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  1. PLAYING TEAMS INTO FORM by The Oracle Melbourne has made it a habit of late to play its opponents into form. The Brisbane Lions are a case in point. I watched most of their game last week against North Melbourne and they were pathetic. They looked sluggish, ran to the wrong places when they did run and were outplayed by superior opposition. By a strange quirk of the draw they sit ahead of the Kangaroos on the AFL ladder today but I doubt whether that will last. But enough of that game. Back home at the Gabba they weathered Melbourne's efforts in the first quarter when the teams were on equal terms at the first break and were only a goal in front by half time but they were never going to lose. By then, it was clear that they had worked their way back into form by a team that simply appeared unable or unwilling enough to put in the hard work and the hard yards necessary to get on top in a game. Brisbane was leading the game significantly in most of the key indicators and in particular the disposal count where it was led by former Demon best and fairest Brent Moloney who put into the game significantly more effort than he had appeared to do at any time under coach Mark Neeld last year when he was at Melbourne. At least he was able to momentarily recapture the old combination of the Russian tapping the ball to Beamer in the middle although it wasn't to the effect intended back in the good old days when they dominated every second week. With Nathan Jones pretty well covered in the midfield, Melbourne struggled while the Lions prospered even without Simon Black and Daniel Rich. When things are going bad, they really go bad and things went pear shaped in the third quarter when the Lions inevitably got on top and the hapless Demons committed coach killing errors to let the home side effortlessly stride to a five goal buffer which they kept to the end. The sad part from my point of view is that, although the mature age newcomers like Matt Jones and Dean Terlich are being persevered with and doing well, there seems to be little improvement from the early twenty somethings and not much of an inclination to go with a youth policy. Injuries to Clark and Dawes don't help either as the club lurches into a never land of long term failure to improve. Melbourne 5.3.33 7.5.47 10.7.67 14.10.94 Brisbane 5.3.33 7.11.53 13.14.92 17.20.122 Goals Melbourne Gawn Howe Watts 2 Bail Davey Jamar Jones McKenzie Pedersen Rodan Tapscott Brisbane Brown Leuenberger Zorko 3 Cornelius 2 Adcock Bewick Paparone Polkinghorne Redden Rockliff Best MelbourneB yrnes Sylvia Terlich Watts Garland Gawn Brisbane Moloney Mayes Polkinghorne Leuenberger Zorko Rockliff Injuries Melbourne Nil Brisbane Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Brisbane Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Brisbane Polkinghorne (Brisbane) for tripping Byrnes in the second quarter Umpires McBurney Leppard Bannister Crowd 19,018 at Gabba
  2. At the end of a week in which we were duly reminded of the paramount importance of winning matches, Melbourne surprised nobody by posting losses against North Melbourne and Richmond to open their 2013 NAB Cup campaign. The Demons trailled for most of both games in steamy conditions at Etihad Stadium, came close to beating the Kangaroos in the opener and then succumbed to fatigue, injury and the faster and stronger Tigers in the second. While coach Mark Neeld summed it up saying, "we were pretty good, we were fairly pleased, the hit out against two of the league's middle of the road sides demonstrated that there's still a long way to go for his struggling side but at least, they're on the right track. There were eleven new faces on show for Melbourne so it would have been fanciful to expect them to dominate against more experienced opposition but there were many good signs, in particular the form of the youngsters, Jack Viney, Jimmy Toumpas, Dean Kent and recently turned 18 Jesse Hogan who is just too good to be cooling his heels with the Casey Scorpions which is exactly where he will be this year because of his GWS mini draftee status. The more mature bodied Chris Dawes, Shannon Byrnes, David Rodan, Cameron Pedersen and Tom Gillies all showed a bit in their cameos, so it was a big night for their club even if it didn't bring home the non-existent four points. After all (and I'm really loathe to use the word in any context related to the AFL) the evening was all about "experimenting", the most