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  1. It was Melbourne’s first final in 23 years and the Demons came across the Kangaroos in the 1987 Elimination Final.
  2. The tough Aussie Blundstone boot is made for true blue collar workers, and so it was at this aptly named stadium in Hobart, that the Demons were made to work their hardest for their seventh consecutive win of the season. From the outset, North Melbourne put scoreboard pressure on Melbourne with two majors at an early stage in the first quarter. The Demons fought back and temporarily had the lead but the Kangaroos responded to lead by five points at quarter time. This was not what the public was expecting from a potential top-of-the-ladder side pitted against an opponent on the very bottom rung without a win in 2021 and in the midst of a 13 game losing streak. And things were only going to get worse in the second quarter. The Demon woes began before the game. Jack Viney (toe) was replaced prior to the start by Oscar Baker with Nathan Jones brought in as medical sub. He wasn’t to spend too much time on the bench when his services were required after Adam Tomlinson went down with a suspected ACL injury barely five minutes into the game. This completely upset the structure not only of the defence but the entire side. Baker is primarily a winger, and Brayshaw was moved into the middle. When Tomlinson went down, Tom McDonald had to be swung into defence, thereby depriving the forward line. Jones became the interchange in the middle. The Demons just couldn’t get their act together without the structure that had served the side so well in previous games. They weren’t helped by the fact that North were playing the old “rope a dope” style of game, chipping the ball around, and amassing huge numbers of uncontested possessions. At one stage before half time, they had 90 more than Melbourne. North also took advantage with turnover goals as the pressure that Melbourne had brought to the game previously, simply went missing. In the ruck Goldstein was beating Max Gawn, not just with hit-outs, but clearances as well. He was ably backed up by the umpires who made numerous incomprehensible calls in the ruck contests, which favoured the Kangaroos. Melbourne went into half time with a three goal deficit, and things were looking ominous as far as maintaining its unbeaten record for 2021. Indeed, when interviewed at half-time, Simon Goodwin confessed that his team was being beaten in “all phases of the game”. The coach made a few telling changes made at the break. Firstly, Luke Jackson was moved into the ruck for much longer than usual. With Goldstein following Gawn on and off the field, suddenly Melbourne had superiority in the ruck contests to which North had no answer. Jackson finished with 22 possessions, seven hitouts and two clearances. But it was his mobility and contribution to team second efforts which helped to bring the other mids more into the game. The defenders suddenly got their act together, with the usual May, Lever and now McDonald intercepts that meant the ball was now regularly finding the hands of Christian Salem and Ed Langdon and consequently finishing in the forward 50 more and the scores started to come. Clayton Oliver lifted his work-rate to finish with 25 touches, including seven clearances but still, the Demons looked flat. In stepped Kosiaiah Pickett, with a couple of breathtaking efforts and goals that simply shouldn’t have happened. Bayley Fritsch couldn’t miss and had 5 majors to his name by the time the ¾ time siren sounded. The Demons had hit the front, having kicked six goals to one for the quarter. The final term saw a workmanlike effort again. By now, North had spent all their petrol tickets, and were simply unable to make any scoreboard efforts work. Still, early on they managed to be only a single kick behind, and once again, up stepped the youngsters for the side. James Jordon nailed a difficult crumbing goal to open up the margin, and Fritsch brought up goal number six. Further goals came with the final margin finally blowing out to five goals and a 49 point turnaround from half time. While the Demons have now cemented themselves at the top of the ladder the injuries suffered will cause a dramatic reshuffle for next week’s game against Sydney. Viney is out for at least a couple of weeks, Tomlinson now looks like missing the rest of the season. Angus Brayshaw suffered a shoulder injury, but played on. Ben Brown suffered a heavy head knock but hopefully won’t be a candidate for a concussion spell. Fortunately, Melbourne have plenty of available soldiers to replace them. Harry Petty will surely come in if fit and available, and Tom Sparrow will be putting up his hand for selection, after a 32 possession effort with Casey. But the Demons cannot afford to play the same way as they did in the first half of this game against the Swans. Multitudes of players were well below their best. Christian Petracca got 23 touches, but wasn’t his usual damaging self. Gawn was probably beaten on the day. Oliver was our best in the middle, but North certainly won the clearance battle on the day. Neither of Alex Neal-Bullen and Jake Melksham did anything for their respective causes and would only stay in the side because of other replacements needed. What Melbourne need to do is come out with the workmanlike efforts of the second half of this game. The Blundstone boots are tough, and the Demons need to be likewise to keep on kicking winning scores. MELBOURNE 3.2.20 6.4.40 12.7.79 16.7.103 NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1.25 9.5.59 10.6.66 11.7.73 GOALS Melbourne Fritsch 6 Pickett 3 Brown 2 Jackson Jordan Langdon Oliver Spargo North Melbourne Campbell Cunnington Larkey 2 Atley Mahony Powell Simpkin Zurhaar BEST Melbourne Fritsch Jackson Salem May Pickett Petracca North Melbourne Cunnington Hall Powell McKay Turner Simpkin INJURIES Melbourne Tomlinson (knee) North Melbourne Bonar (corked thigh) REPORTS Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne Jones (replaced Tomlinson) North Melbourne Menadue (replaced Bonar) Umpires Chris Donlon Justin Power Simon Meredith Crowd TBA at Blundstone Arena
  3. The football world was reminded this week about the last time Melbourne opened a season with six wins or more in a row. That was in 1965 when Sir Robert Gordon Menzies was Prime Minister of Australia and the country was fighting a war in faraway Vietnam. It was before Jack Viney’s father, Todd, was born — a time when the game was played almost exclusively on Saturdays and when Demon fans used to wake up in the morning mostly safe in the knowledge that there was not even the remotest possibility that their team would lose that day. And so it was when the final siren blared over the MCG on Saturday 22 May, 1965. The scoreboard bore witness to a narrow victory for the Demons over their bitter rivals, the Magpies — a total of 6.13.49 was enough to better their opponents’ 7.5.47 for a sixth consecutive victory. However, not a single member of the crowd of 56,808 who attended was aware of the ill wind building overhead preparing to descend upon the Melbourne Football Club carrying with it a curse of monumental proportion. The Norm Smith Curse was to take its time (the Dees won another two before the losses began) and a further two months would elapse before the zephyr rose in strength to reach force 12 hurricane magnitude. By then it was a vicious, destructive and deadly wind. On a dark and gloomy Saturday 24 July, 1965, Demon supporters woke to the news that their coach had been sacked and replaced by old war horse Frank V “Checker” Hughes. A small number trekked out to a windswept City of Coburg Oval (the day’s crowd was 8,312) to watch Melbourne fall on its sword by 21 points. Coach Norm Smith was reinstated a week later but the damage was done. The one thing that was clear from the experience was that the Demons were no longer a cohesive unit with everyone on the same page. They missed the finals for the first time since 1953 and the curse remained in the hearts and minds of the Melbourne faithful for years to come, constantly returning to the memory of that fateful day in July, 1965 when a brood of witches sat in a windstorm under thundery skies and cast a spell over them:- “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” Some 5½ decades passed until 2020 when a plague came and brought with it a massive dislocation to our normal lives. We stayed at home, businesses closed down, the old and infirm died. Our sport stopped dead in its tracks until respite came in the country’s north. Football teams were taken into hubs and games were played in exotic locations like tropical Cairns where, one day, the Demons landed in the eye of a storm. They lost both of their eminently winnable games played over a four day span in oppressive conditions but something magical occurred up there. The damned spot was removed and the Norm Smith Curse suddenly evaporated. Melbourne has not lost a game since that visit to the stormy tropics. From out of the experience of defeat came a steely resolve to play selfless football. The players gelled together as one and this has carried through the pre season and into the opening rounds of 2021. It helps that there’s a fair bit of hardness, class, determination and natural improvement among the playing group starting from the top with the leadership. Max Gawn and his young sidekick Luke Jackson are not only winning plenty of ruck duels but winning the ball both in the air and on the ground. They give the team a virtual extra player. They have at their feet an elite midfield with Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver performing ball- winning feats in perfect harmony along with a magnificent support cast in Angus Brayshaw and Jack Viney. Around them gather wingers and half back flankers who run like the wind and accumulate the footy. The key defenders won’t even let the wind through — Steven May, Jake Lever and Adam Tomlinson are about as miserly as you can get. Then there’s a forward line where selectors have struggled to date to fit in the likes of Ben Brown and Sam Weideman! Against them this week is a team in a state of disarray. North Melbourne is a young side that’s been kicked around the park in all of its games this year and last week ended up in quarantine playing the Dockers in an otherwise empty stadium. They spent the best part of the week not even knowing whether they would be playing on their home away from home, Blundstone Arena. Some might argue that this forced bonding will advantage them and that they are a chance to cause an upset against a cocky opponent at a place where they have triumphed over them three times in the recent past by 5, 4 and 5 points respectively. I have news for them. Blundstone Arena in 2021 is not the the City of Coburg Oval of 1965 and unlike then, the Melbourne team is playing as one, with steely determination whether in fine and sunny weather or in thunder, lightning, or in rain. Those things no longer matter. The curse is over and the Demons will be too good for the hapless Kangaroos. Melbourne will win by 63 points. THE GAME North Melbourne v Melbourne on Sunday 2 May, 2021 at Blundstone Arena, Hobart at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 82 wins Melbourne 85 wins 1 draw At Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 3 wins Melbourne 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The coaches Noble 0 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 Melbourne 13.14.92 defeated North Melbourne 5.5.35 at Adelaide Oval, Round 11, 2020 After a relatively even first half caused by some wastefulness in front of goal, Melbourne careered away thanks to the dominance of midfielders Petracca, Oliver and Brayshaw. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B: A. Bonar 16 B McKay 23 S. Atley 18 HB: J. Ziebell 7 J. Walker 19 A. Hall 43 C: L. Young 17 J. Simpkin 12 J. Stephenson 2 HF: K. Turner 28 C. Taylor 5 C. Zurhaar 44 F: Jack Mahony 1 N. Larkey 20 T. Thomas 26 Foll T. Goldstein 22 B. Cunnington 10 T. Powell 24 I/C: A. Bosenavulagi 15 T. Campbell 42 C. Lazzaro W. Phillips 29 Sub: C. Menadue 31 Emerg: E. Ford 40 B. Scott 8 D. Tyson 21 In: A. Hall C. Lazzaro Out: L. Davies-Uniacke (personal reasons) C. Menadue (omitted) MELBOURNE B: J. Lever 8 S. May 1 M. Hibberd 14 HB: C. Salem 3 A. Tomlinson 20 J. Hunt 29 C: O. Baker 33 C. Petracca 5 E Langdon 15 HF: J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 J. Melksham 18 F: C. Spargo 9 B. Brown 50 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 A. Brayshaw 10 C. Oliver 13 I/C L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30 K. Pickett 36 T. Rivers 24 Sub: N. Jones 2 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 H. Petty 35 In: O. Baker B. Brown Out: K. Chandler (omitted) J. Viney (toe) Injury List: Round 7 James Harmes (wrist) — Available Jay Lockhart (calf) — 1 Week Aaron vandenBerg (quad) — 3 Weeks Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 6 to 7 Weeks Joel Smith (knee) — 8 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
  4. Last time these teams played against each other it was at the Adelaide Oval. We still aren’t certain as to where and when they are due to play next weekend’s game. MELBOURNE FB Jake Lever Steven May Christian Salem HB Michael Hibberd Trent Rivers Nathan Jones C Ed Langdon Clayton Oliver Adam Tomlinson HF Mitch Hannan Sam Weideman Aaron vandenBerg FF Bayley Fritsch Luke Jackson Jake Melksham FOL Tom McDonald Christian Petracca Angus Brayshaw I/C James Harmes Kysaiah Pickett Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow EMG Neville Jetta James Jordon Oscar McDonald Braydon Preuss IN Mitch Hannan Tom McDonald Kysaiah Pickett Trent Rivers Charlie Spargo OUT Harley Bennell (omitted) Max Gawn (managed) Jay Lockhart (managed) Alex Neal-Bullen (suspended) Jack Viney (concussion) NORTH MELBOURNE FB Ben McKay Robbie Tarrant Luke McDonald HB Shaun Atley Josh Walker Aiden Bonar C Jamie Macmillan Jy Simpkin Jared Polec HF Cameron Zurhaar Nick Larkey Shaun Higgins FF Aaron Hall Majak Daw Bailey Scott FOL Todd Goldstein Luke Davies-Uniacke Trent Dumont I/C Jed Anderson Sam Durdin Jack Mahony Jasper Pittard EMG Tom Campbell Lachlan Hosie Tom Murphy Will Walker IN Luke Davies-Uniacke Sam Durdin Nick Larkey OUT Ben Brown (knee) Lachlan Hosie (omitted) Will Walker (omitted)
  5. HOW FAR SOUTH? by George on the Outer It was appropriate that Melbourne was playing its last game of season 2019 in Hobart. After all, how much further south could the team go? And much as it has done in many of the previous 22 games, the side managed to extract a loss from a winning position by simply giving the ball back to the opposition time and time again. In fact, they gave it back to the opposition to the tune of 53 points from turnovers while, by way of contrast North Melbourne contributed only 17 points to their opposition in this manner. We can argue about the cattle the Demons has left after the squad was ravaged by injury but the fact remains that when the team includes the likes of Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bulleen, Charlie Spargo, Billy Stretch and Corey Wagner then it’s not really destined to win against any opposition, not even one that managed a total score of 14 points just a fortnight ago. The start of the game was the real form setter for the remainder, with Kennedy Harris giving away consecutive possessions to the opposition. It didn’t hurt at that point of the game, but the pattern continued with Melbourne unable to develop any true momentum as each time it managed to get its nose in front, someone would simply give it back, particularly late in the quarter. Max Gawn showed the way in the ruck, and gave Toss Goldstein a bath both in the ruck and around the ground, even topping the Melbourne score chart with three goals for the match. To amass 41 hitouts against probably the third best ruckman in the competition is a fantastic effort. Around him, there was plenty of help. Clayton Oliver was really boring in at every opportunity with 33 touches and eight tackles. Angus Brayshaw, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney with 8, 7 and 5 tackles respectively all showed their signs of intent, but then it dropped off in spectacular fashion with one each to Jayden Hunt, Jake Melksham, Neal-Bullen and Wagner. When players who are meant to be applying pressure and none is forthcoming, we see the ball ricochet from one end of the ground to the other to little or no positive effect for the team. Fortunately, Jake Lever and Sam Frost were at the other end to repel multiple North attacks, particularly Frost who did a demolition job on Ben Brown, after he kicked 10 last week, and will just miss out on winning the Coleman Medal. Up forward, Bayley Fritsch again showed plenty, with three goals and three contested marks, so providing the Demons with their only real target in front of goal. The final quarter epitomised the Demons year as the kicked 1 goal 7 behinds to 3.1 in a tight encounter. They led by up to nine points, yet simple shots for goal were missed, there were stupid turnovers and some silly decision making that conceded yet another game. People speak about the need for leadership in these situations, but it is not the leaders doing the damage when they don’t have the ball in their hands. This was a game that saw the final chapter in the career of Jordan Lewis. He has provided that desperately needed leadership and more importantly example of how an AFL player should play. Tough, hard and relentless with the ability to deliver under pressure when needed. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see him in his prime at the Demons. After finishing in 17th spot with a miserable five wins, can the Demons head further south? Fortunately, the Suns are in a worse situation even though their list is full of early draft pick talent. We all know about the injuries, which is why the side has more than its share of sub-standard players but if we continue to gift the opposition nearly 10 goals in a game in the coming year, then further south is not only possible, it is virtually assured! If we cannot replace the composure of Jordan Lewis, then we will see opportunities thrown away again and again in the future. The club, coach and players now sit on a knife edge. We have seen 5 coaches sacked in 2019 in this brutal competition, none from the bottom two sides. Any semblance of a southerly direction on-field early next year, will see the same at Melbourne. Melbourne 4.2.26 5.4.34 11.4.70 12.11.83 North Melbourne 3.4.22 5.4.34 10.9.69 13.10.88 Goals Melbourne Fritsch Gawn 3 Melksham 2 Hunt Jones Neal-Bullen C Wagner North Melbourne Brown Garner Higgins Polec Ziebell 2 Larkey, Williams, Wood Best Melbourne Gawn Oliver Harmes Lewis Viney Frost North Melbourne Higgins Polec Ziebell Pittard Williams Dumont Injuries Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Macmillan (head) Reports Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Umpires Deboy, Gavine, Mollison Official crowd 8,202 at Blundstone Arena
  6. Here we are - playing in the southernmost state capital in the nation. It’s going to be very cold there as hell freezes over. Go Dees!
