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  1. After another slow start when they conceded 2.3.15 to nothing in a handball-happy opening 15 minutes, the unflappable Demons delivered a warning sign of major proportions to the rest of the competition with their 34-point win over the reigning premiers in their Anzac Eve contest. And what made things even more ominous is that they did it without two elephants in the room - key forwards Ben Brown and Sam Weideman who have been amassing goals at VFL level while coming back from injuries that interrupted their starts to the 2021 while meanwhile, Melbourne has collected six straight wins in its best start to a season since 1965. The Tigers’ embarrassment was brought about by a number of factors but none was more important than the Demons’ defensive efforts underpinned by the complete blanketing of Dustin Martin by Michael Hibberd, the dominance of Steven May and Jake Lever aided by Adam Tomlinson and the breathtaking steadiness of Christian Salem (39 disposals) who has taken his game to new levels in 2021. Martin was ultimately forced from the field with concussion but he was well and truly spent as a force in the game by the time he left the field of play. The master’s humbling was made complete by another best on ground performance (38 possessions) from Christian Petracca who is swiftly shaking off his tag of “apprentice” to the Tiger star. It was fitting that he took out the F. V “Checker” Hughes Medallion for the game’s best player named after the old warhorse coach of both competing clubs though there were a few teammates who pushed him for that award. It was after that first 15 minutes when the Demons were held scoreless and the Tigers had nine of the first ten inside-50 entries that the midfield showed its might and muscle. The twin tower rucking combination of Max Gawn and the very up-and-coming Luke Jackson led a dominant on ball brigade of Petracca, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney with Ed Langdon and Angus Brayshaw holding court on the wings. We also saw Tom McDonald now emerging out of a two year hiatus, running hither and thither amassing 18 touches and kicking three goals, sending a warning to the two elephants that they might be waiting in the wings a little longer if they want to take his spot in the side. With the likes of Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen, Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett buzzing around and causing havoc near goal, the Tigers languished and fell to three games behind the emerging Dees with the Bulldogs sitting in waiting for them next week. The win was the icing on the cake for 300 game Demon hero Nathan Jones who was there at the toss of the coin and held his own with his characteristic courage and toughness, playing a major role in intimidating and taming the Tigers. Little wonder that he was cheered every time he touched the footy - well played, champ! MELBOURNE 2.2.14 6.6.42 10.8.68 12.10.82 RICHMOND 3.3.21 3.7.25 5.8.38 6.12.48 GOALS Melbourne McDonald 3 Fritsch Jackson Neal-Bullen 2 Petracca Pickett Salem Richmond Edwards Riewoldt 2 Aarts Bolton BEST Melbourne Petracca Salem Lever Oliver Gawn Langdon May Richmond Bolton Nankervis Edwards Baker Short INJURIES Melbourne Nil Richmond Lambert (calf) Martin (concussion) REPORTS Melbourne Nil Richmond Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne Kade Chandler (unused) Richmond Jack Ross (replaced Kane Lambert in the third quarter) Umpires Andrew Stephens Jeff Dalgleish Nathan Williamson CROWD 56,418 at the MCG
  2. It wasn’t that long ago when Melbourne held sway in its Anzac Eve matches against Richmond. The early versions of the blockbuster saw the Demons home by 32 points in 2015 and 33 in 2016. When the turning point came it was dramatic and sudden. The Demons might have been on an upward curve in 2017 under new coach Simon Goodwin but so were the Tigers who had finished a disappointing 13th in 2016. When the teams met in Round 5 under lights in front of a crowd of 85,657 — the highest ever between the two teams — Richmond was unbeaten. Melbourne had comfortable wins against St Kilda and Carlton in the opening two rounds but injury and suspensions to key players cost them winnable games against Geelong and Fremantle. The Demons went into Anzac Eve without co-captain Max Gawn who had suffered a hamstring tear against the Cats and Jordan Lewis was out suspended. Though Jesse Hogan was back after serving his two weeks, things were not well with his family and with him at the time. Before the half-time break, the Demons had lost their replacement ruckman in Jake Spencer to a shoulder injury, forward Tim Smith to a rib and yet, despite the setbacks, they had outplayed Richmond in all facets of the game to lead by 20 points at ¾ time. But in the final quarter, the wheel turned. With Christian Petracca and co-skipper Jack Viney sidelined for most of the final stanza with knee complaints, Melbourne was effectively left without rotations. Richmond kicked 5 goals to 2 behinds and hit the front at the start of time on to record a narrow but crucial win, as it turned out, on its way to a premiership. The Dees missed the finals by a narrow margin of percentage after finishing ninth. This time around, it’s Melbourne that’s undefeated while Richmond has recorded two losses. The Tiges are coming off a massive win with a nine day break compared to six days but the Demons are eager, hungry and healthy. Is this their moment, their turning point? Richmond has had a touch of the staggers in some of its games but against the Saints, they hit the pressure valve forcing errors all over the ground. They took little time to squeeze the life out of the hapless Saints in a performance that was as good as it gets at this stage of the season. The question is will it be a weaponised Richmond that turns up this week and, if so, can Melbourne muster up the necessary defences to that weaponry? Can it quell the deadly forwards in Martin, Lynch and Riewoldt, the frenetic midfield movement that has seen them to three flags in four years? To answer these questions in the affirmative it goes without saying that the Demons won’t be able to rely on the efforts of a single quarter as they did last weekend against the Hawks. Max Gawn is always good value in the ruck and he has an up and coming back up in Luke Jackson. The midfield can stand eye to eye with the Richmond mids and their battle will be an intriguing one that could go either way. There’s also the matter of milestones in this game. Nathan Jones is now well past his best but still has a role to play for the club outside the midfield which he made his own for so long. He’s been a champion bloke for the club, a titan in the team for so long, and the rest of the team should lift for him in his 300th game. For Richmond, Dustin Martin is 50 games behind him and has proven to be a great of the game in the second half of his career and is right at his peak. You can’t blanket him for a whole game but if he’s reasonably covered, it will help the Demon cause. The expected early return of Steven May gives Melbourne a real chance of holding Richmond’s forward line to a manageable score. Which means the result might well hinge on what happens with the Melbourne forward line. Will Bayley Fritsch manage to get up a little more than a week or so after his hand surgery? Are Sam Wiedeman and Ben Brown ready to come in? The problem for we tipsters is that the lateness of team selection means that it’s tough to be exact when penning our thoughts but I have a strong feeling that we’ve reached the turning point. Melbourne by 4 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Richmond on Saturday 24 April, 2021 at 7.50pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 107 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 72 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Melbourne 1 win Richmond 4 wins The Coaches Hardwick 4 wins Goodwin 0 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 Richmond 12.7.79 defeated Melbourne 8.4.52 in Round 5, 2020 at the MCG The teams were a lot closer matched than it appeared on the scoreboard. The Tigers prevailed in the second term after an even first quarter. Max Gawn dominated the ruck as he usually does with 33 hit outs and 22 disposals. The loss left the Demons languishing somewhat with a 1-3 record but with a game in hand. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: A. Tomlinson 20 S. May 1 T. Rivers 24 HB: C. Salem 3 J. Lever 8 J. Hunt 29 C: E: Langdon 15 Christian Petracca 5 Angus Brayshaw 10 HF: K. Pickett 36 T. McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30 F: J. Melksham 18 L. Jackson 6 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 J. Viney I/C: M. Hibberd 14 N. Jones 2 J. Jordon 23 C. Spargo 9 Sub: K. Chandler 37 Emerg: H. Petty 35 T. Sparrow 32 S. Weideman 26 In: K. Chandler B. Fritsch S. May Out: M. Brown (omitted) H. Petty (omitted) T. Sparrow (omitted) RICHMOND B: D. Astbury 12 N. Balta 21 D. Grimes 2 HB: N. Broad 35 B. Houli 14 J. Short 15 C: K. McIntosh 33 T. Cotchin 9 M. Pickett 50 HF: D. Rioli 17 K. Lambert 23 J. Castagna 11 F: T. J. Lynch 19 D. Martin 4 J. Riewoldt 8 Foll: T. Nankervis 25 S. Edwards 10 J. Graham 34 I/C: J. Aarts 16 L. Baker 7 S. Bolton 29 R. Mansell 31 Sub: J. Ross 5 Emerg: C. Coleman-Jones 40 R. Collier-Dawkins 26 M. Rioli 49 No change Injury List: Round 6 Bayley Fritsch (hand fracture) — Test Steven May (eye socket) — Test James Harmes (wrist) — 2 Weeks Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 6 Weeks Joel Smith (knee) — 6 to 8 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
  3. They had us covered for most of the day but our performance wasn’t too shabby. It was the weekend before we went into complete lockdown. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Joel Smith Steven May Michael Hibberd HB: James Harmes Jake Lever Christian Salem C: Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver Adam Tomlinson HF: Mitch Hannan Tom McDonald Angus Brayshaw F: Kysaiah Pickett Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch Foll: Max Gawn Jake Melksham Jack Viney I/C: Jayden Hunt Jay Lockhart Trent Rivers Aaron vandenBerg Emerg: Mitch Brown Luke Jackson Oscar McDonald Charlie Spargo No change RICHMOND B: Nick Vlastuin Dylan Grimes Noah Balta HB: Bachar Houli Nathan Broad Jayden Short C: Kamdyn McIntosh Dion Prestia Josh Caddy HF: Jack Higgins Shane Edwards Jason Castagna F: Dustin Martin Tom J Lynch Jack Riewoldt Foll: Toby Nankervis Trent Cotchin Kane Lambert I/C: (from) Jake Aarts Liam Baker Mabior Chol Ryan Garthwaite Jack Graham Marlion Pickett Daniel Rioli In: Jake Aarts Noah Balta Mabior Chol Daniel Rioli Out: David Astbury (injured) Shai Bolton (omitted) Jack Ross (omitted) Sydney Stack (omitted)
  4. Your votes for today's game please - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  5. Thankfully they moved this week’s game from Sydney where the sun shines and the virus breeds ever so slowly and almost nobody returns a positive test. The change of fixture comes at precisely the right time to allow everyone in town to head to the MCG on Sunday at around 3:30pm, not to catch up with what’s going on inside the ground but rather, to do what’s fashionable for woke folk in 2020 — pulling down statues. It’s time for Kevin Bartlett and Leigh Matthews to go but you can’t touch Norm Smith, Ron Barassi or Jimmy Stynes. Of course, the same people showing interest in scrapping old statues are also looking at the name of the State which they reckon has to be changed because our old queen was somehow associated with colonialist types somewhere back in history. After this week, a possible name for the state is New Mexico because the people ruling the roost want to keep us all south of the border. So they shunted an out of form Tigers away from a northern sojourn on the Gold Coast where they had an assignment with the equally ailing Eagles to the home of football for a match up with the Demons. Richmond is playing like a club in trouble, without the intensity that marked its recent successful premiership campaigns. Their skipper is even suggesting that some of his teammates might opt against moving to an interstate hub if required to relocate. How very, very soft is that? St Kilda had them figured right out last week. The Saints applied persistent pressure on the Tigers and blunted their usually relentlessly quick movement by hand and by foot. There’s no reason why the Demons can’t do likewise against a Richmond defence that no longer contains the retired Alex Rance and with key defender David Astbury out with a knee injury. It’s about time that Melbourne’s forward line started firing and, this week, it’s their time. The Demons had a tough gig last week coming off their enforced bye which saw them struggling to score in the opening term. I anticipate some more changes to the line up especially given that the team is free from injury. Rotating players is what will get clubs through the season and Melbourne is well placed to do all of this. The team has Max Gawn building up after a slowish start and plenty of midfield talent to challenge the reigning premiers. I’m tipping the Demons by 25 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Richmond on Sunday 5 July, 2020 at 3.35pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 106 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 71 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Melbourne 1 win Richmond 4 wins The Coaches Hardwick 3 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7, Fox Footy Channel Live at 3.30pm Radio - TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 12.13.85 defeated Melbourne 6.6.42 in Round 6, 2019 at the MCG Melbourne put in a competitive first half and even led at quarter time but after the main break the team looked incapable of scoring as it slumped to a 1-5 record on Anzac Eve. The writing was on the wall when Sydney Stack took out co-captain Jack Viney. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Joel Smith Steven May Michael Hibberd HB James Harmes Jake Lever Christian Salem C Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver Adam Tomlinson HF Mitch Hannan Tom McDonald Angus Brayshaw FF Kysaiah Pickett Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch FOL Max Gawn Jake Melksham Jack Viney I/C Jayden Hunt Jay Lockhart Trent Rivers Aaron vandenBerg EM Mitch Brown Luke Jackson Oscar McDonald Charlie Spargo NO CHANGE RICHMOND FB Nick Vlastuin Dylan Grimes Noah Balta HB Bachar Houli Nathan Broad Jayden Short C Kamdyn McIntosh Dion Prestia Josh Caddy HF Jack Higgins Shane Edwards Jason Castagna FF Dustin Martin Tom J Lynch Jack Riewoldt FOL Toby Nankervis Trent Cotchin Kane Lambert IC (from) Jake Aarts Liam Baker Mabior Chol Ryan Garthwaite Jack Graham Marlion Pickett Daniel Rioli IN Jake Aarts Noah Balta Mabior Chol Daniel Rioli OUT David Astbury (injured) Shai Bolton (omitted) Jack Ross (omitted) Sydney Stack (omitted) Injury List: Round 5 Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  6. As we approach the final hurdle, please cast your votes people. 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ...