successful one being the continuation of the use of former number one draft pick Jack Watts in defence. He's bigger and stronger this year, has silky skills and disposal, a little more aggression and smarter. Jack was good value in both games, kicked a couple of goals and showed that he has grown into his role. The problem with the team's defensive set up was that it was too top heavy on the night and was short of at least one medium defender. I'm not sure why James Strauss didn't line up in any of the games but his presence and his accurate kicking would have been useful. In any event, this is one area where a little fine tuning should see great improvement over last year. The same could be said of the forward line which looked a bit cluttered and top heavy early on giving the Kangaroos' defence many chances to clear and making it difficult to capitalise on scoring opportunities. Their defenders benefited from some glaring umpire eyesight issues in the early stages but that can be put down to the time of year. In the second game, without Dawes who had presented well, Hogan playing further afield and Pedersen rucking after Spencer went off, the forwards fell by the wayside. Jeremy Howe led well and looked good and this division will be greatly enhanced when Mitch Clark finally returns from injury. Oh, and the search continues for a dangerous crumbing forward. The bane of our existence has for some time been the third world midfield and, on last night, it will continue to be so for a while yet. The Dees were well beaten at the stoppages in the opener as they struggled to win clearances but that had to be expected with so much inexperience in this division. Nathan Jones was the best in this area, David Rodan added bite and Toumpas and Viney will definitely play a role in the club's revival of fortunes. Jordie McKenzie was strong with his tackling but a liability with his poor footskills while skipper Jack Grimes was a bit subdued. The team lost a bit when Sam Blease who had been showing some zip and movement between the lines went off with an ankle injury. Later in the evening, injuries cruelled the Demons who were limited in the ruck after Jake Spencer and James Frawley left the field. The triple header system works against teams playing second in hot conditions and the Demons never looked like winning against the Tigers who had a more energy and cohesion. To Melbourne's credit, it fought the game out well and outscored both of its opponents in the second half of their games and but for the scoring system that only applies in the NAB Cup would have ended up square for the night. While that is no compensation for some, I don't think anyone other than the rottweiler who poses as the chief football writer of a local rag could say that Melbourne didn't play the game on its merits even if there was a fair bit of experimentation going on. Melbourne North Melbourne Goals Howe 2 Hogan Kent Watts Best Jones Howe Hogan Melbourne Richmond Goals Toumpas Watts Best Jones Toumpas Watts
  3. YOU CAN'T WIN THEM ALL by The Oracle The mantra concerning the Melbourne Football Club has, since the start of the season been midfield, midfield and more midfield. From the time Simon Black and his cohorts from the Lions sliced open the Demons in the middle of the MCG in Round 1, it's been the same story. Opposition midfields simply have more run, greater smarts and are prepared to work so much harder than their one- dimensional counterparts at Melbourne. The result on Queens Birthday Monday was that Collingwood iced the game in the opening minutes by going bang, bang, bang out of the middle and before the midpoint of the opening term they had a four goal plus lead. Thirty minutes later and into the second term, the Pies had eight on the board, the Dees were still goalless and the smell of 186 was starting to permeate through the nostrils. To its credit, Melbourne managed to regroup and almost work its way back into the contest, kicking three on end before the half time break and moving back to within four goals at stages within the third quarter. Things were not helped by the odd self-inflicted gaffe. Turnovers which lead to easy opposition goals can be heartbreaking but the team persisted and refused to wilt. Faced with a similar picture in 2011, Melbourne sank into the oblivion of a near 15 goal defeat but, at least this time it showed some resistance even after the Collingwood midfield opened the last quarter by going bang, bang, bang again and converting a slightly