shocking, yet again, and his inability to kick the ball straight from 20 metres from goal or to another player in the open was repeated again and again. No point getting possessions if they are meaningless or cause turnovers by handpassing to teammates already under pressure. It just kills any momentum that has come from hard work up the field, when this happens. Jake Melksham has not had any impact in any game this season, Jeff Garlett only five touches for the whole game, while Jordan Lewis continues to stumble and fumble when needed. James Harmes, nine touches while playing in the middle is simply insufficient output. Yet there was some real fortitude shown by a few. Max Gawn in the ruck overpowered McEvoy, but his good work was undone by the shocking coaching inaction in the game. Hawthorn had 8 players at the back of the square at centre bounces, while we continued to have solitary isolated wingers. Hawthorn numbers stormed from their backline, skirted the pack, and overwhelmed the Melbourne mids. No wonder Max won the hitouts 66 to 27, but the clearances were lost by a margin of 17! The coaching decision to once again not have a back-up ruck proved to be disastrous, as we saw Harmes up against McEvoy at times, when the rotations were messed up. Then he had to ruck against Roughead or O’Brien, both of who stand well above him. But the single faiing from the coaching box was the inability to change the way the game was played in wet and slippery conditions. Sticking to the quick movement and slick handball type play doesn’t work, when simple grunt is required. Hawthorn stacked the backline and waited for the turnover, which invariably came. The rebound saw Melbourne players hopelessly behind the ball, and length of the field goals came easily and regularly. Where was the change? Where were the extra bodies sent back to stop the rot? No, we finished with Jesse Hogan playing up the field, and a forward line of Bugg, Bayley Fritsch and Garlett hoping to outmark and out-position bigger opponents on a wet day! Nathan Jones was magnificent, yet again, as he held Tom Mitchell to 24 touches, while he himself racked up 20. Considering Mitchell’s record setting disposals in the previous 3 games, it was a sterling performance, but Jones had only Clayton Oliver assisting him to actually get the ball, or Christian Petracca, when he was rotated through the middle. Given the regularity with which the ball came into the Hawthorn forward line, the backs did a fairly good job. O Mac was solid and while Roughead kicked 3, one was from a free and another in junk time. The real worry is the lack of composure among Michael Hibberd, Sam Frost and Jake Lever when the pressure is on, so we saw the Hawks time and time again craft goals from scrubby kicks out of packs or soccered through after the ball was allowed to bobble around in the goal mouth, instead of being killed by the defenders. Lewis is supposedly in the side for leadership in the backline, but there needs to be another narrative for his performance. The game against Richmond now looms as a horror prospect. A depleted Hawthorn side (without Burgoyne as well) with 2 injured on the bench and another injure on the field, gave Melbourne an first class walloping. With the Tigers in full flight and a full fit side to put on the field, there may be a new narrative needed for the carnage which threatens this Melbourne side. Melbourne 5.5.35 5.9.39 5.11.41 6.12.48 Hawthorn 3.5.23 7.5.47 11.7.73 18.7.115 Goals Melbourne Kent 3 Hogan Neal-Bullen Salem Hawthorn Breust 4 O'Brien Roughead 3 Gunston O'Meara Smith 2 Henderson Puopolo, Best Melbourne Oliver McDonald Hogan N Jones Kent Hawthorn Shiels, Gunston, O'Meara, Smith, Breust, Sicily, Mitchell Injuries Melbourne Jetta (leg) Hawthorn Frawley (migraine & hand), Rioli (medial ligament), Puopolo (hamstring) Reports Nil Umpires Foot, Margetts, Chamberlain Official crowd 41,973 at the MCG
  13. We’re changing the narrative said the coach over the past couple of weeks. So is there another word that can be used instead of “cr..p” to describe the performance of the MFC against Hawthorn? Every one of the traditional criticisms of how this Club plays football was brought to the fore as the players simply gave up trying in the last quarter. There was simply no excuse for allowing Hawthorn to waltz in seven goals, no matter how badly you have played. Teams that stop trying will NEVER be any influence in Finals, leave alone the possibility of even getting to September action. And this was after Melbourne had allowed Hawthorn to kick 16 goals to 1 from mid way through the first quarter, despite it leading at quarter time. Just to top it off, Hawthorn had lost Rioli and Puopolo at ¾ time, and were forced to bring Frawley