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  1. With nine finals debutants in the side, the Melbourne Football Club had a daunting assignment ahead of it in the First Qualifying Final — to overcome the competition’s highest scoring side, the Brisbane Lions. In the end, the Demons accomplished the task by putting the bite on their opponents on their way to taming the Lions and recording a 33 point win that propelled them into one the two Preliminary Finals of 2021. It was one of those debutants, Luke Jackson, who put the bite in more than most, losing a tooth but still showing why he took out the AFL’s Rising Star Award for the year. Once again, this being a 1 v 4 game in finals, it was expected to be a tight contest with skilled players showing their wares on both sides. The first quarter was a classic shoot out, which probably suited Brisbane’s style of play with nine goals recorded between the two teams. At the end of the term, Melbourne led by just over a goal, but even at this early stage it was obvious it was going to be a “knock them down, drag them out” type of affair. Early on, the backs had their hands full with Charlie Cameron, who posted three majors in that first quarter, and shuffling of defenders was needed, but it failed to stop his early influence. They were helped when Daniel McStay left the field early with concussion after collision with a team mate. Through Jake Lever and Harry Petty they started to gain the upper hand late, while Steven May held Joe Daniher out of the game, and in the end limited him to a single paltry behind for the night, the first time this year that he failed to score a major. The forwards were kicking goals themselves but they also had the dual job of trying to limit Daniel Rich and his lethal kicking and make adjustments to quell his influence. Around the ground the Demons were starting to find their mojo as their ever-reliable systems fell into place. The small snippets of control evident in the first quarter, bloomed in the second when the Demons piled on four goals to one. The only downside was that the set shot kicking continued to fall below par with Jackson, Tom McDonald and Ed Langdon missing shots at goal. Christian Petracca likewise, but from snaps that he also would have normally made. Six of the Demons ten scores were behinds, and the game could have been all over if just a few of them hit their mark. Still despite that five goal lead at half-time, the problem areas remained with Cameron still elusive, lucky to not score a major and Rich still roaming freely. Would it cost the team come the final stanza? But with Max Gawn starting to grind McInerney down in the ruck, Jackson also providing drive from the contests and the Lions missing an effective second string in the ruck, the Lions had a struggle ahead of them. The third quarter turned into a typical finals slog that saw only two goals scored, both to the Lions. Once again, Cameron got free to record another major, while Brisbane adopted the chip and kick game method to try to break down the Melbourne defensive systems. This was their style in those high scoring games and it certainly denied the Demons the ball, but would it work to win the game? With the lead whittled down to 19 points at the last break, Melbourne of all teams knew that a deficit of that magnitude could be overcome easily in 30 minutes of football. Had the stage been set for another nail biting finish? Bayley Fritsch starting proceedings by putting the Demons further ahead early on, but the Lions manufactured a reply from McCarthy. Fritsch chimed In again with a contested mark that he had no right to take, from which he duly converted but Brisbane wasn’t done and Cameron was paid a free to score his fifth. In the heat of the battle, there were some important contributions at the right time. Trent Rivers had two critical intercepts on the half-back line which denied Brisbane further chances, and then to shut down the Lions’ momentum, Petracca finished it off with a couple of majors to put Melbourne five goals up with only minutes to play. In the game’s dying minutes, the Demons had the luxury of an all-star bench comprising Gawn, Oliver, Petracca and May. It was a game of the Melbourne Brand working at its ruthless best. There was not a single player all around the ground who didn’t put in a play his role when required. This is what finals football is all about, the weak links get found out and the margins for error are small. The backs were challenged again and again, and held up. Jake Bowey and Rivers looked like they had played in 10 finals series not their first. Importantly, the defence only allowed the Lions 5 goals after ¼ time. The Lever and May combination once again took the oppositions forward thrusts apart, Lever with 15 intercepts, while Rivers had 11 to his name. May just kept Daniher away from the ball the whole game, and allowed the others to do their thing. The forwards while adopting different methods during the game, put sufficient score on the board when needed, but the set-shot kicking will leave the door open for the opposition at the big dance. The mids were enormous, none more so than Oliver who has changed his attacking mode in recent weeks, and is kicking goals and delivering more into the forward line than has been seen before. Petracca similarly, is taking his chances in front of goal, and it provides another avenue for the side to score. The wingers in Angus Brayshaw and Langdon also took their opponents apart. McCluggage and Robinson got plenty of touches, but simply weren’t effective. It isn’t all about offensive statistics, but for this important position, it is equally the defensive. How many times did we see this pair taking the ball away from deep in the opposition’s forward line, or simply being there as an outlet option? Langdon’s incredible running ability is even more remarkable, in that he didn’t come off the ground for the whole game, something usually reserved for deep defenders. Well the Demons have now progressed to the Preliminary Final stage. With a well deserved rest, it will enable the bodies to recover, but as we have seen with Darren Burgess in control, they will not be any less ready for the challenge. The coaching and selection committee have an unenviable task with the likes of Nathan Jones, James Jordon, Jake Melksham, Jayden Hunt others all fit and ready to play a role. In what promises to be an exciting game for long suffering Melbourne supporters, especially for those locked down on the other side of the country, they are expecting a far better outcome than the most recent Preliminary Final result in WA in 2018. This is a different Melbourne to every side that has represented the club since its last Premiership. It plays a different game, it is prepared and executes in a different way. It is coached to perform and produce a style of football which is finals successful. This is no tame side. It has real bite. MELBOURNE 5.4.34 9.10.64 9.12.66 13.15.93 BRISBANE LIONS 4.2.26 5.4.34 7.5.47 9.6.60 GOALS Melbourne Fritsch 4 Petracca Pickett 2 Brown Langdon Oliver Spargo Sparrow Brisbane Lions Cameron 5 Bailey Berry McCarthy McCluggage BEST Melbourne Oliver Petracca Lever Viney Fritsch Neal-Bullen Gawn Brisbane Lions Neale Cameron Rich McCluggage Coleman Bailey INJURIES Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions D. McStay (concussion) REPORTS Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne J. Jordon (unused) Brisbane Lions R. Mathieson (replaced D. McStay) UMPIRES Chris Donlon Ray Chamberlain Craig Fleer OFFICIAL CROWD 13,784 lucky people at the Adelaide Oval
  2. I’ve always believed that when the home and away matches come to an end, the football season takes on a completely different shape and character. During the regular season, each team’s goals progress as the weeks pass and if you’re good enough to survive and make the grade, the situation changes. The comparison can be made with the life cycle of a butterfly going through stages from egg to larva to caterpillar, cocoon and in the end to a bright and colourful creature that emerges from darkness into the sky. This could easily fit into a description of Melbourne’s journey to date but, as Simon Goodwin put it so aptly this week when he preached to his players about the need to reset and start anew for the finals. “One season's down, another one begins." The Demons escaped from their cocoon in the dying moments of last Saturday’s game when Maxy’s shot split the goalposts. The euphoria and raw emotion of the occasion took the Demons into a heavenly flight. The feeling for all was one of freedom and liberation much like moment of chrysalis to a butterfly heading skyward for the first time. Goodwin recognised the need for calm. Reaching the finals is not as an end in itself, but a new stage in the quest for a premiership. The fact that Melbourne finished on top of ladder is now irrelevant. This is a new season to be taken head on with no