worrisome 26 point differential into a seven goal lead in the space of less than three minutes, a position which it maintained through the shoot out that ensued for the rest of the game. Collingwood kicked nine straight goals in the final term to record an easy 42–point win. Given that they booted the first eight and were so accurate at the end, the result could have been so much worse for Melbourne whose first half record of 1/10 has been positively underwhelming. The midfield statistics told the story. Collingwood, even without Scott Pendelbury had Dane Swan, returning after two weeks from a hamstring injury, with 42 disposals, eight marks and two goals. I got the impression that during his layoff he might not have showered because the Melbourne players weren't too keen on getting anywhere near him and particularly not between him and the leather. Dayne Beams was almost as prolific with 37 touches, Steele Sidebottom was close behind with 36 possessions and Jarryd Blair had 27 with two goals thrown in for good measure. Melbourne's best midfielder, as usual, was Nathan Jones with 30 and it fell away badly from there. Only Jack Grimes with 25 managed to surpass the 20 possession mark. Jeremy Howe continues to improve in leaps and bounds with his strong marking and two goals a feature for Demon fans. Mitch Clark was dangerous with four goals up forward but there was simply too little in the way of forward line support even though the team notched up its highest score for the season. Nathan Jones (30) and Jack Grimes (25) led the way in terms of possessions, but on the whole it was another pretty disappointing day for Melbourne. Tactically, nothing much that Mark Neeld tried actually worked. Having a couple of men behind the ball seemed counter productive. Of course, if your skills are well behind those of your opponents then you're always going to struggle, especially if the minds of some are weak and tired as well. With half the season gone and no chance of any finals action, it's inevitable that Neeld is going to have to look more and more to the future in the rounds to come. Some of those who lowered their colours badly in this game might never be seen again in Demon colours because whilst it's true that you can't win them all, it's also true that if you can hardly win at all with what you've got, then it's time to ring in the changes. There are some young kids performing impressively at the Casey Scorpions. Some play in the middle and some in key positions. Their time is coming. Melbourne 0.4.4 3.4.22 7.7.49 13.9.87 Collingwood 6.3.39 8.9.57 10.15.75 19.15.129 Goals Melbourne Clark 4 Dunn Howe 2 Blease Magner Rivers Sylvia Trengove Collingwood Sinclair 3 Blair Cloke Fasolo Goldsack Jolly Swan Wellingham 2 Beams Sidebottom Best Melbourne Howe, Grimes, Clark, Jones, McKenzie Collingwood Swan, Beams, Sidebottom, Blair, Bellingham, Goldsack Injuries Melbourne Nil Collingwood Didak (groin) Young (ribs) Changes Melbourne Nil Collingwood Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Collingwood Nil Umpires Stevic Nicholls Bannister Crowd 64,250 at the MCG
  4. A BIT OF A MYSTERY by Mean Gene The game's over and it's 0 and 9 ... but it was still a bit of a mystery how it ended so badly. For three quarters they actually put up a fight and, but for the circumstance of their lack of experience and their low levels of self-confidence, they might have been even closer than 16 points in arrears at the final break. At that time, the Demons had gone a long way to dispelling many of the accusations fired over recent weeks at the entire club from the top down and certainly at the playing group. They opened up with the game's first two goals and three of the first four but after that, only three of seventeen and they finished with none of seven in the final term. They led by a point at quarter time, having gifted two away with some poor disposal out of defence (an umpire gifted the other one). In much the same way as they did against Hawthorn a fortnight ago, they wasted their hard work in a few minutes early in the second quarter when they conceded three goals to the Blues. However, this time they would put up a much better fight and they held steady in the second half of the term. Indeed, a little bit more class in the on ball division and some better efficiency up forward might have seen them a lot closer at the main break. The main problem was that they were being whacked at the stoppages but, at least there were some shining lights. James Frawley and Jared