back on the ground, despite being him being injured in the first quarter, and sitting on the pine for nearly a ½ of football. And it is not a new narrative needed for a whole raft of players currently playing ( if that’s the word) in the side. A relocation to Casey is all that is required. Tom Bugg was simply shocking, yet again, and his inability to kick the ball straight from 20 metres from goal or to another player in the open was repeated again and again. No point getting possessions if they are meaningless or cause turnovers by handpassing to teammates already under pressure. It just kills any momentum that has come from hard work up the field, when this happens. Jake Melksham has not had any impact in any game this season, Jeff Garlett only five touches for the whole game, while Jordan Lewis continues to stumble and fumble when needed. James Harmes, nine touches while playing in the middle is simply insufficient output. Yet there was some real fortitude shown by a few. Max Gawn in the ruck overpowered McEvoy, but his good work was undone by the shocking coaching inaction in the game. Hawthorn had 8 players at the back of the square at centre bounces, while we continued to have solitary isolated wingers. Hawthorn numbers stormed from their backline, skirted the pack, and overwhelmed the Melbourne mids. No wonder Max won the hitouts 66 to 27, but the clearances were lost by a margin of 17! The coaching decision to once again not have a back-up ruck proved to be disastrous, as we saw Harmes up against McEvoy at times, when the rotations were messed up. Then he had to ruck against Roughead or O’Brien, both of who stand well above him. But the single faiing from the coaching box was the inability to change the way the game was played in wet and slippery conditions. Sticking to the quick movement and slick handball type play doesn’t work, when simple grunt is required. Hawthorn stacked the backline and waited for the turnover, which invariably came. The rebound saw Melbourne players hopelessly behind the ball, and length of the field goals came easily and regularly. Where was the change? Where were the extra bodies sent back to stop the rot? No, we finished with Jesse Hogan playing up the field, and a forward line of Bugg, Bayley Fritsch and Garlett hoping to outmark and out-position bigger opponents on a wet day! Nathan Jones was magnificent, yet again, as he held Tom Mitchell to 24 touches, while he himself racked up 20. Considering Mitchell’s record setting disposals in the previous 3 games, it was a sterling performance, but Jones had only Clayton Oliver assisting him to actually get the ball, or Christian Petracca, when he was rotated through the middle. Given the regularity with which the ball came into the Hawthorn forward line, the backs did a fairly good job. O Mac was solid and while Roughead kicked 3, one was from a free and another in junk time. The real worry is the lack of composure among Michael Hibberd, Sam Frost and Jake Lever when the pressure is on, so we saw the Hawks time and time again craft goals from scrubby kicks out of packs or soccered through after the ball was allowed to bobble around in the goal mouth, instead of being killed by the defenders. Lewis is supposedly in the side for leadership in the backline, but there needs to be another narrative for his performance. The game against Richmond now looms as a horror prospect. A depleted Hawthorn side (without Burgoyne as well) with 2 injured on the bench and another injure on the field, gave Melbourne a first class walloping. With the Tigers in full flight and a full fit side to put on the field, there may be a new narrative needed for the carnage which threatens this Melbourne side. Melbourne 5.5.35 5.9.39 5.11.41 6.12.48 Hawthorn 3.5.23 7.5.47 11.7.73 18.7.115 Goals Melbourne Kent 3 Hogan Neal-Bullen Salem Hawthorn Breust 4 O'Brien Roughead 3 Gunston O'Meara Smith 2 Henderson Puopolo Best Melbourne Oliver McDonald Hogan N Jones Kent Hawthorn Shiels, Gunston, O'Meara, Smith, Breust, Sicily, Mitchell Injuries Melbourne Jetta (leg) Hawthorn Frawley (migraine & hand), Rioli (medial ligament), Puopolo (hamstring) Reports Nil Umpires Foot, Margetts, Chamberlain Official crowd 41,973 at the MCG
  14. Only quietly confident today but confident none the less. I find my self less and less worrying about weather Gawn or Hogan or Oliver or Jones will have massive days and more about how as a team we can can get over the line. Wife has been away all weekend so me and the boys will have to get rid of all the evidence of fun we have had, gonna be a big job. Lucky I have a few 500ml Carlsberg cans left. Hard to go past Mitchell in sizzling form for BOG but apart from him the Dee's will beat their opponents. Dee's by 32.