  7. I can vividly remember when the Demons ventured onto Blundstone Arena for the first time in early 2016 only to lose to the Kangaroos by 20.11.131 to 21.10.136. Melbourne was then a team on the up and up: young, enthusiastic and bold. It gave up a huge quarter time deficit after kicking against a strong wind but made that up by half time and fell dramatically short after an exciting high scoring affair. The team lost no fans that day - they were willing to take the game on and attack the football and the goals as if their lives depended on performing to the best of their abilities. It was the sort of display that would ultimately lead them to a preliminary final in two and a half year’s time. In the meantime, they would suffer yet another narrow defeat (4 points) at Blundstone in 2017. This time, the loss was costly because it left them tantalisingly short of a finals berth but they persevered and improved in the following year and gave their long-suffering supporters great hopes for 2019. Now, after a year of sheer agony for the Melbourne Football Club and its supporters, the team returns to the same venue but the indications are that this time, the result will not be close. The circumstances have made North the biggest certainties of the final round. That’s a strange thing to say given that two weeks ago the Kangaroos were held to a solitary goal by Geelong but the truth is that we know the Dees are done for the year. I attribute this to a poor preseason and a diabolical run of injuries that has sapped every ounce of confidence out of the playing group. We know that the on field and off field team that represents the club at the start of the 2020 season will be significantly different in its makeup to the one we have now. It’s obvious that 5.00pm on Saturday can’t come quickly enough for a team that’s bereft of a functioning forward line that can’t kick straight (most of its tall key position forwards were out for the season several weeks ago) and a defence that was hacked apart much earlier in the year. The constant drain on resources has exposed the club’s player depth and ability. They fought a tough battle but in recent weeks they gradually slowed and began to stop chasing as they hit the wall. They’re cooked. There’s nothing more that can be said for a team that played like a rabble on the Friday night stage last week other than that by playing outside the state down in Hobart, hopefully not many people will take notice as to how they are performing. The most positive spin that I can put on things at the moment is this -> bring on 2020! THE GAME North Melbourne v Melbourne on Saturday 24 August, 2019 at Blundstone Arena, Hobart at 2.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 81 wins Melbourne 84 wins 1 draw At the Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 2 wins Melbourne 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Shaw 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel Live at 2.00pm RADIO - TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 18.15.123 defeated North Melbourne 13.8.86 at the MCG, Round 3, 2018 Melbourne started slowly and gave North a handy start before reeling the opposition in and pushing away to a handy 37-point win that broke a string of 17 successive losses to the Kangaroos. Max Gawn was dominant with 50 hit outs to Todd Goldstein’s 15. The Demon goal kickers were Tom Bugg 4, Jeff Garlett and Dean Kent with 3 each - none of them will be playing this week. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B Marley Williams Scott D. Thompson Jasper Pittard HB Jamie Macmillan Robbie Tarrant Shaun Atley C Trent Dumont Shaun Higgins Jared Polec HF Kayne Turner Nick Larkey Jack Ziebell F Tarryn Thomas Ben Brown Cameron Zurhaar FOLL Todd Goldstein Jy Simpkin Ben Cunnington I/C Sam Durdin Taylor Garner Nathan Mason Wood EMG Tom Campbell Lachlan Hosie Ben McKay Tom Murphy IN Mason Wood OUT Jed Anderson (hamstring) MELBOURNE B Jayden Hunt Sam Frost Christian Salem HB Jordan Lewis Jake Lever Nathan Jones C James Harmes Angus Brayshaw Billy Stretch HF Jay Kennedy Harris Bayley Fritsch Jake Melksham F Corey Wagner Braydon Preuss Christian Petracca FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Clayton Oliver I/C Michael Hibberd Marty Hore Alex Neal-Bullen Charlie Spargo EMG Kyle Dunkley Declan Keilty Jay Lockhart Josh Wagner IN Jayden Hunt Braydon Preuss OUT Kade Chandler (finger) Kyle Dunkley (omitted) Injury List - Round 23 Max Gawn (hamstring) – available Jordan Lewis (shin) – available Oscar McDonald (ankle) – we’ll get back to you soon Harrison Petty (groin) – my people will call your people Tom Sparrow (knee) – 1 week Kade Chandler (finger) – season Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season Mitch Hannan (groin) – season Neville Jetta (knee) - season Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – season Steven May (hamstring) – season Tom McDonald (knee) – season Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season Joel Smith (groin) – season Tim Smith (foot) – season Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – season Sam Weideman (jaw) – season Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite
  8. Early 2018 - almost a lifetime away in the history of this team ... THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Jake Lever, Oscar McDonald, Josh Wagner HB: Bernie Vince, Michael Hibberd, Neville Jetta ? Jordan Lewis, Nathan Jones, Christian Salem HF: Jake Melksham, Sam Frost, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Dom Tyson I/C: Tom Bugg, Bayley Fritsch, James Harmes, Dean Kent Emg: Mitch Hannan, Jayden Hunt, Corey Maynard, Cam Pedersen In: Sam Frost, Dean Kent Out: Jayden Hunt, Cam Pedersen NORTH MELBOURNE B: Marley Williams, Scott Thompson, Ryan Clarke HB: Jamie Macmillan, Robbie Tarrant, Ed Vickers-Willis ? Ben Jacobs, Jy Simpkin, Billy Hartung HF: Shaun Atley, Jarrad Waite, Kayne Turner F: Jack Ziebell, Ben Brown, Luke McDonald, Foll: Todd Goldstein, Shaun Higgins, Ben Cunnington I/C: Jed Anderson, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Trent Dumont, Nathan Hrovat Emg: Majak Daw, Mitchell Hibberd, Mason Wood, Cameron Zurhaar No change
  9. JALAPEÑO, LETTUCE AND TOAST by Tassie Tom After a long drought, the Melbourne Football Club finally emerged triumphant in a full length match against North Melbourne at the Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania in the JLT season opener in what must be considered a good omen for the season to come. But then it might not, because as we know JLT games being glorified practice matches made for television audiences, don’t mean much. What we also don’t know is what JLT stands for so I’ve improvised with my title. Even if jalapeño, lettuce and toast is not quite right, we do know that “toast” is what the Demons made of the Roos in this game after a withering third quarter (that’s the premiership quarter folks, but I’m not supposed to be getting ahead of myself, am I?). It was good to beat them after such a long losing streak going back to 2006 and even better in the knowledge that it was the second time in 8 days if you count the AFLX nonsense. The Demons were out of the blocks early and dominated the contest in the opening term with their swift movement of the ball and attacking play. They soon established a two to three goal buffer which could have been greater but for the fact that they were caught on the rebound a couple of times with costly turnovers that led to some over-the-back goals. North actually fought back into the game late in the first half but a timely goal from big improver, James Harmes, restored an 11 point lead at half time. After that it was a procession with the team combining with a dominant midfield and strong defence to give its diverse group of forwards plenty of opportunities to skip away to a big win. The party started in the ruck where Max Gawn gave his on ballers first use of the ball with emerging midfielder Alex Neal-Bullen busy from the get go. Given their rout at the hands of the Tigers in the other JLT game of the day, the Bombers must be ruing the fact that they let Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham off the hook. The former was already back in All Australian form across half-back while the latter has stepped up this year and set up a number of goals and kicked one himself. The forwards ran riot with a dozen players kicking goals including newcomer and opportunist Bayley Fritsch who must really like playing against North because he has now kicked three goals against them twice. Jesse Hogan matched that number and looked good either up forward or on the ball. The Demons’ other newcomer, former Crow Jake Lever, had a good start in the red and blue and will be an asset for his new club. He combined well with Hibberd and emerging defensive tall Oscar McDonald. Otherwise, the Demons are developing good depth and have the ability to mix players from the midfield to the forward line with good effect. Still, it’s early days ... the main thing was that, apart from what was hopefully some minor tightness in Jordan Lewis’ calf, the team emerged from JLT1 unscathed. The other omen from the game was from the crowd number - 1,957. Melbourne won a flag in 1957 which was in the middle of its golden era of the past and hopefully a similar period of success awaits. On the other hand, the low number cannot be seen as a portent of anything positive for Tasmanian football which has been under the hammer lately. Melbourne’s next JLT game will be against St Kilda under lights at Casey Fields on Thursday March 8. Melbourne 6.3.39 8.3.51 15.8.97 19.10.124 North Melbourne 3.1.19 6.4.40 7.4.46 11.5.71 Goals Melbourne Fritsch Hogan 3 Bugg Harmes Neal-Bullen 2 Gawn Hannan T McDonald Maynard Melksham Petracca Vince North Melbourne Brown Hartung Waite 2 Cunnington Larkey Turner Ziebell Zurhaar Best Melbourne Melksham Neal-Bullen Hibberd Harmes Petracca Salem Fritsch North Melbourne Hartung Cunnington Williams Vickers-Willis Ziebell Injuries Melbourne Lewis (calf) North Melbourne Nil Reports Nil Umpires Donlan, Meredith, Foote, Fisher Official crowd 1,957 at Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania
  10. After a long drought, the Melbourne Football Club finally emerged triumphant in a full length match against North Melbourne at the Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania in the JLT season opener in what must be considered a good omen for the season to come. But then it might not, because as we know JLT games being glorified practice matches made for television audiences, don’t mean much. What we also don’t know is what JLT stands for so I’ve improvised with my title. Even if jalapeño, lettuce and toast is not quite right, we do know that “toast” is what the Demons made of the Roos in this game after a withering third quarter (that’s the premiership quarter folks, but I’m not supposed to be getting ahead of myself, am I?). It was good to beat them after such a long losing streak going back to 2006 and even better in the knowledge that it was the second time in 8 days if you count the AFLX nonsense. The Demons were out of the blocks early and dominated the contest in the opening term with their swift movement of the ball and attacking play. They soon established a two to three goal buffer which could have been greater but for the fact that they were caught on the rebound a couple of times with costly turnovers that led to some over-the-back goals. North actually fought back into the game late in the first half but a timely goal from big improver, James Harmes, restored an 11 point lead at half time. After that it was a procession with the team combining with a dominant midfield and strong defence to give its diverse group of forwards plenty of opportunities to skip away to a big win. The party started in the ruck where Max Gawn gave his on ballers first use of the ball with emerging midfielder Alex Neal-Bullen busy from the get go. Given their rout at the hands of the Tigers in the other JLT game of the day, the Bombers must be ruing the fact that they let Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham off the hook. The former was already back in All Australian form across half-back while the latter has stepped up this year and set up a number of goals and kicked one himself. The forwards ran riot with a dozen players kicking goals including newcomer and opportunist Bayley Fritsch who must really like playing against North because he has now kicked three goals against them twice. Jesse Hogan matched that number and looked good either up forward or on the ball. The Demons’ other newcomer, former Crow Jake Lever, had a good start in the red and blue and will be an asset for his new club. He combined well with Hibberd and emerging defensive tall Oscar McDonald. Otherwise, the Demons are developing good depth and have the ability to mix players from the midfield to the forward line with good effect. Still, it’s early days ... the main thing was that, apart from what was hopefully some minor tightness in Jordan Lewis’ calf, the team emerged from JLT1 unscathed. The other omen from the game was from the crowd number - 1,957. Melbourne won a flag in 1957 which was in the middle of its golden era of the past and hopefully a similar period of success awaits. On the other hand, the low number cannot be seen as a portent of anything positive for Tasmanian football which has been under the hammer lately. Melbourne’s next JLT game will be against St Kilda under lights at Casey Fields on Thursday March 8. Melbourne 6.3.39 8.3.51 15.8.97 19.10.124 North Melbourne 3.1.19 6.4.40 7.4.46 11.5.71 Goals Melbourne Fritsch Hogan 3 Bugg Harmes Neal-Bullen 2 Gawn Hannan T McDonald Maynard Melksham Petracca Vince North Melbourne Brown Hartung Waite 2 Cunnington Larkey Turner Ziebell Zurhaar Best Melbourne Melksham Neal-Bullen Hibberd Harmes Petracca Salem Fritsch North Melbourne Hartung Cunnington Williams Vickers-Willis Ziebell Injuries Melbourne Lewis (calf) North Melbourne Nil Reports Nil Umpires Donlan, Meredith, Foote, Fisher Official crowd 1,957 at Kingston Twins Ovals, Tasmania
  11. NORTHERN EXPOSURE by Whispering Jack If the late Jack Dyer were to describe the North Melbourne of 2017 he would no doubt call it "a good ordinary side". The Kangaroos started the season by losing the first five games on the trot before striking a purple patch during which they won four out of five (including a 10 goal thrashing of the Crows at Blundstone Arena and a hard fought 14 point victory over the Demons at the MCG). They then went on a downhill slide with a losing streak that now stands at seven games and sees them sitting equal last on the ladder, ahead only on percentage over the Brisbane Lions. A very ordinary record indeed, although Captain Blood would have seen some good in it because the Roos have lost five of their games by less than a goal. They are now embarking on what can been seen as a rebuilding process, dropping or resting some of their stars and bringing in youth. The cynics among us might call this "tanking". Melbourne, on the other hand, has been better than ordinary even if somewhat inconsistent so far this season. Part of the reason for the inconsistency has been put down to injuries and suspensions which have at times cut huge holes in the makeup of the team but, as we saw last week against Port Adelaide, when the A team is on the park it can compete with any other in the AFL. Which brings us to the Demons' own losing streak of 16 straight games against the Kangaroos that stretches all of the way back to 2006 when a young Nathan Jones was just finding his way in the game. North has been good over most of that time and I would suggest that those wins were not really due to some magical advantage over Melbourne. Hoodoos and losing streaks only reflect this club's woeful standing over the past decade - it lost more often than not because it had inferior teams. As we've seen over the course of this season, that is no longer the case. Melbourne is on course for September action while North Melbourne is heading in the opposite direction. The Kangaroos won their first ten matches last year including an early one where they eventually fell in against Melbourne at Blundstone Arena. They barely hung on to make the finals from which they made a quick exit. In 2017 they have been exposed like the emperor and his non-existent new clothes. Their cupboard is bare and I expect the Demons will also expose the so-called North Melbourne "hoodoo" this week in the same vein as the Hans Christian Anderson fable taught us that sometimes the things people believe in are nothing more than a myth. THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne on Saturday 29 July, 2017 at Blundstone Arena at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 80 wins, Melbourne 83 wins 1 draw At Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 1 win, Melbourne 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 5 wins, Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Scott 1 win, Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.45pm RADIO - TBA THE BETTING North Melbourne to win $2.85, Melbourne to win $1.43 THE LAST TIME THEY MET North Melbourne 15.14.104 defeated Melbourne 13.12.90 at the MCG in Round 9 2017 The Demons started slowly and were 26 points down at the first break before closing to within two points at half time. North controlled the third term but Melbourne's again fought back to narrow the margin to two points midway through the last quarter before North kicked away. Todd Goldstein set up the win dominating the rucks with 61 hit outs. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B: Sam Durdin, Robbie Tarrant, Daniel Nielson HB: Aaron Mullett, Scott D. Thompson, Luke McDonald C: Shaun Atley, Sam Gibson, Ryan Clarke HF: Nathan Hrovat, Jarrad Waite, Majak Daw F: Shaun Higgins, Ben Brown, Taylor Garner FOLL: Braydon Preuss, Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington I/C: Trent Dumont, Declan Mountford, Jy Simpkin, Andrew Swallow EMG: Jed Anderson, Josh Williams, Cameron Zurhaar IN: Braydon Preuss, Robbie Tarrant, Jack Ziebell OUT: Nick Larkey (knee), Josh Williams (omitted), Cameron Zurhaar (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C: Jack Trengove, Jordan Lewis, Clayton Oliver HF: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Jack Watts FOLL: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Mitch Hannan I/C: James Harmes, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jake Melksham, Dom Tyson EMG: Corey Maynard, Cameron Pedersen, Josh Wagner There's a certain amount of irony surrounding inferences of tanking raised about Melbourne's opponent for this week's clash in Hobart. No sooner had the Roos made their decision to drop former All Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein and rest skipper Jack Ziebell for last week's Essendon clash, than some segments of the media started raising eyebrows and when Robbie Tarrant was a late withdrawal, that was sufficient evidence for the commentariat that a conspiracy was on foot with the aim of securing soon to be out of contract GWS midfielder Josh Kelly. That sort of thinking is all too common in AFL circles and while it fills newspaper space and time on radio and television, it doesn't reflect reality. It dismisses the fact that North made a good fist of things and in fact led the Bombers until deep into the third quarter before the young side ran out of steam late in the game and it denies the club the right to blood young players late in a season when all hopes of playing finals have gone. The Kangaroos have dominated the Demons for over a decade and they will be jealously guarding their record, particularly in front of the people of Hobart who they dearly want to bring into their fold. For this game, they have brought back Ziebell and Tarrant along with ruckman Braydon Preuss who many at North consider a better ruckman than Goldstein. Three youngsters go out of the side and the changes automatically give the "home" side a much better look. With the weather likely to be a factor (showers are predicted), anyone who really thinks that North are tanking has another thing coming - this week looms as a real danger game. Melbourne did fade last week after its opening blitz saw it go to a 44 point lead late in the second quarter and with four players returning from injury, this might be understandable The Roos will be coming into the game with the mindset that they can beat the Demons having prevailed earlier in the year on the MCG when despite losing the disposal count, clearances and contested possessions, they managed to prevail. However, back then they had Goldstein winning in the ruck and key forwards Ben Brown and Mason Wood booting eight goals between them. On Saturday, Goldstein and Wood will not be on the field and the cynics might also add that North is unlikely to be the beneficiary of a free kick count like the 22-10 that gave them the advantage of almost an extra player. Earlier this season they had a big victory over Adelaide when the windy conditions played havoc with the game at Blundstone Arena but they have also lost this year at the venue where they once reigned supreme with eight consecutive victories from 2013-16. The end of another winning run is now on the cards against the Demons who have been strong in the clearances and contested-possession rankings all season and, with so much at stake, I expect their long running series of losses to become yet another part of history for the club on Saturday night. Melbourne by 25 points.
