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  1. “Cold aggression”, Lions star full forward Dakota Davidson called it. Brisbane outmuscled, outran, and ultimately overwhelmed us. They certainly came to play and exorcised their 2022 grand final grudge defeating the Demons in the rematch by 25 points. Stats count and Brisbane won the key ones. Inside 50s 42 to 24, centre clearances 8 to 6, uncontested possessions 133 to 75 and 51 marks to 27. The Lions’ sustained pressure is the kind we usually bring for other teams. There was one brief moment, at the 13-minute mark of the second quarter, when Melbourne skipper Kate Hore put the Dees in front. Alas that was our last goal for the rest of the game. The match was eerily reminiscent of the second and third quarter shellacking that Adelaide delivered in Round 6. Disappointingly, there was no last quarter comeback this time as the Lions had completely blanketed the handful of soldiers bravely resisting. Melbourne’s renowned versatility and even contribution failed to emerge. Pearce, Hanks, Hore, Purcell, Gillard, Goldrick, Mackin and Harris were all willing but needed everyone to get more involved if we were to win. Star mid Paxy Paxman was ruled out before the game with hamstring awareness and replaced by last week’s debutant Georgia Gall. Rhi Watt was ruled out with concussion during the game. Maeve Chaplin was visibly upset as she was helped off the ground following her collision with Davidson. Encouragingly, she later re-emerged and finished out the match. Replacements are needed. No Maddie Gay next week and possibly no Paxy. We can only hope that Aimee Mackin and Gaby Colvin complete their recoveries and that no one else is added to the unavailable list. Some are concerned that Tyla Hanks may be in trouble for her dangerous tackle. A dispiriting way to finish the home and away season, but our second spot and a double chance has been well earned so let’s start over. Anything is possible in finals. In terms of the game: Q1 Brisbane starts with heat and Dakota Davidson scores the first goal from a nice mark on a lead. Meggs is concerned about leg speed over the ground as Brisbane carve Melbourne up through the middle with a long bomb running goal by Hampson. Gall for Paxy seems an odd replacement. We seem to be fumbling and dropping marks under the perceived pressure. Against the run of play, a chain of Demons sees Fitzy hit up Sherriff who marks in from of goal. The commentator mentions that Casey has kicked 4 goals 14 points over the past two seasons but thankfully she can’t hear Jason Bennett and kicks truly. ¼ time: Lions 2.2.14 Dees 1.0.6 Q2 We start stronger this quarter. Tayla appears to re-injure her shoulder but moments later marks and goals. Just as we look to be attacking Kate drops a chest mark under pressure and Brisbane take the ball coast-to-coast for a goal with some exhilarating ball movement. Hanks is taken high and goals from directly in front. Zanker is now on second ruck duties replacing the concussed Rhi Watt. A brilliant pick up and snap from Kate Hore on a tight angle sees the Demons in front. However, it doesn’t take long before Brisbane takes back the lead after Davidson scores her second goal. Brisbane showing us some more of their cold aggression right on half-time with a number of players pushing and shoving. ½ time: Lions 4.3.27 Dees 4.0.24 Q3 Brisbane dominate the opening of the 3rd term and score 2 quick goals. Meggs watches most Brisbane games and Jade Ellenger is not someone who opposition coaches would typically consider for a matchup. However, she is giving the Lions heaps of defensive drive, playing the best game of her career. No one appears to be playing on her. The weight of Lions inside 50s is overwhelming our defence and Ruby Svarc and Sophie Conway score late quarter goals. ¾ time: Lions 8.4.52 to Dees 4.1.25 Q4 An arm wrestle with no goals scored by either team this term. While the Dees failed to kick a goal in the second half, we are the 4th quarter specialists, and win last quarter by 2 points. Lions 8.5.53 to Dees 4.4.28 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said Brisbane was too good tonight and deserved to win. Defensively Brisbane was brilliant tonight and we struggled to navigate a way through. It was a physical game and Rhi Watt is out with concussion. He referred to really good depth in his squad. Lions coach Craig Starcevich said there was some passages of play by his team that were the best they’ve ever done. He felt he had his best team out there which helps. Brisbane having defeated all the other top four teams must be considered an equal flag favourite with Adelaide. Their qualifying final next week in Adelaide will be a blockbuster. For Melbourne, a huge task awaits Mick Stinear and his football department as they tend to bruised bodies and restoring self-confidence ahead of our all-important qualifying final against North Melbourne. Dees should start as favourites but recent wins count for nothing once the game starts. MELBOURNE 1.0.6 4.0.24 4.1.25 4.4.28 BRISBANE LIONS 2.2.14 4.3.27 8.4.52 8.5.53 GOALS MELBOURNE Hanks Harris Hore Sherriff BRISBANE LIONS Conway Davidson 2 Hampson Mullins Smith R Svarc BEST MELBOURNE Pearce Hore Purcell Hanks Gillard BRISBANE LIONS Ellenger Koenen Hodder Conway Anderson Dawes LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Paxy Paxman (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Georgia Gall BRISBANE LIONS Nil INJURIES MELBOURNE R. Watt (concussion) BRISBANE LIONS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil CROWD 3,004 at Brighton Homes Arena