  15. OMEN by The Oracle Melbourne takes on Hawthorn in a crucial match up on Sunday afternoon at the MCG. Both teams are sitting on a 2/1 record so, even at this early stage of the season, a win is crucial because the victor gets a little separation from the main pack challenging for a berth in the competition’s top echelon. The Demons, who have in the past year or so, made an art form out of letting opportunity slip from their grasp, badly need the win because it has an appointment with reigning premier Richmond coming up on Anzac Eve. Win both games and they are in a rarefied atmosphere for this football the club and off to their best start since 2005. And, in a similar vein to last week when Melbourne broke a long-standing losing streak against North Melbourne, the club is aiming to overturn a huge disparity between wins and losses in its recent history against Hawthorn. The Hawks have won 14 out of 15 against the Demons, the only exception being their Round 20, 2016 contest when they were top of the ladder and went down in a surprise loss that sent them hurtling from premiership favouritism for what would have been a fourth consecutive flag. Hawthorn bottomed out remarkably quickly last year and seem to be on the up and up just as quickly off the back mainly of their master stroke in the recruiting of midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara but Melbourne’s midfield is more multifaceted and adaptable including a wide range of players with varying degrees of size and experience. One of those midfielders is in form Christian Petracca to who I look for both inspiration and an omen in this game. The omen is drawn from Petracca’s former basketballing teammate Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons who has been creating a storm in NBA circles. The 76ers were a struggling team until Simmons made his debut late last year. They began their season slowly but suddenly moved into play off contention and now, after their 15th consecutive win yesterday, they are nicely placed in third place on the Eastern Conference ladder. Their latest victim? The Atlanta Hawks. THE GAME Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG Sunday 15 April 2018 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Hawthorn 86 wins Melbourne 75 wins At MCG Hawthorn 45 wins Melbourne 36 wins Last 5 meetings Hawthorn 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Clarkson 1 win Goodwin 0 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports3, Seven Mate live at 3.00pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 14.10.94 defeated Melbourne 14.7.91 in Round 7, 2017 at the MCG The Hawks skipped away to an early lead and were never headed although the Demons made a desperate lunge in the latter stages of the game. After Jeff Garlett’s third goal close to the three quarter time reduced the margin to 1 point, the teams traded goals until Jordan Lewis goaled with less than a minute remaining to reduce the margin to 3 points, but it was all too late. THE TEAMS The Hawks caused an upset when these two teams met but, in a way, it was on the cards. In the absence of injured big men Max Gawn and Jake Spencer and before Simon Goodwin could work on his ruck plan B, Ben McEvoy dominated the ruck with 53 hit-outs and gave his onballers an armchair ride. Even back then, Tom Mitchell was starring as a midfielder and with Jarryd Roughead, on the comeback trail from his illness, able to flush out every ounce of sympathy available from the umpires, the Hawks opened up an early lead that was a smidgeon beyond the Demons’ comeback challenge. Things are different this time on two major fronts. Firstly, there’s the Max Factor. The Melbourne big man is not only back but he’s showing the same, if not better, standard of mastery of his craft that won him All-Australian honours two years ago. Then there’s Jesse Hogan who took place in the equivalent game last year but was in the wrong space, recovery from the recent loss of his father and about to receive a cancer diagnosis. He’s in a much better place this time around and I suspect that he will prove a difficult opponent to overcome for whoever draws the short straw to oppose him. And that Hawk midfield might be leading the field in terms of centre clearances at 16.7 (a tremendous achievement given their opposition this year has included the Cats’ triumvirate and the reigning premiers’ on ball combinations) but the Demons are not that far behind at 16.0 with their multifaceforted engine room that includes the experience of Nathan Jones and Dom Tyson and the rapidly coming on Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca who are both in great early-season touch. Around the ground, I think the Demons will be too solid for the Hawks who will be missing Shaun Burgoyne (hamstring) as well as a couple of other handy defenders. The result is that Hawks will lower the colours to the Dees for only the second time in a dozen years. Melbourne by 29 points.
