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  1. THE DROUGHT IS OVER by George on the Outer What does a first game coach do when he finds his team down by four goals at quarter time at a hoodoo ground against a team it hasn't beaten in ten years after losing a backman to a shoulder injury and having an already depleted defence? Whatever it was that Simon Goodwin did or said at the quarter time break it was a different Melbourne side that came out following that first break. Maybe, it was the superior fitness of the Demons who seemed to have much more run in their legs in the hot, humid conditions inside Etihad Stadium (and why was the roof closed?) or maybe the new coach had learned a wealth of lessons from his mentor in Paul Roos and was now ready and up to the task on his first up assignment? Whatever it was, from the time when the second term began, it was the Demons who controlled the game and the Saints were no longer toying with their young opposition side. It was either a case of the Saints fluffing their interchanges or the Demons being much smarter but their only true ruck was in Hickey was hardly given a break in the first half. On the other hand, when Max Gawn went off for a rest and some attention to his back, Jack Watts took him on and remarkably more than held his own. By half time, Hickey was completely shot, and could barely raise a trot when he finally had to take a breather. That the Saints left Bruce, their backup ruck, sitting on the bench for just as equally long periods was baffling. Melbourne took advantage of St Kilda's failings and exploited them in the second quarter with the team stepping up a gear. The four goal deficit was wiped out in just eight minutes, and then the Demons piled on 11 goals to one in the second and third quarters to put the game beyond doubt. What was particularly heartening for the Demon faithful were the performances of Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Jayden Hunt and newbie Mitch Hannan. Opposition supporters can now be heard mouthing the familiar cry of "where did they get him from?" Importantly, all of these players have not just been selected, but have been developed so that when they get a senior spot, they are ready to go from the start. None more so an example in this match than Hannan, who had the crowd gaping in awe as he scooped a loose ball up one-handed, in front of goal and screwed it back through the big sticks like he was shelling peas! Oliver was simply a beast. It took a while to warm up but his output of 36 touches, 9 clearances and 14 contested possessions (75% of game time) is one not normally seen in a 19 year old in his second year player. Petracca with 23 touches including 11 contested and his ability to hold his feet in tight situations was something for which the Saints had no answer. Hogan has signaled his arrival for 2017 with three goals and four important contested marks. He is that forward target that the Demons have been looking for since the departure of David Neitz. But when looking at Hogan's performance, it is too easy to focus on him. There was a reason he was left one on one, and that was the work of Watts and Sam Weideman to drag their respective defenders far away. When the ball moved through the middle, the ball carrier was left with the vision of the best contested mark in the side playing alongside a reject from either Collingwood or Essendon. Again the coaching and development that provides this type of situation can easily go unnoticed. Down back Neville Jetta was the shining star. How often is he left one on one with an opponent either taller or stronger, and he still manages to nullify or comprehensively beat them? There is no doubt that he should be one of the first picked each week, so reliable is he. And he even chipped in with a goal of his own this week. And what about a mention for Max? Those 49 hitouts against a man who beat him twice last year was an emphatic way of saying “I am King ... now get out of my way!" Then there was Jordan Lewis with 32 touches, 9 of them contested for whom can only thank the Hawks for sending him our way. I should also make mention of Nathan Jones and his 35 touches and the list goes on and on. This was a game against a team which has finals aspirations. It was always a measure of where the Demons stood against the Saints in terms of their prospects for finals as well. That it was such an emphatic win reminds one of Guru Bob's biblical analogy: As Moses said when he parted the waters of the Red Sea: "That will give the side a lot of confidence." With a home game next week against the struggling Blues, the fans should be looking to end another hoodoo with yet another Good-win. Melbourne 2.3.15 9.4.58 15.7.97 18.12.120 St Kilda 6.2.38 7.8.50 9.9.63 13.12.90 Goals Melbourne Garlett Hogan 3 Hannan Petracca 2 Brayshaw Jetta Jones Neal-Bullen Stretch Vince Watts Weideman St Kilda Riewoldt 4 Gresham 3 Armitage Billings Bruce Dunstan Lonie Membrey Best Melbourne Oliver Lewis Gawn Jones Vince Hogan Jetta Garlett St Kilda Riewoldt Gresham Billings Steven Steele Changes Melbourne Nil St Kilda Jack Lonie replaced Paddy McCartin (hamstring tightness) in the selected side Injuries Melbourne Max Gawn (back tightness) Joel Smith (left shoulder) St Kilda Nick Riewoldt (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil St Kilda Nil Umpires Chamberlain Fleer Ryan Official crowd 36,249 at Etihad Stadium