room for complacency — the minor premiership is part of a past life and should not be treated as our grand final. The Demons might well be favourites in Adelaide against the Brisbane Lions but the game will start with each team on level pegging. One team had the most premiership points in the competition, the other, the highest percentage and the most quarters won during the regular season. As we saw last week when Geelong surprised Melbourne to pile on what seemed an endless stream of goals on end in the second term, anything can happen in any given game. The minor advantage of top place means that the game is taking place at the preferred location of Adelaide Oval (in the absence of the MCG), a venue where the Demons have tasted some success in recent years. However, it’s still a neutral ground. The Lions themselves managed to pull off their own minor miracle by running the Bulldogs down in the three weeks after their Round 20 loss to the Hawks and deprived them of the double chance. On the first day of this month, the Western Bulldogs were on top of the ladder with 15 wins and a percentage of 142.0. The Lions were three games behind them and sitting on 124.6%. They overtook the Doggies in the dying seconds of the regular season. But monstering sides that finished the year in disarray is not in the same category in terms of preparation for the finals season as the pressure cooker of the game at GMHBA Stadium against the Cats was for the Demons. It was a great tune up for the season of finals and mirrored the come-from-behind game they played against the Lions at Giants Stadium in mid season. It epitomised the conversion of this Melbourne team from a failed outsider in 2020 to a formidable contender in 2021. The metamorphosis began with a preseason that saw their development into a healthy team fit both in body and mind. The players have built an excellent relationship and connection with each other and their game style and team discipline is such that it simply wears the opposition into submission. The more mature Lions in Round 12 and the Cats in Round 23 expended so much energy at various stages of their matches that, in the end, as a collective, they were powerless to stem the tide. The Brisbane Lions will be no pushover. They have a good spread of talent across the ground including a strong midfield that overcame Max Gawn’s ruck dominance to give them a narrow victory at Metricon Stadium last year. But the Demons have moved forward at a rapid rate since then. They have their fair share of stars but the end result of their metamorphosis is that they have become a team primed and capable of victory every time it takes to the ground in the hard grind of the new finals season. Melbourne to win by 27 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Adelaide Oval, Saturday 28 August, 2021 at 7.30pm HEAD TO HEAD * Overall Melbourne 26 wins Brisbane Lions 22 wins At Adelaide Oval Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins Last Five Meetings Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins The Coaches Goodwin 3 wins Fagan 2 wins * does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games 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 14.13.97 defeated Brisbane Lions 11.9.75, at Giants Stadium Round 12, 2021 After an even start, the Lions took control of proceedings to hold a 20 point lead at the main break. After half time, the Demons turned things around to take the lead going into the final term and then raced away to win by 22 points. Their best players on the night were Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Trent Rivers 24 S. May 1 H. Petty 35 HB: J. Bowey 17 J. Lever 8 C. Salem 3 C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15 HF: C. Spargo 9 T. McDonald 25 J. Viney 7 F: A. Neal-Bullen 30 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36 I/C: J. Harmes 4 L. Jackson 6 J. Smith 44 T. Sparrow 32 Sub: J. Jordon 23 Emerg: M. Hibberd 14 N. Jones 2 J. Melksham 18 NO CHANGE BRISBANE LIONS B: D. Gardiner 27 H. Andrews 31 B. Starcevich 37 HB: G. Birchall 14 M. Adams 24 D. Rich 10 C: H. McCluggage 6 Z. Bailey 33 J. Berry 7 HF: L. McCarthy 11 D. McStay 25 D. Zorko 15 F: N. Cockatoo 12 J. Daniher 3 C. Cameron 23 Foll: O. McInerney 46 J. Lyons 17 L. Neale 9 I/C: K. Coleman 18 T. Fullarton 21 J. Prior 20 M. Robinson 5 Sub: R. Mathieson 36 Emerg: C. Ballenden 38 T. Berry 13 R. Mathieson 36 J. Payne 40 IN: H. Andrews M. Robinson OUT: C. Ah Chee (injured) R. Lester (injured) Injury List: First Qualifying Final Jayden Hunt (ankle) — 1 to 2 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season
  3. It was back in Round 12 during one of Victoria’s Covid19 lockdowns that the two clubs had to find refuge in the western suburbs of Sydney where Gladys reigned supreme and things were safe and sound in the State of New South Wales for everything except footy teams from Brisbane. Melbourne can pick and choose where to play next week (subject to no unforeseen circumstances arising and when does that ever happen these days?😀) but it won’t be at Giants Stadium. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: M. Hibberd 14 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: C. Salem 3 H. Petty 35 A. Brayshaw 10 C: T. Sparrow 32 C. Petracca 5 J. Hunt 29 HF: J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 C. Spargo 9 F: B. Fritsch 31 L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36 I/C: J. Harmes 4 J. Melksham 18 T. Rivers 24 S. Weideman 26 Emerg: O. Baker 33 T. Bedford 12 J. Bowey 17 M. Brown 38 In: O. Baker Out: Ed Langdon (concussion) BRISBANE LIONS B: J. Prior 20 H. Andrews 31 B. Starcevich 37 HB: D: Rich 10 M. Adams 24 G. Birchall 14 C: D. Zorko 15 L. Neale 9 H. McCluggage HF: C. Ah Chee 4 J. Daniher 3 L. McCarthy 11 F: D. McStay 25 E. Hipwood 30 C. Cameron 23 Foll: O. McInerney 46 J. Lyons 17 M. Robinson 5 I/C Z. Bailey 33 K. Coleman 18 R. Lester 35 D. Robertson 2 Sub: R. Mathieson 36 Emerg: C. Ballenden 38 T. Fullarton 21 J. Madden 42 In: R. Lester L. Neale Out: T. Berry (omitted) J. Madden (omitted)
  4. In an enthralling game between two top four sides, it was the Demons who tamed the Lions, and propelled themselves into the position of premiership favourite even though the season is barely past the halfway mark. This is because Melbourne keeps on beating those teams around them who might provide a challenge. Not only that, it keeps winning with emphatic displays of resilience and toughness that have not been seen in a Demons side for many, many years. Challenged in the first half of the game, which saw the Brisbane Lions lead by 13 points at ¼ time and then extend that lead to 20 points at the major break, Melbourne just had to respond. It took a while even in the third quarter to get to a controlling position on the ground, and then the goals started to come. The score line differential was eliminated by the ¾ time siren and then opened up for the Demons to ultimately record a 22 point victory. So what happened to cause this remarkable turnaround? The answer is not easy to discern given that with the exception of those privileged enough to be in Sydney, most of us had to view on our television screens without the benefit of a full ground view. The match was always going to be a close run thing, with the Lions early lead coming about as a result of some silly errors from a few Demon players. Brisbane brought a more physical aspect into the contest, whereas Melbourne was and is more a “control the ball” team. Compounding the issue was the first half aerial superiority of the Lions, particularly up forward where Daniher and Hipwood were beating May and Lever. In the middle, Brisbane was superior and, at the main break, the Lions led in just about every recorded statistic possible. Yet, despite those silly first quarter errors, the 2021 Demons with their 10-1 winning run were still an opponent to be feared given they were still within striking range. Whatever it took and whatever the change at half-time, it was a different Melbourne that took the field in the second half. Max Gawn took over completely in ruck contests, for his 31 hit-outs were only exceeded by his four clearances, and 17 disposals. This provided the supply to the Christian Petracca and Oliver duo who exploded from their quiet first half, Oliver only having 8 touches at the first break. James Harmes had lost the battle with Neale to date, but suddenly found himself involved. Alex Neal-Bullen did not have a single touch in the second quarter, but he also found himself back in the action. James Jordon found his feet, and finished with 20 disposals to complement the Petracca/Oliver team’s disposal count of 51. The change happened swiftly and decisively. All around the ground players started playing to the Melbourne plan again. The defensive structures (not just the defenders) was evident from that point on. Brisbane players looked up and simply had nowhere to go, and the contest and turnovers eventuated. Three