  16. Melbourne takes on Hawthorn in a crucial match up on Sunday afternoon at the MCG. Both teams are sitting on a 2/1 record so, even at this early stage of the season, a win is crucial because the victor gets a little separation from the main pack challenging for a berth in the competition’s top echelon. The Demons, who have in the past year or so, made an art form out of letting opportunity slip from their grasp, badly need the win because it has an appointment with reigning premier Richmond coming up on Anzac Eve. Win both games and they are in a rarefied atmosphere for this football the club and off to their best start since 2005. And, in a similar vein to last week when Melbourne broke a long-standing losing streak against North Melbourne, the club is aiming to overturn a huge disparity between wins and losses in its recent history against Hawthorn. The Hawks have won 14 out of 15 against the Demons, the only exception being their Round 20, 2016 contest when they were top of the ladder and went down in a surprise loss that sent them hurtling from premiership favouritism for what would have been a fourth consecutive flag. Hawthorn bottomed out remarkably quickly last year and seem to be on the up and up just as quickly off the back mainly of their master stroke in the recruiting of midfielders Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara but Melbourne’s midfield is more multifaceted and adaptable including a wide range of players with varying degrees of size and experience. One of those midfielders is in form Christian Petracca to who I look for both inspiration and an omen in this game. The omen is drawn from Petracca’s former basketballing teammate Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons who has been creating a storm in NBA circles. The 76ers were a struggling team until Simmons made his debut late last year. They began their season slowly but suddenly moved into play off contention and now, after their 15th consecutive win yesterday, they are nicely placed in third place on the Eastern Conference ladder. Their latest victim? The Atlanta Hawks. THE GAME Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG Sunday 15 April 2018 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Hawthorn 86 wins Melbourne 75 wins At MCG Hawthorn 45 wins Melbourne 36 wins Last 5 meetings Hawthorn 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Clarkson 1 win Goodwin 0 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports3, Seven Mate live at 3.00pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 14.10.94 defeated Melbourne 14.7.91 in Round 7, 2017 at the MCG The Hawks skipped away to an early lead and were never headed although the Demons made a desperate lunge in the latter stages of the game. After Jeff Garlett’s third goal close to the three quarter time reduced the margin to 1 point, the teams traded goals until Jordan Lewis goaled with less than a minute remaining to reduce the margin to 3 points, but it was all too late. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Conor Glass, James Frawley, Blake Hardwick HB: Taylor Duryea, Ben Stratton, James Sicily C: Ricky Henderson, Jarman Impey, Isaac Smith HF: Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Tim O’Brien F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli Foll: Ben McEvoy, Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels I/C: Daniel Howe, David Mirra, Harry Morrison, Jaeger O’Meara Emg: Ryan Burton, James Cousins, Mitchell Lewis, Brendan Whitecross In: Conor Glass, David Mirra, James Sicily Out: Kaiden Brand (omitted), Ryan Burton (omitted), Will Langford (omitted) New: David Mirra (Box Hill Hawks) MELBOURNE B: Christian Petracca, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Bernie Vince C: James Harmes, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Sam Frost, Tom Bugg F: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Dean Kent Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch, Jeff Garlett, Josh Wagner, Emg: Mitch Hannan, Jayden Hunt, Billy Stretch, Sam Weideman In: Angus Brayshaw Out: Dom Tyson (ill) The Hawks caused an upset when these two teams met but, in a way, it was on the cards. In the absence