  2. Big stakes this weekend. For the winner, will it be a Dees minor premiership and potential home grand final or will it be a Lion‘s Top Four finish and a double chance? Huge interest circulates in the how the ladder unfolds over this weekend’s final round of the 2023 home and away season with some 10 teams vying for 8 places. It’s AFLW Pride Week, a celebration of people from all walks of life coming together, being respected, loved and accepted. Women’s football continues to be a benchmark when it comes to inclusivity and a safe workplace. Mick Stinear and Craig Starcevich are foundation coaches of their respective teams, and this is the 9th time they have met. Stinear leads with 6 wins and 2 losses. Milestones this week include Starc’s 75th match as coach and Libby Birch’s 75th AFLW game. The last match between these sides was the Demons inaugural premiership win in the Season Eight grand final at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield. We’re back there this Saturday at 7:05pm for a rematch. Can’t wait. Selection this week The big selection news this week is that Tayla Harris has recovered from her hamstring injury. She will make her presence felt against one of her old sides. We also have Rhi Watt back, and a nice surprise with Jordey Ivey set to play her fourth game in the red and blue. Last week’s debutant Georgia Gall, Georgia Campbell and Charlotte Wilson have been omitted. Unfortunately, Maddi Gay is 1-2 weeks away. Such an important player for the Dees and was a standout in last year’s final series. Brisbane will bring back two of their best players in Sophie Conway and Cathy Svarc who missed last week in the Lion’s surprise loss to St Kilda, plus Ruby Svarc. Our opponents, Brisbane While, apart from Daisy retiring, no one wanted to leave the Demons during the offseason. Whereas the Lions lost their best mid Emily Bates and a proven goal sneak in Greta Bodey to Hawthorn. Plus, Jessie Wardlaw, the Season Seven competition leading goalkicker, signed with St Kilda. Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne have filled 10 of the 12 available places in AFLW grand finals, dominating the landscape since the league’s inception. The Lions remain a force to be reckoned with. However, this season Brisbane has been upset by lower teams three times. By Richmond in Round 1, Collingwood in Round 6, and St Kilda in Round 9. Conversely, the Lions are undefeated against Top 4 teams with narrow wins over North (by 2 points in Round 4) and Adelaide (by 3 points in Round 9). This season Ally Anderson and Sophie Conway have really stepped up in the absence of Bates. Marking tall Dakota Davison has 15 goals this season and the exciting Courtney Hodder is a real handful at times. Brisbane has a great defence led by their captain Bre Koenen with good support from Nat Grider and Shannon Campbell. Their main ruck Tahlia Hickey wins plenty of hit outs but expect our Loz Pearce match her and have greater impact around the ground. Meggs view Expecting this match will be played in a finals-likemanner with significant consequences for both teams. Brisbane has already beaten Adelaide and North so will fancy themselves against us too. If things go awry during the match, remember that this team has incredible belief. Our coach Mick Stinear really rates his charges versatility and won’t be afraid to mix it up. Our forward line is the envy of the competition and we have scored 173 points more than the Lions this season. With Tay back to support Zanker, Hore and Bannan we have picked our best available lineup. Hopefully the sponginess of the playing surface is long gone, and we break the record for the highest all-time score at this ground also known as the Michael Voss Oval. Why not? Both midfields are high quality and bat deep, so we need to get our hands on the footy first and use our runners. The weather forecast says 20-21 degrees with a chance of rain. Let’s bring our own heat, put the Lions to sleep and win this Season 8 minor premiership. Go Dees! Melbourne by 18 points THE GAME Brisbane v Melbourne at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield, on Saturday 4 November 2023 at 7:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 6 wins Brisbane 2 wins At Springfield Melbourne 1 win Brisbane 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 6 wins Starcevic 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – WARF Radio. THE LAST TIME THEY MET - Season 7 Grand Final Melbourne 2.7 (19) defeated Brisbane 2.3 (15) at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield, 27 November 2022 Playing the first ever match at a new venue with a spongy surface not ready-for-purpose did impact the ability of all players to execute skills, run and carry and thus a low scoring but engrossing affair ensued. A win by just four points was the final result but the Dees looked more determined on the day, particularly the final three quarters. Tahlia