goals after half-time against nine for the Demons was the sealer. The Lions were being tamed by a team of professionals. Once the structures had been re-established, the team of Lever, May and now Petty swung into action. Intercept after intercept became the norm, and this drove the Demons well into attack. The absence of Ed Langdon as the link player up the line was taken up by Christian Salem and Charlie Spargo, who had moved well up the ground. Spargo was instrumental in seven score involvements, and despite giving away inches to opponents often succeeded in getting the ball to ground or simply tapping it on the better placed team-mates. Pickett proved to be a constant thorn in the side of Brisbane defenders and finished with three goals, which easily could have been five, save for a couple of easy missed set shots. Tom McDonald also bustled and fought strongly to finish with three as well, while Bayley Fritsch continued with his reliable couple of goals in this game as well. Sam Weidman replicated his game from the previous week, with a solitary touch until half way through the third quarter, and then his first mark at the same point. This despite a number of missed marks where he got both hands to the ball. An easy set shot went missing and he could only manage a similar output in the final quarter to finish with 1 point. He has had his chance yet again, and probably burnt it. Likewise, Jack Melksham who was used for only 57% of game time for a meagre five touches has surely used up all of his nine lives. With Ed Langdon due back next week, and Tom Sparrow showing enough in this game, the selectors look to have an easy option. Challenged once again, the Demons did what they had to do. Players played their roles, and the result came their way again. They have now learnt how important the team aspect is to producing success. The supporters have supported that success with 50,000 now having signed up, many in anticipation of the near guaranteed September appearances. Like the Western Bulldogs in the previous week, the Lions were serious competitors. Their respective ladder positions showed that, and Brisbane had come into the game with 7 successive wins. They probably have shown their cards, and their best performance capabilities in this game. Players like McStay, Robinson and Cameron, who had been instrumental in recent wins, were unsighted. When the final siren came they and the majority of their team-mates had been well and truly tamed by the Demons, who simply chalked up another win in their 2021 tally. MELBOURNE 2.3.15 5.4.34 10.9.69 14.13.97 BRISBANE 4.4.28 8.6.54 10.8.68 11.9.75 GOALS Melbourne McDonald Pickett 3 Fritsch Petracca 2 Gawn Jackson Neal-Bullen Sparrow Brisbane Lions Bailey 4 Cameron 2 Coleman Daniher Hipwood McCarthy Zorko BEST Melbourne Petracca Harmes Oliver May Gawn Neal-Bullen Brisbane Zorko Bailey Lyons Andrews Neale INJURIES Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Ryan Lester (hamstring) REPORTS Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Dayne Zorko (allegedly striking Tom McDonald) in the third quarter SUBSTITUTES Melbourne Oskar Baker (unused) Brisbane Lions Rhys Mathieson (replaced Ryan Lester) UMPIRES Donlon Rosebury Howorth OFFICIAL CROWD 3,772 at Giants Stadium
  5. In the classic Australian poem, A B “Banjo” Paterson sought the answer by letter to a question concerning the whereabouts of a drover named “Clancy”. The response from Clancy’s shearing mate was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar: “Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.” Most of us would have felt a little bit that way earlier in the week wondering about the possible whereabouts of the Melbourne team for this week’s encounter against Brisbane. Were they going to meet in Alice Springs or perhaps Brisbane? Or somewhere down the Lachlan River where young Clancy was last sighted? As it turned out, it’s all happening on Friday night on the windswept plains to the west of Sydney at a venue where the two teams have never before met each other so it’s still a more or less neutral venue as TIO Traeger Park would have been anyway. I suspect however, that Giants Stadium will suit Melbourne right down to a tee and further, the team has the maturity and resilience to adapt to the week’s lockdown circumstances. They will need all of that adaptability for their duel against the AFL’s other form team in Brisbane which has been thumping opposition sides and is closing on Melbourne’s season high undefeated run of nine consecutive wins. These are the competition’s dueling banjos. The contest between the two teams promises to be an intriguing one. The Demons have the competition’s strongest defence; one that has settled into a steady and stable unit now that Harry Petty has had the opportunity to settle down in Adam Tomlinson’s vacated position. Against that, Brisbane has close to the best attack in the competition having posted five century plus scores in its current run of seven wins (they scored 93 and 95 in the other two). The teams will be circling and feeling each other out in a dangerous duel that will go a long way to deciding the outcome in the race for places in the top four. The respective midfields aren’t too shabby either and it was in this part of the game that the Lions gained the ascendancy at Metricon Stadium last year when Lachie Neale picked Max Gawn’s pockets at ruck contests with such regularity that he almost completely nullified the Demon skipper’s 41 hit out dominance. Despite this, Brisbane stuttered over the line by 4 points after a kick from Mitch Hannan late in the game went out on the full and Bayley Fritsch gave away a 50m penalty. Neale has been out for several weeks and in his absence, Lyons, McCluggage and Zorko are flying the flag high. He’s been mentioned in despatches as a likely returnee. With him or without, I think the Demon midfield has improved enough to turn the tables this time. Melbourne to win by 9 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Giants Stadium Friday, 4 June, 2021 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD * Overall Melbourne 25 wins Brisbane Lions 22 wins At Giants Stadium Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins Last Five Meetings Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Fagan 2 wins * does not include Brisbane Bears games 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 Brisbane Lions 7.11.53 defeated Melbourne 7.7.49 at Metricon Stadium, Round 8, 2020 After an even first quarter, the Brisbane Lions on ball brigade took control of proceedings for the middle terms of the game. This came about despite Max Gawn’s complete domination of the ruck contests. Lauchie Neale was outstanding with 33 touches as the Lions went to a three goal lead at the final break. Melbourne launched a comeback and was in with a chance right up to the final siren but failed to take advantage of some late opportunities to win. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: M. Hibberd 14 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: C. Salem 3 H. Petty 35 A. Brayshaw 10 C: T. Sparrow 32 C. Petracca 5 J. Hunt 29 HF: J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 C. Spargo 9 F: B. Fritsch 31 L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36 I/C: J. Harmes 4 J. Melksham 18 T. Rivers 24 S. Weideman 26 Emerg: O. Baker 33 T. Bedford 12 J. Bowey 17 M. Brown 38 In: O. Baker Out: Ed Langdon (concussion) BRISBANE LIONS B: J. Prior 20 H. Andrews 31 B. Starcevich 37 HB: D: Rich 10 M. Adams 24 G. Birchall 14 C: D. Zorko 15 L. Neale 9 H. McCluggage HF: C. Ah Chee 4 J. Daniher 3 L. McCarthy 11 F: D. McStay 25 E. Hipwood 30 C. Cameron 23 Foll: O. McInerney 46 J. Lyons 17 M. Robinson 5 I/C Z. Bailey 33 K. Coleman 18 R. Lester 35 D. Robertson 2 Sub: R. Mathieson 36 Emerg: C. Ballenden 38 T. Fullarton 21 J. Madden 42 In: R. Lester L. Neale Out: T. Berry (omitted) J. Madden (omitted) Injury List: Round 12 Ed Langdon (concussion) — 1 Week Jack Viney (toe) — 1 to 2 Weeks Joel Smith (knee) — 2 to 3 Weeks Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 3 to 4 Weeks Deakyn Smith (ankle) — 3 to 4 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — 10 to 12 Weeks Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season