  7. As the season rolls on towards the finals and the football world witnesses the aftermath of the sacking of the league’s unsuccessful coaches, it’s almost inevitable that the spotlight will turn firmly upon the complete and utter failure of season 2019 - the Melbourne Football Club. For a team that finished in fourth place last year and was heavily touted as a premiership contender, the fall from grace has been dramatic. As things stand, the Demons look certain to finish 13 places down on their 2018 placing and even below the Blues who, they beat last year by 109 points and who only a month ago, they took apart for three quarters before their injury curse saw them almost drop the unlosable game. Since then, Carlton has won three on the trot while Melbourne has been winless, allowing it to be leapfrogged by last year’s wooden spooner. The only positive I can come up with about Melbourne is that the team is undefeated at its MCG home since the Queens Birthday loss to Collingwood back in early June. But that’s only two games and this week the team comes up against Richmond which seemingly plays every week at that ground and usually thumps the opposition every week. It’s not as if the injury-dogged Demons are being routinely thrashed. In every one of their four defeats since the mid season bye they’ve been either in front or close to the mark at the start of the final term before fading out late in each game. And before the break, they also dropped a couple of games when they were in winning positions late in their contests. The statistic that stands out here is the one that says that over their past four games, the Demons have scored an average of 13.3 points in the final quarter, while conceding an average of 28.5 points. That’s a damning statistic when looking at close encounters - in fact, it’s the stuff that forces the fans to collectively tear their hair out. It might be argued that the team’s depth has been tested by a season from hell on the injury front and therefore, the fade outs are understandable. Possibly understandable but still not forgivable in light of the number of unforced errors leading to turnovers that should never happen and missed shots at goal that were so easily converted last year. My fear is that coming up against a resurgent and rampant Richmond which is overcoming its earlier injury woes and consequent drop in form, the club’s confidence crisis brought upon by the negativity now surrounding it, will result in a Saturday night blowout. The main thing Melbourne has going for it is Max Gawn. It’s midfield is well down on last year. The defence hasn’t been together for most of the year and the forward line is decimated. Simon Goodwin is on a hiding to nothing and I’ll make the following predictions for Saturday night - 1. Tigers by 85 points 2. Goodwin will really be facing the blow torch by the end of the round. That’s football. THE GAME Melbourne v Richmond on Saturday 3 August 2019 at 7.20pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 106 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 71 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Richmond 3 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Hardwick 3 wins MEDIA TV - Channel Seven Live at 7.00pm Fox Footy Channel Live at 7.20pm Radio - TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 12.13.85 defeated Melbourne 6.6.42 in Round 6, 2019 at the MCG Melbourne decided to try something different for this game in an effort to revive its season. The team went super defensive - Tom McDonald was moved back into a defensive role and some strong tags were put onto the star Tigers but the tactic backfired after a competitive first half. Melbourne managed just two goals after quarter-time and with the exception of Max Gawn in the ruck, Michael Hibberd’s tagging of Dustin Martin and hardworking midfielders Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw who picked up 29 touches each, the effort on Anzac Eve was nothing short of miserable. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B Michael Hibberd Oscar McDonald Jake Lever HB Christian Salem Sam Frost Jordan Lewis C James Harmes Christian Petracca Nathan Jones HF Kyle Dunkley Harrison Petty Jayden Hunt F Jake Melksham Clayton Oliver Bayley Fritsch FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Angus Brayshaw I/C Oskar Baker Jay Kennedy Harris Braydon Preuss Corey Wagner EMG Kade Chandler Marty Hore Alex Neal-Bullen Josh Wagner IN Kyle Dunkley Jay Kennedy Harris Jake Melksham Braydon Preuss OUT Neville Jetta (knee) Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted) Tim Smith (foot) Josh Wagner (omitted) RICHMOND B David Astbury Nathan Broad Dylan Grimes HB Bachar Houli Nick Vlastuin Shane Edwards C Jayden Short Dion Prestia Shai Bolton HF Daniel Rioli Brandon Ellis Kane Lambert F Liam Baker Jack Riewoldt Tom J. Lynch FOLL Ivan Soldo Josh Caddy Dustin Martin I/C Dan Butler Jason Castagna Mabior Chol Jack Graham EMG Callum Coleman-Jones Connor Menadue Patrick Naish Jacob Townsend IN Dan Butler Josh Caddy OUT Trent Cotchin (hamstring) Sydney Stack (calf) Injury List: Round 20 Mitch Hannan (groin) – test Steven May (hamstring) – test Charlie Spargo (calf) – 1 week Tom Sparrow (knee – 2-3) weeks Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – season Tom McDonald (knee) – season Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season Joel Smith (groin) – season Sam Weideman (jaw) – season Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite
  8. SPEECHLESS by The Oracle There has been very little to say about the Melbourne Football Club since its meek capitulation in those final three quarters against Hawthorn last Sunday. Perhaps it’s just as well then that there are still a few days to go before the team fronts the Tigers (and its own supporters) on Tuesday night at the MCG to enable us to find our voices again after such a fiasco. Demon fans have been scratching their heads in wonder seeking answers, trying to understand what happened but I suspect that it’s all fairly simple - they were outplayed and out coached, cornered by a superior strategist who had only to watch the game they played a week earlier against the Kangaroos to work out a way to exploit the team’s limitations. It isn’t hard to envisage Alastair Clarkson sitting back watching the North Melbourne game and noticing that his team’s next opponent had only one ruck option and a sole key forward who also had a license to roam and was being played further up the ground. Clarkson is adept at taking such a situation and exploiting it to his own advantage so that once overcome, the game can take one direction only. That’s where the Demons stand with a few games to go before they take on the Tigers on Anzac Eve on one of the few occasions when they are allotted to the big stage - they have an immediate need to produce a team that is adaptable and not so predictable in its set up, otherwise they might well leave their supporters speechless yet another time. I look forward to team selection to provide some insights. THE GAME Richmond v Melbourne on Monday 24 April 2018 at 7.25pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 104 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 69 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Richmond 3 wins The Coaches Hardwick 1 win Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Seven Mate Fox Sports Live at 7.00pm Radio - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 12.16.88 defeated Melbourne 11.9.75 in Round 5, 2017 at the MCG Melbourne controlled the game for much of the evening but fell down late in the game under the weight of injuries which left them with barely a fit player and limited rotations in the final term. In the end, they did well to hang on, only to be overtaken in the time on period. THE TEAMS So much water has passed under the bridge that it seems like half a life time ago that Melbourne played its last game at the G against Hawthorn. Fourteeen other clubs have already packed up their bags and are looking forward to Round 6. Joel Selwood has been hit with a one-match suspension, Port Adelaide’s Lindsay Thomas and James Sicily are fronting the Tribunal and half the country is setting itself for the public holiday and, until a few minutes ago, the Demons hadn’t even picked their sides for the Anzac Eve blockbuster. How is a bloke supposed to pick a winner under these circumstances? One way might be to look at the tone that’s been set for the round in the games that have already been completed. From what we’ve seen to date, this has been a round for upsets and reversals. Adelaide weren’t expected to get the better of Sydney away from their own home game after such a poor effort a week earlier against Collingwood on their own patch. The Saints weren’t considered to be in the Giants’ ball park on their form, the Dockers thrashed the Doggies and how on earth could North have gotten up against Hawthorn? There’s only one logical conclusion that one candidate reach - the trend will continue on Anzac Eve and the Tigers are doomed. This might sound somewhat ridiculous in view of the almost forgotten most recent games played by the two protagonists. After all, Richmond kept Brisbane goalless for almost three quarters last Saturday week while Melbourne kicked one solitary goal after the first term against Hawthorn. However, the Demons have been able to match up well against the Tigers in recent years. They have won three out of their past five meetings against Richmond and only lost their last encounter by 13 points after leading for most of the game and only succumbed as they struggled with limited rotations after losing three players through injury; their ruck stocks decimated when Max Gawn’s replacement after his hamstring injury, Jake Spencer’s hurt the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first quarter and his right knee in the second term. This time round, Gawn is close to his best form in the ruck and whilst his direct opponent Toby Nankervis has been serviceable for the Tigers, the big, bearded Demon is the key to this game. The Hawks were able to negate his 66 hit out dominance by winning the ball in midfield and outrunning their opponents all over the ground after the first quarter. I’m not expecting this to happen again as the Dees will be keen to respond to last week’s embarrassing loss to the Hawks. The key to the Demons’ success in this game will be their capacity to make the most of their I nside 50 entries. They lead the competition with an average of 59.8. Last week they managed 53 inside 50s to Hawthorn’s 54 but managed only 6 goals to 18. In their other defeat for the season in the opening round, they lost by 3 points to Geelong despite a 64-41 advantage in inside 50s. The Melbourne selectors have swung the axe and added forward line height and pace into the equation. I expect those changes to turn things around dramatically. Melbourne by 5 points
  9. Look, Richmond are a good side. Until mid last quarter, I was accepting being outclassed by quality, the effort had been there. We all know we’re not premiership quality yet. But to roll over and wave the white flag in the last quarter a second game in a row? I’m fucking furious.
