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  1. We were expecting that after last week’s comprehensive defeat by Brisbane, our coach Mick Stinear would have his charges coming out breathing finals fire. Instead, it was North who had the aggression, the numbers, who blocked our scoring avenues and rendered us impotent, unable to match the Kangas during any phase of the match. Darren Crocker, the North coach, later highlighted that how to beat Melbourne is no secret following recent losses to Adelaide and Brisbane and now North. With the secret out, will Geelong be our next subduer? In fairness North was brilliant. They won across all three lines and made us look second rate. By jingo they laid 104 tackles. We were not able to generate any corridor switches, not helped by our many dropped marks and kicking errors. Our forwards were unable to halve contests, never ever seemed to be in front and ultimately the footy never stayed long enough near our goals. No surprise then that Melbourne, despite having the greatest attack in AFLW history, was unable to score a goal in the first 3 quarters. One goal three points is our second lowest score in history and the 41-point loss is our second highest loss. It was also unhappily our first loss at IKON Park. Libby Birch is excellent as the deep defender with her intercept marking and reading of the play. However North forced her to play one on one and you could see at ground level that she was being constantly outbodied and outsprinted. North has three talls in Randall, Shierlaw and Emma King and it would seem we were missing one key defender. Meggs watched all the AFLW finals games over the weekend and the standard of matches was really high. In a sliding doors moment, former Dee Brenna Tarrant left us for greater opportunities in Sin City. She has really blossomed and was the standout Swans key defender on Saturday. The North big three of Garner, Riddell and Kearney were superb. Expecting Heater to blanket the best player in the AFLW as a core strategy every time needs rethinking Mick. In terms of our team, Tyla Hanks and Liv Purcell worked tirelessly for 4 quarters. They along with others such as Goldie, Gay, Kate Hore, B Mackin, Paxy, Chaplin and Loz Pearce showed the level of physical commitment required to play in finals. Unfortunately, there was never enough connection to ever win this game. Anyway, enough doom and gloom. We are still alive in Season Eight. Let’s move on, cash in our double chance and bounce back like true defending champions against the Cats. In terms of the game: Meggs and Mrs Meggs sat amongst the players families this week which was lovely and engaged in some lively chats during the game. Q1 It was a mostly tight opening quarter. Tahlia Randall outbodied Loz Pearce in a ruck contest before slamming it onto her boot for the only goal of the quarter. North peppers the goals for points only and we feel lucky that no damage is done. Hansky has a late chance but mistimes her kick. ¼ time: Dees 0.1.1 Roos 1.4.10 Q2 We struggle to get the ball forward and when we do it comes straight out again. North scores the only goal of the quarter by Randall who outbodies Birch in a marking contest. It is swirly out there for footy but really sunny and warm in our seats. ½ time: Dees 0.1.1 Roos 2.4.16 Q3 Mick makes a move. Tayla Harris starts the quarter in the ruck, with Hanksy, Kate and Paxy and instantly we move the ball forward and Loz Pearce marks directly in front. Momentum is lost as she misses left a la Max Gawn. North then explode for their best quarter of the game. Three rather impressive goals by North to Randall and then Eddey on the run twice. The Dees double their score but it’s only 2 points in total. We can’t believe that the league’s most potent forward line has failed to fire a bullet. Zanks what’s happening? ¾ time: Dees 0.2.2 Roos 5.6.36 Q4 We are beaten in every quarter. Kate Hore marks nicely but hits the post from directly in front. A few moments later Bannan who has been mostly unsighted takes a nice mark and kicks truly for our only goal for the day. North’s Gatt runs 20 metres without bouncing it and O’Loughlin kicks North’s penultimate goal. Emma King then puts the final nail in our coffin for a 41-point drubbing. What has happened to the #DemonSpirit these past two weeks? Dees 1.3.9 Roos 7.8.50 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was thankful that our successful home and away performance allowed us the double chance. He said North’s defence was sound and they thoroughly deserved the win. We were scored against too easily and there wasn’t enough connection. North coach Darren Crocker said his side has built a unique defensive system over a number of seasons and was pleased how it held up in finals conditions. He referenced the tackling and pressure by Adelaide and Brisbane in their recent wins over Melbourne which demonstrated the method of how to beat us. For Melbourne, another huge task awaits Mick Stinear and his football department as they regroup for a battle against the confident Cats next Sunday at 3.05pm AEDT at IKON Park. MELBOURNE 0.1.1 0.2.2 0.2.2 1.3.9 NORTH MELBOURNE 1.4.10 2.4.16 5.6.36 7.8.50 GOALS MELBOURNE Bannan NORTH MELBOURNE Randall 3 Eddey 2 E. King O'Loughlin BEST MELBOURNE Purcell Hanks Hore Gillard Pearce NORTH MELBOURNE Garner Randall Kearney Riddell Eddey Ferguson Gatt INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Shierlaw (teeth/cut lip) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil UMPIRES Adams Laycock Mitchell CROWD 5,431 at Ikon Park
