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  1. No Paxy, no problems, as Melbourne kicked the equal third highest score in AFLW history to romp home against Greater Western Sydney (GWS) in Canberra by 77 points. Paxman had played in all the Demons previous 65 games but was a late withdrawal due a quad injury. Speedy recovery Paxy. Our Giant Killer, Captain Kate Hore was awesome with 23 disposals, 420 metres gained, 6 tackles and 5 goals 2 behinds. Her confidence in her ability to win the ball seems sky high and she plays all over the ground with such aplomb. When all the AFLW captains were asked ‘if you could recruit another player from any AFLW club who would it be?’, three captains chose our number 10. They know what they’re talking about. Clearly the longer games and rotation cap is advantaging teams like Melbourne and North Melbourne. The Dees slammed on seven goals in the last quarter and the Roos kicked five goals in theirs. We will continue to see more goals this year, across the league. Gold Coast matched the Dees kicking 99 points too. The forward line was really strong on Sunday and always looked dangerous. As for the defenders, Chaplin did well in her first game back while Goldie, Gillard, Birch and crew appeared more confident this week. Our best players Hore, Lampard, Hanks, Pearce, Purcell were well supported by an even team effort. Our list management has been meticulous, and we have managed to keep and develop our players at Melbourne. There are 16 players with 30 AFLW games or more of which 8 players have over 50 games. Melbourne now has a historical win loss ratio of 75.8%, the highest in the competition. It really was an outstanding performance by the team. So many contributors which highlights our even spread of talent and that versatility to which Mick Stinear often refers. The Dees are second on the ladder after two games with the Top 4 looking strangely like Meggs predicted, that is North Melbourne, Adelaide, and Geelong. All teams have percentages over 200%. In terms of the game: Q1 GWS win the first centre clearance and goal within 20 seconds. Impressive start but weren’t we going to open with higher intensity this week? Spoke too early. Within a minute our skipper had kicked two wonderful goals, one from a contested mark and the other was a nice snap. Zanker snags another for the Dees before Doyle marks and goals for the Giants’ second. Goldie finds Hore directly in front who kicks her third goal. What an impressive quarter by Kate. ¼ time: GWS 2.1.13 Dees 4.1.17 Q2 Within 2 minutes of the restart Mackin has kicked another goal. Hanksy’s skill level is on another plane. Her precision by hand and foot is sublime Her pass to Bannan is perfectly weighted and she outsprints her opponents and to kick a nice goal. We are getting on top. Hanks then hits up Harris inside 50 on the boundary line. Tayla then centres to Lampard who marks and duly converts. Our number 8 is having a good game. ½ time: GWS 2.1.13 Dees 7.5.47 Q3 GWS come out a bit stronger after halftime and it’s an arm wrestle for the quarter with each team scoring just the one goal. One from the experienced GWS campaigner Eva but the Dees‘ goal deserves a special mention. Kate Hore marks inside 50 from a well-weighted long pass from Liv Purcell. Kate knows this shot looks close to the edge of her kicking distance. As the ball heads straight towards goal, Tayla first bumps tall defender Cambridge McCormick to her left and then solidly bumps Pepa Randall to her right to clear a path for Kate’s kick to sail through at head height. Nice one Tay! ¾ time: GWS 3.3.21 Dees 8.7.55 Q4 A seven goal to nil last quarter was a procession but still entertaining to watch. Well fun for Dees fans anyway. A botched kick in by GWS results in a nice snap by Purcell for her first goal. Bannan gets her second, the result of a Lauren Pearce forward 50 entry. Loz is playing really well today. Purcell and Lampard both score their second goals. 