  2. Since time immemorial, pre season practice matches, be they the intraclub variety or contests between clubs played for trophies or otherwise, have always needed to be looked at with a dose of skepticism. Coaches and clubs use these games for different purposes, teams are often of different strength and there's plenty of experimentation. I will not therefore allow myself to get too carried away with Melbourne's big second half effort to defeat Port Adelaide to in its opening NAB Challenge match of 2016. By the same token there were some excellent signs from the team that missed the bulk of the older, more experienced heads of its list that give cause for some optimism for the year ahead. We know that Paul Roos historically is known to place very little store on winning these pre season games but his stand in Simon Goodwin was a bit of an unknown on that score. After his charges started slowly and hesitantly on the large sized Playford Alive Oval in Elizabeth SA, they regrouped in the second term and ran over the top of what was a close to full strength Port Adelaide team in the last half. The turnaround was huge. For years, the Demons have been unable to mount come from behind victories. Nor have they been able to master the type of grounds where there's extra space and greater distance to goal. It requires the ability to get the contested ball in the first instance and fitness and hard running on the outside to bring the ball into the forward line quickly and decisively. The dominance of big Maxy Gawn in the ruck (42 hitouts, mainly in the first three quarters because he sat out most of the last) gave Jack Viney who had 16 contested possessions in a game high 28, Dom Tyson, Aaron vandenBerg and recruit Clayton Oliver an armchair ride at the stoppages. They got the ball out to the likes of Jack Watts, Matt Jones and hard nosed newcomers Tomas Bugg from the Giants and Ben Kennedy from Collingwood and if they didn't score, their work was usually finished off by the likes of Jeff Garlett, Dean Kent and James Harmes. Collectively, they stunned the crowd of just under 5,000 and the many more viewers of Foxtel and a few here and there who watched on pirated broadcasts. Port Adelaide clearly planned their defensive game on shutting down Jesse Hogan and they achieved that by double and triple teaming him (at times with questionable methods). In the past when Melbourne had few dangerous options up forward, that tactic might have worked. The fact that the Demons are developing a good array of attacking weapons saw them to victory in this instance. And we know that there's plenty more to come. Melbourne's defense was tidy after the poor start. In the opening stanza they were far too loose but, led well by Tom McDonald, Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn and Neville Jetta, they tightened up and ultimately strangled the opposition keeping it scoreless in the the third quarter. When was the last time Melbourne did that in any game? The loss of Angus Brayshaw in the opening piece of play followed immediately by a hard hit on Tyson which saw him momentarily dazed followed by three goals (one of the super variety) to the home state side spelled doom and disaster. Demon fans of the fisted forever school were already foretelling that world was at an end - Armageddon had arrived ten minutes into the season. It was good then to come out with the non-existent four points and a medical report on Brayshaw that suggested a low level medial ligament injury that might see him back by round one of the real thing. There is of course a lot to work on - Hogan's key forward partner is more likely Cam Pedersen than Sam Frost at this stage. I would like to see the club give one of its tall forwards in waiting (Sam Weideman or Liam Hulett) a cameo run next week. Perhaps some fine tuning with the midfield mix and the second ruck - these games are practice matches after all and we can't get carried away - yet. Melbourne Port Adelaide Goals Melbourne Garlett 3 Kent Pedersen vandenBerg 2 Harmes Hogan Kennedy M Jones Salem Tyson Port Adelaide Boak Westhoff 3 R Gray Schulz White Young Best Melbourne Gawn Viney Watts vandenBerg Garlett Grimes Tyson Port Adelaide R Gray Boak Toumpas Pittard S Gray Broadbent Injuries Melbourne Brayshaw (left knee) Port Adelaide Nil Umpires Chris Donlon Jacob Mollison Craig Fleer Nick Brown Crowd 4,981 at Playford Alive Oval