  2. A sunny Sunday afternoon feast of finals footy awaits at our team’s favourite home ground, Ikon Park. Great vibes at Princes Park where we remain undefeated from 7 matches and counting. Expect the Dees to come out strongly, sparring and outmuscling the Kangaroos in the middle. With Paxy back firing and our gun forwards mesmerising, hopefully we catch ‘em on the hop. Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane have filled ten of the twelve Grand Final spots in AFLW history, and this dominance looks well placed to continue with all teams finishing Top 4 in Season 8. The North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos are desperately hoping to shatter this stranglehold. Kangaroos superstar Jasmine Garner is the runaway 2023 AFLCA best player for an incredible third time. Her team relies on her dominance because when she does, they do. Her leading midfield buddy Ash Riddell has 320 disposals this season, an average of 32 per game. No Demons come close to besting this stat. North has won 67.2% of its matches since entering the competition in 2019. Prima facie, a great record but stats can be misleading. History shows us that the Demons, Crows, and Lions have been the Kangas persistent nemesis. The Roos record against the Big 3 is miserable. Only 2 wins from 16 matches or 12.5%. Whereas its record against the rest of the competition is an impressive 88.1%. Listening to Goldie and Heathy during the week you can tell that we’ve moved on from last week’s disappointing match. The Demons coach was highlighting our impressive Season 8 home and away record of 8 wins, finishing second with a double-chance, and kicking the highest ‘points for’ by any club since the competition began. We also have goal kickers Captain Kate Hore and Eden Zanker with 20 goals each, an AFLW record. Plus having two players from the same team winning the goalkicking has never happened in men’s or women’s footy either. Melbourne’s emerging young talent was recognised during the week with Tahlia Gillard, Eliza McNamara and Alyssa Bannan named in the AFL Player’s Association’s 22Under 22 Squad. No rain but some wind this Sunday. It should be ideal playing conditions between two closely matched hard working teams. Please come along if you can and be entertained by two exciting and super talented teams. Selection this week Importantly Paxy has been greenlighted for Sunday. We need her run and creativity. We hear that Georgia Campbell is in the mix to replace Rhi Watt who is out with concussion. Armchair selectors are hoping Georgia plays this week and that Harris and Zanker stay forward, not seconded as backup rucks. Aimee Mackin and Maddi Gay are seemingly available too which is great news. Unfortunately, Casey Sherriff has broken her arm again and now out for the season. Her clever ball use, which has led to many goal-assists this year, will be missed. Georgia Gall, a surprise replacement last week, will be one omission. Our opponents, North Melbourne North has midfield bull Mia King as a test with neck soreness. Utility Lulu Pullar is also a test. With key defender Nicole Bresnehan now returned from a serious ankle injury, North is at full strength. The North engine room is highly respected by the Melbourne brains trust. Garner, Riddell, Mia King, tagger Amy Smith and the highly skilled Jenna Bruton are a formidable group. Kim Rennie and Emma King do the Kangas ruck work, but our wonderful Loz Pearce has had the edge lately and Georgia Campbell scored a goal last time they played. Statistically North has the best defence with only 213 points against. The defence is led by their illustrious skipper Emma Kearney, the only player to be named All-Australian in every season of AFLW’s existence. With the reliable Bresnehan (who didn’t play in Round 8), and talls Ferguson, Wright, Shannon plus the speedy Irish player Erika O’Shea, the North defence is the best in 2023. Expect to see O’Shea mark up on Banno again. Forward wise, we kept them to 2 goals last time. Kate Shierlaw, Tahlia Randall and Emma King resting are all capable and potentially dangerous marks. Our defenders led by young