Rivers were holding things down in the backline and Jack Grimes was doing well. Rohan Bail, Sam Blease and Dan Nicholson all added some pace to the mix - a feature that has been missing at Melbourne for so long. Mitch Clark was scoring goals (he could so easily have had five by half time) and Nathan Jones added a touch of hardness along with Jordie McKenzie who was doing a good job in blanketing Chris Judd. The dour struggle continued in the third and they again had their chances. At one stage late in the term, the inside 50 count was even but Carlton still managed an almost three goal buffer at the last change. In days gone past we might have even sensed the possibility of an upset in the offing but the troops looked a little tired as they went into the huddle. So it was that the day was marred by a final quarter when they capitulated. Despite that, they finished with a mysterious and interesting statistic of having had the ball in their forward half for 52% of the game. And considering that the club was supposed to have acquired the cream of football's sports scientists at the end of last season, it's a mystery how the team fades out so badly at the end of games. Melbourne 3.4.22 5.7.37 6.10.46 6.13.49 Carlton 3.3.21 7.8.50 8.14.62 15.17.107 Goals Melbourne Clark 3 Blease Howe Jones Carlton Betts 5 Robinson 3 Hampson Walker 2 Armfield Kreuzer Tuohy Best Melbourne Jones Frawley Watts Bail Blease Clark McKenzie Carlton Robinson McLean Betts Walker Scotland Curnow Injuries Melbourne Green (bruised lung) Carlton Collins (jarred knee) Changes Melbourne Bartram (knee) replaced in selected side by Tapscott Carlton Yarran (toe) replaced in selected side by Lucas Henderson (hip) replaced in selected side by Bower Reports Melbourne Nil Carlton Nil Umpires Ryan Nicholls Fleer Crowd 28,371 at MCG
  5. ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT? by The Oracle That was miserable. Melbourne waved the white flag in the first quarter and, apart from a handfull of triers, the rabble that travelled to Sydney humiliated the oldest football club on the planet with a heartless, soulless effort. One has to wonder what most of them were doing out there because it didn't resemble the game being played by the opposition. If they keep playing like that, the supporters will stop coming and they'll have to ask the doorkeeper the question from the title of this short article. Short, because there really is nothing worthwhile to write about. Melbourne 0.3.3 1.5.11 2.7.19 5.7.37 Sydney 7.1.43 11.4.70 16.9.105 21.12 138 Goals Melbourne Jones 2 Bennell Green Sylvia Sydney Jack Jetta Kennedy Parker 3 Dennis-Lane McGlynn Walsh 2 Mattner O'Keefe, Reid Best Melbourne Blease Watts Jones Garland Grimes Frawley Sydney Jack O'Keefe Parker Jetta Kennedy Parker Injuries Melbourne Jones (sore) Jurrah (leg) Sydney Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Sydney Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Sydney Nil Umpires Nicholls, Hosking, Kamolins Crowd 20,818 at SCG
  6. A TALE OF TWO GAMES by Whispering Jack This was a game that, for the Melbourne Football Club, was always going to be twinned with the one that came before it some 280 days ago. You know, the game known simply as "186" played on 30 July, 2011. For the story behind that game, I refer you to this Age article written by Caroline Wilson - Date with disaster. But that date with disaster is well past the club. It has moved on and, despite the fact that the result of the latest game was yet another disappointing result in which the team was overwhelmed by the reigning premier, there was a different feeling about the loss. In some respects, the losing margin of 43 points flattered Melbourne as much as last year's 186 flattered Geelong and this year's Geelong is not the same, but it was the knowledge that the effort was there and that the team can get so much better in time that provided cause for hope. Last year's 186 catastrophe was preceded by a calamity of barely less proportion when the Demons' fourth placed alignment partner, the Casey Scorpions tumbled to a 128 thrashing at the hands of the lower Geelong reserves in the curtain raiser. This time around, it was the turn of the second placed Cats to go down by 46 points in what was a major upset. More importantly, and despite serious injuries to a couple of promising youngsters, there was enough young talent on display to suggest, despite the gloom and doom spelt out by an 0-6 record at this stage, that there was improvement to come - at