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  1. Well, the 2023 season is over for the Demons after a two point loss to the Blues in the First Semi Final. All season WE have been hearing about the “learnings” that the team needed to make after each loss, but how much have we actually learnt when they: 1. Lost four successive finals at our own home ground; 2. Fell in five of their last six losses despite having more shots at goal and in the sixth, they had an equal number of shots; 3. Lost seven games by under two goals; 4. Kicked 118.51 (69.8%) in the first 7 games, but scored 203.226 (45.2%) for the remainder of the season. In the finals it was 16.28 at 36.4%. What has been learnt is that kicking straight wins matches. But that blatantly obvious notion seems to have eluded the MFC as they burned numerous opportunities to ice games. With Melbourne recording yet another miserable 9.17 in front of goal, the result left the door ajar for Carlton, and they bumbled their way through it with seconds remaining to send their obnoxious fans into delirium. Chances, chances and straight out failure to score a major when the opportunity presented. The captain fluffed two straightforward attempts from close range. The side’s last five shots for the season were all behinds at a time when the game and the season was on the line. We have heard that finals football is a different game. It certainly is, since it becomes a matter of centimetres and individual wins over an opponent. With two goals denied because of touched calls, including one by Max as well, the line between success and failure was once again, quite literally a fingernail. A season finished and a real opportunity lost. Have the team and coaching panel learnt the lesson? Hard to see that they have when the results are the same. It was also hard to understand both the selections and the non-use of the sub. The claim that Schache was to be insurance for Max, frankly fails the “pub test” when he wasn’t used at all. The non selection of Grundy also fails the same test, since Max was forced to play 87% game time against two ruckmen, including no break at all in the third quarter! Grundy had an exemplary performance in his last game at Casey while playing in the ruck, something which Schache didn’t do! The defenders held up strongly all night led by Steven May with ten interceptions, while Jake Lever backed up with nine. May took seven marks, Lever eight, but it was those truly telling contested marks, not just the three he took, but that they were at critical points in the game. Adam Tomlinson returned to the side, and managed to lose De Koning in his first venture, and in his second pushed him in the back, so gifting Carlton their first two goals. What was the margin in the end? Why Turner wasn’t given the role, when he reads the play so much better and is streets ahead in mobility is another conundrum. Big shout out to Trent Rivers with an amazing ten contested possessions while playing off half back. But it was up forward that the side was let down. They missed Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham, Jacob van Rooyen and Ben Brown although they had co-opted Joel Smith to be the leading target. He certainly performed well above expectations with three goals and (unlike others) zero behinds. The same could not be said for Tom McDonald who simply looked slow and unable to impact any aspect of the game. Wasn’t he brought in as the back up ruck? Or was that Schache? Well in that role he only had 1 hit out and no score for the match, so that was another piece of brilliance, with Schache sitting on the bench for the whole game. The mids did their best against quality opposition, Jack Viney with a credible 15 contested touches from his 31 overall. Petracca also 15 contested, but in the absence of Brayshaw, he was unable to be used up forward as much, and the forwards certainly needed all the help they could get. The supporters were burnt again, but we all know they will come back. They have learnt to take defeat all too often and it is no surprise that “Melbourne Football Club Supporter Syndrome” is burnt into their psyche when their side blows a two goal lead with minutes to go … again. One would think those supporters would learn?  MELBOURNE 3.3.21 4.7.31 7.11.53 9.17.71 CARLTON 2.2.14 5.3.33 7.5.47 11.7.73 GOALS MELBOURNE Smith 3 Fritsch Pickett 2 Langdon Petracca CARLTON Acres De Koning Motlop Walsh 2 Curnow Kennedy Owies BEST MELBOURNE May Oliver Viney Smith Petracca Sparrow CARLTON Walsh Cripps Newman De Koning Weitering Saad INJURIES

 MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Cripps (nose) Docherty (shoulder) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Ollie Hollands replaced David Cuningham in the fourth quarter UMPIRES Simon Meredith Nathan Williamson Andre Gianfagna Jacob Mollison CROWD 96,412 at the MCG
  2. At half time in the 1975 Grand final against North Melbourne, legendary Hawthorn coach entered Australian sporting folklore when he implored his charges who were lagging behind their opponents to ‘do something’: "At least do something. Do. Don't think. Don't hope. Do. At least you can come off saying 'I did this'," Kennedy said. Kennedy’s plea failed but he had made his point and the Hawks rose again in 1976 when they took the premiership flag from the Kangaroos. The same frustrations which Kennedy faced in 1975 have been felt by the Demon faithful at times throughout 2022 and again, in parts of 2023. Last Thursday, as we sat and watched the train wreck of another slow start against Collingwood, followed by the last quarter and a half of a game in which opportunity after opportunity was butchered by poor decision making and execution in the forward line, many of us were moved to let out that helpless primal scream of ‘do something’! Melbourne won only one first quarter from Round 20 onwards (against an inaccurate Sydney team). The opposition put scoreboard pressure on the Demons, forcing them to work hard to get back into the game and win. Against, better teams such as Carlton (Round 22: 8.8.56 to 9.6.60) and Collingwood (EF: 7.11.53 to 9.6.60) the win simply did not eventuate even though Melbourne ran out the far stronger team in these match ups. Melbourne has as strong a defence and midfield as any in the competition. The defence has, for the most part, been playing out its role and has curbed the dangerous Charlie Curnow and his cohort of little men twice this year but the midfield needs to do something to lift its intensity rating when the battle starts. The contest between the midfields will be of paramount importance as the Blues’ Cripps, Walsh and Cerra, at their best can match the Demons’ gold star rated mids in Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney. It might well devolve into a question of who among the bit parts of the respective mids can stand up and be counted, particularly when they play their opening gambit. The other something needed from Melbourne is its efficiency when going forward. They need to be less predictable as otherwise, the Blues’ defence headed by Weitering will pick the Demons apart. Any attack that has 32 more inside-50 entries than its opponent but kicks only seven goals in a match has to be classified as bordering on dysfunctional so the Melbourne selectors have to do something to turn that situation around. That’s easier said than done without the forward line trio of Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham and Jacob van Rooyen who, between them, managed 14 goals straight in Round 20 against Richmond but will all be absent on Friday night. Does the club have the depth of talent necessary to enable it to take advantage in front of goal if the midfield stands up to give them scoring opportunities as expected? Much is being made about claims that Max Gawn and Oliver might be going into battle on Friday night but a little bluebird tells me that Cripps and Marchbank will also be carrying their own injuries into the game. The Demons have the ability to select some seasoned players including All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy and James Jordon and Charlie Spargo who have both played in a premiership team, along with the likes of Bayley Fritsch, Kozzy Pickett and Tom McDonald who had major roles in the same campaign for that 2021 flag. There is plenty of scope left for coach Simon Goodwin and his team to do something. And, I’m tipping that they will do so and overcome the Blues by the slender margin of a solitary point. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Friday 15 September 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Carlton 118 wins Melbourne 97 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Carlton 51 wins Melbourne 56 wins Past five meetings Carlton 1 win Melbourne 4 The Coaches Voss 1 win Goodwin 2 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Carlton 9.6.60 defeated Melbourne 8.8.56 at the MCG Round 22, 2023 The Demons made a poor start to the game but somehow were close enough to be well in the contest at each interval before falling asleep again in the opening minutes of the final term when they conceded three goals. Inaccuracy and a Carlton fingernail cost them the win that might have secured them a second place finish and an easier run to a Preliminary Final. Angus Brayshaw’s 31 touches were pivotal to the Demons’ ultimately unsuccessful lunge toward victory. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. Lever A. Tomlinson J. Bowey HB J. McVee S. May C. Salem C L. Hunter C. Oliver E. Langdon HF J. Jordon B. Fritsch C. Petracca F T. Sparrow McDonald A. Neal-Bullen FOLL M. Gawn, J. Viney, K. Pickett I/C K. Chandler T. Rivers J. Smith C. Spargo SUB J. Schache EMG B. Grundy M. Hibberd B. Laurie IN J. Jordon J. Schache C. Spargo A. Tomlinson OUT A. Brayshaw (concussion) M. Hibberd (omitted) B. Laurie (omitted) J. van Rooyen (suspended) CARLTON B B. Kemp J. Weitering N. Newman HB A. Cincotta M. McGovern A. Saad C B. Acres P. Cripps M. Cottrell HF S. Docherty T. De Koning M. Owies F L. Fogarty C. Curnow J. Motlop FOLL M. Pittonet A. Cerra S. Walsh I/C D. Cunningham G. Hewett M. Kennedy C. Marchbank SUB O. Hollands EMG P. Dow S. Durdin Z. Fisher IN O. Hollands M. Kennedy OUT H. McKay (hamstring) J. Martin (suspended) Injury and Suspension List: Semi Final Ben Brown - Knee | Test James Harmes - Hamstring | Test Angus Brayshaw - Concussion | TBC Jacob van Rooyen Suspended | 1 Week Luke Dunstan - Knee | Season Blake Howes - Hand | Season Jake Melksham - Knee | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  3. A fingernail ... that is the difference between winning an AFL match and holding on to 2nd place on the ladder. Or a spot in the next stage of the FIFA womens world cup. While one Carlton Blue’s player had a fingernail long enough to deny a Melbourne victory, Le Bleues had bitten theirs down (along with a lot of Australian fans) in a dramatic penalty shootout. Was the Petracca kick touched or not? Which way does a deflection from the woodwork go? It matters no more, because the decision has been made, and one team of Blues goes home happy, while the other just goes home. Melbourne was on the end of a nail biting finish in this game, and certainly had multiple chances in the dying minutes of the game to take the victory. But when playing against sides like Carlton who sit 5th on the ladder, these are the games which are typical of the finals football that is to come. The match will always come down to one or two critical moments. The coach himself said after the match that it is important to “win those moments”. The Demons didn’t and have paid the price. And once again, with rain falling in this match the Demons failed. Almost every loss by the team has been in slippery and or wet conditions. In some games it was a failure to adapt to play wet weather football, but like this game it just causes a drop off in the slickness needed to transit the ball to the attacking end of the ground. The Demons got off to a poor start in the game, and scored a solitary goal from barely half a dozen entries into the forward 50. Fortunately, their defenders denied Carlton again and again, so come the end of the first quarter both sides had only bothered the goal umpires once each. The second quarter was much the same and the two teams went into the break with three majors each and two points separating them. It was to be a portent of the end result. The match was simply being played between the arcs, and with over 50 i50’s for each side and only 6 goals it certainly wasn’t a game to be watched by the spectators. But then most of them were watching the shootout at another game on their phones. Finally in the 3rd quarter things started to happen. Australia had won the soccer and everyone, including the players returned their concentration to playing real football. More goals kicked in 1 quarter than in the previous half, but once again both sides were level pegging, and there promised to be a nail biting shootout in the final stanza. Well that proved to be the case, and Melbourne gave the Blues a mighty step up in the opening minutes when they simply waltzed the ball out of the middle and put themselves 18 points up, which was the highest margin for the night. To their credit, the Demons clawed their way back and with yet another miraculous goal to Kysaiah Pickett, followed by a great mark and straight kick from Joel Smith, they were back in it. A “gimme” chance to Christian Salem surprisingly fell short and then the Petracca shot was adjudged to have been touched on the line. A four point victory to the Baggers. All around the ground, there were great contests. Steven May probably won the fight against