Gillard and co will match up well. Meggs’ view Adelaide and Brisbane have shown the competition how to beat Melbourne. The Demons coaching staff know this and will be expecting North to emulate the physical attack on the ball carrier, bring numbers and apply high intensity to turn over the ball. Melbourne must match the pressure, swarm like Brisbane did last week, lower their eyes and attack. The playing surface at Ikon is superb so there are no excuses for poor skills this week. Heathy hinted that she might be shadowing Garner. As we’d expect. Meggs would like to see Mithen take on Riddell. Eliza Mac could be an interesting match-up on the emerging Taylah Gatt. North has the best backline, and Melbourne the best forward line. It’s going to be a cracker of match watching Zanker, Hore, Tayla Harris, and Alyssa Bannan strut their stuff. Eyes on the prize, a week off. Meggs fears an uncomfortably close one coming up. Go Dees! Melbourne by 1 point THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos at Ikon Park, on Sunday 11 November 2023 at 3:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 6 wins North 1 win At Ikon Melbourne 2 wins North 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 5 wins Crocker 0 wins MEDIA TV – 7 mate, Fox Footy, Kayo Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – ABC Radio, NEMBC Media (Spanish Radio). THE LAST TIME THEY MET - Season 8 Round 8 at Ikon Park, 21 October 2023 NARRM 1.1.7 3.4.22 4.5.29 5.7.37 NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.2.14 GOALS NARRM Campbell Hanks Hore Sherriff Zanker NORTH MELBOURNE Craven Martin BEST NARRM Hanks Purcell Hore Mithen B. Mackin Gillard
 NORTH MELBOURNE M.King Kearney Riddell Garner O'Shea INJURIES 
 NORTH MELBOURNE Nil LATE CHANGES NARRM Aimee Mackin (ankle) and Gab Colvin (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Megan Fitzsimon and Charlotte Wilson
 NORTH MELBOURNE Nil CROWD 2,704 at Ikon Park It was an impressive defensive display by Narrm at our favourite home ground, with North scoring a solitary point after quarter time. Our Vice-Captain Tyla Hanks was clearly the best player on the ground and earned the 10 coaches votes. Hanksy had great support in particular from Purcell, Hore, Mithen, B. Mackin, Gillard and Heath. Heathy ran with AFLW Coaches favourite, Jasmine Garner, and limited her usual output, earning praise from Mick Stinear. The Dees kept the Roos under constant pressure and Darren Crocker commented afterwards that his team couldn’t move the ball like they have against lesser sides. By the end of the night, it was Narrm, with our trademark #DemonSpirit, just too good for too long and back on top of the AFLW Season 8 premiership ladder on percentage. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick S. Heath M. Chaplin C B. Mackin T. Hanks A. Mackin HF A. Bannan M. Fitzsimon E. Zanker F T. Harris K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce O. Purcell P. Paxman I/C (from) G. Campbell M. Gay J. Ivey S. Johnson E. McNamara L. Mithen E. West C. Wilson IN G. Campbell M. Gay S. Johnson A. Mackin P. Paxman C. Wilson
 OUT G. Gall (omitted) C. Sherriff (arm) R. Watt (concussion) NORTH MELBOURNE B E. Shannon J. Ferguson HB E. Kearney S. Wright E. O'Shea C A. Smith M. King T. Gatt HF B. Eddey K. Shierlaw A. O'Loughlin F T. Randall E. King FOLL K. Rennie J. Garner A. Riddell I/C (from) N. Bresnahan J. Bruton L. Burke T. Craven L. McGrath N. Martin L. Pullar R. Tripodi IN L. Burke M. King L. McGrath L. Pullar OUT E. Gavalas (omitted) Injury List: Qualifying Final Maddi Gay -Hamstring | Test Aimee Mackin - Ankle | Test Paxy Paxman - Hamstring | Test Rhi Watt - Concussion | 1 Week Gabby Colvin - Achilles | 1-2 Weeks Sarah Lampard - Wrist | 3 Weeks Casey Sherriff - Arm | Season
  3. There was buzzing in the grandstand, for the word had passed around that the mighty Crows had fallen during the day. It had opened up a glitch for one of the two teams on the pitch to sit alone atop of the array. By the end of the night, it was Narrm, with our trademark #DemonSpirit, just too good for too long and BACK ON TOP, on percentage, of the AFLW Season Eight premiership ladder. It was an impressive defensive display by Narrm at its favourite home ground, with North scoring a solitary point after quarter time. The modest crowd numbers would have disappointed the powers that be but nevertheless, it was a pleasure to feel the twilight atmosphere at Ikon and witness the football spectacle on such an immaculate playing surface. The majority crowd were Narrm supporters who Meggs is sure thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Vice-Captain Tyla Hanks was clearly the best player on the ground and should earn the 10 coaches votes this week. The media heaps praise on coaches votes leader Jas Garner (who is typically outstanding) but she won’t vote