  3. Please welcome our (once) long suffering Adelaide correspondent ... PURPOSE by Mel Rundle I could see it coming but I never thought it would happen at this time and in this place in front of a massive home crowd at Adelaide Oval. Not in this city where Demon fans have waited for a decade and more to taste the fruits of victory - any victory. But it happened here and while the result was in doubt until seconds before the final siren blared it was the sweetest of wins, a three-pointer that resulted from a fantastic team effort based on hard work and commitment to the cause from a team that has copped its share of hard knocks in recent times. When Paul Roos was appointed to coach the club last September, the memory of Melbourne's most recent visit to this city less than a month earlier was still fresh in the mind. The 68-point debacle at AAMI Stadium in Round 22 was a common feature of the way the Demons went about things in 2013 and could be described in one word as "purposeless". Roos has instilled a sense of purpose into the team based on a strong desire to defend its position. They came out and after a minor hiccup when they let Patrick Dangerfield slip through for the opening goal of the game, they stunned the Crows, their large band of supporters and the football world with their desire and commitment for the football. They had two great leaders in Nathan Jones and Jack Grimes who led from the front all afternoon although the former was under a bit of a cloud (said to be a slight twinge during the warm up which he shrugged off with disdain). Grimes was magnificent in defence, providing the rebound and, in the end, a perfect game-saving spoil to prevent a late Dangerfield mark. He was aided and abetted by Tom McDonald, Jeremy Howe and Neville Jetta playing his best game for the club in blanketing Eddie Betts. Then there was the enigmatic Lynden Dunn who has stepped up this year and is doing what all players must do - make a contribution every week. Melbourne sits last in the competition for scoring this year but it scored seven unanswered goals from early in the first quarter until late in the opening half and at one stage led by 36 points. It's forward line was led by Chris Dawes, as solid as a rock but he had lots of assistance and the heart was warmed by Jack Watts' composure in kicking a great goal and by the nippiness of smalls in Jack Viney and Jay Kennedy-Harris. Dom Tyson and Bernie Vince in his homecoming, were also important players. After the main break, the game changed and Adelaide came back. The team that was here last year would have crumbled and fallen away but Melbourne has a sense of purpose these days and it resolutely fought back hard and thanks to some accuracy in front of goal and a great pack mark from the Russian (another former local) they held sway. Despite the enormous pressure applied by the home team and the roar of 40,000 voices willing them on to win and even to influence the umpires to produce an uneven free kick count (and please don't get me started), they held firm. There is still an issue with scoring - the dividend from the last half was a mere 4.2 to 7.9. But that will come perhaps with one more tall forward or a ruckman who can kick goals while resting up there. The main thing for now is that the team is gaining increasing respect and a win such as this one in hostile territory will serve it well in the future as it welcomes in a brave new world for the Demon faithful. Melbourne 4.0.24 7.2.44 8.4.52 11.4.70 Adelaide 1.1.7 2.4.16 5.10.40 9.13.67 Goals Melbourne Dawes 3 Bail Jamar Jones Kennedy-Harris Salem Tyson Viney Watts Adelaide Dangerfield Jenkins Podsiadly 2 Crouch Petrenko Thompson Best Melbourne Dawes Vince Tyson Viney Kennedy-Harris Grimes Adelaide Dangerfield Jacobs Smith Sloane Thompson Laird Changes Melbourne Nil Adelaide Nil Injuries Melbourne Georgiou (concussion) Adelaide Lynch (concussion) Jaensch (heavy knock) Reports Melbourne Nil Adelaide Nil Umpires Donlon Chamberlain Bannister Attendance 44,216 at the Adelaide Oval
  4. UNDESERVED by The Oracle Melbourne could easily have plucked this game out of the fire in the end although a victory would have been something it didn't deserve. The game certainly wasn't one of the classics - there were lots of errors on both sides and it was the Suns who made the least. The game's adjudicators made a few as well - the first was the video review of the Demons' first goal and the last were some doozies from the field umpires that included a gifted goal to Garry Ablett when Melbourne was coming hard in the last quarter. If that was a free then McCaffer of Collingwood would have given away 20 and not 5 when he tagged Trent Cotchin against the Tigers last week. One or two more puzzling decisions late in the game didn't help the cause either. But while Melbourne persisted and got to within 8 points in the end, it would have been daylight robbery had the Demons won despite out scoring the visitors in three of the game's quarters. The truth is that the home side was pitiful from the time Cam Pedersen scored his team's third goal to give it a 20 - 10 lead at 21 minutes into the opening term until it went into the sheds at half time trailling 28 - 48 and they were only so close because of the