of injured big men Max Gawn and Jake Spencer and before Simon Goodwin could work on his ruck plan B, Ben McEvoy dominated the ruck with 53 hit-outs and gave his onballers an armchair ride. Even back then, Tom Mitchell was starring as a midfielder and with Jarryd Roughead, on the comeback trail from his illness, able to flush out every ounce of sympathy available from the umpires, the Hawks opened up an early lead that was a smidgeon beyond the Demons’ comeback challenge. Things are different this time on two major fronts. Firstly, there’s the Max Factor. The Melbourne big man is not only back but he’s showing the same, if not better, standard of mastery of his craft that won him All-Australian honours two years ago. Then there’s Jesse Hogan who took place in the equivalent game last year but was in the wrong space, recovery from the recent loss of his father and about to receive a cancer diagnosis. He’s in a much better place this time around and I suspect that he will prove a difficult opponent to overcome for whoever draws the short straw to oppose him. And that Hawk midfield might be leading the field in terms of centre clearances at 16.7 (a tremendous achievement given their opposition this year has included the Cats’ triumvirate and the reigning premiers’ on ball combinations) but the Demons are not that far behind at 16.0 with their multifaceforted engine room that includes the experience of Nathan Jones and Dom Tyson and the rapidly coming on Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca who are both in great early-season touch. Around the ground, I think the Demons will be too solid for the Hawks who will be missing Shaun Burgoyne (hamstring) as well as a couple of other handy defenders. The result is that Hawks will lower the colours to the Dees for only the second time in a dozen years. Melbourne by 29 points.
  17. At the time, the Hawks were playing like pox and we were trying to push for a place in the finals. Predictably, we lost ... MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Sam Frost, Jordan Lewis C: Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver, Tom Bugg HF: Christian Petracca, Jack Watts, Mitch Hannan F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Jay Kennedy-Harris FOLL: Cam Pedersen, Bernie Vince, Jack Viney I/C: Oscar McDonald, Christian Salem, Dom Tyson, Josh Wagner EMG: Dean Kent, Alex Neal-Bullen, Billy Stretch IN: Jesse Hogan, Josh Wagner OUT: Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen HAWTHORN B: Grant Burchall, James Frawley, Ben Stratton, HB: Ryan Burton, Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne C: Isaac Smith, Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara HF: Luke Breust, Tim O'Brien, Jack Gunston F: Paul Puopolo, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli FOLL: Ben McEvoy Liam Shiels Luke Hodge I/C: Blake Hardwick, Billy Hartung, Daniel Howe, Brendan Whitecross EMG: Kaiden Brand, Will Langford, James Sicily IN: Grant Birchall, Cyril Rioli OUT: Kaiden Brand, Will Langford
  18. TWELVE AND A HALF MONTHS by The Oracle It has been twelve and a half months since Melbourne fans have had to experience watching their team suffer humiliation at the hands of Hawthorn in an AFL game. This annual ritual of the Hawks flogging the Demons has been going on for a decade now since Al Clarkson's young team was beaten by an experienced side coached by Neale Daniher way back in 2006 on a wet night. Back in those days, the AFL was generous enough to gift games on Friday night to then lowly clubs like the Hawks but not so now. Soon after that game, Hawthorn commenced its ascendency while Melbourne's fortunes nose dived. Melbourne opened the 2007 season as the highest ranked of the Victorian clubs and lost their first match against St Kilda at the MCG marking the first of a series of 13 consecutive losses to the Saints. The following week saw the Hawks start their run of 12 wins on end against the Demons and it seems a near certainty that the number will stretch to an unlucky 13 by late Saturday afternoon. This season started as one of promise for the Demons and they certainly have had their moments with a 50/50 record of wins in the bag to