least in the second half of this season. So to the main game and I doubt that anyone would have expected the Demons to be within a goal of the hosts at the first change. It wasn't that they played so well with the first use of the breeze (and they were lucky with the Cats' inaccuracy) but there were enough contributors plugging away to keep them in the game. The likes of Mitch Clark and James Frawley, key players at opposite ends of the ground missing from last week's near loss to St. Kilda were making a difference. Mark Jamar was winning the ruck battles (even if his onballers were being outclassed) and co-captain Jack Grimes were all doing well. Nathan Jones was continuing his good form for the season. Statistically, the bulk of Geelong's winning margin was attained in the second term when it put on a masterclass of how to dominate on this particular ground. You need the team to be well organised and well structured with players having the experience and the instinctiveness to know where to put the ball next. Mix that with the skills that give you a disposal efficiency rating in excess of 80% against your opponent's rating of under 60. Last year, that would have given Geelong a seven or eight goal break in a single quarter (and it did). This year, the dominance was restricted - even in Melbourne's worst quarter for the day - to 23 points. This was mainly due to the fact that the Demons were able to match their opponents for the whole day in one statistic - winning contested possessions. That is the area in which the team has languished so badly in past seasons against the competition's stronger teams. Precisely, what new coach Mark Neeld has stressed would ultimately distinguish the Melbourne of the past (186) era from that of the future. We saw signs of that from the massive efforts of Clark, Nathan Jones and the rapidly improving Jeremy Howe and Tom McDonald. Call me an optimist, and I know that the Cats were nowhere near last year's near world record pace. The teams had 14 shots at goal apiece in the second half - something that we could only dream about in a Geelong game at Simonds Stadium 280 days ago. I see this as a definite sign of improvement. In the final analysis, Geelong had way too much class, particularly in the midfield where the Cats simply had too much talent and too much run for their Demon counterparts. But there are players at Casey who will push for inclusion in the coming weeks and if you add some of those youngsters to Jurrah and Watts (in time) and allow others like Colin Sylvia to regain some touch after his injury, we will definitely see more and more improvement. My final gauge of inspiring thought resulting by way of contrast with that other game for the past is in the turnaround in the combined win/loss margins from 2011 to 2012 for Melbourne and its alignment partner. It's not a world shattering statistic but last year's - 314 was turned in the space of nine months into + 3 by virtue of Casey's 46 point win. Statistics can and do lie and yesterday wasn't much to write about but the lesson of the tale of two games is that there is a light there at the end of the long tunnel in which we're travelling. Melbourne 3.0.18 6.1.37 10.5.65 11.10.76 Geelong 3.5.23 9.11.65 15.14.104 17.17.119 Goals Melbourne Melbourne Clark 4 Bate Jones 2 Davey Dunn Howe Geelong Chapman Johnson Podsiadly 3 Bartel Mackie 2 Hawkins Kelly Motlop Stringer Best Melbourne Clark Grimes McDonald Howe Jones Moloney Geelong Johnson Corey Enright Duncan Podsiadly Scarlett Injuries Melbourne Grimes (ankle) Geelong Bartel (ankle) Changes Melbourne Nil Geelong Lonergan (ankle) replaced in selected side by Gillies, Selwood (concussion) replaced in selected side by Byrnes Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Wenn Bannister Fleer Crowd 18,010 at Simonds Stadium
  7. THE SPIRIT WAS THERE, BUT ... by The Oracle For once, things were going well for the Melbourne Football Club. A major announcement was made at the President's luncheon - another sponsorship (German car manufacturer Opel) to help fill the retinue of sponsors after Webjet and Hertz jumped on board to more than fill the void left by the dismissal of a previously disgraced company which apparently still owes the club money. Then, a moving tribute to the legendary Jim Stynes so that when it was over the majority crowd of Demon fans was thirsting for not just a better performance from their team but a win. Only a victory could do justice for this day. There was one man who typified