this week thanks to Shelley Heath’s monumental containment effort. Liv Purcell too was prolific too with her characteristically strong performance. The Dees really spread the load having 13 different players with more than 10 possessions while North had only 9. Meggs had Hanks, Purcell, Hore, Mithen, B. Mackin, Gillard and Heath as the best players but there were quite a few others that could have been mentioned. It was said that Libby Birch looks comfortable behind the microphone and her defensive group was truly excellent on Saturday. Now having secured top spot, they need to maintain it by knocking off Freo next week at Casey and then defeat Brisbane in Round 10. If they do, we the minor premiership, Dr McLelland Trophy, a handy $1m plus first dibs on a home grand final. This season is so much fun to watch, hope you are enjoying it too. In terms of the game: Wurundjeri elder Uncle Bill Nicholson Jnr gives a rousing welcome to country, Emma Kearney with Mia King wins the coin toss and finally we are underway. Q1 Lots of talk from the commentators about how to stop Jas Garner. It doesn’t take them long to work out that the Narrm Coach Mick Stinear has sent Heater (Shelley Heath) to blanket her. North with some good pressure score the first goal by Irish player Niamh Martin, her first in AFLW. Meggs notices Fitzsimon, a late inclusion, picking up goal-sneak Alice O’Loughlin. A 50-metre infringement by Erika O’Shea leads to Casey Sherriff taking her shot from 30 metres and she nails it. All square. Isn’t it great to see Paxy back out there? Hanksy seems to be everywhere. The Dees fail to clear the ball and it ends up with North’s Tess Craven who kicks a long bomb from 45 metres to take the lead. ¼ time: Dees 1.1.7 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q2 Maeve Chaplin is tackled by Amy Smith, sister of Joel, and goes off hurt. Soon Kate Hore takes a ripper contested mark 25 metres out and converts. Kate you star! The Dees are starting to win the ball and run and carry. Some exciting passages. Heathy is having a great quarter. Kate then gets on the end of good run but hits the post. Thankfully we see Chappy ready to come back on. She’s one tough cookie. Georgia Campbell wins a ruck infringement and goals. A very happy team celebration ensues. A good quarter from Narrm and Paxy confirms that it’s a hot contest out there. ½ time: Dees 3.4.22 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q3 Narrm continues to apply team pressure. Hanksy outclasses everyone from a ball up, showing off her speed and skill, to kick a brilliant goal. With the first four inside 50s for the quarter it feels like Narrm is in control. But then the final few minutes of the quarter are played out in North’s forward half. Charlotte Wilson with stoic defence has some of her best moments in a Narrm jumper. No score for North that quarter. ¾ time: Dees 4.5.29 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q4 Narrm proves yet again they are the 4th quarter specialists by keeping their opponents goalless. Gilliard taking lots of contested marks while Purcell, Hanks, Heathy and everyone are buzzing and making it impossible for North to get back into this game. Eventually Zanker takes a strong contested mark and superbly goals from 40 metres out and it is game over Roos. Dees 5.7.37 Kangaroos 2.2.14. Coaches and next week Narrm Coach Mick Stinear said it was a really tough game of footy and we showed effort for four quarters. He was particularly pleased with the strength of our team defence and our ability to maintain the ball in the forward half. He wasn’t worried about the lack of scoring, citing a couple of misses on the goal line. He praised Shelley Heath for her run-with roll on Jasmine Garner, using her speed to limit Jas’ usual output. North coach Darren Crocker said his team tonight was not the real North Melbourne, that’s not the way we want to play. He said to Narrm’s credit they put North under a lot of pressure and his team couldn’t move the ball like they have against lesser sides. Next week we are back at Casey Fields to take on Fremantle at 1:05pm Saturday 28 October 2023 while North journey to the City of Churches for another testing Top Four clash against Adelaide next Sunday. NARRM 1.1.7 3.4.22 4.5.29 5.7.37 NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.2.14 GOALS NARRM Campbell Hanks Hore Sherriff Zanker NORTH MELBOURNE Craven Martin BEST NARRM Hanks Purcell Hore Mithen B Mackin Gillard NORTH MELBOURNE Riddell Kearney M King Garner O'Shea Ferguson LATE CHANGES NARRM Aimee Mackin (ankle) and Gab Colvin (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Megan Fitzsimon and Charlotte Wilson NORTH MELBOURNE Nil INJURIES NARRM Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil REPORTS NARRM Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil UMPIRES Howard Morgan Simmonds CROWD 2,704 at Ikon Park