Suns' inaccuracy. Another truth is that for the better part of the day, too many Demons were insipid, second to the ball and often failed to make a contest. They failed to follow their leaders in Nathan Jones and Jack Grimes and some of them were still back in the days of poor decision making and putrid disposal of the last few years. Thanks to the skippers, Jack Viney and two forwards in Chris Dawes and James Frawley, they fought their way back into the game - something that would have been unlikely in the dark old days. Things would have been better had they been able to get some drive from the ruck or managed their kick outs from defence a little better but one hopes those things can be resolved at the selection table before next week's game against the Sydney Swans. As it was, we saw none of the defensive pressure that enabled last week's win over Carlton and too many players were content to lounge behind their opponents. Perhaps it was the relief of winning that game that took the edge off the players' hunger for the football. If that was the case they should take the lead from skipper Nathan Jones whose strength and courage throughout was no better exemplified by his goal of the day effort when he bulldozed through a pack and snapped a goal to breath life back into the game midway through the final term. Never mind that an umpire sucked the life out of it a few minutes later, it was an example for the entire team to follow and those who don't will not be there by season's end. Melbourne 3.2.20 4.4.28 6.10.46 11.12.78 Gold Coast Suns 2.7.19 6.12.48 8.17.65 11.20.86 Goals Melbourne Dawes Frawley 2 Evans Howe Jones Kennedy-Harris Pedersen Terlich Viney Gold Coast Suns Ablett Lynch Matera Swallow 2 Broughton Day Hall Best Melbourne Jones Viney Grimes Dawes Frawley Cross Gold Coast Suns Ablett Rischitelli OMeara Shaw Broughton Prestia Changes Melbourne Nil Gold Coast Suns Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil Carlton Nil Reports Melbourne Nil Gold Coast Suns Nil Umpires Wenn, Armstrong, Leppard Attendance 17,243 at the MCG
  5. CLEANING HOUSE by The Oracle The result of the game was pretty much expected after the coach spent the week explaining that his team was going to school and it would help if they did away with the scoreboard. The boys lived up to the coach's expectations playing like a year 10 remedial class against a collection of university graduates preparing to collect their PhD's - it was that much of a mismatch and, despite the coach's wishes it was nowhere more evident than on the ... ahem ... scoreboard. Melbourne was destroyed in the ruck duels by what is possibly the best ruck combination in the competition but then what would you expect when you're putting up possibly your fourth and fifth best big men and your upper echelon of talls are languishing in the infirmary? And once you're getting killed by the opposition out of the ruck, the next step is that you're getting slaughtered in the midfield and at the stoppages (not a single centre clearance in the first quarter) and before you can say Jay Kennedy-Harris, you're ten goals down at half time and the game has been well and truly lost. It was not all bad though because somehow, Melbourne finished with more disposals which means that the Demons were inefficient and wasteful and, as has been the case of late, unable to convert possession into score but at least they're getting their hands on the footy. No doubt, having a power forward or two on board would help but when a midfielder gets the ball and looks forward only to see a dwarf calling for the ball opposed to two decent sized defenders then ... well, um, you're going to hesitate and perhaps take the wrong option and turn the ball over and more than likely you'll end up kicking no more than an average of one goal per quarter. Come to think of it, that's exactly what happened. Still, it's no mean feat to finish with a possession count such as this in a 15 goal defeat (has that ever happened before?) whereas twelve months ago the different was -67. The reason is that the club has some better inside players in the midfield but is still are missing outside run and a forward line. Nathan Jones is getting better. Tyson, Vince and Cross have added to the midfield depth but they have no targets up forward, nor will they have them for the foreseeable future so the whole team will continue to be disfunctional until the Paul Roos broom cleans up the house. And that will definitely take time. Melbourne 0.1.1 1.3.9 2.4.16 4.6.30 West Coast 6.5.41 10.7.67 14.10.94 18.15.123 Goals Melbourne Byrnes 2 Kennedy-Harris Toumpas West Coast Kennedy 4 Darling 3 Le Cras Masten Shuey 2 Cripps Mackenzie Naitanui Sinclair Best N Jones Tyson Dunn Cross Toumpas Byrnes West Coast Kennedy Shuey Gaff Masten Priddis Cox Changes Melbourne Nil West Coast Nil Injuries Melbourne Michie (cut eye) West Coast Hurn (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil West Coast Nil UmpiresChris Donlon Sam Hay Shane McInerney Attendance 22,226 at the MCG.