Melbourne on the day and fittingly, he wore the number of the crowd's hero for the day. Big, strong and solid at full forward Mitch Clark marked and goaled for the Demons but he was also part of a procession of players whose shots at goal from straight in front missed their mark. You don't expect Clark, Jeremy Howe and Jack Watts to all miss from dead in front. At the other end, the Western Bulldogs made the most of the opportunities that presented themselves. A couple of snaps from angles, a gimme free and lo and behold, they led at the first break by nine points even though they had one shot less. It's useless to bemoan bad fortune when you fail in the game's most fundamental of skills but, when the final result is a 21-point defeat, then the poor conversion rate really hurts. The trend really did continue throughout the game although when the team momentarily straightened up for a few third quarter goals, the difference in conversion was no more pronounced. Melbourne had inched its way back to trail by a solitary point and the scoreboard read - Melbourne 7.10.52 to Western Bulldogs 8.5.53. The Dogs steadied at that point - thanks to errors committed by both Demon players, some inexperienced umpiring and some great snap shots at goal. It all came back to haunt Melbourne late in the third term and it could have been much worse when Mitch Clark crashed to the earth neck first. Fortunately, he must have had Jimmy and those magnificent recuperative powers smiling down on him because, to the relief and amazement of the crowd, he got up, walked off the ground and was later cleared after scans taken in hospital. This was the epitome of what generations of Demon fans had come to know as the Stynes spirit but the current number 11 was still subbed off and the team's balance was awry for the remainder of the game. The spirit might have been there but it was not enough. The Dogs managed enough successful snaps at goal to make it their day while misses from Colin Garland and Lynden Dunn in the middle of the final term put paid to any chances of a late game resurgence. But it wasn't just the poor conversion rate in front of goal that proved damaging for the Demons. They were at times painfully excruciating to watch as they botched up straight forward kicks and handballs, often gifting away possession to the opposition and sometimes when not under the slightest amount of pressure. These gifts were enough to allow the Western Bulldogs their maiden victory. At least there was a turnaround in effort which was maintained for close on the full four quarters and with a few handy players due to return from injury and suspension, perhaps things might continue to improve for the otherwise hapless Demons. Melbourne 1.5.11 3.8.26 7.10.52 9.13.67 Western Bulldogs 3.2.20 6.5.41 10.7.67 13.10.88 Goals Melbourne Bate Davey 2 Bail Clark Moloney Morton Watts Western Bulldogs Cooney Giansiracusa Grant 2 Dahlhaus Djerrkura Griffen Jones Roughead Sherman Wallis Best Melbourne Rivers Bate Moloney Jone Magner Jamar Western Bulldogs Dahlhaus Murphy Cooney Cross, Wallis Djerrkura Injuries Melbourne Mitch Clark (head/neck) Western Bulldogs Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Umpires Wenn Bannister and some other joker Crowd 33,565 at MCG
  8. DERAILED by Whispering Jack There's a certain sameness creeping into Melbourne's 2012 campaign. It starts with the team striving hard but playing patchy football punctuated by some glaring mistakes for one and a half quarters. Then the wheels fall off for the next one and a half quarters so that by three quarter time, we've all given up the ghost and might as well head homewards because the game's over. And when it's really over the statistics tell a lamentable tale. The Tigers ran all over the Demons from the midpoint of term two when the scoreboard had Melbourne up by a goal. This was the pivotal time in the game when the Richmond midfield really took over, lifted a notch and ran over a soft languid opposition. Whereas hitherto the Demons were in the game despite multiple skill and decision-making errors, suddenly it was the superiority of the Tiger on ball division that allowed them to change the dynamics of the game and to turn it into a one horse race. Melbourne looked a spent force and played that way until the final siren sounded to end another tragic day's play. The statistics that mattered overwhelmingly favoured Richmond which led disposals 427-268, inside 50's by 65-30 and tackles 75-53. Melbourne came close in contested