57 points up. Another forward 50 entry by Pearce results in a goal from a free kick after Lily Mithen was tripped. Banno gets her third goal from a clever snap from the pocket. The last goal was created by Dees keeping the ball alive and aptly it’s Kate Hore who gets on the end of the good play to score her fifth goal. GWS have only kicked a solitary point in this half while the Dees have managed 44 points in the final term alone. It’s a convincing 77 point win and 99 points is Melbourne’s second highest all time score. Full time: Dees 15.9.99 defeated GWS 3.4.22 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said GWS played a good brand of contested footy. A taxing game. Versality is a strength of our playing group. He was happy to earn the four points on the road. GWS coach Cam Bernasconi was disappointed with Melbourne’s seven last quarter goals which created a ‘sour ending’ to the night for his team. He felt GWS was still in the game at ¾ time. Next week we take on old rivals, the Western Bulldogs at Casey Fields on Saturday September 16 at 3:05pm. MELBOURNE 4.1.25 7.5.47 8.7.55 15.9.99 GWS GIANTS 2.1.13 2.1.13 3.3.21 3.4.22 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore 5 Bannan 3 Lampard Purcell 2 Mackin Mithen Zanker GWS GIANTS Doyle Eva Garnett BEST MELBOURNE Hore Hanks Purcell Lampard Pearce GWS GIANTS Barr Eva Evans Parker Beeson INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GWS GIANTS Nil LATE CHANGES GWS GIANTS Annalyse Lister (calf) replaced in selected side by Caitlin Miller MELBOURNE Nil
  2. The reigning AFLW champions dee-stroyed contender Collingwood last week, to open the 2023 season with a third-term masterclass and confirmed their premiership contender credentials. It was such an exhilarating and satisfying match to watch. We witnessed the Eliza Mac comeback, Heathy versus the goliath Davey, new captain Kate starring, Banno and Edo kicking goals, an exciting new tall unearthed in Campbell and our fleet of mids were everywhere especially in that third quarter. And what about those repeated pinpoint deliveries into the forward 50 arc? This weekend the team flies to Canberra for their first ever game at Manuka Oval against fellow foundation club Greater Western Sydney on Sunday at 5:05pm. In a pre-match interview last week Scott Gowans, the Swans coach, described GWS as the worst performing foundation club. Before this match no expansion team had defeated a foundation team. Thus, GWS should have been well motivated, but it was the Swans who backed up their coach’s words with a stirring victory at North Sydney Oval. GWS started well, being 25 points up mid-way through the third quarter but a Chloe Molloy inspired comeback led the Swans to a 5-point historic first ever win for the expansion side. This Sunday evening GWS will encounter a whole new level of dangerous forward line against the Dees talls, speed, and (fingers crossed) accuracy. If we match their intensity, we have the defensive structure to take control and kick a winning score. Selection One change: Maeve Chaplin returns from concussion and will add steel and strength behind the ball. Her ability to attack the contest and deliver a booming kick will be welcomed back. Megan Fitzsimon has been omitted due to injury. Defenders Colvin and Wilson along with Rhi Watt are the emergencies. While our best players were duly lauded for last week’s win there were couple of teammates who we hope will improve their performance this week: Fitzy was quiet (possibly injury impacted), Westy was in and out, and the defensive group Birch, Gillard and Goldrick seemed a bit rusty. At the MFC AFLW launch Meggs asked the coach how Gaby Colvin (named as an emergency) could break into such a strong defensive team, and he was at pains to emphasise what a competitor Gaby is. He is bullish on her so there is certainly pressure on that backline to perform. GWS has named an unchanged line up. Our opponents, GWS Watching their game last week GWS has a sprinkling of experience across the group with Alyce Parker, Alicia Eva, Chloe Dalton, Bec Beeson, Nicola Barr (who plays her 50th game) and a group of tall defenders in Pepa Randall, Grace Hill and Cambridge McCormick. Tall forward Georgia Garnett was lively kicking two nice goals and small Haneen Zreika can play. They will be smarting from their loss last week so expect them to come out strongly. Meggs’ view Last Friday, you could see that the Pies were intense and got on top in that first half led by Bri Davey and Brit Bonicci. Girls let’s start stronger this week. Watching the GWS game our general field kicking and handball skills appear a level above, so if we work hard enough we will overrun them early in the match and secure a big win. The new 60 cap interchange rule is advantaging Melbourne as we have many quality fit midfielders such as Hanksy, Liv Purcell, Westy, Lily M, Paxy plus running machines B Macken and Eliza Mac on the wings and Kate Hore and Heath have gameday midfield roles at certain times. This advantageous depth allows the Dees to share the load, unlike many teams such as GWS who have really only a couple of strong quality mids at their disposal and who will likely tire during the new regime of extended matches and rotation cap. During the recent Casey VFLW season both Fitzy and Goldie had turns on the ball and did well. If GWS star mid