date. But they have failed to reproduce the three victories scored in the pre season against Port Adelaide, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda and they lost to the AFL's punching bag, Essendon. They are in danger of being overtaken on the ladder this weekend by Carlton who were expected to challenge the Bombers for the wooden spoon. Melbourne has failed to come up to the challenge in quite a few winnable games already this year. It has lost it's best player this year to suspension and one of its' few functioning defenders in an inexplicably feeble defence to injury. The deck chairs on the Titanic will no doubt be rotated around this week in an effort to turn things around but it was last week when the selectors should have been brave and bold with the team coming off a six day break. One wonders what the team can do this week in the face of a Hawthorn which most of the time manages to hold firm even without such vital team members as Luke Hodge and Jarryd Roughead. Pray that it will be another twelve and a half months before they meet again, I suppose. Hawthorn by a lot. THE GAME Hawthorn v Melbourne at the MCG Saturday 4 June 2016 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Hawthorn 84 wins Melbourne 74 wins At MCG Hawthorn 43 wins Melbourne 35 wins Last 5 meetings Hawthorn 5 wins Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Clarkson 2 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV Fox Footy Channel at 1.45pm (live) Channel 7 3.15pm (delayed) RADIO - Triple M 3AW THE BETTING Hawthorn $1.24 to win Melbourne $4.15 to win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Hawthorn 24.11.155 defeated Melbourne 7.8.50 in Round 7, 2015 at the MCG Six minutes into the game, Melbourne had the only two goals on the board and Hawthorn was scoreless. Those minutes provided the only joy for the day for Demon fans who had to endure two hours of hell before the final siren revealed their team had just succumbed to another 100 point defeat. THE TEAMS HAWTHORN B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Ben Stratton HB: Shaun Burgoyne, Josh Gibson, Grant Burchill C: Isaac Smith, Jordan Lewis, Brad Hill HF: Luke Breust, Tim O'Brien, Jack Gunston F: Paul Puopolo, James Sicily, Cyril Rioli FOLL: Jonathon Ceglar, Sam Mitchell, Liam Shiels I/C: Billy Hartung, Daniel Howe, Ben McEvoy, Kade Stewart EMG: Kaiden Brand, Teia Miles, Angus Litherland IN: Daniel Howe, Kade Stewart OUT: Will Langford (managed), Matt Spangher (hamstring) NEW: Kade Stewart (19, South Fremantle) MELBOURNE B: Jayden Hunt, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Tom Bugg, Oscar McDonald, Josh Wagner C: Dean Kent, Jack Trengove, Bernie Vince HF: Billy Stretch, Jack Watts, Jeff Garlett F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Chris Dawes FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson I/C: Sam Frost, James Harmes, Clayton Oliver, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jack Grimes, Viv Michie, Cam Pedersen IN: Chris Dawes, Sam Frost, Clayton Oliver, Jack Trengove, Aaron vandenBerg OUT: Colin Garland (cheekbone), Ben Kennedy (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted), Ben Newton (omitted), Jack Viney (suspended)
  19. SENSIBLE, SILLY, SMART, SUCKERED by George on the Outer Sensible, Silly, Smart, Suckered ... Yes that was the summation of the game in which the Demons failed to pull off what was potentially a surprise victory against one of the powerhouse sides of the competition in Hawthorn. But where the Hawks were sensible, the Demons were silly. When the Hawks played smart, the Demons were suckered and in the end it cost them the game, despite leading for a good part of the match. For the Demons fans it was heartening to see the return of Jack Trengove, and while he struggled with the pace of the game, 19 touches in your first game back after 2 years on the sidelines is highly commendable. What the Demons didn’t notice was the greasy and wet conditions on the ground. That is why the Hawks played smart. There was nothing too fancy - just get the ball moving by any means. Scramble it forward, kick it off the ground. Melbourne simply tried to play dry weather footy until they