Gillard kept competition leading goalkicker Jess Wardlaw scoreless, while Westy, Hanksy and Liv P ultimately wore down their more highly decorated midfield opponents in Emily Bates and Ally Anderson. Tayla Harris was a real presence and kicked a goal while Irish player Blaithin Mackin scored our only other goal. But like so many Demon victories it was the collective mindset and uncompromising effort of the Dees that won the day. More contributors, a spread of the frenetic effort, plus the underrated gun players we have on every line. This mindset, our #DemonSpirit, has evolved from the coaching and mentoring abilities of AFLW pioneers Mick Stinear and Daisy Pearce and has been embraced by the whole club. MELBOURNE 0.1.1 1.4.10 2.5.17 2.7.19 BRISBANE LIONS 2.0.12 2.0.12 2.3.15 2.3.15 GOALS MELBOURNE Harris B. Mackin BRISBANE Davidson C. Svarc BEST MELBOURNE West Hanks Gay Paxman Gillard BRISBANE LIONS Campbell Grider C. Svarc Anderson Bates INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE: Koenen (right knee) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil CROWD 7,412 at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield THE TEAMS BRISBANE LIONS B P. Boltz, S. Campbell HB B. Koenen N. Grider J. Ellenger C. O. O'Dwyer I. Dawes S. Conway HF L. Postlethwaite D. Davidson C. Mullins F T. Smith C. Hodder FOLL T. Hickie C Svarc A. Anderson I/C J. Dunne E. Hampson D. Heslop P. Monahan R. Svarc EMG A. McKee M. Pauga B. K. Smith IN S. Conway C. Svarc R. Svarc OUT A. McKee (omitted) M. Pauga (omitted) B. Smith (omitted) Milestone: Craig Starcevich (75 games as coach) MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick S. Heath M. Chaplin C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Bannan L. Mithen E. Zanker F K. Hore T. Harris FOLL L. Pearce E. West P. Paxman I/C M. Fitzsimon J. Ivey O. Purcell C. Sherriff R. Watt EMG G. Campbell G. Gall C. Wilson IN T. Harris J. Ivey R. Watt 
 OUT G. Campbell (omitted) G.Gall (omitted) C. Wilson (omitted) Milestone: Libby Birch (75 games) Injury List: Round 10 Gabby Colvin - Achilles | Test Tayla Harris - Hamstring | Test Aimee Mackin - Ankle | Test Maddi Gay - Hamstring | 1-2 Weeks Sarah Lampard - Wrist | 3-4 Weeks
  3. The Demons pulled one out of the fire, with a one point win over the Brisbane Lions in an enthralling, exciting, frustrating and nail-biting game. The Lions came out on on Bastille Day to the sounds of “La Marseillaise” and they were fired up. They sat two games clear of the Demons on the ladder after having burnt them in the 2022 finals series. And it turned out to be a bad night for the French with their team also going down in a FIFA Womens World Cup practice match across town … I digress. Back to the real footy … Early on, Melbourne was truly on fire hitting the scoreboard regularly with four goals in the first ten minutes to lead by 25 points before Brisbane had troubled the scorer. The Lions fought their way back a little to reduce the lead to just under three goals by the first change. Demon fans were looking at each other in disbelief, as their side seemingly had overcome their lethargy of recent weeks, even scoring more goals in that first quarter than in their entire recent game against the Giants. Still, the early expectations were soon dashed, as the Lions relentlessly ground down the Demons‘ lead to hit the front by a solitary point just before half-time. The third quarter was much the same with Brisbane creating run through the middle, and Melbourne players failing to put in the required effort to cut off or run with their opponents. This was creating plenty of chances for the Lions’ forwards. When Daniher and Hipwood start kicking goals due to the lack of upfield pressure, then you know that things are starting to go the Lions way. They held a 21-point lead by the final break. The stage was set for an expected final quarter capitulation by the Demons and the first 10 to 15 minutes were certainly pointing that way. The visitors got first blood with a goal to Joey Daniher who put on one of his classic diving acts to milk a free kick and then converted to put them ahead by 27 points. Some supporters were heading for the exits at that point - those who did were soon to be burnt by that decision. From out of nowhere, the Demons found some fire in the belly but they missed with a few shots at goal until Pickett kicked his third and they were three goals down with only seven minutes left to play. A couple of minutes later, Jake Melksham reduced the deficit down to two goals with a nice shot on an angle. Jack Viney willed himself to win the game, and quite literally ripped the ball out of McInerney’s hands and slotted another major to put the Demons five points down with two minutes to play. The crowd of Demons supporters was fired up as had not been seen since the 2021 GF game, shouting and screaming at the top of their voices. The sounds had completely reversed from only ten minutes earlier when the Brisbane supporters had started a “L-I-O-N-S” chant. Their team had gone defensive far too early and they were not to see the sight of “Le jour de gloire est arrive”. Instead, it was to be a night of doom and gloom for the “enfants de la Patrie” when Melksham managed to mark a Brayshaw snap into the forward line and then