  6. The travelling COVID circus moves north of the border yet again and, unless at some time in the near future, Papua New Guinea opens its borders, this could be the last time this phenomenon happens. And as fortune would dictate, the resurgent Demons are walking directly into the sights of the locals from the bright lights of Brizvegas to Carrara - the scene of some long-forgotten (and deservedly so) battles with one of the Lions’ former incarnations, namely, the Brisbane Bears. But unlike the old koala clowns, the Lions are a serious football team and one of the flag favourites. Sunday’s game will be no circus. A year ago, when these sides met, the Demons threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Lions in the opening half at the Gabba but they were overrun by a rampant Brisbane in the third quarter and the home side coasted to a comfortable victory. The challenge for Melbourne then is to rise to a level even higher than that which it achieved last week against Hawthorn. In their favour is the fact that they play the Lions on a neutral ground, albeit one close to home. In addition, the Melbourne lineup is far more stable - when they met last year the Demons had an disastrous injury list 14 players deep. But more importantly, the Dees are in form. Melbourne continues to be strong in the middle of the ground where Max Gawn is in dominant form in the ruck and he has a formidable engine room with Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney taking the game on through the stoppages and in general play. The Lions are no slouches in the midfield but they have been unsettled away from their home in Brisbane. I’m expecting the Demons to kick on further and why not? They have a couple of young talls up forward in Weideman and Jackson and a couple of classy movers in Harley Bennell and Kysaiah Pickett who add so much composure with ball in hand. The defence is looking much better with the re-inclusion of Oscar McDonald and Neville Jetta to complement Jake Lever and Steven May. I’m tipping the Demons to upset another Queensland team on their trip onward to the north of yet another border. Melbourne by 22 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium Sunday, 26 July, 2020 at 6.10pm HEAD TO HEAD  Overall Melbourne 25 wins Brisbane Lions 21 wins At Metricon Stadium* Melbourne 0 wins Brisbane Lions 0 wins Last Five Meetings Melbourne 4 wins Brisbane Lions 1 win The Coaches Goodwin 2 wins Fagan 1 win * does not include Brisbane Bears games MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel Live at 6.00pm Radio - 3AW SEN MMM ABC AFL NATION LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane 15.17.107 defeated Melbourne 11.8.74 at the Gabba, Round 15, 2019 It was a bruising encounter at the Gabba and the Demons surprised the Lions with a concerted first half effort which saw them in front by a goal at the main break. The home team hit the gas pedal with six goals to three in the third quarter and went on to record a comfortable 33 point victory. Clayton Oliver and Christian Salem both accumulated 30 plus possessions and Jack Viney wasn’t far behind them but the Lions were too strong. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Michael Hibberd Steven May Jay Lockhart HB Christian Salem Jake Lever Oscar McDonald C Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver Bayley Fritsch HF Jake Melksham Sam Weideman James Harmes FF Kysaiah Pickett Mitch Hannan Harley Bennell FOL Max Gawn Christian Petracca Jack Viney I/C Angus Brayshaw Luke Jackson Neville Jetta Nathan Jones EM Tom McDonald Alex Neal-Bullen Joel Smith Adam Tomlinson IN Nathan Jones OUT Aaron vandenBerg (fractured cheek bone) BRISBANE LIONS FB Ryan Lester Harris Andrews Darcy Gardiner HB Daniel Rich Grant Birchall Brandon Starcevich C Mitch Robinson Dayne Zorko Hugh McCluggage HF Jarrod Berry Eric Hipwood Cam Rayner FF Zac Bailey Daniel McStay Charlie Cameron FOL Oscar McInerney Jarryd Lyons Lachie Neale I/C Callum Ah Chee Thomas Berry Lincoln McCarthy Archie Smith EM Connor Ballenden Keidean Coleman Rhys Mathieson Alex Witherden IN Archie Smith OUT Stefan Martin (back) Injury List: Round 8 Aaron vandenBerg (fractured cheekbone) – 2 weeks Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  7. We were struggling at the time but put up a good fight for half a game at the Gabba. THE TEAMS BRISBANE B Luke Hodge Harris Andrews Daniel Rich HB Alex Witherden Darcy Gardiner Noah Answerth C Dayne Zorko Lachie Neale Lincoln McCarthy HF Cam Rayner Eric Hipwood Mitch Robinson F Charles Cameron Daniel McStay Zac Bailey FOLL Stefan Martin Hugh McCluggage Jarryd Lyons I/C Jarrod Berry Allen Christensen Ryan Lester Oscar McInerney EMG Ben Keays Corey Lyons Sam Skinner Brandon Starcevich IN Zac Bailey Jarrod Berry OUT Jacob Allison (omitted) Rhys Mathieson (omitted) MELBOURNE B Jay Lockhart Steven May Christian Salem HB Nathan Jones Sam Frost Bayley Fritsch C Oskar Baker James Harmes Angus Brayshaw HF Jayden Hunt Tim Smith Christian Petracca F Mitch Hannan Tom McDonald Sam Weideman FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Clayton Oliver I/C Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Alex Neal-Bullen Harrison Petty EMG Jordan Lewis Oscar McDonald Braydon Preuss Corey Wagner IN Michael Hibberd OUT Josh Wagner (omitted)
  8. EARNING AND LEARNING by George on the Outer Despite the fact that the Brisbane Lions are on the bottom rung of the AFL ladder, they made Melbourne earn its win at the MCG on Sunday. The younger Demons also learned that wins are not a given; you must work and continue to work even when the team is five goals up in the final quarter. This is precisely the type of lesson this team needs in the lead up to September action for possibly the first time in over ten years. The Lions were able to bring the game back to within a couple of kicks with about ten minutes to play, but Melbourne rallied, especially through Cam Pedersen and Angus Brayshaw when the game was all on the line. Pedersen repaid the faith that the club had in him after it re-signed him again for next year, and his rucking, marking and willingness to push himself to the limit when required saw him finish the day with three goals, including the one which finally put paid to the Brisbane revival. Angus Brayshaw showed maturity far beyond his years when he provided an option for Mitch Hannan in the dying seconds, ran the clock down further, and then finally slotted the goal to ensure the Demons ran out 13 point winners. Melbourne started badly, with an attitude that the fans had seen all too often when playing against a lowly ranked side. Zorko, Beams and Rockliff ran riot in the middle and it wasn’t until Jake Melksham was assigned the task of curtailing Zorko, that the Demons started to get some value from the middle. In the middle, the side truly missed the inside work of Jack Viney, and Nathan Jones became the sole “get it” man. Dom Tyson was in sorry form again, and if he continues to give the ball to the opposition by hand, he won’t be playing finals, especially when both Viney and Corey Maynard are there knocking at the door. Fortunately, swinging Petracca and Melksham into the middle stopped the rot and both Jones and Oliver were able to produce some influence. Up forward, Jesse Hogan had a fine day out with 6 goals which should give him a lot of confidence after his season from Hell. While he provides that target that the team so desperately needs, he also distracts the opposition defencewhich can leave Pedersen and Garlett unmarked as was witnessed on a number of occasions. If he can refine his leads, he will become something truly special. The backs did well when called upon, but most of the Brisbane scores came from swift ball movement, and precise kicking. Combined with the lack of run and pressure on the ball carrier they went coast to coast on numerous occasions, and had multiple goals from the goal square without a Melbourne player in sight. Where to now? A place in the finals is relatively certain, bar a substantial loss to Collingwood, and an equally substantial win by the West Coast Eagles against Adelaide. But with that game being played after our match next week, it is important not to give them the incentive to win and make finals. Our future is well and truly in our own hands. We hope the lessons from this week have been learned in order that we can say that our spot in the finals has indeed been earned. Melbourne 3.3.21 6.6.42 11.8.74 16.8.104 Brisbane Lions 2.3.15 6.3.39 9.5.59 14.7.91 Goals Melbourne Hogan 6 Pedersen 3 Garlett 2 Brayshaw Harmes Melksham Petracca Vince Brisbane Lions D Beams 3 Rockliff 2 Allison Barrett Bastinac Close Gardiner Hipwood McCluggage Walker Zorko Best Melbourne Hogan Pedersen Petracca Jones Oliver Hibberd Melksham Brisbane Lions D Beams Zorko Bastinac Taylor Rockliff Witherden Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions C Beams (head) D Beams (head) Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Rosebury, Gavine, Mollison Official crowd 30,422 at the MCG