  4. In the second of the Indigenous rounds at Narrm’s favourite home ground, Ikon Park, expect the crowd to be buzzing with anticipation for this huge clash of two of the best skilled teams in AFLW. The Saturday night match sees the best offensive team take on the best defensive team and to the winner goes the spoils of a Top Two spot on the AFLW Season Eight premiership ladder. The extended quarters, interchange rotation limits, and our elite fitness, have allowed the Demons to now average the equivalent of 12.5 goals a game while North has the stingiest defence conceding only three goals per match. Narrm has three players in the top seven of the goal kicking table. The reigning premiers have won the previous five clashes but it’s always a nail biter and we should expect Saturday to be no different. Get along if you can and support our team. During the week Meggs read an AFLW article about the biggest improvers in Season Eight. They listed two Adelaide players, North’s Mia King, and Brisbane’s seasoned winger Sophie Conway (really?). So Meggs went poring through our list and reckons they missed Irish sensation, Blaithin Mackin. Blaithin’s career disposal average prior to 2023 was 8.6 per game and this year is 13.7. Tackles were 1.4 are now up to 2.4 per game and meters gained is 160.9 up to 315.9. A star is B! Selection this week Midfield maestro Paxy Paxman, utility Maddie Gay, first ruck Loz Pearce and defender Gab Colvin all return for the big clash. Unlucky to miss are Rhi Watt and Charlotte Wilson. Lampy has fractured her wrist and will miss at least three matches. Megan Fitzsimon is omitted and has been quiet in her three games so far in 2023. North Melbourne has named an unchanged team for this week. Our opponents, North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos Considered by many as the league’s best player, Jasmine Garner will be pivotal for the Roos on Saturday. Her midfield sidekicks include the indefatigable Ash Riddell, the clever Jenna Bruton and inside bull Mia King. They are a group highly respected by the Demons brains trust. Mick maybe sends Heater to run with Ash? Their defence is missing vice-captain Nicole Bresnehan, but defensive leader Emma Kearney, has good support in talls Ferguson, Wright and Shannon. The North key marking forwards Kate Shierlaw, Tahlia Randall and Emma King have been getting great supply from the midfield. This group will be a handful for Libby Birch and her crew. Only two weeks ago we learned how damaging strong goalscoring mids can be with Marinoff and Hatchard. O’Loughlin and Eddey and handy smalls. A huge challenge awaits on Saturday. Meggs view The weather forecast says gusty winds for Saturday and 16-18 degrees. It will be a fantastic battle between two of the elite AFLW midfields. If we can match their intensity and get our hands on the ball first and out to our runners, we should be able to kick a winning score. Meggs expects Irish player Erika O’Shea to pick up the in-form Alyssa Bannan. While both are speedsters, Erika is quicker so Banno will have to use her smarts as well as her skills. North rucks Kim Rennie and Emma King are top notch, and we should expect a great battle against the veteran Demon Loz Pearce and the young and emerging talent Georgia Campbell. Where we win this game is our forward craft overwhelming their strong backline. Containing our leading goal scorers Zanker, Hore and Bannan is a mighty challenge for North and they can only hope we suffer from inaccurate kicking. Another challenger to put to the sword. A big effort please. If we win and Brisbane beats Adelaide we go top of the ladder! Go Dees! Melbourne by 5 points THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne at Ikon Park, on Saturday 21 October 2023 at 7:15pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 5 wins North Melbourne 1 win At Ikon Park Melbourne 1 win North Melbourne 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 4 wins Crocker 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – Check your local guides THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 5.3 (33) defeated North Melbourne 2.4 (16) in the Season Seven Preliminary Final at Ikon Park, on 19 November 2022 On a blustery Saturday afternoon where the conditions affected marking skills and the ball bounced unpredictably, the Mighty Dees stuck fat against a determined Kangaroos outfit to break away with two last quarter goals to none to win by 17 points. The winning margin was an all-time high between these two teams. From the outset the Preliminary Final was a fiercely fought contest with Melbourne unable to find the ball in space. North really amped up their one-percenters and tackling pressure and played an extra player behind the ball, making it difficult for Melbourne to score. With the