  12. BLOWN UP by George on the Outer It wasn’t just the wind that blew up in Hobart, it was also the Demons' chance to snatch a top four position, even if only temporarily, but potentially to put themselves in the challenge for the double chance come season end. Now they fall back into the pack, and are dependent upon the results of others to ensure they play finals football in September. Blowing it was the real story of the game. Playing against a side that had only won four games and without their first choice ruckman there should have been no question of the result. And with a strong wind favouring one end of the ground, the Demons sure were able to keep North to a respectable distance in the quarters when the Kangaroos had the advantage. Only 2 goals behind at quarter time and a solitary kick leading into the final quarter. However, U10’s football teaches players to kick long with the wind, not try anything too fancy and play direct. While a modicum of that was seen in the 2nd term, it simply didn’t happen when it mattered in the final quarter. Too much handball and dinky kicks or trying to hit up a man didn’t work and yet Melbourne continued with this disastrous style of play. Twice in the final quarter long kicks were used and both times they resulted in goals. This was also a game for absolutely and completely appalling performances by some individuals. Dom Tyson opened with five of his first six disposals going directly to the opposition. There's not much point in getting 30 touches if you can only hit the target 60% of the time. He almost topped the clangers list again this week, finishing just behind Jordan Lewis who managed seven of his own. Unfortunately, with Lewis playing in the backline these errors resulted in multiple goals, to the opposition. The difference between winning and losing. They weren’t alone. Max Gawn played like a first year ruckman and kept hitting the ball the wrong direction or directly to North mids. He has never rucked so poorly, and the result was North had an excess of clearances, despite the ruck taps going Melbourne's way. Thank goodness for Clayton Oliver who racked up 26 contested possessions and 12 clearances, to keep the damage to a minimum and provide opportunities for others. Jack Trengove probably put a line through his name for next year as he was exposed horribly for lack of pace on numerous occasions. Jack Watts has reverted to his form of 3 years ago with a mere 6 kicks for the game, while the majority of players could barely get to mid-teens for number of touches for the match. The defenders were, in contrast, fantastic. While Ben Brown finished with for goals, there was little that could be done to stop someone so big and with a prodigious mark. But Sam Frost and Oscar Mac both had 7 spoils each to limit the extent of his influence. They were ably assisted by the ever reliable Neville Jetta with 17 touches, 7 marks, 5 contested possessions and 100% disposal efficiency. Michael Hibberd with 27 touches and 9 marks made for a strong defensive team, but they were let down time and time again as others failed to mark their man or read the play with the wind to let North in with ridiculously easy marking opportunities in the forward 50. In the lead up to this game it was right to wonder how the Demons could fit Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince into the side for next week's vital clash against the Giants. After this effort, there are plenty of players who will be in for consideration to take the exit path. A broken collar bone to Hogan means yet another hole to be filled up forward, as well. Too often we have seen the chance to really stamp some authority on the competition. This was another of those chances blown. We can only hope the whole season doesn’t become a blow-up as it did in the last games of 2016. NORTH MELBOURNE 4.4 6.4 9.8 11.10 (76) MELBOURNE 2.0 8.5 8.8 10.12 (72) Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 T McDonald Melksham 2 Hogan Hunt Oliver North Melbourne Brown 4 Simpkin 2 Higgins McDonald Swallow Thompson Waite Best Melbourne Oliver Jetta, O McDonald T McDonald Garlett North Melbourne Brown Higgins McDonald Swallow Ziebell Changes Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Injuries Melbourne Hogan (collarbone) North Melbourne Waite (calf) Reports Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Umpires Fisher, Harris, Pannell Attendance 13,939 at Blundstone Arena
  13. It wasn’t just the wind that blew up in Hobart, it was also the Demons' chance to snatch a top four position, even if only temporarily, but potentially to put themselves in the challenge for the double chance come season end. Now they fall back into the pack, and are dependent upon the results of others to ensure they play finals football in September. Blowing it was the real story of the game. Playing against a side that had only won four games and without their first choice ruckman there should have been no question of the result. And with a strong wind favouring one end of the ground, the Demons sure were able to keep North to a respectable distance in the quarters when the Kangaroos had the advantage. Only 2 goals behind at quarter time and a solitary kick leading into the final quarter. However, U10’s football teaches players to kick long with the wind, not try anything too fancy and play direct. While a modicum of that was seen in the 2nd term, it simply didn’t happen when it mattered in the final quarter. Too much handball and dinky kicks or trying to hit up a man didn’t work and yet Melbourne continued with this disastrous style of play. Twice in the final quarter long kicks were used and both times they resulted in goals. This was also a game for absolutely and completely appalling performances by some individuals. Dom Tyson opened with five of his first six disposals going directly to the opposition. There's not much point in getting 30 touches if you can only hit the target 60% of the time. He almost topped the clangers list again this week, finishing just behind Jordan Lewis who managed seven of his own. Unfortunately, with Lewis playing in the backline these errors resulted in multiple goals, to the opposition. The difference between winning and losing. They weren’t alone. Max Gawn played like a first year ruckman and kept hitting the ball the wrong direction or directly to North mids. He has never rucked so poorly, and the result was North had an excess of clearances, despite the ruck taps going Melbourne's way. Thank goodness for Clayton Oliver who racked up 26 contested possessions and 12 clearances, to keep the damage to a minimum and provide opportunities for others. Jack Trengove probably put a line through his name for next year as he was exposed horribly for lack of pace on numerous occasions. Jack Watts has reverted to his form of 3 years ago with a mere 6 kicks for the game, while the majority of players could barely get to mid-teens for number of touches for the match. The defenders were, in contrast, fantastic. While Ben Brown finished with for goals, there was little that could be done to stop someone so big and with a prodigious mark. But Sam Frost and Oscar Mac both had 7 spoils each to limit the extent of his influence. They were ably assisted by the ever reliable Neville Jetta with 17 touches, 7 marks, 5 contested possessions and 100% disposal efficiency. Michael Hibberd with 27 touches and 9 marks made for a strong defensive team, but they were let down time and time again as others failed to mark their man or read the play with the wind to let North in with ridiculously easy marking opportunities in the forward 50. In the lead up to this game it was right to wonder how the Demons could fit Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince into the side for next week's vital clash against the Giants. After this effort, there are plenty of players who will be in for consideration to take the exit path. A broken collar bone to Hogan means yet another hole to be filled up forward, as well. Too often we have seen the chance to really stamp some authority on the competition. This was another of those chances blown. We can only hope the whole season doesn’t become a blow-up as it did in the last games of 2016. Melbourne 2.0.12 8.5.53 8.8.56 10.12.72 North Melbourne 4.4.28 6.4.40 9.8.62 11.10.76 Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 T McDonald Melksham 2 Hogan Hunt Oliver North Melbourne Brown 4 Simpkin 2 Higgins McDonald Swallow Thompson Waite Best Melbourne Oliver Jetta, O McDonald T McDonald Garlett North Melbourne Brown Higgins McDonald Swallow Ziebell Changes Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Injuries Melbourne Hogan (collarbone) North Melbourne Waite (calf) Reports Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Umpires Fisher, Harris, Pannell Attendance 13,939 at Blundstone Arena
  14. The last time I opened a game day thread with a touch of poetry, it worked a treat and Melbourne upset the Eagles over there in Perth. So when I heard the distant sound of a gate creaking in the distance in the morning's gusty old weather, I knew that it was time for a touch of Henry Lawson:- "I can still feel the spirit that bore us, And often the old stars will shine — I remember the last spree in chorus For the sake of that other Lang Syne, When the tracks lay divided before us, Your path through the future and mine." Surely, the time has come ...