truly delivered the six points to put the Demons a solitary point in front with 33 seconds remaining. If the Melbourne supporters were fired up before, they were now simply volcanic! In those 30 seconds remaining Viney again extracted the clearance to pump the ball forward. But Melbourne were unable to capitalise, and the ball came down the other end where Jake Lever managed to mark a hotly contested football against Hipwood. The siren sounded and the noise levels went up again. Melbourne had pulled a victory right out of the fire. While the four points were needed to keep Melbourne’s position on the ladder in the lead-up to the finals, it was the psychological message that was important. The Demons might well face the Lions at some stage in the finals and they are likely to be affected by the outcome of this game, in an almost identical manner as Geelong in 2021. And Melbourne is sure to be imbued with that same sense of invincibility that they felt in their Premiership year. This was a game of 3 v 4 and a one point result was probably a fitting end. The Demons are forging their finals thrust in the furnace of these games. This, without Clayton Oliver or Brodie Grundy in the middle, and having rested players while experimenting with various combinations up forward in particular. Christian Petracca kicked 4 goals with his power on full display, and importantly, with rediscovered accuracy. Kysaiah Pickett found his fire with 3 majors while Taj Woewodin electrified the crowd and team-mates with his first goal at AFL level in a calm, smooth way reflective of his father’s style. Lachie Hunter was responsible for 559 metres gained, while Ed Langdon was down to 285. This was an indictment against Brisbane who deliberately avoided the Langdon wing, not realising however, that Hunter is just as lethal with his running power and left foot. The defenders were back to their best team efforts, and Trent Rivers probably provided the impetus for those last couple of goals, when he grabbed the ball deep in Brisbane territory, sidestepped 3 opposition and drove the ball forward. It was an action which quite literally changed the course of the game. In the ruck on his own, Max had an ordinary phase in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but came back to his best when needed and started to take critical contested marks and clearances. Five marks, three contested and three centre clearances started to drive the Demons, and his grab from the boundary throw in to pass to Brayshaw for that final Melksham goal was telling. Yes, the Demons pulled one out of the fire, but they are now fired up as one, and the supporters are probably even more so. Bringing the heat at the right end of the season was exactly what is needed. With Adelaide coming up as next the opponent, do not be surprised if the smell of burnt Crow is wafting around the stands of the G come next Sunday evening. MELBOURNE 6.2.38 8.3.51 12.4.76 16.9.105 BRISBANE LIONS 3.3.21 8.4.52 15.7.97 16.8.104 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 4 Pickett 3 Melksham 2 Bowey Brown Gawn Neal-Bullen Spargo Viney Woewodin BRISBANE LIONS Gunston 3 Bailey Cameron Daniher McCarthy 2 Ashcroft Fletcher Hipwood Lyons McInerney BEST MELBOURNE Petracca, Gawn Brayshaw Viney Pickett Melksham BRISBANE LIONS Daniher McCluggage Neale Ashcroft Andrews Bailey INJURIES MELBOURNE Harrison Petty (hip) BRISBANE LIONS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter) BRISBANE LIONS Deven Robertson (replaced Jarrod Berry in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Mathew Nicholls Nathan Williamson Robert Findlay Andre Gianfagna CROWD 38,030 at The MCG
  4. After the game, Simon Goodwin bemoaned the fact that his team’s performance against St Kilda was far from perfect but given it was an important contest between fourth and fifth, it matters little that the win against a team battered from pillar to post and minus key players was ugly. The win was the main objective as it is again this week against the Brisbane Lions. The Demons desperately needed validation in the form of victory in their third straight game away from the MCG in a season where the advantage of playing on your home turf can not be underestimated. More than a month since their victory from left field over Collingwood, they return to take a 7 - 1 win/loss record at the home of football into their game against third placed Brisbane who seem to have a primeval fear of this neck of the woods — for the Lions it’s the ultimate hoodoo ground. Up north they’re called Brizvegas suggesting they’re bright and glitzy (except when their light towers crash) but the minute they hit the concourse at Yarra Park they turn into Brizghanistan, a mostly dark place where lights flicker only intermittently. And we know too well how poorly they play in those circumstances. I’m discounting the outcome of last year’s semi final between the clubs as an aberration, the result of a banged up Melbourne side running out of puff and bereft of the fitness required to win a finals matchup. Still, while the Demons’ form has by no means been decisive and they need to improve considerably to beat Brisbane on Friday night. The Lions might have a blind spot when it comes to playing on the MCG but you need do more than just