  9. FROM LITTLE THINGS, BIG THINGS GROW by Georgina on the Outer In a game of firsts, the new AFLW Demons side lowered their colours to the Brisbane Lions in what became a scrappy tussle. But this was the game that had firsts and more firsts. The first ever game for a womens team playing for the Melbourne Football Club. The first ever game played at Casey Fields for AFL championship points. The first time an AFL level game had to be stopped due to the danger of lightning strike! And it was entertaining to boot! The first quarter was played mostly in idyllic conditions in front of what must have been a crowd of 10-15K. The locals turned out in their droves with kids in tow, and demonstrated why the MFC investment in the Casey alignment is starting to pay off. The Melbourne supporters also turned up in their droves, but what was truly surprising was the strong contingent of women supporters for both sides. Girls who obviously play the game at lower levels, but were there just the same. All in all it was an impressive start, but the Demons squandered their chances. While conditions were conducive to a free running and quick ball movement the Demons took advantage. Daisy Pearce was simply a class above anyone else on the field, but we only have one of her. The ball finished up multiple times in the forward line, but the forwards simply weren’t there, didn’t play in front or couldn’t kick relatively simply opportunities when they presented. Despite multiple attacks the Demons had 4 behinds to show for it while the Lions with barely a single forward thrust scored a major. Then the storm hit. Lightning and thunder struck overhead, and the field umpires took the players off the field. Rather wisely it would seem as the skies turned black and the torrential rain began. All was not lost during that period as the crowd on the other wing was entertained by the security guard trying to put on a poncho while the wind and rain tried its hardest to remove it from him. A few renditions of The Village Peoples' “Macho man” helped him along, but it was finally one of the mothers in the crowd who showed him where his head was supposed to fit. Unfortunately, too late, because the rain then stopped following a 10 or 15 minute delay and all returned. But the Melbourne side seemed unaware that the ground was now drenched, with a slippery cake of soap substituting for the ball. They continued to try to play dry weather football, handballing and kicking short. It didn’t work time and time again, while Brisbane simply scrambled the ball forward to their advantage. Melbourne then helped the situation with two 50 metre penalties for running over the mark, both which resulted in goals. And that became the difference between winning and losing. Mel Hickey tried everything to lift the side around the packs, and Daisy was moved forward to try to provide some spark, but it was to no avail. Elise O’Dea and Karne Paxman put in more than creditable performances, but there were simply too many Melbourne players who barely troubled the statisticians. At least, the Demons are only a game out of the top four let's hope that they go into next week's game against Collingwood with more than one goal in mind which is what both teams achieved at the weekend. This was a great first game, the result may not have been what we wanted, the conditions weren’t the best, but let's remember that Paul Kelly (the singer, not the footballer) one said that "from little things, big things grow". This competition has a great future, and it is hoped the fans continue to support it in full. Melbourne 0.3.3 1.4.10 1.4.10 1.4.10 Brisbane Lions 0.0.0 2.0.12 2.1.13 4.1.25 Goals Melbourne Grierson Brisbane Lions Campbell Frederick-Traub Gibson McCarthy Best Melbourne Pearce Paxman O'Dea Hickey Brisbane Lions Virgo Bates Frederick-Traub Kaslar Randall Crowd approx. 6,000 at Casey Fields
  10. In a game of firsts, the new AFLW Demons side lowered their colours to the Brisbane Lions in what became a scrappy tussle. But this was the game that had firsts and more firsts. The first ever game for a womens team playing for the Melbourne Football Club. The first ever game played at Casey Fields for AFL championship points. The first time an AFL level game had to be stopped due to the danger of lightning strike! And it was entertaining to boot! The first quarter was played mostly in idyllic conditions in front of what must have been a crowd of 10-15K. The locals turned out in their droves with kids in tow, and demonstrated why the MFC investment in the Casey alignment is starting to pay off. The Melbourne supporters also turned up in their droves, but what was truly surprising was the strong contingent of women supporters for both sides. Girls who obviously play the game at lower levels, but were there just the same. All in all it was an impressive start, but the Demons squandered their chances. While conditions were conducive to a free running and quick ball movement the Demons took advantage. Daisy Pearce was simply a class above anyone else on the field, but we only have one of her. The ball finished up multiple times in the forward line, but the forwards simply weren’t there, didn’t play in front or couldn’t kick relatively simply opportunities when they presented. Despite multiple attacks the Demons had 4 behinds to show for it while the Lions with barely a single forward thrust scored a major. Then the storm hit. Lightning and thunder struck overhead, and the field umpires took the players off the field. Rather wisely it would seem as the skies turned black and the torrential rain began. All was not lost during that period as the crowd on the other wing was entertained by the security guard trying to put on a poncho while the wind and rain tried its hardest to remove it from him. A few renditions of The Village Peoples' “Macho man” helped him along, but it was finally one of the mothers in the crowd who showed him where his head was supposed to fit. Unfortunately, too late, because the rain then stopped following a 10 or 15 minute delay and all returned. But the Melbourne side seemed unaware that the ground was now drenched, with a slippery cake of soap substituting for the ball. They continued to try to play dry weather football, handballing and kicking short. It didn’t work time and time again, while Brisbane simply scrambled the ball forward to their advantage. Melbourne then helped the situation with two 50 metre penalties for running over the mark, both which resulted in goals. And that became the difference between winning and losing. Mel Hickey tried everything to lift the side around the packs, and Daisy was moved forward to try to provide some spark, but it was to no avail. Elise O’Dea and Karne Paxman put in more than creditable performances, but there were simply too many Melbourne players who barely troubled the statisticians. At least, the Demons are only a game out of the top four let's hope that they go into next week's game against Collingwood with more than one goal in mind which is what both teams achieved at the weekend. This was a great first game, the result may not have been what we wanted, the conditions weren’t the best, but let's remember that Paul Kelly (the singer, not the footballer) one said that "from little things, big things grow". This competition has a great future, and it is hoped the fans continue to support it in full. Melbourne 0.3.3 1.4.10 1.4.10 1.4.10 Brisbane Lions 0.0.0 2.0.12 2.1.13 4.1.25 Goals Melbourne Grierson Brisbane Lions Campbell Frederick-Traub Gibson McCarthy Best Melbourne Pearce Paxman O'Dea Hickey Brisbane Lions Virgo Bates Frederick-Traub Kaslar Randall Crowd approx. 6,000 at Casey Fields
  11. THE SEVEN YEAR SWITCH by George on the Outer After seven years in the wilderness, the Fans in the Outer may have reason to overcome their MFCSS (Melbourne Football Club Supporter Syndrome). A game against Brisbane who sat in 16th place with a solitary win for the season, against the Demons having four wins under their belt, and sitting just outside the 8 was a cause for angst. In the past going into the game as favourites, home at the MCG, on a fine day with nearly a full side to select from and wanting to stay in finals contention was a sure recipe for completely stuffing up the opportunity sitting before them. So to come out of the game with a ten goal win might finally see the end of the MFCSS, and a march toward something completely different from the last seven years of anguish. The match was previewed by an exhibition match between the Melbourne and Brisbane Lions’ women’s’ sides. It was a sheer delight to watch the skills of AFL on display without the rolling mauls and scrambling play and continuous ball-ups that blights the male version today. Make no mistake - the girls play it hard and tough as well, but if you want to see some real football talent on display, make sure you get along to the next game, and watch Daisy Pearce and her team in action. The girls set the tone for the day with an over 10 goal win of their own. The dominance of the MFC players was marked, and the game effectively was over by ¼ time. Let us see more of them in the coming years. Melbourne 6.4.40 8.5.53 10.7.67 14.7.91 Brisbane Lions 0.0.0 1.0.6 1.1.7 3.2.20 Goals Melbourne Cameron 6 Boyd 3 Eva Foley Kemp D Pearce L Pearce Brisbane Lions McCarthy 2 Law Best Melbourne Cameron Blackburn Hardiman Hosking Lockland D Pearce Boyd Brisbane Lions Hunt Virgo Zieke Anderson And now, onto the boys … like the girls, the direction of the game was set by quarter time, with the Demons putting through five majors and then another