Charlie Curnow, only allowing him two goals. He was ably assisted by Jake Lever with 12 intercept possessions. Still, the Carlton smalls were winning the match for them, so we saw Michael Hibberd introduced to quell the rot, and that he did. As the coach noted, it wasn’t a night for forwards, and the Gawndy experiment was repeated with no positive outcome. A paltry three marks between the two players for the match, is not what is expected and certainly not needed. While Gawn dominated the ruck for hitouts, the outcome was not to the teams advantage, and it was no surprise that the final quarter comeback from the Demons occurred when Grundy was used in the ruck. More importantly the same experiment utterly failed when both players went forward. Does anybody remember them getting a single touch in that area? Once again they just clog up the space and it caused the coach to move Smith to the forward line to get some presence up there. It couldn’t be left to a 20 year old Jacob Van Rooyen alone, who was battling against Weitering, one of the best backs in the whole league. With the fingernails well and truly bitten down to their base, the Demon fans have nothing left now for the final two matches. A game against a re-vitalised Hawthorn and another against Sydney in the Harbour city, are going to be more of the same. Or will comprehensive victories against these two sides, allow sufficient growth for those with severe cases of MFCSS to endure the finals series? MELBOURNE 1.0.6 3.3.21 6.6.42 8.8.56 CARLTON 1.3.9 3.5.23 6.6.42 9.6.60 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 2 Chandler Langdon Neal-Bullen Pickett Smith Sparrow CARLTON C Curnow Owies 2 Acres Cripps De Koning Docherty Martin BEST MELBOURNE Viney Oliver Petracca Salem Brayshaw Hunter CARLTON Cripps Newman Weitering Hewett Docherty Saad INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Sam Docherty (calf) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Michael Hibberd (replaced James Jordon in the third quarter) CARLTON Ed Curnow (replaced Sam Docherty in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Justin Power Ray Chamberlain Robert Findlay Brent Wallace CROWD 68,577 at the MCG
  4. After Melbourne beat Carlton in an MCG snore fest on the first Friday night of winter, most of those who witnessed this insipid event would have been hard put to believe that the return match nine weeks hence would gain billing as a showcase encounter between the two in-form teams of the AFL competition. The Blues started the season strongly, but they had hit a wall. Struck by injuries and form lapses, they were behaving as nervous wrecks, botching their targets, making poor decisions and appearing like deer standing frozen in an approaching car’s headlights. Sensing their team was heading for football’s scrap heap to fight for choice draft picks in the second half of the season, the fans were not happy — they were baying for blood. Anyone’s blood. Meanwhile, the Demons, who started the year positively, were also in a rut having lost their last two games: both winnable. Faced with the prospect of having to live for a while without the driving force of champion on baller Clayton Oliver as well as with a dysfunctional forward line that had forgotten how to score goals, they managed to prevail in this forgettable clash against the lamentable Blues but it was clear that both clubs were in need of an infusion of some magical power to get them to move forward. It was surely by magic then, that Michael Voss was able to uncover the right chemistry to turn his club on its head with seven straight wins, many of them by large amounts with their closest opponent being the ladder leader Collingwood where the margin was seventeen points. Last week, the Blues faltered in the first half against the Saints, but they blasted their way into fifth position on the ladder in the face a typically ultra negative defence from Ross Lyon whose charges managed a single goal in the last half. Melbourne also found a winning trajectory, albeit without the same huge margins but it endured a similarly slow last start against the lowly Kangaroos before a ten-goal turnaround saw them move into second place on the table. Suddenly, it’s second versus fifth in what promises to be an intriguing matchup between two teams that have key personnel missing from their line ups. At least there can be no more perfect venue for such an encounter with the Blues coming off the soulless Marvel Stadium contrasting with the Demons’ last venue in a suburban setting