Alyce Parker is getting on top at any point expect Coach Mick to throw Giant slayer Shelley Heath on to her. Hore, Harris, Zanker and Bannan are all stars in our forward line and Meggs struggles to see how Pepa Randall and her GWS defensive cohort can contain their collective brilliance. The full ground defence is supported by a strong structure of well drilled teammates setting up and responding to ball movement. Of course, it doesn’t work as well when there is quick ball movement like Collingwood were able to do last week so expect GWS to try and unpick our systems. Good luck with that Cam (GWS coach Bernasconi). Last week Georgia Campbell kicked a nice goal, nicely celebrating her birthday and her first win. Our number one looks the goods as a ruck/ forward and will be tremendous support for Loz Pearce. If Georgia continues to develop, she shapes as a likely successor. Tomorrow’s weather looks fine. Feeling confident this week. Us Dees supporters need some good news this weekend and Meggs expects our champion AFLW team to deliver in Canberra and find our voice. Go Dees! Melbourne by 35 points THE GAME Melbourne v GWS at Manual Oval, Canberra, on Sunday 10 September 2023 at 5:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 4 wins GWS 1 win At Manuka Melbourne 0 wins GWS 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 0 wins Bernasconi 0 wins MEDIA TV - live free on 7mate. Foxtel, Kayo. Check your local guides. Mobile – AFL Live Official App and AFLW Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 6.8.44 defeated GWS 1.1.7 at Casey Fields in Season 6 Round 6 - 12 February 2022 This Season 6 clash was one way traffic with the Dees handing GWS their biggest defeat of the season at Casey Fields, Melbourne’s fortress. If not for the notorious windy conditions, the Dees could have won by more as the forwards had issues converting. The defenders including Ali Brown, Libby Birch and Gaby Colvin were miserly, racking up intercepts and only allowing GWS one solitary goal, late in the game. The Coach sent Shelley Heath to GWS’s star Irish forward Cora Staunton and kept her goalless. What an impressive list of tagging victims Heathy has accumulated over the years. Our star midfielders Lily Mithen, Paxy Paxman, Tyla Hanks and Eliza West all gathered 20 or more disposals for the day and Tayla Harris and Kate Hore kicked two goals each. GOALS Melbourne Harris Hore 2 D Pearce Scott GWS Giants Doyle BEST Melbourne Hanks Mithen West Paxman GWS Giants Randall Parker Eva Dallaway THE TEAMS GWS B J. Hicks P. Randall HB C. Dalton G. Hill T. Evans C J. Doyle N. Barr M. Brazendale HF Z. Goldsworthy H. Zreika A. Parker F G. Garnett B. Mowbray FOLL F. Davies A. Lister A. Eva I/C (from) T. Cattle A. Dallaway T. Germech J. Grierson C. McCormick C. Miller K. Smith IN T. Cattle J. Grierson C. Miller OUT MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C S.Lampard T. Hanks E. McNamara HF T. Harris L. Mithen A. Bannan F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West K. Paxman I/C (from) G. Campbell M. Chaplin G. Colvin B. Mackin O. Purcell R. Watt C. Wilson IN M. Chaplin G. Colvin C. Wilson, R. Watt OUT M. Fitzsimon (Injured) Injury List: Round 2 Saraid Taylor (foot) test Maeve Chaplin (concussion) test
  3. Demon fans will remember well the classic call of “Bang, bang, bang” from the 2021 Premiership game. However, in a truly disappointing game against GWS in the Alice, it was more a case of “pop, fizz, pfft”. When the coach came out and said, “we failed to execute” it is was the same as a firing squad loading with blanks … they simply fail to execute. Melbourne’s firing squad is its forward line and once again they simply were unable to put scoreboard pressure on the opposition with a pathetic (even given the wet conditions) 5.15. There can be no question that the rest of the side are doing their bit. The backs keep repulsing attacks and provide the springboard for multiple forays forward. The mids win contested ball, and just about every other possible statistic including pumping 73 inside 50’s into the forward line but to produce only five goals for the game is a telling indictment. In particular, the lack of forward craft stood out. The intent of modern game tactics is to bring the ball to ground for the smalls to crumb, but the only crumbing goals came from Jack Bowey and Brodie Grundy. There was plenty of running around, ball watching and generally not getting involved by the small forwards, but kicking goals seems not to be in their KPI’s. It was even further compounded by momentum killers in James Harmes and Alex Neale-Bullen who, often at critical times, are unable to perform basic