five to make it ten by half time. The Lions squandered chances in the third quarter with multiple set shots going wide of the mark. Strangely, the wind affected the kicking for goal for both sides, when the MCG is usually devoid of any real wind advantage. It just swirled around and was fluky, making the shots for goal a hit and miss scenario. Still, the Demons did it better and finished by nearly doubling the Lions score. It’s a long time since we have witnessed such high scores from Melbourne sides and it makes for some interesting exhibitions of football. With a last minute withdrawal of Dom Tyson, the midfield just wasn’t as dominant as it can be, and this demonstrates Tyson’s influence on the team’s performance this year. Without his partner in crime, Jack Viney was unusually quiet with only 19 touches (still can’t complain about that, can we?). But the slack was picked up by Christian Petracca and Billy Stretch. Billy ran riot on the flanks and had 31 touches. The old heads among the fan base will remember and be able to compare his skills with that of his father. If he keeps performing in this manner, we are in for some wonderful displays in the future. Max Gawn was targeted again this week, and got little help from the umpires as third man up and opposition rucks just jump into him while the first ruckman simply held onto him. He could barely walk at the end of the game, and next week it is essential that he get some relief from a second ruck. Jack Watts provided the relief this week, and did a simply superb job and the hit outs with eight of his own. It was a brilliant move by the coaches, and forced Watts into the game a lot more than he has been in the past couple of weeks. But he is not the solution, as Max needs help around the ground and shouldn’t have to run to each and every contest. We simply cannot afford from him to break down this season. The backline unfortunately leaked like a sieve again this week. The current game plan or failure to execute the game plan sees the opposition getting easy goals and marks from inside the defensive 50. Colin Garland provides a big body in contested situations but simply stands off or loses his man too easily. Viv Michie was horrible at HBF and only two possessions to half time hopefully has marked his cards for next week. There are too many pushing for senior selection to carry passengers. Oscar McDonald was way out of his depth this week, but he needs the experience for the future. We simply cannot afford too many NQR players against better opposition. Yes, a 10 goal win is something delightful after the years of pain we have suffered. Now if the side really wants to bury the MFCSS, a win in Alice Springs against a side, which like us is challenging for a finals spot and only one place below us on the ladder, is essential. Let’s do it! Melbourne 5.6.36 10.7.67 13.10.88 19.17.131 Brisbane Lions 2.3.15 5.5.35 6.10.46 9.14.68 Goals Melbourne Hogan 5 Harmes 4 Garlett 2 Jones Kennedy Kent Michie Newton Stretch Viney Watts Brisbane Lions Bell 3 Lester 2 Freeman Keays Taylor Zorko Best Melbourne Hogan Bugg Petracca Garlett Oliver Watts Brisbane Lions Zorko Robinson Bell Rich Changes Melbourne Tyson (ill) replaced by Newton Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne Clayton Oliver (corked thigh) Brisbane Lions Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Deboy Findlay Harris Official crowd 26,892 at the MCG
  12. After seven years in the wilderness, the Fans in the Outer may have reason to overcome their MFCSS (Melbourne Football Club Supporter Syndrome). A game against Brisbane who sat in 16th place with a solitary win for the season, against the Demons having four wins under their belt, and sitting just outside the 8 was a cause for angst. In the past going into the game as favourites, home at the MCG, on a fine day with nearly a full side to select from and wanting to stay in finals contention was a sure recipe for completely stuffing up the opportunity sitting before them. So to come out of the game with a ten goal win might finally see the end of the MFCSS, and a march toward something completely different from the last seven years of anguish. The match was previewed by an exhibition match between the Melbourne and Brisbane Lions’ women’s’ sides. It was a sheer delight to watch the skills of AFL on display without the rolling mauls and scrambling play and continuous ball-ups that blights the male version today. Make no mistake - the girls play it hard and tough as well, but if you want to see some real football talent on display, make sure you get along to the next game, and watch Daisy Pearce and her team in action. The girls set the tone for the day with an over 10 goal win of their own. The dominance of the MFC players was marked, and the game effectively was over by ¼ time. Let us see more of them in the coming years. Melbourne 6.4.40 8.5.53 10.7.67 14.7.91 Brisbane Lions 0.0.0 1.0.6 1.1.7 3.2.20 Goals Melbourne Cameron 6 Boyd 3 Eva Foley Kemp D Pearce L Pearce Brisbane Lions McCarthy 2 Law Best Melbourne Cameron Blackburn Hardiman Hosking Lockland D Pearce Boyd Brisbane Lions Hunt Virgo Zieke Anderson And now, onto the boys … like the girls, the direction of the game was set by quarter time, with the Demons putting through five majors and then another five to make it ten by half time. The Lions squandered chances in the third quarter with multiple set shots going wide of the mark. Strangely, the wind affected the kicking for goal for both sides, when the MCG is usually devoid of any real wind advantage. It just swirled around and was fluky, making the shots for goal a hit and miss scenario. Still, the Demons did it better and finished by nearly doubling the Lions score. It’s a long time since we have witnessed such high scores from Melbourne sides and it makes for some interesting exhibitions of football. With a last minute withdrawal of Dom Tyson, the midfield just wasn’t as dominant as it can be, and this demonstrates Tyson’s influence on the team’s performance this year. Without his partner in crime, Jack Viney was unusually quiet with only 19 touches (still can’t complain about that, can we?). But the slack was picked up by Christian Petracca and Billy Stretch. Billy ran riot on the flanks and had 31 touches. The old heads among the fan base will remember and be able to compare his skills with that of his father. If he keeps performing in this manner, we are in for some wonderful displays in the future. Max Gawn was targeted again this week, and got little help from the umpires as third man up and opposition rucks just jump into him while the first ruckman simply held onto him. He could barely walk at the end of the game, and next week it is essential that he get some relief from a second ruck. Jack Watts provided the relief this week, and did a simply superb job and the hit outs with eight of his own. It was a brilliant move by the coaches, and forced Watts into the game a lot more than he has been in the past couple of weeks. But he is not the solution, as Max needs help around the ground and shouldn’t have to run to each and every contest. We simply cannot afford from him to break down this season. The backline unfortunately leaked like a sieve again this week. The current game plan or failure to execute the game plan sees the opposition getting easy goals and marks from inside the defensive 50. Colin Garland provides a big body in contested situations but simply stands off or loses his man too easily. Viv Michie was horrible at HBF and only two possessions to half time hopefully has marked his cards for next week. There are too many pushing for senior selection to carry passengers. Oscar McDonald was way out of his depth this week, but he needs the experience for the future. We simply cannot afford too many NQR players against better opposition. Yes, a 10 goal win is something delightful after the years of pain we have suffered. Now if the side really wants to bury the MFCSS, a win in Alice Springs against a side, which like us is challenging for a finals spot and only one place below us on the ladder, is essential. Let’s do it! Melbourne 5.6.36 10.7.67 13.10.88 19.17.131 Brisbane Lions 2.3.15 5.5.35 6.10.46 9.14.68 Goals Melbourne Hogan 5 Harmes 4 Garlett 2 Jones Kennedy Kent Michie Newton Stretch Viney Watts Brisbane Lions Bell 3 Lester 2 Freeman Keays Taylor Zorko Best Melbourne Hogan Bugg Petracca Garlett Oliver Watts Brisbane Lions Zorko Robinson Bell Rich Changes Melbourne Tyson (ill) replaced by Newton Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne Clayton Oliver (corked thigh) Brisbane Lions Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Deboy Findlay Harris Official crowd 26,892 at the MCG
  13. I'm camping at Winton V8's and it's too cold to sleep (should have listened to wife and brought an extra blanket) so I'll start game day. Hopefully we learnt out lesson agianst Essendon and just get the job done today, 4 points is a non negotiable.