  6. How can you do a match report on a game you didn't attend, wasn't televised and was broadcast by a radio station that employs one-eyed hillbillies with a phobia about giving away the names of many of the visiting team's players? Easy, just quote the media reports on the following day. I'll start with Ashley Porter from the Age. Youngsters fire up battle of the battlers Porter's report contained one familiar Fairfax clanger of Wilsonesque proportions:- He called the ruck duel between Jake Spencer and Jarrad Redden a feature of the game which might come as a surprise to those who tuned in to 5AA whose commentators only mentioned the latter in describing the game's ruck contests. And if you think 5AA was bad for bias, cop this offering from the Andrew Capel in the Adelaide Advertiser:- Port Adelaide's young guns shine in narrow loss against Melbourne In South Australia, it seems that, even in practice matches, the spoils go to the loser. More on the AFL site:- Super Sellar sees Dees pip Port Video of the Game: Q1 - Full Replay - http://www.melbourne...ort-adelaide-q1 Q2 - Full Replay - http://www.melbourne...ort-adelaide-q2 Q3 - Full Replay - http://www.melbourne...ort-adelaide-q3 Q4 - Full Replay - http://www.melbourne...ort-adelaide-q4 MELBOURNE PORT ADELAIDE Supergoals Melbourne Nil Port Adelaide Hartlett Goals Melbourne Sellar 5 Davey 3 Kent 2 Evans Tapscott Port Adelaide Daniel Stewart 3 Hartlett 2 Colquhoun Neade Newton Wingard Young Best Melbourne Magner Sellar Jetta Tapscott Evans Sylvia Port Adelaide Hartlett Wines Mitchell Colquhoun Stevenson Redden INJURIES Melbourne Nil Port Adelaide Nil Reports Nil Umpires Fila Hay Haussen Official crowd 3,754 at Renmark Oval STATISTICS Disposals - Melbourne 262 Port Adelaide 302 Kicks - Melbourne 146 Port Adelaide 165 Handballs - Melbourne 116 Port Adelaide 137 Free Kicks - Melbourne 16 Port Adelaide 23 Clearances - Melbourne 32 Port Adelaide 21 Centre - Melbourne 19 Port Adelaide 7 Stoppages - Melbourne 13 Port Adelaide 14 Inside 50 - Melbourne 36 Port Adelaide 40 Marks in 50 - Melbourne 7 Port Adelaide 16 Contested Possessions - Melbourne 104 Port Adelaide 113 Tackles - Melbourne 54 Port Adelaide 45 Hit-Outs - Melbourne 21 Port Adelaide 28 Melbourne [K H M HO T SG.G.B DT] James Sellar 10 5 7 0 2 0.5.1 101 James Magner 17 7 3 0 7 0.0.0 98 Neville Jetta 8 12 3 0 5 0.0.0 81 Luke Tapscott 6 4 3 0 8 0.1.0 74 Troy Davis 10 6 4 0 1 0.0.0 59 Dean Terlich 9 7 2 0 5 0.0.0 58 Dean Kent 9 1 3 0 2 0.2.1 56 Michael Evans 8 4 3 0 2 0.1.0 55 Aaron Davey 7 3 1 0 2 0.3.0 54 James Strauss 3 8 3 0 5 0.0.0 54 Joel MacDonald 8 11 4 0 1 0.0.0 53 Colin Sylvia 10 4 2 0 3 0.0.0 47 Tom Gillies 6 7 4 0 0 0.0.0 44 Matt Jones 8 7 1 0 3 0.0.0 43 Tom Couch 6 5 1 0 2 0.0.3 42 Josh Tynan 5 6 3 0 1 0.0.0 37 Jake Spencer 1 2 2 20 1 0.0.0 31 Daniel Nicholson 2 2 4 0 2 0.0.0 27 Rory Taggert 3 6 2 0 0 0.0.0 27 Jesse Hogan 4 1 2 0 0 0.0.0 21 Dom Barry 2 4 0 0 1 0.0.0 18 Jack Fitzpatrick 0 3 0 1 1 0.0.0 9 Nathan Stark 2 0 0 0 0 0.0.0 8 Cameron Pedersen 1 1 0 0 0 0.0.0 5 NAB Cup Rd 2 - Quarter by quarter