  10. WALKING ... OR TALKING by George on the Outer In a week when the Melbourne Football Club signed up the Johnnie Walker label as a sponsor, it is interesting to note that the brand’s motto is “Keep Walking”. Contrast that with the performances of the club in the past fortnight, and a motto for the red and blue should be “Keep Talking”. After a disastrous showing against Hawthorn, the fans were promised a big turnaround. That was all talk and promises but what came out of it all? This week: The first quarter brought 7 shots at goal and a score of 1.5 compared with last week’s 10 shots and 5 majors. This week: Eight goals for the whole game; last week - six. This week: The second term saw us score 1.1 with the goal coming after 25 minutes; last week 4 behinds. This week: The opposition scores seven goals in the final quarter; last week, it was also seven. This week: The total score for the game was 56 points; last week it was 48. The list could go on, but the story is the same - lots of talk but no action. All talk and no walk. The result would have been even worse, but Richmond are not all that flash. Three of their wins this season have been against Melbourne, Carlton and Brisbane ... all in the bottom five of the ladder. For the coach to come out afterward and suggest there was a step forward is laughable, because the results are there for all to see. Once again the side was let down badly by a number of players. Dom Tyson is glacially slow, and continues to turn the ball over at critical points. Alex Neal-Bullen and James Harmes run all over the ground, have no impact on contests, then fail to deliver the ball at critical points. Billy Stretch simply should not have been in the side; his fumbling when in the open cost certain goals (both ways) and at least on two occasions this happened at critical junctures in the game. These players do not do enough work. When the defenders bring the ball to ground, do we see any of them picking up the crumbs cleanly? We certainly saw their Richmond counterparts doing exactly the same as Hawthorn did last week. How many goals have the opposition scored from the goal-square in these past 2 games? At centre bounces they walk or trot into the middle. Their opponents sprint to get to the contest or create the option outside. And we the fans wonder why Richmond seemed to have extra players free all the time! After the coaching debacle of last week, when the Hawks were allowed to use a set-up behind the ball for ½ the game, we would have expected some change. Again, all talk. Melbourne used the Members Stand wing exclusively for the whole game. Not a single switch of play in 100 minutes of football! Contrast that with the constant movement of other teams to open up the field. All our forward moves were stuttering, contest to contest and when they eventually broke down, Richmond rebounded easily and unopposed. Persisting with the “contested ball” focus is costing us dearly, as we are exposed time and time again, when the ball is brought outside. Max Gawn was dominant in the ruck, but actually too much with 56 hitouts, as he hit the ball into the open and into the Richmond game plan. The result, Richmond with more clearances for the game. And when we did get inside possession, the first option was to try to handball. Again, suiting the Richmond game plan as they have a bevy of players on the outside waiting to pounce. The non-selection of a second ruck option continues to leave us exposed when Max has to take a break. It means we rob the forward structure during that time, this week it being Sam Weideman. The Tigers must have loved it with Rance sitting happily in the backline, Hogan up the field and no-one else to mind. It’s little wonder with this set up that they can’t kick a winning score! It was only in the first 15 minutes of the third quarter that Melbourne put boot to ball as the first option in the contest. Result: the team got back to within seven points (and could have been even closer) before reverting to type and handing Richmond two easy goals in the final minutes as they tried to be smart, and turned the ball over, instead of just kicking the ball forward and putting on the pressure and going over their press. Once again the backs were fantastic. Oscar McDonald completely blanketed Riewoldt until junk time in the last. Jake Lever intercepted and spoilt opposition thrusts again and again. Mitch Hibberd showed some return to the form of 2017, but knocked the stuffing out of himself with some really brave defending. But they couldn’t do it all on their own, and the lack of support from up the field is telling. When a first year player in Jack Higgins kicks three goals, and McIntosh playing on the wing kicks two, then a long hard look needs to be taken at who isn’t doing their job. Down the other end, the forward line is in disarray. While attempting to develop Jesse Hogan into a more threatening player upfield, it simply leaves a hole in front of goal. Weideman did enough in his first game of the year, but then he is called upon to ruck and we are back to square 1. Another body, in the form of Tom McDonald or Cam Pedersen needs to simply be planted in front of the big sticks, as a target or used as the backup ruck. We have a host of players who should make way for them as soon as possible. No one is immune - not even Jeff Garlett who has barely touched the ball in the past two games, and is providing little if any forward pressure. While the players and coaches are talking, sadly, yet again, it is the fans who will be doing the walking. No-one wants to pay to see the sort of rubbish being served up at the moment, and they will walk away, and “Keep Walking” or just stay home with Johnnie and enjoy themselves! Melbourne 1.5.11 2.6.18 5.8.38 8.8.56 Richmond 2.2.14 5.8.38 8.9.57 15.12.102 Goals Melbourne Melksham 4 Hogan 2 Garlett Harmes Richmond Higgins 3 Castagna Lambert Lloyd McIntosh Riewoldt 2,Cotchin Prestia Best Melbourne Oliver Hogan Melksham Jones Hibberd Gawn Richmond Martin Edwards Houli Lambert Grigg Higgins Injuries Melbourne Kent (hamstring) Hibberd (nose) Richmond Nil Reports Nil Umpires Foot, Rosebury, Williamson Official crowd 77,071 at the MCG
  11. There has been very little to say about the Melbourne Football Club since its meek capitulation in those final three quarters against Hawthorn last Sunday. Perhaps it’s just as well then that there are still a few days to go before the team fronts the Tigers (and its own supporters) on Tuesday night at the MCG to enable us to find our voices again after such a fiasco. Demon fans have been scratching their heads in wonder seeking answers, trying to understand what happened but I suspect that it’s all fairly simple - they were outplayed and out coached, cornered by a superior strategist who had only to watch the game they played a week earlier against the Kangaroos to work out a way to exploit the team’s limitations. It isn’t hard to envisage Alastair Clarkson sitting back watching the North Melbourne game and noticing that his team’s next opponent had only one ruck option and a sole key forward who also had a license to roam and was being played further up the ground. Clarkson is adept at taking such a situation and exploiting it to his own advantage so that once overcome, the game can take one direction only. That’s where the Demons stand with a few games to go before they take on the Tigers on Anzac Eve on one of the few occasions when they are allotted to the big stage - they have an immediate need to produce a team that is adaptable and not so predictable in its set up, otherwise they might well leave their supporters speechless yet another time. I look forward to team selection to provide some insights. THE GAME Richmond v Melbourne on Monday 24 April 2018 at 7.25pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 75 wins Richmond 104 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Melbourne 63 wins Richmond 69 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Richmond 3 wins The Coaches Hardwick 1 win Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Seven Mate Fox Sports Live at 7.00pm Radio - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC THE LAST TIME THEY MET Richmond 12.16.88 defeated Melbourne 11.9.75 in Round 5, 2017 at the MCG Melbourne controlled the game for much of the evening but fell down late in the game under the weight of injuries which left them with barely a fit player and limited rotations in the final term. In the end, they did well to hang on, only to be overtaken in the time on period. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Josh Wagner, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Bernie Vince C: James Harmes, Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson HF: Alex Neal-Bullen, Sam Weideman, Christian Petracca F: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Jeff Garlett, Jayden Hunt, Billy Stretch Emg: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Harry Petty, Tim Smith In: Billy Stretch, Dom Tyson, Jayden Hunt, Sam Weideman Out: Jordan Lewis (hand), Sam Frost, Bayley Fritsch, Tom Bugg RICHMOND B: Alex Rance, David Astbury, Dylan Grimes HB: Bachar Houli, Nathan Broad, Jayden Short C: Shaun Grigg, Trent Cotchin, Kamdyn McIntosh HF: Jason Castagna, Sam Lloyd, Jacob Townsend F: Shane Edwards, Jack Riewoldt, Dan Butler Foll: Toby Nankervis, Kane Lambert, Dustin Martin I/C: Reece Conca, Brandon Ellis, Jack Higgins, Dion Prestia Emg: Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles, Ivan Soldo, Tyson Stengle In: Nathan Broad, Jack Higgins, Sam Lloyd Out: Josh Caddy (hamstring), Jack Graham (suspended), Nick Vlastuin (calf) So much water has passed under the bridge that it seems like half a life time ago that Melbourne played its last game at the G against Hawthorn. Fourteeen other clubs have already packed up their bags and are looking forward to Round 6. Joel Selwood has been hit with a one-match suspension, Port Adelaide’s Lindsay Thomas and James Sicily are fronting the Tribunal and half the country is setting itself for the public holiday and, until a few minutes ago, the Demons hadn’t even picked their sides for the Anzac Eve blockbuster. How is a bloke supposed to pick a winner under these circumstances? One way might be to look at the tone that’s been set for the round in the games that have already been completed. From what we’ve seen to date, this has been a round for upsets and reversals. Adelaide weren’t expected to get the better of Sydney away from their own home game after such a poor effort a week earlier against Collingwood on their own patch. The Saints weren’t considered to be in the Giants’ ball park on their form, the Dockers thrashed the Doggies and how on earth could North have gotten up against Hawthorn? There’s only one logical conclusion that one candidate reach - the trend will continue on Anzac Eve and the Tigers are doomed. This might sound somewhat ridiculous in view of the almost forgotten most recent games played by the two protagonists. After all, Richmond kept Brisbane goalless for almost three quarters last Saturday week while Melbourne kicked one solitary goal after the first term against Hawthorn. However, the Demons have been able to match up well against the Tigers in recent years. They have won three out of their past five meetings against Richmond and only lost their last encounter by 13 points after leading for most of the game and only succumbed as they struggled with limited rotations after losing three players through injury; their ruck stocks decimated when Max Gawn’s replacement after his hamstring injury, Jake Spencer’s hurt the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first quarter and his right knee in the second term. This time round, Gawn is close to his best form in the ruck and whilst his direct opponent Toby Nankervis has been serviceable for the Tigers, the big, bearded Demon is the key to this game. The Hawks were able to negate his 66 hit out dominance by winning the ball in midfield and outrunning their opponents all over the ground after the first quarter. I’m not expecting this to happen again as the Dees will be keen to respond to last week’s embarrassing loss to the Hawks. The key to the Demons’ success in this game will be their capacity to make the most of their I nside 50 entries. They lead the competition with an average of 59.8. Last week they managed 53 inside 50s to Hawthorn’s 54 but managed only 6 goals to 18. In their other defeat for the season in the opening round, they lost by 3 points to Geelong despite a 64-41 advantage in inside 50s. The Melbourne selectors have swung the axe and added forward line height and pace into the equation. I expect those changes to turn things around dramatically. Melbourne by 5 points
  12. Twelve months ago, we nearly beat them with 19 fit men on the ground. This week ... THE TEAMS RICHMOND B: Alex Rance, David Astbury, Dylan Grimes HB: Reece Conca, Bachar Houli, Brandon. Ellis C: Kamdyn McIntosh, Dion Prestia, Trent Cotchin HF: Dustin Martin, Daniel Rioli, Jason Castagna F: Jack Riewoldt, Todd Elton, Daniel Butler FOLL: Toby Nankervis, Shaun Grigg, Josh Caddy I/C: Kane Lambert, Olen Markov, Conor Menadue, Jayden Short EMG: Sam Lloyd, Anthony Miles, Jacob Townsend IN: Oleg Markov OUT: Nick Vlastuin (concussion) MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham HB: Jayden Hunt, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince C: Billy Stretch, Nathan Jones, Christian Salem HF: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Alex Neal-Bullen F: James Harmes, Jack Watts, Jeff Garlett FOLL: Jake Spencer, Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver I/C: I/C: Michael Hibberd, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Tim Smith, Dom Tyson EMG: Tom Bugg, Mitch Hannan, Oscar McDonald IN: Michael Hibberd, Jesse Hogan, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Tim Smith OUT: Tom Bugg, Dean Kent, Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman
  13. EVEN MONEY by The Oracle Early this month, the Melbourne Football Club walked away from sponsorships with sports betting companies by committing to a responsible betting charter. At the time, the club's CEO Peter Jackson said it was “an important day for the club”. I was thinking about that comment when I saw the early betting for Sunday night's Anzac Eve clash between Melbourne and Richmond which had the match up listed as an even money battle. I immediately asked myself the question, "how is this so"? How is it possible that betting agencies which live or die by framing odds for sporting contests could even think of putting a team with Richmond's recent form which has been putrid, on a par with Melbourne after its last two matches? Just when I reach the point where I have decided that these people have completely taken leave of their own senses, I come to the realisation that it's the Demons we're talking about - that flakey team which hasn't won two consecutive games in a season since 2011 when they beat the Tigers in Round 14. I remember it well because about a month later it was Armageddon for the club, the coach was sacked and the team hit a brick wall causing near irreparable damage from which it is still recovering. It's not as if the opportunity to win two games on end hasn't presented itself in recent times. After beating Brisbane in Round 16 last year, the team started as favourite to beat St Kilda at the MCG the following week and they put in a stinker to lose by 37 points. They were never really in the hunt. And starting a game as favourite doesn't help the club very much at all. Take the club's last two matches against the down and almost out Bombers ... (three if you want to include the last NAB Challenge game of 2015) yes, please take them because I can barely bring myself to think of the humiliation each of those non efforts brought down on those of us who support the Dees. So I look around trying to find reasons why things will be different this time. Why Melbourne will defy history and win two in a row and why it should start as favourite? Is it the fact that the Demons have an in form ruckman capable of turning a game on its head or that they have added to their playing stocks so that they now have greater strength, skill and discipline at the stoppages? Is it a better and more cohesive forward line with more depth in terms of players who can hit the scoreboard? A tighter defence? A more attacking game plan? As much as I wrack my brain, I find myself entirely conflicted about how Melbourne will fare on Sunday night. Their recent form is better and my judgement is that the team that's in form should win but I'm afraid to place a wager on that eventuality. I therefore am left with no choice but to get with the club's responsible betting charter and decline the opportunity to gamble on the outcome of this match. In other words, as far as I'm concerned, anything can and will happen - you can bet on it! THE GAME Richmond v Melbourne on Sunday 24 April 2016 at 7.10pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Richmond 103 wins Melbourne 74 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Richmond 68 wins Melbourne 62 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Richmond 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Hardwick 0 wins Roos 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel Channel 7 live at 7.00pm Radio - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Richmond to win - $1.92 Melbourne to win - $1.92 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.11.83 defeated Richmond 6.15.51 in Round 5, 2015 at the MCG After an even first half, Melbourne took control of the game kicking six goals to one with Nathan Jones the star and Jesse Hogan playing his break out game by giving a quality opponent in Rance an absolute bath. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Tomas Bugg HB: Lynden Dunn, Heritier Lumumba, Christian Salem C: Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, Josh Wagner HF: Jack Watts, Sam Frost, James Harmes F: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Angus Brayshaw FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Jeff Garlett, Jayden Hunt, Ben Kennedy, Cameron Pedersen EMG: Colin Garland, Alex Neal-Bullen Christian Petracca IN: Jeff Garlett, Bernie Vince OUT: Matt Jones (soreness) Clayton Oliver (rested) RICHMOND B: David Astbury, Alex Rance, Brett Deledio HB: Corey Ellis, Bachar Houli, Kamdyn McIntosh C: Brandon Ellis, Shaun Grigg, Daniel Rioli HF: Kane Lambert, Dustin Martin, Ty Vickery F: Jack Riewoldt, Sam Lloyd, Connor Menadue FOLL: Ivan Maric, Shane Edwards, Trent Cotchin I/C: Jake Batchelor, Troy Chaplin, Anthony Miles, Steven Morris EMG: Taylor Hunt, Ben Lennon, Jacob Townsend IN: Jake Batchelor, Brett Deledio, Ivan Maric, Anthony Miles, Steven Morris OUT: Shaun Hampson (leg), Taylor Hunt (omitted), Ben Lennon (omitted), Andrew Moore (omitted), Nick Vlastuin (leg)
  14. ALL ABOARD AGAIN by George on the Outer Three weeks ago as the Dee-Train was about to pull out of the station for the Essendon game, the wheels fell off the locomotive. Since then repairs and upgrades have seen a new powerhouse, a stronger engine-room and the full support of fans and administration pile on board for the on-track journey. For the past couple of years Richmond have finished the season as finalists, but they looked to be anything but after they encountered the full force of a charged Demon group. The tone for the match was set in the first couple of minutes with Max Gawn starting to take apart the newly returned Ivan Maric in ruck contests. The Bearded Behemoth simply outjumped, outmuscled, outran and outplayed his opponent as he went on his way to an 18 disposal, 47 hitout, 7 marks and 2 goal game. The fantasy football participants were beside themselves as he amassed 102 points by half-time! He finished the game with 142, and is truly on track to fulfil his aim of being the best ruckman in the league. Meanwhile Jack Viney has continued to grow and if there was ever a doubt that Melbourne have a seriously good A-grade player with this father-son selection, then this was the game that proved it - 37 possessions including 23 contested, which set a club record in itself, were the numbers that came from a gutsy never say die approach to the game. Single handedly he seemed to will his team mates into the game at times, and saw the goals from his efforts being posted again and again. But it was not just this pair in the mid-field that were playing with an intensity missing from the Melbourne sides in recent years. Dom Tyson played his best game for 2016 with 31 touches, Dean Kent with 25 and Bernie Vince with 24. This was the display that produced the results that Paul Roos has promised the fans and according to the plans he set out when he arrived. A strong off-field coaching group is now properly developing the young players when they come to the club. Fans were flabbergasted in past weeks when the likes of Josh Wagner and Jayden Hunt were selected over more experienced players but they have been solid contributors and play with the poise of 50 to 100 game veterans already. The response from the outer is exactly what we have been saying about Sydney and Hawthorn players for years ... "where have they been hiding these kids?" And the import players like Tomas Bugg, Jeff Garlett, Ben Kennedy and Heritier Lumumba are filling the gaps that were so obvious in the past. Fit and healthy now in 2016 we are getting the benefit of their skill, knowledge and football nous and it is producing results. None more so than Garlett who simply cut the Richmond defence to pieces with 4 goals of this own and a hand in a few more. The backline is simply holding together as a proper defensive unit. They are now backing each other instead of relying on individuals to beat their man. Tom McDonald is able to take those telling defensive marks because Lynden Dunn has cut out his man. The strength of this defensive unit made a sheer mockery of the Richmond forwards as they only managed goals from umpire interventions and costly turnovers. Nothing was more telling when the Melbourne coaches placed Neville Jetta on Ty Vickery and despite giving away a huge height advantage, Neville simply outjumped, harassed and outplayed his taller opponent. With Vickery out of the equation, our other defenders simply had a field day. Richmond only scored four goals for the whole game from their own efforts. The other 10 were from