at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. On Saturday night, it will be a full-throated reception from 80,000 fans at the magical MCG. A fortnight ago, Melbourne thought it had discovered the perfect forward line formula after a search that lasted almost two years. Harrison Petty, Jacob van Rooyen and Jake Melksham were deadly in hitting the target fourteen times in a score of 130 points but the loss of Petty through injury will cause a rethink and a reshuffle. The outcome will be crucial in this match as Carlton’s brilliant defender Jacob Weitering awaits his next prey. At the other end of the ground, Carlton’s attack has discovered the magic formula for a newfound potency since the last encounter between these teams. Charlie Curnow has blossomed in the absence of Harry McKay, assisted by a bevy of dangerous small to medium forwards ever-ready to swoop on ground balls set up when aerial contests are smothered. At the time of writing, before team selection, it’s not known exactly who will line up in the respective teams’ midfields. The expected return of Clayton Oliver could be decisive but who knows how he will fare after being on the missing list since a rainy night in Adelaide in the middle of May. In his absence, the Demons’ changed midfield structure has served the team well and allowed Christian Petracca to go forward at times with great success while Jack Viney lifted several notches, Angus Brayshaw added his delicate touch and others came to the aid of the party. Clarrie’s return will add a touch of spice to this game as will the possible change to the forward line resulting from Harrison Petty’s absence. Will Simon Goodwin find some more magical powers in his chemistry set to influence the outcome of this game? This week Melbourne has claimed top place on the Musashi Power Rankings ahead of Collingwood who have been leading the pack for most of the year. Carlton have climbed into fourth place. This is the pointer that swayed my decision about who wins — I’m tipping a magical 5-point victory for the Demons. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Saturday 12 August 2023 at 7.30pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Carlton 117 wins Melbourne 97 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Carlton 50 wins Melbourne 56 wins Past five meetings Carlton 0 wins Melbourne 5 The Coaches Voss 0 wins Goodwin 2 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 8.13.61 defeated Carlton 6.8.44 at the MCG Round 12, 2023 It was a dour struggle between two teams intent on defence. Christian Petracca with thirty-two touches and six marks was outstanding as the Demons returned to the winner’s list after a couple of close defeats. THE TEAMS CARLTON B A. Cincotta J. Weitering A. Saad HB N. Newman C. Marchbank B. Kemp C B. Acres P. Cripps O. Hollands HF J. Martin T. De Koning D. Cuningham F L. Fogarty C. Curnow M. Owies FOLL M. Pittonet S. Docherty G. Hewett I/C M. Cottrell P. Dow Z. Fisher J. Motlop SUB E. Curnow EMG J. Boyd S. Durdin J. Honey NO CHANGE MELBOURNE B C. Salem S. May T. Rivers HB J. Bowey J. Lever A. Brayshaw C L. Hunter J. Viney A. Neal-Bullen HF C. Petracca J. Smith K. Chandler F J. Melksham J. van Rooyen Jordon FOLL M. Gawn C. Oliver K. Pickett I/C B. Grundy E. Langdon J. McVee T. Sparrow SUB M. Hibberd EMG J. Harmes J. Schache C. Spargo IN B. Grundy C. Oliver OUT J. Harmes (omitted) H. Petty (foot) Injury List: Round 22 Tom McDonald - Ankle | Test Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | Test Kye Turner - Groin | Test Ben Brown - Knee | 1 Week Daniel Turner - Hand | 1 - 2 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 2 - 3 Weeks Blake Howes - Hand | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  5. Long time supporters would be all too familiar with the call “free kick, Hawthorn”, as umpires seemed to gift certain teams an inordinate amount of free kicks in the game. Similarly, in the Melbourne v Carlton game a 22 to 13 free kick count, was grossly out of place given the dominance of Melbourne in just about every other statistic for the game. However, for the Blues with only 4½ wins from their 12 games, their season is rapidly heading the same way as Hawthorn, despite all the help they receive from umpires and tribunals. But enough of umpires who seem to be having an even worse season, despite there being four of them officiating now (Memo to Gill or Dill: The AFL is a billion dollar enterprise with the available umpiring talent spread too thinly, given their semi-amateur status - surely something can be done?). The win by Melbourne could only be