  7. RUMOURS by William from West Perth Rumour has it that over the off season Melbourne footballers trained harder and longer than they had ever done before. They ran long distances, sprinted, worked with weights and did it all to exacting programmes devised by some of the best credentialled sports scientists in the business. At the same time they were supposed to have worked on honing their skillsets and learning a new whiz bang game plan that would turn them from whacky and unpredictable pretenders into the hardest team in the competition to play against. Two weeks into the football season, we now know them only to be rumours. The blokes spent most of summer sitting on beaches, feasting on ice creams and sipping piña coladas. That's how it appeared as they went through the motions against a powerful, highly disciplined and motivated West Coast Eagles who thumped them mercilessly from pillar to post at Paterson's Stadium on their way to a record 108 point victory. Melbourne's resistance was pathetic from go to whoa (in the Demons' case, the whoa happened midway through the second term). The skills were deplorable as was the lack of pressure, poor tackling and the oh so predictable manner of delivery of the ball forward. Indeed, the biggest surprise was the fact that its full forward Mitch Clark managed to boot five goals (admittedly a couple were in junk time) given that he was often pitted against two opponents when the ball was shoddily delivered somewhere remotely near to his position on the ground. There were a few others such as James Magner and Nathan Jones who contributed but for the most part, the rest of the team would have been better of managing the 30 degree heat at Cottesloe Beach. The should have been joined by the umpires. It's true that West Coast's pressure caused the Demons to give away a number of free kicks but the Eagles didn't take long to cotton on to the fact that if they ducked their heads into a tackle, there were any number of gratuitous free kicks on offer. They tell me one of the umpires (Leppard) carries the nickname "Def" but fair dinkum, they might as well add "Blind" as well. Not that Melbourne was ever going to win or that there's any rule that states the number of free kicks should be equal but 21-1 at half time is virtually enough to ensure game, set and match to the beneficiaries. It sure doesn't do wonders for the confidence of a team that's been battered black and blue both on and off the field in the past week. Still, umpires, heat and a game plan that doesn't make sense aside, it was truly a deplorable performance and it certainly doesn't auger well for the rest of the year or decade if you must know. Melbourne 1.1.7 4.2.26 6.2.38 9.4.58 West Coast Eagles 4.3.27 11.8.74 19.14.128 25.16.166 Goals Melbourne Clark 5 Dunn Jones 2 West Coast Eagles Darling Lynch 4 Hams Hill S Selwood 3 Waters 2 Gaff Kennedy Kerr Naitanui A Selwood Shuey Best Melbourne Magner Jones Clark Watts McDonald West Coast S Selwood Priddis Hurn Gaff Shuey Darling Changes Melbourne Martin (hip) replaced by McDonald West Coast Nil Injuries Melbourne Nil West Coast Embley (shoulder) Reports MelbourneNil West Coast Nil Umpires Farmer Fila Leppard Crowd 35,674 at Subiaco
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