our turnovers. We can’t fault the defenders for that! The solemnity of the night and the Anzac-eve experience was something to behold and nearly 60,000 fans came along. One would suggest it to be far more moving than that seen at the Essendon-Collingwood game as the MCG was darkened and only lit by a memorial flame and the thousands of lights from the fans phones. Again a tribute to Peter Jackson and his team for putting together the concept and then carrying out the implementation of the idea. Let’s make sure the AFL doesn’t hijack this and hand it to other sides in the future. While we have broken the two in a row hoodoo, it is now not just about getting three in a row and more. It is now about winning games consistently. We have put together the side, who have shown they are capable of being a serious player in the competition. We suddenly have players in abundance to select from, as Christian Petracca, Jack Trengove, Jack Grimes, Alex Neal-Bullen and others put in claims for an upgrade to the seniors week after week. The club has announced the membership total has exceeded its record. So it's all aboard again, but this time, it's for real. Melbourne 5.1.31 11.3.69 14.7.91 20.9.129 Richmond 2.3.15 7.5.47 11.9.75 14.12.96 Goals Melbourne Garlett 4 Vince Watts 3 Gawn Tyson 2 Brayshaw Bugg Frost Harmes Kent Salem Richmond Lloyd Riewoldt Vickery 3 Chaplin Ellis Martin, Miles Best Melbourne Gawn Viney Tyson Salem Kent N Jones Garlett Richmond Cotchin Miles Riewoldt Edwards Houli Lloyd Changes Melbourne Nil Richmond Brett Deledio (quad) replaced in the side by Jacob Townsend Injuries Melbourne Nil Richmond Jack Riewoldt (ankle) Reports Melbourne Nil Richmond Alex Rance for striking Jack Watts in the fourth quarter Umpires Stevic Stephens Chamberlain Official crowd 59,968 at the MCG
  15. Three weeks ago as the Dee-Train was about to pull out of the station for the Essendon game, the wheels fell off the locomotive. Since then repairs and upgrades have seen a new powerhouse, a stronger engine-room and the full support of fans and administration pile on board for the on-track journey. For the past couple of years Richmond have finished the season as finalists, but they looked to be anything but after they encountered the full force of a charged Demon group. The tone for the match was set in the first couple of minutes with Max Gawn starting to take apart the newly returned Ivan Maric in ruck contests. The Bearded Behemoth simply outjumped, outmuscled, outran and outplayed his opponent as he went on his way to an 18 disposal, 47 hitout, 7 marks and 2 goal game. The fantasy football participants were beside themselves as he amassed 102 points by half-time! He finished the game with 142, and is truly on track to fulfil his aim of being the best ruckman in the league. Meanwhile Jack Viney has continued to grow and if there was ever a doubt that Melbourne have a seriously good A-grade player with this father-son selection, then this was the game that proved it - 37 possessions including 23 contested, which set a club record in itself, were the numbers that came from a gutsy never say die approach to the game. Single handedly he seemed to will his team mates into the game at times, and saw the goals from his efforts being posted again and again. But it was not just this pair in the mid-field that were playing with an intensity missing from the Melbourne sides in recent years. Dom Tyson played his best game for 2016 with 31 touches, Dean Kent with 25 and Bernie Vince with 24. This was the display that produced the results that Paul Roos has promised the fans and according to the plans he set out when he arrived. A strong off-field coaching group is now properly developing the young players when they come to the club. Fans were flabbergasted in past weeks when the likes of Josh Wagner and Jayden Hunt were selected over more experienced players but they have been solid contributors and play with the poise of 50 to 100 game veterans already. The response from the outer is exactly what we have been saying about Sydney and Hawthorn players for years ... "where have they been hiding these kids?" And the import players like Tomas Bugg, Jeff Garlett, Ben Kennedy and Heritier Lumumba are filling the gaps that were so obvious in the past. Fit and healthy now in 2016 we are getting the benefit of their skill, knowledge and football nous and it is producing results. None more so than Garlett who simply cut the Richmond defence to pieces with 4 goals of this own and a hand in a few more. The backline is simply holding together as a proper defensive unit. They are now backing each other instead of relying on individuals to beat their man. Tom McDonald is able to take those telling defensive marks because Lynden Dunn has cut out his man. The strength of this defensive unit made a sheer mockery of the Richmond forwards as they only managed goals from umpire interventions and costly turnovers. Nothing was more telling when the Melbourne coaches placed Neville Jetta on Ty Vickery and despite giving away a huge height advantage, Neville simply outjumped, harassed and outplayed his taller opponent. With Vickery out of the equation, our other defenders simply had a field day. Richmond only scored four goals for the whole game from their own efforts. The other 10 were from our turnovers. We can’t fault the defenders for that! The solemnity of the night and the Anzac-eve experience was something to behold and nearly 60,000 fans came along. One would suggest it to be far more moving than that seen at the Essendon-Collingwood game as the MCG was darkened and only lit by a memorial flame and the thousands of lights from the fans phones. Again a tribute to Peter Jackson and his team for putting together the concept and then carrying out the implementation of the idea. Let’s make sure the AFL doesn’t hijack this and hand it to other sides in the future. While we have broken the two in a row hoodoo, it is now not just about getting three in a row and more. It is now about winning games consistently. We have put together the side, who have shown they are capable of being a serious player in the competition. We suddenly have players in abundance to select from, as Christian Petracca, Jack Trengove, Jack Grimes, Alex Neal-Bullen and others put in claims for an upgrade to the seniors week after week. The club has announced the membership total has exceeded its record. So it's all aboard again, but this time, it's for real. Melbourne 5.1.31 11.3.69 14.7.91 20.9.129 Richmond 2.3.15 7.5.47 11.9.75 14.12.96 Goals Melbourne Garlett 4 Vince Watts 3 Gawn Tyson 2 Brayshaw Bugg Frost Harmes Kent Salem Richmond Lloyd Riewoldt Vickery 3 Chaplin Ellis Martin, Miles Best Melbourne Gawn Viney Tyson Salem Kent N Jones Garlett Richmond Cotchin Miles Riewoldt Edwards Houli Lloyd Changes Melbourne Nil Richmond Brett Deledio (quad) replaced in the side by Jacob Townsend Injuries Melbourne Nil Richmond Jack Riewoldt (ankle) Reports Melbourne Nil Richmond Alex Rance for striking Jack Watts in the fourth quarter Umpires Stevic Stephens Chamberlain Official crowd 59,968 at the MCG
  16. Dejavu. The chance to win and break into the group of contenders, to be on an even keel with Adelaide and West Coast among others. This is not the first time we've been in this place but every time in our recent history when we've been here, we've disappointed. Tonight will decide whether we're in a new reality for the club or whether it's the same old same old. What's it to be?