described as “uninspiring”. For the second week in a row, the kicking for goal from set shots was simply appalling, and were it not from some boundary line efforts from Max and Jacob van Rooyen, the picture would have been even worse with the Demons putting through 13 minor scores. Once again, the game should have been put away as early as the first quarter, but the door was left open to Carlton, and of course they took the advantage to keep themselves in the game. The two goal lead at the first break only managed to increase to 3 or thereabouts for the rest of the match, with the final margin an uninspiring 17 points. With the lack of acceptable output up forward, the task was left to the defenders who only allowed Carlton 39 forward entries during the game. This contrasted with the 59 for the Demons, but that only showed up the poor return for all that effort upfield. Steven May dominated Charlie Curnow, holding the Coleman medal leader to a single goal. Adam Tomlinson was given the job on Harry McKay, who finished with three majors but this meant both May and Jake Lever were able to play their natural games with the latter taking 12 intercepts. The return of the three tall structure then saw flow on effects to others, with Jake Bowey amassing 8 intercepts, while Christian Salem and Trent Rivers picked up 20 and 24 touches respectively. The defence was back to its humming self, even despite the absence of Hibberd and Petty. The other absence in the game was Clayton Oliver, and his presence probably would have seen a more inspiring scoreline and game to watch. He was covered successfully by Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and others. Petracca with 32 touches including 17 contested possessions was the real standout in the middle while Viney’s grunt at critical times of the game was sorely needed. The return of Lachie Hunter to the wing filled the gap that enable delivery upfield, so sadly missed last week. While Bayley Fritsch couldn’t find his set shot kicking boots again, at least van Rooyen took another step forward in his development with his aerial power and bullocking to create those one on one chances. And in only his second season, don’t forget he was matched against Weitering, who is one of the best backs in the business today. Max and Brodie Grundy won the ruck battle together against De Koning, but they were aided by the loss of Silvagni in the second half, which corresponded to their increased marking around the ground. They are still a work in progress and once again were aided by the lack of entries into the 50m area for Carlton, which has been an achilles heel for the Demons in goals from stoppages. The four points was banked by the Demons, who now face the perennial enemy in Collingwood on Kings Birthday. There is no doubt a vocal, rabid and one-eyed crowd of Pies supporters will seek to influence the outcome of umpiring decisions, but like this game against the Blues, it is something which the Demons have shown they can overcome. They will need to do so, because the crowd size will be nearly double what it was this week. And the best way to silence them is to kick straight when the opportunity presents itself. MELBOURNE 3.3.21 5.6.36 7.11.53 8.13.61 CARLTON 1.2.8 2.5.17 5.6.36 6.8.44 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 2 Gawn Neal-Bullen Petracca Pickett Spargo van Rooyen CARLTON McKay 3 Acres Curnow Fisher BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Viney Langdon Lever van Rooyen Rivers CARLTON Cripps Cerra Docherty McKay Weitering Kemp INJURIES MELBOURNE Jake Bowey (concussion) CARLTON Jack Silvagni (hip) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE James Harmes (replaced Jake Bowey in the third quarter) CARLTON Paddy Dow (replaced Jack Silvagni at half-time) UMPIRES Chris Donlon Robert O'Gorman Andrew Stephens Robert Findlay CROWD 49,872 at the MCG
  6. We’ve seen it all before. Club in turmoil. Coach under pressure. Club President caught up in a tax scandal. Club board not seeing eye to eye with one board member resigning amid questions about whether he was pushed or did he jump? Unrest bordering on hysteria among the supporters. Team dropping from undefeated after four rounds to 13th after ten. Allegations of favoured treatment of players. Players out of form, forwards with the kicking yips, a bruising injury list with some facing the knife while another up before the AFL Tribunal. The media camped waiting on the club’s doorstep with those furry microphone things, pointed at every employee who comes out for some fresh air or a