  14. CRISIS? by the Oracle This week sees the Demons face yet another club in crisis, one which has progressively over a number of years transferred its identity from becoming the Brisbane Lions at the turn of the century back into the Brisbane Bears. The irony of course is that while Melbourne has already had its share of contests against clubs in strife during the season, the club itself has lurched through the past decade as the epitome of a club in crisis. While we have watched the young Demon side show us some positive, exciting glimpses to hold out some promise that it will step out of the mire at some time very soon, it continues to give fans its moments of despair so that a home ground contest against an ailing Bears club that was thrashed a week ago by Collingwood at the Gabba can be looked upon them as problematic - even when they are raging favourites to win. The game looks winnable from every aspect. Max Gawn is coming along nicely in his rucking role and he continues to give teammates at his feet a good ride at stoppages. The Melbourne midfield is improving in quality and depth. For the first time in living memory the Dees were credited with employing an innovative tactic. The only problem is that the "Diamond Pattern" or "Diamond Defence" didn't quite work when employed against the Bulldogs and if it was employed when they played the Bombers and the Saints, then it was an abject failure. Hopefully, it will be a case of back to the drawing board this week when the team faces the Bears because it really can't afford to lose another game to a club in crisis. It's not that last week's loss to the Bulldogs was comparable to the losses to Essendon and St Kilda. The Doggies are a competent well drilled outfit that more the ball quickly with precision. They have managed to get themselves out of "crisis mode" in quick time and based upon what we saw last week, they are definite contenders this year. Many of us hoped that Melbourne would follow a similar path this year but unless it can shake off the inconsistent tag, it will languish between the middle and lower half of the table. Winning against Brisbane at home on Sunday will help but it will remain one small step in the process necessary to avert the next crisis. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane at MCG Sunday 22 May, 2016 at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Melbourne 22 wins Brisbane 20 wins At MCG: Melbourne 12 wins Brisbane 3 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 1 win Brisbane 4 win The Coaches: Roos 1 win Leppitsch 1 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.00pm Radio - SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Melbourne $1.18 to win Brisbane $4.75 to win LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 8.12.60 defeated Brisbane 4.12.36 at the MCG, Round 16, 2015. The Lions kicked only one goal for the entire first half while the Demons managed only one in the second half in a putrid skill free exhibition of ineptitude. Jesse Hogan was the shining light with four goals. TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Billy Stretch, Tom McDonald, Tomas Bugg HB: Josh Wagner, Colin Garland, Bernie Vince C: Clayton Oliver, Dom Tyson, Viv Michie HF: Dean Kent, Jack Watts, Jeff Garlett F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Ben Kennedy FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jayden Hunt, Alex Neal-Bullen, Oscar McDonald EMG: Lynden Dunn, Jack Grimes, Ben Newton IN: Jack Grimes, Dean Kent, Alex Neal-Bullen, Ben Newton, Oscar McDonald OUT: Neville Jetta (suspension), Cam Pedersen (illness), Christian Salem (omitted) BRISBANE LIONS B: Ryan Harwood, Daniel Merrett, Jackson Paine HB: Daniel Rich, Daniel McStay, Sam Mayes C: Ryan Lester, Allen Christensen, Tom Bell HF: Pearce Hanley, Lewis Taylor, Nick Robertson F: Trent West, Josh Schache, Ryan Bastinac FOLL: Stefan Martin, Dayne Zorko, Mitch Robinson I/C: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Ben Keays, Rhys Mathieson EMG: Josh Clayton, Eric Hipwood, Jarrad Jansen IN: Billy Evans, Jonathan Freeman, Daniel McStay, Rhys Mathieson, Jackson Paine, Nick Robertson, Trent West OUT: Clay Beams (groin), Dayne Beams (knee), Rohan Bewick (groin), Darcy Gardiner (finger), Josh Green (omitted), Marco Paparone (omitted), Josh Walker (omitted) NEW: Rhys Mathieson (Geelong U18)
  15. Melbourne wrapped up this low scoring game against a very kinky bottom-of-the-ladder Brisbane Lions in the first quarter when it kicked five goals, three of them off the boot of Jesse Hogan, the Demons' brightest shining light on the horizon in several years. In fact, 20-year-old Hogan who kicked his fourth in the last quarter is more than just on the horizon - he's getting close to taking over centre stage. Given that the Lions also scored a major in the opening stanza, half of the game’s paltry total of twelve goals had been kicked by quarter time, leaving plenty of time for boring, defensive and ugly football in what was certainly not an exhibition of the finer points of the great Australian game. Fortunately, the administrators of our indigenous sport can also point to the fact that on the same ground, on the night before, the best exponents of the world game, produced a similarly lifeless and scoreless effort. It's probably gone largely unrecognised because the Demons haven't exactly put enough results on the board but the past month or two have seen some definite signs of improvement. Leaving aside, the last 40 minutes of the game against the Eagles in Darwin, the Melbourne has been in winning positions in all of its games since the Queens Birthday clash against Collingwood. Last week, it was a burst of accuracy by the Bombers in the third quarter (and inaccuracy all day by the Dees) that cost it the game, a few weeks before that, a defensive brain fade in the dying moment that deprived them of the points at Etihad against the Saints. In light of that, who could argue with an ugly 24 point victory against an opponent kept to only four goals? (in fact, the team has kept its opposition down to just 8 goals in 7 of the last 8 quarters played) This defensive mindset is reminiscent of last year but it's certainly becoming more effective and efficient. How long before a breakthrough sees the team record another significant win like that against Geelong four weeks ago? The selectors persevered with the same side that lost to the Bombers and are giving more game time to their young players while signaling to the likes of Mark Jamar and Jack Grimes that their time may still come. The young kids tried and showed promise and, of course, Hogan was the standout but the kudos from this game will go to the likes of Jeremy Howe who excelled in defence in what might have been his last chance before a stint at Casey. Bernie Vince and Jack Viney were the pick of the midfielders but there really wasn’t much excitement in the club’s engine room. Max Gawn is winning in the ruck on a weekly basis but the men at his feet are still not capitalizing on his dominance. Apart from in the first quarter, Brisbane won at the clearances and stoppages and hence, the struggle on the part of the team to score after the first break. Its little wonder therefore that in the post-match press conference, Paul Roos said that the aim is to recruit an A list midfielder into the ranks for next year. That’s wonderful but Dangerfield and Treloar appear out of his grasp so, unless he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, Roosy might have to rely on some of the youngsters in his own ranks to continue to improve and for Jack Trengove and Christian Petracca to make full recoveries from the injuries that kept them out this season. Next week, Melbourne takes on St. Kilda which continues to be impressive although, like the Dees, isn’t getting enough wins on the board for the effort expended. A victory would see the team on course for its highest placed finish in four years, perhaps a springboard for the future. Melbourne 5.4.34 7.7.49 7.10.52 8.12.60 Brisbane Lions 1.2.8 1.5.11 3.8.26 4.12.36 Goals Melbourne Hogan 4 Garlett McDonald 2 Brisbane Lions Andrews, Christensen, Robinson, Zorko Best Melbourne Howe, Gawn, Hogan, Viney, Cross, vandenBerg Brisbane Lions Christensen, Zorko, Taylor, Beams, Andrews Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Hanley (hamstring) Substitutions Melbourne Alex Neal-Bullen replaced Jay Kennedy-Harris in the third term Brisbane Lions James Aish replaced Pearce Hanley in the third quarter Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Bannister, Harris, McInerney Official crowd 25,149 at the MCG