  17. Early this month, the Melbourne Football Club walked away from sponsorships with sports betting companies by committing to a responsible betting charter. At the time, the club's CEO Peter Jackson said it was “an important day for the club”. I was thinking about that comment when I saw the early betting for Sunday night's Anzac Eve clash between Melbourne and Richmond which had the match up listed as an even money battle. I immediately asked myself the question, "how is this so"? How is it possible that betting agencies which live or die by framing odds for sporting contests could even think of putting a team with Richmond's recent form which has been putrid, on a par with Melbourne after its last two matches? Just when I reach the point where I have decided that these people have completely taken leave of their own senses, I come to the realisation that it's the Demons we're talking about - that flakey team which hasn't won two consecutive games in a season since 2011 when they beat the Tigers in Round 14. I remember it well because about a month later it was Armageddon for the club, the coach was sacked and the team hit a brick wall causing near irreparable damage from which it is still recovering. It's not as if the opportunity to win two games on end hasn't presented itself in recent times. After beating Brisbane in Round 16 last year, the team started as favourite to beat St Kilda at the MCG the following week and they put in a stinker to lose by 37 points. They were never really in the hunt. And starting a game as favourite doesn't help the club very much at all. Take the club's last two matches against the down and almost out Bombers ... (three if you want to include the last NAB Challenge game of 2015) yes, please take them because I can barely bring myself to think of the humiliation each of those non efforts brought down on those of us who support the Dees. So I look around trying to find reasons why things will be different this time. Why Melbourne will defy history and win two in a row and why it should start as favourite? Is it the fact that the Demons have an in form ruckman capable of turning a game on its head or that they have added to their playing stocks so that they now have greater strength, skill and discipline at the stoppages? Is it a better and more cohesive forward line with more depth in terms of players who can hit the scoreboard? A tighter defence? A more attacking game plan? As much as I wrack my brain, I find myself entirely conflicted about how Melbourne will fare on Sunday night. Their recent form is better and my judgement is that the team that's in form should win but I'm afraid to place a wager on that eventuality. I therefore am left with no choice but to get with the club's responsible betting charter and decline the opportunity to gamble on the outcome of this match. In other words, as far as I'm concerned, anything can and will happen - you can bet on it! THE GAME Richmond v Melbourne on Sunday 24 April 2016 at 7.10pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Richmond 103 wins Melbourne 74 wins Drawn 2 At MCG Richmond 68 wins Melbourne 62 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Richmond 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Hardwick 0 wins Roos 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel Channel 7 live at 7.00pm Radio - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Richmond to win - $1.92 Melbourne to win - $1.92 THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 12.11.83 defeated Richmond 6.15.51 in Round 5, 2015 at the MCG After an even first half, Melbourne took control of the game kicking six goals to one with Nathan Jones the star and Jesse Hogan playing his break out game by giving a quality opponent in Rance an absolute bath. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Tom McDonald, Tomas Bugg HB: Lynden Dunn, Heritier Lumumba, Christian Salem C: Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, Josh Wagner HF: Jack Watts, Sam Frost, James Harmes F: Dean Kent, Jesse Hogan, Angus Brayshaw FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Jeff Garlett, Jayden Hunt, Ben Kennedy, Cameron Pedersen EMG: Colin Garland, Alex Neal-Bullen Christian Petracca IN: Jeff Garlett, Bernie Vince OUT: Matt Jones (soreness) Clayton Oliver (rested) RICHMOND B: David Astbury, Alex Rance, Brett Deledio HB: Corey Ellis, Bachar Houli, Kamdyn McIntosh C: Brandon Ellis, Shaun Grigg, Daniel Rioli HF: Kane Lambert, Dustin Martin, Ty Vickery F: Jack Riewoldt, Sam Lloyd, Connor Menadue FOLL: Ivan Maric, Shane Edwards, Trent Cotchin I/C: Jake Batchelor, Troy Chaplin, Anthony Miles, Steven Morris EMG: Taylor Hunt, Ben Lennon, Jacob Townsend IN: Jake Batchelor, Brett Deledio, Ivan Maric, Anthony Miles, Steven Morris OUT: Shaun Hampson (leg), Taylor Hunt (omitted), Ben Lennon (omitted), Andrew Moore (omitted), Nick Vlastuin (leg)
  18. It will be 12 months to the day .,, RICHMOND B: David Astbury, Jake Batchelor, Alex Rance HB: Bachar Houli, Nick Vlastuin, Nathan Drummond C: Brandon Ellis, Trent Cotchin, Kamdyn McIntosh HF: Steven Morris, Shane Edwards, Anthony Miles F: Jack Riewoldt, Ben Griffiths, Sam Lloyd FOLL: Ivan Maric, Dustin Martin, Taylor Hunt I/C: Matt Arnot, Nathan Gordon, Shaun Grigg, Matt McDonough EMG: Todd Elton, Ben Lennon, Ty Vickery IN: Matt Arnot, Nathan Drummond, Matt McDonough OUT: Chris Knights (hamstring), Troy Chaplin (calf), Chris Newman (back) NEW: Nathan Drummond MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta HB: Jeremy Howe, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem C: Daniel Cross, Nathan Jones, Heritier Lumumba HF: Ben Newton, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett F: Dean Kent, Chris Dawes, Jack Watts FOLL: Mark Jamar, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince I/C: Angus Brayshaw, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Viv Michie, Aaron vandenBerg EMG: Jack Grimes, Cameron Pedersen, Jimmy Toumpas IN: Viv Michie OUT: Sam Frost (injured)
  19. [with credit to Charles Dickens ... re-written Paul Roos] It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way ... How apt are those words to describe the Demons fate for the past years. A team going nowhere.to Heaven or Hell. And indeed it has been the worst of times where the spring of hope was dashed by the winter of despair. But now the Tale of Two Cities has been re-written by Paul Roos. No longer is it London and Paris, but rather Sydney and Melbourne! We all know the Sydney story. A 72 year Premiership drought broken by Roos as coach. He adopted a relentless, structured, disciplined approach to the way football was played, and turned a group of ordinary, average footballers into ruthless role-players. What we saw in the game against Richmond, with his new charges, the Melbourne Demons, was a replica of the same formula. Players who last year were headed for the scrap heap, are re-born as integral cogs in the Roos machine. With the 3rd win for the Season the Demons have already exceeded their output for 2013, but it is the style of play that will win more, much more in the remainder of 2014. Today the standout was Cam Pedersen who marked and fought for everything that came his way. Only credited with 8 marks, most of them would have been contested with a 2 goal output to his balance sheet. 12 months ago he moved around the ground at glacial pace: today he is a different player and truly ripped the game apart at critical moments. Interestingly, it was probably the inclusion of Max Gawn that benefitted Pedersen most. Instead of having to pinch hit in the ruck, he was courtesy of Gawn, able to play a lethal role around the ground and in the forward line. Watts, Jamar, Vince, Tyson, Viney, Jones, Cross, Dawes, Salem ... etc. It was difficult to single out others for exceptional efforts, because there were simply so many contributors. This was the first time for many, many years that Demon supporters were not able to walk away from the game saying that player A or B failed to contribute. Today there were no spuds!!! And unlike previous Melbourne teams, when the opposition got back within 4 points in the last quarter, it would have signaled another capitulation. But not this Roos led team. They simply dug deeper, and now believe that once they have their noses in front, they never get beaten. Just like Sydney ... So now with what is unfolding before our eyes, is it too much to hope for a similar outcome in this new Roos fairytale? Sydney had to wait 72 years. We are at 50 and counting down!! Melbourne 1.3.9 4.5.29 9.6.60 14.7.91 Richmond 2.3.15 4.8.32 6.16.52 9.20.74 Goals Melbourne Watts 3 Pedersen Tyson 2 Dawes Kennedy-Harris M Jones N Jones Riley Vince Viney Richmond Edwards Lennon 2 Cotchin Jackson Lloyd Martin Riewoldt Best Melbourne Tyson N Jones Pedersen Viney Dawes Howe Watts Richmond Martin Jackson Cotchin Edwards Deledio Grigg Changes Melbourne Neville Jetta (gastro) replaced by Jimmy Toumpas Richmond Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Richmond Astbury (knee) Cotchin (ankle) Reports Melbourne Nil Richmond Nil Umpires Ryan Matthews Fisher Crowd 56,910 at the MCG
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