smoko, ready to pounce with some of the most inane questions imaginable. Yes, it’s crisis time at Carlton, the club designated by the AFL as its Friday night favourite playing the Melbourne Football Club at the home of football to kick off the first bye round on … checks, yep … Friday night. Right on cue, the AFL comes to the rescue. The MRO decided that Blues player Adam Cerra has a case to answer for a dangerous tackle on Swans’ ruckman Tom Hickey but for the first time this year, a dangerous tackle charge is thrown out by the AFL Tribunal. Instead of the requirement being on the alleged perpetrator to do something to avoid the collision of the head, it’s the victim who had the onus of using one of his arms to break the fall. Anyway, it was allegedly Hickey’s bouffant hair arrangement that actually banged the SCG turf and not the head he was rubbing in pain after the incident, so justice AFL style prevailed again. And in an ominous move for the Demons, the Blues’ legal team will make up their half forward line on Friday night at the MCG to ensure that the free kick count sits at 24 to 9 in their favour. Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, the Carlton skipper is expected to make a surprise appearance for his team in a game against Melbourne. This time it comes after making a miraculous recovery from having his ankle stepped on late in the game against the Swans. When someone steps on anything remotely near that part a Demon player’s anatomy it usually escalates rapidly from nothing to a 4 to 6 week injury. But the Blues’ medics are almost as good as their lawyers. Still, I’m not really paranoid and I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. In fact, there would have be something seriously wrong with Melbourne that even the world’s best team of doctors, lawyers and administrators can’t fix if it can’t overcome an ailing Carlton at the MCG on Friday night. After all, this is a team that embarked upon season 2023 boasting about being the fittest team in the competition, with great depth in every position on the football field, and focused on regaining lost prestige from last season’s finals stumble. They couldn’t possibly lose to that rabble. Surely? I’m confidently tipping them to win. By a point. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Friday 2 June 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 96 wins Carlton 117 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Melbourne 55 wins Carlton 50 wins Past five meetings Melbourne 5 Carlton 0 wins The Coaches Goodwin 1 wins Voss 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 11.13.79 defeated Carlton 10.14.74 at the MCG Round 22, 2022 The Blues looked to have had this game won as the clock wound down with less than two minutes to go. Then Jake Melksham* took a great contested mark in the middle of three Carlton defenders and his fourth goal for the match gave the team hope which translated into a win when Kozzie Pickett converted truly with seconds to go. * Melksham was given a two week suspension (reduced to one for an early plea) by the VFL Match Review Panel for a striking offence against a Werribee player in the fourth quarter of the match last Saturday. Nothing suspicious about the timing of the suspension of the hero of last year’s clash against the Blues, is there? THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B A. Tomlinson S. May J. McVee HB J. Bowey J. Lever C. Salem C T. Sparrow J. Viney E. Langdon HF K. Chandler Fritsch Pickett F C. Spargo Grundy Neal-Bullen FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter I/C A. Brayshaw T. Rivers J. Smith J. van Rooyen SUB J. Harmes EMG B. Brown D. Turner T. Woewodin IN L. Hunter J. Smith A. Tomlinson OUT M. Hibberd (managed) J. Jordon (omitted) T. McDonald (ankle) CARLTON B A. Cincotta J. Weitering B. Kemp HB L. Young M. McGovern A. Saad C S. Walsh P. Cripps B. Acres HF J. Motlop C. Curnow J. Silvagni F Z. Fisher H. McKay M. Owies FOLL T. De Koning A. Cerra M. Kennedy I/C J. Boyd M. Cottrell S. Docherty L. O'Brien SUB P. Dow EMG E. Curnow L. Fogarty L. Plowman IN A. Cincotta P. Dow Z. Fisher L. O'Brien J. Silvagni L. Young OUT C. Durdin (knee) E. Curnow (omitted) G. Hewett (concussion) O. Hollands (collarbone) N. Newman ((hamstring) M. Pittonet (hand) Injury List: Round 12 Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 Week Luke Dunstan - Knee | 1 - 2 Weeks Harry Petty - Foot | 2 - 3 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | 3 - 4 Weeks Will Verrall - Pelvis | 3 - 4 Weeks
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