  15. If the late Jack Dyer were to describe the North Melbourne of 2017 he would no doubt call it "a good ordinary side". The Kangaroos started the season by losing the first five games on the trot before striking a purple patch during which they won four out of five (including a 10 goal thrashing of the Crows at Blundstone Arena and a hard fought 14 point victory over the Demons at the MCG). They then went on a downhill slide with a losing streak that now stands at seven games and sees them sitting equal last on the ladder, ahead only on percentage over the Brisbane Lions. A very ordinary record indeed, although Captain Blood would have seen some good in it because the Roos have lost five of their games by less than a goal. They are now embarking on what can been seen as a rebuilding process, dropping or resting some of their stars and bringing in youth. The cynics among us might call this "tanking". Melbourne, on the other hand, has been better than ordinary even if somewhat inconsistent so far this season. Part of the reason for the inconsistency has been put down to injuries and suspensions which have at times cut huge holes in the makeup of the team but, as we saw last week against Port Adelaide, when the A team is on the park it can compete with any other in the AFL. Which brings us to the Demons' own losing streak of 16 straight games against the Kangaroos that stretches all of the way back to 2006 when a young Nathan Jones was just finding his way in the game. North has been good over most of that time and I would suggest that those wins were not really due to some magical advantage over Melbourne. Hoodoos and losing streaks only reflect this club's woeful standing over the past decade - it lost more often than not because it had inferior teams. As we've seen over the course of this season, that is no longer the case. Melbourne is on course for September action while North Melbourne is heading in the opposite direction. The Kangaroos won their first ten matches last year including an early one where they eventually fell in against Melbourne at Blundstone Arena. They barely hung on to make the finals from which they made a quick exit. In 2017 they have been exposed like the emperor and his non-existent new clothes. Their cupboard is bare and I expect the Demons will also expose the so-called North Melbourne "hoodoo" this week in the same vein as the Hans Christian Anderson fable taught us that sometimes the things people believe in are nothing more than a myth. THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne on Saturday 29 July, 2017 at Blundstone Arena at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 80 wins, Melbourne 83 wins 1 draw At Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 1 win, Melbourne 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 5 wins, Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Scott 1 win, Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 1.45pm RADIO - TBA THE BETTING North Melbourne to win $2.85, Melbourne to win $1.43 THE LAST TIME THEY MET North Melbourne 15.14.104 defeated Melbourne 13.12.90 at the MCG in Round 9 2017 The Demons started slowly and were 26 points down at the first break before closing to within two points at half time. North controlled the third term but Melbourne's again fought back to narrow the margin to two points midway through the last quarter before North kicked away. Todd Goldstein set up the win dominating the rucks with 61 hit outs. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B: Sam Durdin, Robbie Tarrant, Daniel Nielson HB: Aaron Mullett, Scott D. Thompson, Luke McDonald C: Shaun Atley, Sam Gibson, Ryan Clarke HF: Nathan Hrovat, Jarrad Waite, Majak Daw F: Shaun Higgins, Ben Brown, Taylor Garner FOLL: Braydon Preuss, Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington I/C: Trent Dumont, Declan Mountford, Jy Simpkin, Andrew Swallow EMG: Jed Anderson, Josh Williams, Cameron Zurhaar IN: Braydon Preuss, Robbie Tarrant, Jack Ziebell OUT: Nick Larkey (knee), Josh Williams (omitted), Cameron Zurhaar (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C: Jack Trengove, Jordan Lewis, Clayton Oliver HF: Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Jack Watts FOLL: Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Mitch Hannan I/C: James Harmes, Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jake Melksham, Dom Tyson EMG: Corey Maynard, Cameron Pedersen, Josh Wagner There's a certain amount of irony surrounding inferences of tanking raised about Melbourne's opponent for this week's clash in Hobart. No sooner had the Roos made their decision to drop former All Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein and rest skipper Jack Ziebell for last week's Essendon clash, than some segments of the media started raising eyebrows and when Robbie Tarrant was a late withdrawal, that was sufficient evidence for the commentariat that a conspiracy was on foot with the aim of securing soon to be out of contract GWS midfielder Josh Kelly. That sort of thinking is all too common in AFL circles and while it fills newspaper space and time on radio and television, it doesn't reflect reality. It dismisses the fact that North made a good fist of things and in fact led the Bombers until deep into the third quarter before the young side ran out of steam late in the game and it denies the club the right to blood young players late in a season when all hopes of playing finals have gone. The Kangaroos have dominated the Demons for over a decade and they will be jealously guarding their record, particularly in front of the people of Hobart who they dearly want to bring into their fold. For this game, they have brought back Ziebell and Tarrant along with ruckman Braydon Preuss who many at North consider a better ruckman than Goldstein. Three youngsters go out of the side and the changes automatically give the "home" side a much better look. With the weather likely to be a factor (showers are predicted), anyone who really thinks that North are tanking has another thing coming - this week looms as a real danger game. Melbourne did fade last week after its opening blitz saw it go to a 44 point lead late in the second quarter and with four players returning from injury, this might be understandable The Roos will be coming into the game with the mindset that they can beat the Demons having prevailed earlier in the year on the MCG when despite losing the disposal count, clearances and contested possessions, they managed to prevail. However, back then they had Goldstein winning in the ruck and key forwards Ben Brown and Mason Wood booting eight goals between them. On Saturday, Goldstein and Wood will not be on the field and the cynics might also add that North is unlikely to be the beneficiary of a free kick count like the 22-10 that gave them the advantage of almost an extra player. Earlier this season they had a big victory over Adelaide when the windy conditions played havoc with the game at Blundstone Arena but they have also lost this year at the venue where they once reigned supreme with eight consecutive victories from 2013-16. The end of another winning run is now on the cards against the Demons who have been strong in the clearances and contested-possession rankings all season and, with so much at stake, I expect their long running series of losses to become yet another part of history for the club on Saturday night. Melbourne by 25 points.