football skills. Their actions simply deflate the rest of the side, and negate the fine efforts of those downfield. Once again, Melbourne failed to adapt to wet weather conditions. What is it now? Five out of six losses in wet or slippery conditions. Perhaps it is too hard to expect players to “get in front, kick long, kick off the ground, or just plain kick it”. Wet weather skills are required, but in this game, the only people who seemed to be doing it for the Demons were the defenders. And the loss of Bayley Fritsch early was critical, since he is perhaps our only reliable goal-kicker. Replacing him with Jake Melksham proved pointless, as he reverted to his usual tactic of seeking cheap kicks out the back, leaving his opponents to play in front (wet weather football). Why he was selected as sub was questionable, since he can only play one position these days. Meanwhile James Jordon gets shunted back to the VFL where he amasses 41 disposals! Another shot to the foot by the selectors. Last week the coach said “we need more out of Grundy and Gawn in the forward line”. Another week and another fail in this area. Yes, it was wet, but four marks around the ground between them , and the solitary goal from Grundy when crumbing the ball in a ruck contest is not why they are being positioned in the forward line. There is something wrong physically with both … Grundy only 62% game time, and Max managing three marks total in the past two games. Perhaps they need a rest on the bench instead of clogging up the forward half, and demonstrating they can’t keep up with defenders streaming downfield. Once again not a shot fired from these two. Finally, thank heavens (obviously not the same type that produces rain and nine degrees for top temperature in Alice Springs) for Jack Viney. Forty-one disposals including 24 contested possessions kept the side in the game, and was probably best on ground for the third week in a row. He has truly stood up in the absence of Clayton Oliver, but it is a pity his resolve hasn’t spread to others in the side. This game demonstrated the fallacy of statistics alone. They are the numerical outcome of what has already happened, but they are not the indicator of success. Only when there is success do the numbers reflect that, not the other way around. The Demons dominated every possible number, yet lost the game. How does that work? The statistics show we were firing in every possible way. A: We kept firing blanks. With a now critical game against the Saints, the real positive for the side must be that it will be played under a roof i.e no wet weather football required. Or can the side, and the selectors manage to shoot ourselves in the foot? MELBOURNE 1.5.11 2.9.21 4.12.36 5.15.45 GWS GIANTS 1.0.6 3.3.21 6.4.40 7.5.47 GOALS MELBOURNE Bowey Grundy Langdon Melksham Pickett GWS GIANTS Greene 2 Brown Cumming Kelly O’Halloran BEST MELBOURNE Viney Hunter Petracca May Bowey Pickett GWS GIANTS Coniglio Green Kelly Greene Briggs Himmelberg INJURIES MELBOURNE Bayley Fritsch (foot) GWS GIANTS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GWS GIANTS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jake Melksham (replaced at Bayley Fritsch in the first quarter) GWS GIANTS Ryan Angwin (replaced Daniel Lloyd in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Matt Stevic Nathan Toner Andrew Heffernan Martin Rodger CROWD 3,413 at TIO Traeger Park
  4. The last time I quoted former Kangaroos champion and Foxtel commentator David King in a match preview, the Demons played one of their best games to date of 2023 and beat Collingwood at the MCG on Kings Birthday. This has led me to return to the guru of all things football strategy, tactics and wisdom for another crack because I’m genuinely concerned that Melbourne is not achieving the things of which it is capable. Speaking on Fox Footy at the weekend, King delivered a significant reality check about the Demons’ forward line arguing that it’s “on life support” and their current mix up forward “is not winning a prelim final” this year. The current mix includes playing elite ruckmen in key forward posts. And based on their recent struggles up forward, the moment of truth is coming quickly for the Melbourne Football Club which earlier in the season was averaging more than 100 points per game (to Round 9) and was leading all AFL clubs for scoring at around that time. However, the past five matches have seen its match totals plummet with scores of 76 (vs Port Adelaide), 72 (Fremantle), 61 (Carlton), 66 (Collingwood) and 63 (Geelong). The team is suddenly bleeding from turnovers, battling to convert scores from inside 50 and in the past