turn up to the ground if you want to win. Since Round 10, Melbourne has undergone what’s known as a “midseason slump” but things definitely started to turn around last week with some subtle changes to the team mix caused by the necessity to take on new challenges after failing to grab winning opportunities in their previous two matches against Geelong and GWS. Despite the fact that Melbourne had less time in the forward half against St Kilda, it managed 50% more goals than in any of its past five games. It marked a desperately needed correction in the way the team converts its opportunities when transitioning into attack, in the first instance delivering much better efficiency in front of goal. This came in a number of forms, resulting from the inclusion of Ben Brown, Christian Petracca spending more time up forward, playing fewer small forwards and a changed midfield mix. The Demons still have the ability to defend ball movement with precision and control from the backline through the middle, an important aspect both against the opposition and in taking field position into attack. But … … still have to lift a few extra cogs if they want to seriously return to the race for the flag and they have all the incentive in the world to do so on Friday night against the Lions. They must surely recall the smarmy way their former captain Dayne Zorko and his entourage acted in their meetings late in the season, the humiliating fall out of the finals in straight sets on home territory and the touch up meted out in their Round 2 encounter up north until the lights went out. All emotional stuff but in every high powered game, there’s always an element of bottled up emotion and energy a team needs to unleash in order to set up victory. The time is right for the Demons to step up to home plate and I’m tipping them to do exactly that. Melbourne to win by 41 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at The MCG, Friday 14 July, 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD * Overall: Melbourne 29 wins Brisbane Lions 24 wins At The MCG Melbourne 15 wins Brisbane 4 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 7 wins Fagan 4 wins * does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane Lions 14.9.93 defeated Melbourne 13.4.82 at The Gabba, Round 2, 2023 It was best known as the night when the lights went out at the Gabba but also for Max Gawn’s early exit from a knee injury and Melbourne’s inability to handle the footy in the humid, soppy conditions in the opening term. The Lions had a big lead when the darkness set in but when the lights went back on the accurate Demons stormed home and came close to bridging the gap before time ran out. Ben Brown claimed his second four goal bag in a row. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE 
B J. McVee H. Petty J. Lever HB J. Bowey S. May A. Brayshaw C T. Rivers J. Viney T. Woewodin HF K. Pickett J. Melksham E. Langdon F J. Jordon B. Brown C. Spargo FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter I/C A. Neal-Bullen C. Salem T. Sparrow J. van Rooyen SUB J. Smith EMG K. Chandler L. Dunstan B. Grundy IN J. van Rooyen OUT B. Grundy (omitted) BRISBANE B B. Starcevich H. Andrews J. Payne HB C. McKenna R. Lester K. Coleman C H. McCluggage Z. Bailey J. Fletcher HF C. Cameron E. Hipwood L. McCarthy F D. Zorko J. Daniher C. Rayner FOLL O. McInerney L. Neale W. Ashcroft I/C J. Berry J. Gunston J. Lyons D. Wilmot 
SUB D. Robertson EMG D. Fort D. Joyce K. Lohmann IN J. Berry L. McCarthy OUT J. Madden (shoulder) K. Lohmann (omitted) Injury List: Round 18 Harry Petty - Ribs | Available Michael Hibberd - Kidney | Test Tom McDonald - Ankle | 3 - 5 Weeks Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 4 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 6 - 7 Weeks Daniel Turner - Hand | 6 - 7 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | TBC STATS HURT by Sam the Stats Man Melbourne has had a moderate run with injuries this year although the loss of a few key players here and there to various ailments has hurt the club’s 2023 campaign. The loss of Max Gawn through a knee injury in the equivalent game against the Lions in the capital of the sunshine state was the early blow. The impact was felt immediately under the shock of the skipper’s painful departure from the ground and the action. He was out for a month which included the then surprise defeat during the Gather Round at the hands of the Bombers in Adelaide. Christian Salem’s thyroid and knee woes saw him miss a large slab of games early while key talls Ben Brown and Tom McDonald have injuries and form to blame for prolonged absences which affected the team’s forward performance. The biggest loss to injury by far has been the well-documented saga of Clayton Oliver’s hamstring compounded by a week in hospital with infected blisters on the foot and further compounded by further hamstring damage of a complex nature that sees his return pushed back to somewhere near the finals. Bayley Fritsh is out until the finals - the club having to make do with others up forward in the vital games to come in the interim. One other statistic stands out to my mind. The Demon’s exciting and electric goalkicking sensation Kozzie Pickett, who booted four goals and earned a two week suspension