Dees up by five points at the main break, North came out and dominated the third quarter holding Melbourne scoreless. The ball spent 82% of the time the Roos’ forward half but they could only muster 2 points. Bella Eddey had their best opportunity, but her reverse torpedo missed to the right. It was only 3 points the difference at ¾ time. With the game still in the balance, Daisy Pearce stunned the crowd with an amazing last quarter goal to book the Demons into consecutive grand finals, while simultaneously Deestroying the hopes of the North Melbourne supporters. MELBOURNE 2.0.13 3.1.19 3.1.19 5.3.33 NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0.6 2.2.14 2.4.16 2.4.16 GOALS Melbourne: Fitzsimon, Mithen, Sherriff, Hore, D.Pearce North Melbourne: Randall, E.King BEST Melbourne: Paxman, Mithen, Hanks, Heath North Melbourne: Kearney, Garner, Riddell, Wright INJURIES Melbourne: Harris (left shoulder) North Melbourne: Nil Reports: Nil Crowd: 5,592 at Ikon Park THE TEAMS NARRM B L Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick S. Heath M. Chaplin C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Bannan C. Sherriff L. Mithen F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West P. Paxman I/C G. Campbell G. Colvin M. Gay A. Mackin O. Purcell EMG M. Fitzsimon R. Watt C. Wilson IN G. Colvin, M. Gay P. Paxman L. Pearce OUT M.Fitzsimon (omitted) S. Lampard (wrist) R. Watt (omitted) C.Wilson (omitted) NORTH MELBOURNE B E. Shannon J. Ferguson HB E. Kearney S. Wright E. O'Shea C A. Smith M. King T. Gatt HF B. Eddey A. O'Laughlin K. Shierlaw F E. King T. Randall FOLL K. Rennie J. Garner A. Riddell I/C J. Bruton T. Craven N. Martin L. Pullar R. Tripodi EMG H. Bowey L. Burke E. Gavalas No change Injury List: Round 8 Pax Paxman (concussion) available Tayla Harris (hamstring) test Maddie Gay (managed) available Loz Pearce (shoulder) available Gaby Colvin (Achilles) available Sarah Lampard (Wrist) 3 weeks
  5. When the Demons were down by 33 points early in their game against the lowly Kangaroos, they had to find some true “devil” to keep their charge for a top two spot on track and that is exactly what they did at Blundstone Arena on Sunday. North Melbourne managed five goals in that opening quarter, but they could only manage a further five for the remainder of the match. By way of contrast, after scoring a paltry single goal in the first, the Melbourne piled on 14 to finally run out 32 point winners and continue the 2023 tale of the Demons. Sadly, after finally finding another forward target in Harrison Petty, an ankle/foot injury looks to have put him out of action for the coming weeks. This came after another strong performance from him with two goals from only barely half a game. Fortunately, his fellow forwards filled the gap with Jacob van Rooyen also contributing two among his ten score involvements and Alex Neal-Bullen with three majors. The tale of the afternoon however, lay with the spectacular Kysaiah Pickett who manufactured three unbelievable six pointers, and Kade Chandler with his straight shooting boots on again, at critical junctures in the game also with another three. The Demons were off to a poor start, and the backline seemed in all sorts of trouble, while the lack of pressure around the ball was really telling with the lack of scoreboard results before they found their devil in the second term. It was then that they began to apply the much-needed pressure that eventually caused the young Kangaroos to wilt. Angus Brayshaw, who finished with 37 touches and 13 contested possessions led the way while Lachie Hunter had an amazing 33 touches with 15 contested playing on the wing. In the much vaunted ruck contest between Max Gawn and Todd Goldstein, it was Max who probably won the day by a small margin, with his 15 hitouts to advantage from 30 in total, although Goldy managed 11 score involvements from the meagre 21 his side had in total. The backs finally got their act together, even after the loss of Petty forced Joel Smith to move forward and Michael Hibberd to bolster the defence. The backline just looks to be more of a team when Hibberd is skirting the flanks, and even though he only had six touches, it was only one less than Smith had for the whole game. But his strong physical presence allowed May and Lever who were out of sorts in that first half, to perform their usual roles. The 2023 tale of the Demons is one that shows more Devil, significantly while other teams around them in that top four bracket continue to fail unexpectedly. A top four spot is now all but assured but the carrot of a top two placing and a home final is also well and truly within reach. There is nothing more that the Demons can keep doing than winning. If others fail to take their chances then they will accept that very willingly, especially since finals football is only