four matches has been in the mid 30s goal accuracy percentage range. Of course, it wasn’t just the forward line that was responsible for capitulating against Geelong, Fremantle and Port Adelaide or the near victory from defeat snatch against Collingwood. It was however, the lapses in the forward line where insufficient pressure was asserted on the Cats’ defence in the forward half that turned momentum in the space of three minutes that destroyed three quarters of hard work in their most recent encounter. That’s a red flag that brings the team to its moment of truth. I’m not sure whether the match committee is on top of this because we’re seeing minor patch up jobs with the forward line on a weekly basis with the same flat line forward scoring outcomes, little signs of pressure exerted on opposing defences and low possession statistics for the small forwards. This was not happening earlier this season and King is right to state the situation is not sustainable — the club remains strong in defence and has an elite level midfield (albeit missing its goat in the hamstrung Clayton Oliver) but to maintain a reasonable prospect of getting to a preliminary final, let alone winning one, it requires the forwards to make more of a contribution to the team effort than eight goals and many more behinds over the course of a game. The GWS Giants are no slouches. They not long ago bested Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and in their last game thrashed Fremantle on their home turf. This means the trip to Traeger Park, Melbourne’s home away from home, will present it with more than a few problems. Toby Greene is a likely handful for whoever is chosen to take him on, the Giants have excellent midfield talent in Kelly, Green and Coniglio and a very handy defence. Fortunately for the Demons, the Giants will have little support in the crowd and have to contend with the post bye hoodoo that’s ravaging AFL clubs this year. By way of a strange twist of fate the weather bureau is predicting heavy rain in the days leading up to the game. This should clear by game day and the Demons will be hoping that the ground drains well because they haven’t handled wet, greasy conditions well this year. On their last visit to the Alice, the Demons overturned a last start defeat against Geelong with the help of a six goal masterclass from Kozzy Pickett and the performances of Christian Petracca and Jack Viney in the middle. They overcame a slow start and focused on maintaining momentum throughout the game. They need to repeat that on Sunday at TIO Traeger Park and the best way to achieving that is by improving their inside 50 efficiency and scoring accuracy. With the moment of truth facing them in the heart of the country, the time has come to prove that there’s plenty of life left in their 2023 campaign. Melbourne by 15 points. THE GAME Melbourne v GWS Giants at TIO Traeger Park, Sunday 2 July, 2023 at 3:20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall – Melbourne 9 wins GWS Giants 7 wins At TIO Traeger Park – Melbourne 0 wins GWS Giants 0 wins Past five meetings – Melbourne 3 wins GWS Giants 2 wins The Coaches – Goodwin 0 wins Kingsley 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 19.6.120 defeated GWS Giants 7.11.53 at The MCG, Round 5 2022 This was one of Melbourne’s few big victories of the 2022 season, predicated on strong running, heavy defensive pressure and yes, sublime attacking football and superb accuracy when kicking for goal. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. McVee S. May C. Salem HB T. Sparrow J. Lever T. Rivers C L. Hunter J. Viney E. Langdon HF C. Petracca B. Fritsch J. Smith F A. Neal-Bullen B. Grundy K. Chandler FOLL M. Gawn A. Brayshaw J. Harmes I/C J. Bowey B. Brown H. Petty K. Pickett SUB J. Melksham EMG J. van Rooyen C. Spargo A. Tomlinson IN J. Bowey B. Brown J. Harmes J. Melksham OUT M. Hibberd (kidney) James Jordon (omitted) C. Spargo (omitted) J. van Rooyen GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS B J. Buckley S. Taylor C. Idun HF L. Ash H. Himmelberg N. Haynes C J. Kelly C. Ward F. Callaghan HF D. Lloyd J. Riccardi T. Bedford F X. O'Halloran J. Hogan T. Greene FOLL K. Briggs S. Coniglio T. Green I/C C. M. Brown I. Cumming L. Keefe H. Perryman SUB R. Angwin EMG A. Cadman J. Fahey M. Flynn IN R. Angwin I. Cumming J. Hogan OUT A. Cadman (omitted) J. Fahey (omitted) Whitfield (suspension) Injury List: Round 16 Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 - 2 Weeks Michael Hibberd - Kidney | TBC Tom McDonald - Foot | 4 - 6 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | TBC
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