in Round 1. Since his return from the sin bin, his productivity has gone into decline and from Round 11, he has kicked only four goals in five games. Considering that he booted six in one game against Port Adelaide last year, his lack of productivity in goal scoring is a worry even if the number of his pressure acts may have improved slightly. The playing list details to date:- ADAMS, Jed CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 BOWEY Jake MFC games 14, MFC goals 1, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 BRAYSHAW, Angus MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 BROWN, Ben MFC games 5, MFC goals 9, CDFC games 7, CDFC goals 11 CHANDLER, Kade MFC games 14, MFC goals 13, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 DUNSTAN, Luke CDFC games 10, CDFC goals 5 FARRIS-WHITE, Kyah CDFC games 4, CDFC goals 0 FRITSCH, Bayley MFC games 15, MFC goals 16 GAWN, Max MFC games 13, MFC goals 3 GRUNDY, Brodie MFC games 16, MFC goals 3 HARMES, James MFC games 7, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 4 HIBBERD, Michael MFC games 9, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 1, CDFC goals 0 HOWES, Blake CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 HUNTER, Lachie MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 JEFFERSON, Matthew CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 18 JORDON, James MFC games 12, MFC goals 3, CDFC games 4, CDFC goals 4 LANGDON , Ed MFC games 16, MFC goals 1 LAURIE, Bailey MFC games 2, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 13, CDFC goals 9 LEVER, Jake MFC games 15, MFC goals 0 MCDONALD, Tom MFC games 6, MFC goals 5, CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 5 MCVEE, Judd MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 MAY, Steven MFC games 14, MFC goals 0 MELKSHAM, Jake MFC games 6, MFC goals 4, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 17 MONIZ-WAKEFIELD, Andy CDFC games 13, CDFC goals 10 NEALE-BULLEN, Alex MFC games 16, MFC goals 7 OLIVER, Clayton MFC games 10, MFC goals 4 PETRACCA, Christian MFC games 16, MFC goals 8 PETTY, Harrison MFC games 11, MFC goals 2 PICKETT, Kysaiah MFC games 14, MFC goals 22 RIVERS, Trent MFC games 16, MFC goals 1 SALEM, Christian - MFC games 7, MFC goals 0 SCHACHE, Josh- MFC games 1, MFC goal 1, CDFC games 11, CDFC goals 27 SESTAN, Oliver CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 11 SMITH, Deakyn CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 SMITH, Joel - MFC games 5, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 5, CDFC goals 11 SPARGO, Charlie MFC games 12, MFC goals 6. CDFC games 2, CDFC goal 1 SPARROW, Tom MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 TOMLINSON, Adam MFC games 5, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 8, CDFC goals 0 TURNER, Daniel - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 9, CDFC goals 0 TURNER, Kye CDFC games 2, CDFC goals 0 VAN ROOYEN, Jacob MFC games 12, MFC goals 10, CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 6 VERRALL, Will CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 0 VINEY, Jack MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 WOEWODIN, Taj - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 9, CDFC goals 6
  5. A pleasant, balmy Brisbane evening with perfect conditions for football turned into a bleak, dark night in more ways than one for the Demons on Friday night at the Gabba. Coming up against a Lions outfit which had been truly cut to shreds by Port Adelaide the previous week, with the Demons having accounted for the Dogs emphatically, it was reasonable for the droves of Melbourne supporters to expect to witness more pain being inflicted as payback for their loss to the same team in the previous years finals. Sadly the only pain happened within minutes of the first bounce when Jack Viney crashed into Max Gawn’s leg, damaging his knee. A collective hush passed through the Demons supporters as vision came to the screen of Max sitting on the dressing room floor with ice packed over the knee and him looking despondent. The despondency was to last for 24 hours as Demonland erupted into a mass of conjecture about what damage had been done, for how long and who was needed to replace the giant of the Club. MFCSS had truly arisen again, and it wasn’t until late Saturday that the news came back ... the damage was to a medial ligament, not the feared ACL and the prognosis was 4-6. However, Melbourne supporters, especially those with a good dose of MFCSS, know all too well that 4-6 is not necessarily 4-6 weeks away, but we will keep the collective fingers and everything else crossed that 6 weeks is the worst outcome. Back to the game … Well it may as well have finished at that point, as the Melbourne players seemed utterly deflated, lethargic and couldn’t pick the ball up cleanly or mark the ball when required. Yes, there was an element of humidity which caused the ball to be slippery, but to counter Brisbane’s Will Ashcroft in only his 2nd game amassed 31 possessions, and he didn’t seem to have any trouble picking up the ball. The fumbles spread throughout the side over the next 3 quarters, but by the end of the first break Brisbane had opened up a four goal lead. The Demons mids were comprehensively