followed the example of Bernie Vince, who just kept putting the ball on his boot. His 21 touches to half time and 36 for the game was the sign of leadership that was needed around the ball. The trouble was that Melbourne squandered plenty of opportunity before it woke up to what was going on. Players like Lewis and Mitchell weren’t at the bottom of packs; they just sat outside and waited for the cake of soap to slip out of hands and then they booted the ball forwards time and time again. Not one Demon player was smart enough to stand them and they were still doing the same in the final quarter. All too often Melbourne players went up in marking contests when not needed. The smarter Hawks stayed down and accepted the ball as it inevitably spilled over the back. That’s smart football. And like the hardened team that has won multiple premiership flags, they know when to start a fight and distract younger players from playing football. It happened when Melbourne came from behind and challenged them. It is all well and good to be tough and physical, and not be intimidated, but not while the opposition have the ball and are running toward goal. The Demons were simply suckered and while we often use the excuse of being a younger side, the lesson to be clearly learned was how to conduct yourself if you want to be a premiership side. In order to do that you need contributions from all the players in the side. Sadly, there were still too many passengers in the Melbourne side. Jeff Garlett has gone missing in the weeks since signing up for an extended contract, and he hasn’t realized that there is more to a game of footy than hanging out the back and then outrunning the opposition. Only five touches again this week brings his total to 12 for the past two games. Even if you aren’t playing well you can tackle, but this has also gone missing from his game, as the ball rebounded from the Hawks defence all to easily. In contrast at the other end Neville Jetta was a standout. How many times he saved goals by simply putting everything on the line or just getting to contests was hard to remember. Unfortunately, he seemed to be playing a lone hand in the backline as Frost and Oscar McDonald simply couldn’t put a foot right for the whole game. Defenders they are not at this point in time, and playing at this level is proving to be too costly to the overall team performance. We have to hope that the return of Aaron Vandenberg, Chris Dawes and Jack Trengove enables them to get some game fitness because they have a long way to go to get back to their best. Each produced a highlight or two particularly VDB with his tackling efforts that produced a critical goal, but we simply need more output in future games. Finally, I was able to have a good look at the defensive structures this week. There was more cohesion with the set-up, and it did work this week. It was let down by some simply incompetent individual efforts. It it has been difficult to work out why we have been broken open so easily in the past weeks. It is the lack of effort from the wingers who get sucked toward the ball and fail to watch their man folding back to the middle of the ground or the forward line. It would have happened again this week, but the mids managed to contain the ball movement. Only a goal to Brad Hill was the result of poor marking. It is up to Billy Stretch, Tom Bugg, Dean Kent and James Harmes to stop being one way players and start playing smart football. Or we will just keep getting suckered by teams like Hawthorn and other serious finals contenders. Melbourne 2.0.12 7.2.44 10.2.62 10.4.64 Hawthorn 4.5.29 6.7.43 8.14.62 11.16.82 Goals Melbourne Kent Watts 2 Dawes Hogan N Jones Petracca Tyson vandenBerg Hawthorn Gunston 3 Breust O'Brien 2 Hill Puopolo Rioli Stewart Best Melbourne Tyson Vince N Jones Watts T McDonald Kent Hawthorn Mitchell Lewis Gibson Birchall Smith Frawley Gunston Changes Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Hawthorn Jack Gunston (right ankle) Reports Melbourne Bernie Vince (Melbourne) for striking in the fourth quarter Hawthorn Nil Umpires Bannister, Ryan, Pannell Official crowd 41,833 at the MCG
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