  16. Earlier in the season, Melbourne was coming off its big victory in Adelaide and confidently chose an unchanged line up to break the long standing hoodoo. It didn't work at the MCG when the team had what Max Gawn (then injured) describes as a "sh--house' start". Really, this is one we simply can't afford to allow to get away. MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince C: Nathan Jones, Clayton Oliver, Tomas Bugg HF: Christian Petracca, Jack Watts, Mitch Hannan F: Jeff Garlett, Cameron Pedersen, Dom Tyson FOLL: Tom McDonald, Jordan Lewis, Jack Viney I/C: Dean Kent, Christian Salem, Josh Wagner, Sam Weideman EMG: Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen Billy Stretch NO CHANGE NORTH MELBOURNE B: Marley Williams, Robbie Tarrant, Ed Vickers-Willis HB: Aaron Mullett, Scott D Thompson, Jamie Macmillan C: Sam Gibson, Ben Cunnington, Mason Wood HF: Kayne Turner, Jarrad Waite, Luke McDonald F: Nathan Hrovat, Ben Brown, Shaun Higgins FOLL: Todd Goldstein, Jack Ziebell, Jed Anderson, Ryan Clarke I/C: Shaun Atley, Taylor Garner, Lachlan Hansen, Andrew Swallow, EMG: Sam Durdin, Declan Mountford, Braydon Preuss IN: Taylor Garner, Aaron Mullett, Andrew Swallow, Jarrad Waite OUT: Jed Anderson (foot) Trent Dumont (concussion), Sam Durdin (omitted), Jy Simpkin (AC Joint)
  17. Coming off yet another terribly deflating loss last week means yet another chance at redemption. Will this club finally draw a line in the sand? And this week we face our bogey side North who have dominated us for a decade. You could take that from a power club, but when its North owning you for so long its bloody frustrating. Last nights massive win by Casey means pressure for spots in the seniors is heating up with players such as Weideman, Hunt, Petracca, ANB. O Mac and Brayshaw are all knocking at the door of selection. Perform today or lose your spot in the team is the simple scenario for our players. Edit - WJ i know you usually make the game day thread, feel free to make the official one if you want and merge mine over, . Im just a minion
  18. Melbourne ends its week of humiliation on Sunday with a trip across Bass Strait for a game against a team it has not beaten since Methuselah played in the Under 9s. To make things worse, North Melbourne is riding high after two solid wins, carrying few injuries and playing at its home away from home. The Kangaroos are chock full of confidence but on top of that are unlikely to treat an opposition with the same disrespect that the Demons showed Essendon in their encounter last Saturday (and for that matter, when they met last year). Melbourne was caught napping against Essendon when its expected midfield dominance failed to eventuate despite the fact that big Max Gawn dominated the ruck duels. Despite this, the Bombers won the ball out of the clearances and were also given far too much latitude on the outside by an undisciplined unit. I can only suppose that the Demons believed their own publicity after earning kudos from a virtually unblemished pre season and a come from behind win in the season opener against the Giants - achieved through some discipline on the ground including a willingness by all and sundry to go down and get their hands dirty. Coach Paul Roos has a lot of thinking to do with regard to how he can get his charges back into the headspace they occupied up until the Bomber debacle. It won't be easy if you consider the game starts at the first bounce and the opposition midfield will be a much tougher proposition than the one that beat it comprehensively last week. And that is where the challenge begins and it does so on the shoulders of the tallest man in the team. When the teams met last year Todd Goldstein gave big Max Gawn a football lesson amassing 50 hit outs and nearly doubling him in the possession count. The differential was enormous and it reflected in the overall dominance of the Kangaroo midfield. If Gawn has pretensions to becoming a top of the range exponent of the art of ruck work then he needs to take some big scalps and none could be bigger than the man he faces this week. In order for the team to have a chance of winning, the midfield will have to take the ball away more often from the stoppages and when they do, they must hit targets. The task is not beyond them but much will depend on whether the team is shell shocked, whether it has the desire to turn things around and to get its hands dirty. For this assignment, North in Hobart will be a tough proposition and I'm therefore tipping them to win by 25 points. THE GAME: North Melbourne v Melbourne on Sunday 10 August, 2016 at Blundstone Arena at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD: Overall North Melbourne 78 wins Melbourne 83 wins 1 draw At Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins Last five times North Melbourne 5 wins Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Scott 3 wins Roos 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy 1pm RADIO - SEN, ABC THE BETTING North Melbourne to win $1.30 Melbourne to win $3.50 THE LAST TIME THEY MET North Melbourne 19.13.127 defeated Melbourne 14.8.92 at the MCG in Round 2015. North led by seven goals to two at the first break in a game that threatened to be a complete blowout but the Demons made a spirited comeback and by close to three quarter time threatened to snatch the lead. The Kangaroos steadied with a late goal to take a 10-point lead into the final break and ran out comfortable winners in the end. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B: M.Firrito R.Tarrant S.Wright HB: S.Atley S.Thompson L.McDonald C: N.Dal Santo D.Wells B.Jacobs HF: J.Ziebell J.Waite B.Harvey F: S.Higgins D.Petrie L.Thomas FOLL: T.Goldstein B.Cunnington A.Swallow I/C: B.Brown T.Garner S.Gibson J.Macmillan EMG: T.Dumont L.Hansen A.Mullett IN: S.Thompson OUT: L.Hansen MELBOURNE B: N.Jetta T.McDonald T.Bugg HB: M.Jones H.Lumumba C.Salem C: B.Vince D.Tyson J.Harmes HF: J.Watts A.Vandenberg B.Kennedy F: D.Kent J.Hogan J.Garlett FOLL: M.Gawn N.Jones J.Viney I/C: C.Oliver L.Dunn S.Frost B.Stretch EMG: J.Grimes C.Pedersen J.Wagner IN: L.Dunn S.Frost B.Stretch OUT: A.Brayshaw C.Garland C. Pedersen
  19. The Demons acquitted themselves well but only after a slow start forced them to play catch up football for most of the game and gave the Kangaroos the upper hand. MELBOURNE B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta HB: Daniel Cross, Tom McDonald, Jeremy Howe C: Jack Grimes, Dom Tyson, Heritier Lumumba HF: Angus Brayshaw, Chris Dawes, Bernie Vince F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts FOLL: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C (from): James Harmes, Matt Jones, Viv Michie, Alex Neal-Bullen EMG: Mark Jamar, Ben Newton, Billy Stretch IN: Matt Jones OUT: Aaron vandenBerg (ankle) NORTH MELBOURNE B: Sam Wright, Robbie Tarrant, Lachlan Hansen HB: Nick Dal Santo, Scott Thompson, Ben Jacobs C: Shaun Higgins, Jack Ziebell, Shaun Atley HF: Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Taylor Garner F: Ben Brown, Jarrad Waite, Lindsay Thomas FOLL: Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Andrew Swallow I/C: Sam Gibson, Luke McDonald, Aaron Mullett, Robin Nahas EMG: Majak Daw, Kayne Turner, Max Warren IN: Lachlan Hansen, Aaron Mullett, Robin Nahas OUT: Ryan Bastinac (omitted), Michael Firrito (suspended), Kayne Turner (omitted)
  20. The sign above the crowd (if that is what you call the gathering in attendance at Etihad) proudly advertised dog food. And it certainly was a dog's breakfast for football fans, and one of undesirable records for the Demons. The irony of watching Brad Scott thanking the Kangaroos' supposed 40K members surely would have been lost on the lousy 17K Melbourne and North supporters who bothered to turn up to watch the game (it would also cause you to envisage how many Melbourne supporters would have turned up to watch their team if they were playing in the finals next week). Something tells me that the Roos are heavily into creative accounting ... Anyway, back to the game: In the first quarter North had three goals on the board, before Melbourne even got the ball into its forward half, let alone into the 50m arc. But the Demons mounted some sort of comeback and had leveled the score at the first bell ... Good signs? Well the second quarter was much the same, except that Melbourne shot to a 13 point lead early, only to be overtaken by North later in the term and the scores at half time remained locked at 53 all ... more good signs? Well it all went for a pile of Werribee deposit in the third (yet again) as North piled on 5 goals to the Demons solitary 6 pointer ... Game over. The final quarter for the year saw Nathan Jones and no doubt the coach reminding players that this was it for 2014; just another 25 odd minutes, so give it your all. In what has become familiar to Demon supporters, the players responded by allowing North to kick the first two goals within