outpointed, not just at centre square but around the ground as well with Brisbane essentially doubling all the clearance statistics that Melbourne could produce. Centre clearances 20 to 10. Stoppage 40 to 22. Overall 60 to 32. Simply unheard of numbers for a Demons outfit which claims to be one of the best in the business! Thank goodness for the Melbourne defenders, particularly Jake Lever who led the way in the absence of Stephen May. Thirteen intercept possessions and backed up by Bowey and Rivers with half a dozen each, they kept repulsing the free flow of Lions attacking moves coming out of mid-field. It wasn’t until later that Angus Brayshaw joined the fray with 12 intercepts, but he often let down his good work with his disposals, coming at only 60 odd percent efficiency. Still they held back the dam wall as best they could, but by ¾ time the Lions had opened up a 6 goal lead and looked like continuing the demolition of the Demons into the final stanza. Things were looking truly dark for Melbourne. It had lost the captain, was losing the match and a right royal drubbing was coming up. With twelve minutes left in the quarter things got even darker but this time it wasn’t just for the Demons. A huge bang was heard around the ground and half the lights went out. And the power to various sections, which wasn’t a bad thing as it stopped the ridiculous blaring music that Queenslanders seem to enjoy being played at anything more than a five second break in play. The ground operators even tried to intervene with this cacophany at boundary thow-ins instead of allowing football followers to watch what they had come to see - the football. Well seeing the football was now out of the question as half the ground was plunged into darkness. Unfortunately, the music came back and we were treated to a singalong session of the worst of Neil Diamond and John Denver. Surely things couldn’t get worse for the Demons? Fortunately not, as the Gabba electrician finally found the fuse box or the management paid the electricity bill and on came the lights again after 40 minutes. In true Queensland fashion half the crowd had gone home by now, perhaps thinking it not worthwhile waiting for more than their allotted five second attention span. What they missed was a monumental comeback for the Demons who piled on five goals in the remaining 12 minutes of play, and among the remaining crowd murmurs were audible of a possible dramatic loss as Ben Brown, Bayley Fritsch and others just kept finding the big sticks. An appalling failure to pay a front on free to Angus Brayshaw with perhaps two minutes to go may have cost the Demons that chance, but they got to within 11 points when the final siren went. Good thing it did sound as there was some concern that without power it may not signal the end of the game when the button was pressed. Well, Brisbane walked away with a win. Melbourne were horrible until the lights came back on, and utterly deserved to miss out on the four points. Still they took away some belief for themselves in that things are never quite as bad as it may seem, and they can come back from truly dark situations. Now they have a chance to prove that, as the captain and main ruck will be absent for the coming games. Some of the performances on the night will see others also missing in the near future. Their statistics are simply too damning to justify their spot in the side. Dark days mean the light is coming. We just have to see who is going to hold up that light. MELBOURNE 2.1.13 5.2.32 7.3.45 13.4.82 BRISBANE 6.2.38 8.4.52 13.5.77 14.9.93 GOALS MELBOURNE Brown 4 Fritsch 3 Chandler Hunter McDonald Neal-Bullen Oliver Petracca BRISBANE Daniher 4 Bailey Cameron Zorko 2 Ashcroft Berry McCarthy McInerney BEST MELBOURNE Oliver Lever Brayshaw Fritsch Brown Hunter BRISBANE Zorko Ashcroft Neale Andrews Dunkley Daniher McKenna INJURIES MELBOURNE Max Gawn (knee) BRISBANE Jarrod Berry (shoulder) LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Steven May replaced in selected side by Adam Tomlinson BRISBANE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jake Melksham replaced Max Gawn in the first quarter BRISBANE Deven Robertson replaced Dayne Zorko in the fourth quarter REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE Nil UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Andrew Stephens Andrew Heffernan Jacob Mollison OFFICIAL CROWD 30,047 at The Gabba
  6. The AFL served up an interesting fixture for the Melbourne Football Club this year with a tough opening trio of games against teams that won their last up meetings. True, we’re supposed to take things one week at a time, but it’s useful to look at this three match bloc of matches as a launching pad for the season ahead. Thanks to a masterful display in Round 1 against the Western Bulldogs, it’s one down and two to go in terms of the three game opening sequence. In the words of one media scribe, “the Demons can now seek revenge for their September defeats to Brisbane and Sydney in the next fortnight.” However, it’s not really about seeking revenge at this stage of the season — the call to emotions can wait until much later, if at all. For the moment, it’s about being switched on and about building and moving forward to set up the season. Melbourne did