  16. THE NIGHT OF THE JACKS by Whispering Jack They didn't win. Really, they didn't even deserve to do so or even come that close for that matter and the Brisbane Lions were well below full strength with Jonathan Brown and two of their best midfielders out of the contest. But with the season now entering a prolonged junk time for the Melbourne Football Club and our thoughts firmly focussed on the trade and draft periods and the coming back room battles for control of a banana republic board that will, for some time remain subservient to the AFL army, there were some things you just had to take from a loss of less than 20 points. I could settle for the performance of James Frawley who prevailed over a defence which in better circumstances (i.e if we had a midfield that could occasionally win a centre clearance) would be regarded as first world. "Chip" was awesome on the night and he was well assisted by Colin Garland until the third quarter tragedy took place (more of that later). I could have also settled on Nathan Jones who is all class in a moribund midfield and who was worn all night by a glove called Andrew Raines and still managed to have an impact (even if limited) or on Colin Sylvia who worked hard in the hot humid evening to amass 27 touches. In the end however, I decided to dedicate the night to our Jacks - all five of them because together, they will lead this club forward. I don't know how the judges who award the NAB Rising Star can avoid giving young Viney the gong this week. Our youngest player led by example, took the hits and was often found at the bottom of the packs in his first AFL game in 10 weeks and only ran out of steam at the end. This is where the club's midfield revival starts. The club's ugly duckling Jack Fitzpatrick is turning into a swan, dangerous around goal with a haul of four, three of them in the opening term and it could have been more but for a little knee problem. Jack Watts gifted him one of those early goals and was terrific on the night with 21 touches (10 marks), even having to go into the ruck at times to help out Max Gawn and Jack F in the sapping heat. Jack Grimes had a negating role in the middle and did it well while his co-captain Jack Trengove lurked with intent, laid a dozen tackles and was a strong contributor. He's emerging out of a dirty first half of a season in which his preparation was hampered by a difficult foot injury. There was more. Max Gawn worked hard in the ruck and got his share of hit outs and while beaten around the ground by Leuenberger is on his way to a career as one of the game's better big men. The team effort was solid and a major improvement on last week. The quarter time score of 5.1.31 exceeded that of the deluge affected score from Simonds Stadium, they went inside 50 fifty times and for the second week in a row, kept the opposition to under 100 points. The last quarter and a half was played under the disadvantage of being a rotation short after a languishing Jimmy Toumpas was subbed off with Garland rolling an ankle a minute or so later. Bad luck but, in those tough conditions, it gave Brisbane that small advantage that allowed it to safely see out the game. Junk time and the MFC world tour continues next week with our second home game in a row away from home, this time at Etihad against a desperately unlucky North Melbourne team that will be keen to give another team a kicking after its train of tragedies and close defeats. A month ago I wouldn't have given the Demons a chance but now - who knows? Melbourne 5.1.31 6.5.41 10.7.67 11.9 75 Brisbane Lions 3.4.22 8.5.53 11.12.78 13.16.94 Goals Melbourne Fitzpatrick 4 Blease Davey 2 Byrnes Dawes N Jones Brisbane Lions Green Staker 3 Merrett Redden 2 Lisle Mayes, Zorko Best Melbourne Frawley Viney Fitzpatrick Sylvia Grimes Trengove Brisbane Lions Rockliff Hanley Leuenberger Redden Staker Green Injuries Melbourne Garland (ankle) Brisbane Lions Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby replaced by Sam Docherty and Jordan Lisle Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpired Findlay Ryan Fila Official Crowd 7,615 at TIO Stadium
  17. They didn't win. Really, they didn't even deserve to do so or even come that close for that matter and the Brisbane Lions were well below full strength with Jonathan Brown and two of their best midfielders out of the contest. But with the season now entering a prolonged junk time for the Melbourne Football Club and our thoughts firmly focussed on the trade and draft periods and the coming back room battles for control of a banana republic board that will, for some time remain subservient to the AFL army, there were some things you just had to take from a loss of less than 20 points. I could settle for the performance of James Frawley who prevailed over a defence which in better circumstances (i.e if we had a midfield that could occasionally win a centre clearance) would be regarded as first world. "Chip" was awesome on the night and he was well assisted by Colin Garland until the third quarter tragedy took place (more of that later). I could have also settled on Nathan Jones who is all class in a moribund midfield and who was worn all night by a glove called Andrew Raines and still managed to have an impact (even if limited) or on Colin Sylvia who worked hard in the hot humid evening to amass 27 touches. In the end however, I decided to dedicate the night to our Jacks - all five of them because together, they will lead this club forward. I don't know how the judges who award the NAB Rising Star can avoid giving young Viney the gong this week. Our youngest player led by example, took the hits and was often found at the bottom of the packs in his first AFL game in 10 weeks and only ran out of steam at the end. This is where the club's midfield revival starts. The club's ugly duckling Jack Fitzpatrick is turning into a swan, dangerous around goal with a haul of four, three of them in the opening term and it could have been more but for a little knee problem. Jack Watts gifted him one of those early goals and was terrific on the night with 21 touches (10 marks), even having to go into the ruck at times to help out Max Gawn and Jack F in the sapping heat. Jack Grimes had a negating role in the middle and did it well while his co-captain Jack Trengove lurked with intent, laid a dozen tackles and was a strong contributor. He's emerging out of a dirty first half of a season in which his preparation was hampered by a difficult foot injury. There was more. Max Gawn worked hard in the ruck and got his share of hit outs and while beaten around the ground by Leuenberger is on his way to a career as one of the game's better big men. The team effort was solid and a major improvement on last week. The quarter time score of 5.1.31 exceeded that of the deluge affected score from Simonds Stadium, they went inside 50 fifty times and for the second week in a row, kept the opposition to under 100 points. The last quarter and a half was played under the disadvantage of being a rotation short after a languishing Jimmy Toumpas was subbed off with Garland rolling an ankle a minute or so later. Bad luck but, in those tough conditions, it gave Brisbane that small advantage that allowed it to safely see out the game. Junk time and the MFC world tour continues next week with our second home game in a row away from home, this time at Etihad against a desperately unlucky North Melbourne team that will be keen to give another team a kicking after its train of tragedies and close defeats. A month ago I wouldn't have given the Demons a chance but now - who knows? Melbourne 5.1.31 6.5.41 10.7.67 11.9 75 Brisbane Lions 3.4.22 8.5.53 11.12.78 13.16.94 Goals Melbourne Fitzpatrick 4 Blease Davey 2 Byrnes Dawes N Jones Brisbane Lions Green Staker 3 Merrett Redden 2 Lisle Mayes, Zorko Best Melbourne Frawley Viney Fitzpatrick Sylvia Grimes Trengove Brisbane Lions Rockliff Hanley Leuenberger Redden Staker Green Injuries Melbourne Garland (ankle) Brisbane Lions Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby replaced by Sam Docherty and Jordan Lisle Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Lions Nil Umpired Findlay Ryan Fila Official Crowd 7,615 at TIO Stadium
  18. I thought we could start today's game day with part of JVM's preview of tonight's game. THE LATE MAIL by JVM My late mail delivered by Bill Lawry's carrier pigeon returning after fleeing Lords is that Jonathan Brown and Mitch Golby are out of the Brisbane Lions side for the game in Darwin. They join veteran midfielders Simon Black and Brent Moloney on the sidelines for the Lions which probably offsets the fact that former Brisbanite Mitch Clark continues to be missing from the Melbourne line up. Now, if only Mark Neeld was still around, he would no doubt explain the significance of the absence of the Brisbane quartet in terms of raw numbers of experience as expressed in games played. Leaving aside young Golby who has added some grunt to its defence, Brisbane is missing more than 700 games of AFL experience and almost the same number of goals scored. In economic terms they together comprise the equivalent of the gross national product of some South American banana republics and enough to raise even Alan Stockdale's eyebrows. What this means is that the game takes on an entirely different complexion. I don't have the precise figures (actually I don't have any figures at all) but I'm guessing that the differential between age, experience and body strength has narrowed markedly while Melbourne's main advantage over Brisbane (average IQ) would have gone through the roof with the absence of Brown and Moloney. This leaves only two considerations - the weather and the superiority of the opposition midfield. These were the two factors that in my view, led to that embarrassing record inside 50 differential against the Cats last week. I checked the weather report and they're predicting warm, sunny conditions during the day (max 32, min 19) and little or no rain although humidity will be high up to 95%. That means it won't be bucketing down as it did at Simonds Stadium so the Dees will have some respite on the weather front. Unfortunately, the Lions still have the advantage in the midfield even with Black and Moloney missing. Leuenberger should have the edge in terms of experience over Gawn and Fitzpatrick and Rich, Redden and Rockliff are likely to dominate the clearances with Raines sitting on Nathan Jones. Elsewhere, Melbourne needs to capitalise on the absence of Jonathan Brown who always manages to do a number against the unlucky backman who draws the short straw and has to play on him while the forward line should relish the additional opportunities and score more than four goals. Notwithstanding, the Lions late surge to come from over 50 points down at the Gabba last month still resonates and the fact that they fancy themselves as finals contenders is enough to convince me that they have the added incentive to get themselves over the line. Brisbane by 15 points. I haven't been following the Lions all that closely but another omission in Polkinghorne surprises me a little in that he always seems to cause us some damage when we play them. He kicked 3 goals against us in round 1 last year, had a decent game later in the season at the Gabba and picked up 30 disposals and was close to BOG when we met in round 5 earlier this year. We're a definite chance if we can fire and get some ball out of the middle.
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