two minutes ... thanks again fellas! While the Demons kicked five for the quarter, it was all too late. Even Tom McDonald scored a pair which brought his all time tally to ... two goals! Still not bad considering he was playing in the backline. If he could only kick as straight while playing down there ... The next challenge was to get to 100 points, but opportunities were squandered again and again, with a 93 point score still being the best output for the season, but still miserable by any measure. Its entirely possible that we did contribute more than 100 in this game, as a sizable proportion of the North goals came from absolute howlers from the Melbourne players. Until we have players on the field who can kick straight or just kick, then we will see more of the same. But that wasnt the only record to be broken or extended or worse still created on the night: 1. Melbourne went through the 2014 season without winning a single home game; 2. The Demons failed to kick 100 points in any game in 2014; 3. They have never won at this stadium since it was re-named Etihad; 4. It is 8 years since they have beaten North at any venue; 5. Thirteen successive losses to North and an 8-0 score line at Ethihad; and 6. Nine straight losses for the Demons to finish the season ... what is the argument against a priority pick because Im really having difficulty finding one. Once again the stats sheet represented the best of our players. Along with Nathan Jones ( as usual) we find Dom Tyson, Daniel Cross and Bernie Vince holding down the possession numbers. It is a sad indictment to the rest of the side that these three players were not at the club last year. Three imports can have more effect on a game than the rest who have been here for a long time. Paul Roos has been able to up the output and improve the likes of Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta and Cam Pedersen, but others such as James Frawley, Jack Watts and now Jeremy Howe have taken the "disinterested pills" and may find themselves in other colours next year. None will be missed as they have not contributed in any meaningful way this season. And next season already looks like starting badly. Dawes will surely catch the unfavourable attention of the MRP with an elbow to the head of Swallow, and Max Gawn went down early in the game with yet another knee injury. With such a portentious start to 2015, we could be in for more dog's breakfast games ahead, and the potential to set some new records for underperformance. Unless we can start using the bean-counters at North to massage the numbers in the same way as they have done with their membership! Melbourne 4.3.27 8.5.53 9.7.61 14.9.93 North Melbourne 4.3.27 8.5.53 13.9.87 19.9.123 Goals Melbourne Kent 3 Dawes Fitzpatrick McDonald Tyson 2 Dunn Jamar Vince North Melbourne Turner 4 Brown Wood 3 Ziebell 2 Adams Atley Bastinac Currie Dal Santo Mullett Petrie Best Melbourne Tyson, Jones Dawes Cross McDonald Kent North Melbourne Turner, Swallow Petrie Brown Atley Thompson Changes Melbourne Christian Salem (ill) replaced in the selected side by Dom Barry North Melbourne Nil Injuries Melbourne Gawn (knee) North Melbourne Grima (quad) Hansen (hip) Adams (concussion) Reports Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Umpires Justin Schmitt Jordan Bannister Brendan Hosking Crowd 17,174 at Etihad Stadium
  21. THE RECORD BREAKING DOG'S BREAKFAST ... by George on the Outer The sign above the crowd (if that is what you call the gathering in attendance at Etihad) proudly advertised dog food. And it certainly was a dog's breakfast for football fans, and one of undesirable records for the Demons. The irony of watching Brad Scott thanking the Kangaroos' supposed 40K members surely would have been lost on the lousy 17K Melbourne and North supporters who bothered to turn up to watch the game (it would also cause you to envisage how many Melbourne supporters would have turned up to watch their team if they were playing in the finals next week). Something tells me that the Roos are heavily into creative accounting ... Anyway, back to the game: In the first quarter North had three goals on the board, before Melbourne even got the ball into its forward half, let alone into the 50m arc. But the Demons mounted some sort of comeback and had leveled the score at the first bell ... Good signs? Well the second quarter was much the same, except that Melbourne shot to a 13 point lead early, only to be overtaken by North later in the term and the scores at half time remained locked at 53 all ... more good signs? Well it all went for a pile of Werribee deposit in the third (yet again) as North piled on 5 goals to the Demons solitary 6 pointer ... Game over. The final quarter for the year saw Nathan Jones and no doubt the coach reminding players that this was it for 2014; just another 25 odd minutes, so give it your all. In what has become familiar to Demon supporters, the players responded by allowing North to kick the first two goals within two minutes ... thanks again fellas! While the Demons kicked five for the quarter, it was all too late. Even Tom McDonald scored a pair which brought his all time tally to ... two goals! Still not bad considering he was playing in the backline. If he could only kick as straight while playing down there ... The next challenge was to get to 100 points, but opportunities were squandered again and again, with a 93 point score still being the best output for the season, but still miserable by any measure. Its entirely possible that we did contribute more than 100 in this game, as a sizable proportion of the North goals came from absolute howlers from the Melbourne players. Until we have players on the field who can kick straight or just kick, then we will see more of the same. But that wasnt the only record to be broken or extended or worse still created on the night: 1. Melbourne went through the 2014 season without winning a single home game; 2. The Demons failed to kick 100 points in any game in 2014; 3. They have never won at this stadium since it was re-named Etihad; 4. It is 8 years since they have beaten North at any venue; 5. Thirteen successive losses to North and an 8-0 score line at Ethihad; and 6. Nine straight losses for the Demons to finish the season ... what is the argument against a priority pick because Im really having difficulty finding one. Once again the stats sheet represented the best of our players. Along with Nathan Jones ( as usual) we find Dom Tyson, Daniel Cross and Bernie Vince holding down the possession numbers. It is a sad indictment to the rest of the side that these three players were not at the club last year. Three imports can have more effect on a game than the rest who have been here for a long time. Paul Roos has been able to up the output and improve the likes of Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta and Cam Pedersen, but others such as James Frawley, Jack Watts and now Jeremy Howe have taken the "disinterested pills" and may find themselves in other colours next year. None will be missed as they have not contributed in any meaningful way this season. And next season already looks like starting badly. Dawes will surely catch the unfavourable attention of the MRP with an elbow to the head of Swallow, and Max Gawn went down early in the game with yet another knee injury. With such a portentious start to 2015, we could be in for more dog's breakfast games ahead, and the potential to set some new records for underperformance. Unless we can start using the bean-counters at North to massage the numbers in the same way as they have done with their membership! Melbourne 4.3.27 8.5.53 9.7.61 14.9.93 North Melbourne 4.3.27 8.5.53 13.9.87 19.9.123 Goals Melbourne Kent 3 Dawes Fitzpatrick McDonald Tyson 2 Dunn Jamar Vince North Melbourne Turner 4 Brown Wood 3 Ziebell 2 Adams Atley Bastinac Currie Dal Santo Mullett Petrie Best Melbourne Tyson, Jones Dawes Cross McDonald Kent North Melbourne Turner, Swallow Petrie Brown Atley Thompson Changes Melbourne Christian Salem (ill) replaced in the selected side by Dom Barry North Melbourne Nil Injuries Melbourne Gawn (knee) North Melbourne Grima (quad) Hansen (hip) Adams (concussion) Reports Melbourne Nil North Melbourne Nil Umpires Justin Schmitt Jordan Bannister Brendan Hosking Crowd 17,174 at Etihad Stadium
  22. Your votes please ... The winner will be announced on the morning of "Bluey" night.
  23. North Melbourne has indicated its contempt for our team by resting five players for the finals. This is the first time in many years that I won't be going to a final round game in my home state. Won't even be watching it on television. I have something else on but my message to the AFL is that if you don't treat equalisation more seriously and do nothing other than support the stronger clubs then you will end up with fixtures that attract neither crowds nor viewers.
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