exactly that in both 2021 and 2022 when it won the first nine and ten matches respectively but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The task this week is to beat the Brisbane Lions on their home turf which is something that very few teams other than Melbourne have been able to accomplish in recent seasons. This time, Brisbane is coming off a humiliating loss against Port Adelaide and facing a potentially disastrous 0-2 start for the year. They were atrocious against the Power in Adelaide after coming into the season as one of the flag favourites having recruited strongly gaining Dunkley, Gunston and highly rated leading draft selection Will Ashcroft. But the Demons must be wary because it wasn’t all that long ago that the Lions turned the tables on them in a semi final soon after putting in a pitiful display against them in last year’s final home and away round. And there’s no reason to be complacent because Melbourne goes into this match without Kozzie Pickett who starred in his new role that allowed him to play extended time in the midfield while also causing havoc when resting forward. Pickett was rightly described as the momentum swinger last week. That attack on Bailey Smith which put him on his backside offended the bounds of legal tackling and earned him a two week holiday but it paved the way for five unanswered goals, restored the lead and left the Bulldogs shell shocked for the remainder of the game. I’m not condoning the action, nor am I detracting from the efforts of Max Gawn, Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jake Lever in the eventual 50-point smashing of the Dogs. Just saying that Kozzie was the catalyst and the game changer. Someone else will have to come in and fill the hole left by Kozzie over the coming fortnight - possibly one or more of the four premiership players who were still on the injured list at the weekend but have now been declared as “available” for selection. Jack Viney would be a handy replacement to ensure the Lions players are on their toes. He is just the man to emulate Kozzie’s seven tackles inside 50 and eight altogether. And Bayley Fritsch would be handy in covering the yawning great hole of four missing goals due to Kozzie’s absence. Melbourne’s defence held up well last week with Adam Tomlinson playing a steady role reminiscent of two years ago before he suffered his ACL injury. The question is how to fit one of the competition’s top key defenders in Steven May into the mix. While the mantra at the club has always been an emphasis on strong team defence, a feature of the preseason and the opening round has been defending territory up near goals. They held sway by 21 to nine inside 50 tackles and took 17 to seven inside 50 marks last week. That means a determined effort to cover one of last year’s weaknesses and to improve the team’s performance in front of the goals. Which brings us back to the home side. Surely, they will be determined to serve up better than last week’s insipid performance in front of their home crowd? Are they capable of rising up to perform at their best against one of the hottest outfits in the competition? The evidence suggests that it won’t be easy for them because the irrepressible Demons are too switched on for the Lions at this early stage of the journey. Melbourne to win by 35 points. THE GAME Brisbane Lions v Melbourne at Gabba, Friday 24 March, 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD * Overall: Brisbane Lions 23 wins Melbourne 29 wins At The Gabba Brisbane 14 wins, Melbourne 9 wins Last Five Meetings: Brisbane Lions 1 win Melbourne 4 wins The Coaches: Fagan 3 wins Goodwin 7 wins * does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane Lions 14.8.92 defeated Melbourne 11.13.79 at The MCG, First Semi Final, 2022 Melbourne played out many of their games in the latter half of season 2022. They took an early lead in the first semi final and looked far the better of the two sides when they led by 21 points at the main break. But after that, the banged up followed an all too familiar pattern. The Lions reeled the tiring Demons in to level things up by three quarter time and continued their dominance to run out 13 point winners. Season over. THE TEAMS BRISBANE LIONS B B. Starcevich J. Payne D. Rich HB C. McKenna H. Andrews D. Zorko C W. Ashcroft Z. Bailey J. Berry HF C. Cameron J. Gunston H. McCluggage F C. Rayner J. Daniher E. Hipwood FOLL O. McInerney J. Dunkley L. Neale I/C D. Fort D. Joyce L. McCarthy D. Wilmot SUB D. Robertson EMG T. Fullarton J. Prior J. Tunstill IN D. Fort D. Joyce D. Zorko OUT K. Coleman (hamstring) J. Prior (omitted) J. Tunstill (omitted) MELBOURNE B T. Rivers A. Tomlinson J. Bowey HB J. Lever H. Petty J. Harmes C A. Brayshaw C.Oliver E. Langdon HF A. Neal-Bullen T. McDonald J. Viney F B. Fritsch M. Gawn C. Spargo FOLL B. Grundy L. Hunter C. Petracca I/C B. Brown K. Chandler T. Sparrow J. McVee SUB J. Melksham EMG J. Jordon J. Smith IN Fritsch Viney OUT B. Laurie (omitted) K. Pickett (suspended) Injury List: Round 2 Bailey Fritsch - Foot |Available Steven May Calf | Available Christian Salem - Thyroid | Available Jack Viney - Knee | Available Kysaiah Pickett - Suspended | 2 Weeks Taj Woewodin - Finger | 6 Weeks
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