ball but the remaining statistics indicate deep seated problems in the way the team is structured and that virtually nothing is being done during game day when the wheels start falling off to turn the game back into the team's favour. That happened predictably at the mid point of the second quarter when the Richmond midfield simply took over and ran their Melbourne counterparts off their feet. I have been watching the midfields of the other clubs in various matches over the early rounds and even the new franchises are already superior to that which is being presented by the Demons which is nothing short of shambolic. Even in the days of tanking, things were not so bad there and, unless some run can be introduced to help Nathan Jones, things will only get worse. It's a major worry that the club's season has effectively been derailed after just three rounds. I have nothing more to add. Melbourne 2.3.15 5.6.36 6.6.42 11.8.74 Richmond 4.4.28 6.8.44 15.11.101 20.13.133 Goals Melbourne Clark Dunn Howe Trengove 2 Jones Sellar Watts Richmond Cotchin Miller 3 Conca Deledio Nahas 2 Grigg Houli Jackson I Maric Martin Riewoldt Tuck Vickery Best Melbourne Howe Frawley Jones Watts Richmond Grigg Tuck Conca Foley Nahas Cotchin Injuries Melbourne Jack Grimes (concussion) Richmond Nil Changes Melbourne Nil Richmond Nil Reports Melbourne Jack Grimes for rough conduct on Daniel Jackson Richmond Nil Umpires Schmitt Armstrong Mitchell Crowd 49,826 at the MCG
  9. DARKNESS COMES EARLY by Mean Gene Earth Hour came early for Demon fans on Saturday when the club was plunged into darkness a good 5½ hours earlier than the official time planned for the environmentally symbolic annual event. It all happened within minutes of the start of the third quarter that the Melbourne Football Club simply switched off against the Brisbane Lions after an even first half in which the game ebbed and flowed until the visitors grabbed a four point lead at the main break. When the lights went off at the MCG for the Demons there was nothing they could do to save themselves. There was no emotion in the way they played despite the fact that they should have been celebrating a lost comrade's departure from the earth. Indeed, it seemed that Brisbane's Irishman Pierce Hanley seemed more emotionally attached to the day than any Melbourne player after he pumped his fists towards the heavens when he booted a long goal from outside fifty. To be sure, the Demons are employing a new and different game plan but the result was no different to some of the worst rubbish they served up last year. It was hard to work out just how the plan was supposed to operate especially when the team was beaten comprehensively in the ruck by Ben Hudson and mauled by the likes of Black, Rich, Adcock and co at stoppages. When they got the ball the gist of it was that you bombed the ball long and high into the forward line hoping someone would take a mark (but it hardly ever happened) or that someone would crumb the ball (but it never happened). Brisbane was able to run and run without much challenge and with far more desperation and determination, greater skills and with purpose. Melbourne looked slow because it was slow. It was an indictment on the team that only first gamer James Magner could hold his head up high after the rest of his teammates produced such an insipid performance. That standard was matched by a coach's box that seemed to have no answers and didn't appear to be interested in cutting off the opposition strengths such as veteran midfielder Simon Black who dominated around the packs. His younger opponents looked so tired and jaded that they didn't even have the strength to blow out a candle. Melbourne 3.3.21 7.4.46 8.8.56 11.12.78 Brisbane Lions 1.4.10 7.8.50 13.13.91 17.17.119 Goals Melbourne Clark Howe Magner 2 Davey Green Martin Trengove Watts Brisbane Lions Banfield Polkinghorne Rockliff 3 Hanley Merrett 2 Adock Leuenberger McGrath Sheldon Best MelbourneMagner, Trengove, Watts, Frawley, Howe, Jones Brisbane Lions Black Rich Hanley Rockliff Adcock McGrath Substitutes Melbourne Sam Blease replaced by Matthew Bate at three-quarter time Brisbane Lions Rohan Bewick replaced by Sam Sheldon at three-quarter time Injuries Melbourne Magner (ankle) Brisbane Lions Nil Reports Melbourne Clint Bartram for executing a completely innocuous sling tackle (please don't get me started). Brisbane Lions Nil Umpires Dalgleish, Leppard, Grun Official crowd 33,473 at MCG
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