weeks away. Losing Petty isn’t helpful but the guaranteed return next week of Clayton Oliver (Simon Goodwin said so in his post match conference) and the likely return of Bayley Fritsch in the weeks to come, will strengthen the team considerably. At the tail end of the season, this tale is turning out to be a tale of a single minded approach to the season, with the premiership target being that sole focus. MELBOURNE 1.3.9 8.4.52 14.7.91 15.13.103 NORTH MELBOURNE 5.5.35 8.8.56 9.9.63 10.11.71 GOALS MELBOURNE Chandler Neal-Bullen Pickett 3 Petracca Petty van Rooyen 2 NORTH MELBOURNE Ford 3 Goldstein 2 Curtis Larkey Scott Simpkin Taylor BEST MELBOURNE Pickett Petracca Brayshaw Hunter Neal-Bullen Viney NORTH MELBOURNE Ziebell Ford Simpkin Davies-Uniacke Scott McDonald INJURIES MELBOURNE Harrison Petty (ankle) NORTH MELBOURNE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Michael Hibberd (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter) NORTH MELBOURNE Charlie Lazzarro (replaced Robert Hansen jnr in the third quarter) UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Alex Whetton Cameron Jones Nicholas McGinness CROWD 8,034 (mostly Melbourne supporters) at Blundstone Arena
  6. The Demons take to the skies again this weekend for their penultimate scheduled interstate trip of the 2023 football season. Hopefully, they will not only make the finals but also, that they will play their remaining games after that on the MCG — more about this in the weeks to come. The venue this week is Blundstone Arena, Hobart and the opposition is North Melbourne. Neither should really hold out much fear for a team that’s bound for a top four, possibly top two finish, but a professional team in an elite competition is expected to be just that - professional and respectful in the way they approach the game. Until very recently, the Kangaroos were consistently meting out volumes of on-field punishment upon their whipping boy, the Melbourne Football Club. For more than a decade from 2007 until early 2018, they held a winning record over the Demons in 17 consecutive contests including some real spankings. The did it because their team had more talent. Today, we expect nothing other than reciprocal treatment against an inexperienced North Melbourne which has been running on enthusiasm and youthful exuberance lately. They even forced a few finals contenders in the Swans, Bombers and Saints into close contests but last week, they hit the wall against West Coast at Optus Stadium. Admittedly, they fought their way back in the final term and came close to stealing victory but they were coming from a long way back which is unfamiliar territory when talking about a contest involving the Weagles. I doubt the return to head coaching duties of Alastair Clarkson will be enough to turn the tide for a team that is looking to offload some of its older players with an eye to the future. The reality is that youthful enthusiasm will be no match against a team that’s bound for the dizzy heights of the top end of the AFL ladder. Melbourne has for some time been considered among the competition’s leaders in terms of midfield depth and defensive power but last week against Richmond, its forward line was deadly in producing three players who between them kicked 14 goals straight without a blemish. And while I’m not expecting that accuracy to be repeated very soon, I do anticipate that the good folk of Hobart will be treated to a stellar exhibition of top level football from the talented and determined Demons notwithstanding the weather forecast that’s presently suggesting a 40% chance of rain. When the teams last met, the dominant players on the ground were Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Bayley Fritsch (4 goals) and while two out of that trio are currently missing through injury, in their absence and in the absence of one or two other regulars, coach Simon Goodwin has subtly rejigged his lineup and allowed the vacancies to be filled by some emerging talent who are developing their craft to the advantage of the group. It’s that depth of talent at Melbourne that’s now coming to the fore at exactly the right time of the year and waiting to trap North Melbourne in its home away from home on the Apple Isle. I’m tipping the Demons to win by 50 points. THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne on Sunday 6 August 2023 at Blundstone Arena Hobart at 1.10pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall North Melbourne 82 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw At Blundstone Arena North Melbourne 3 wins Melbourne 1 win Last five times North Melbourne 0 wins Melbourne 5 wins The coaches Clarkson 0 wins Goodwin 1 win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 22.7.139 defeated North Melbourne 7.7.49 at the MCG, Round 7, 2023 The hapless Kangaroos were shell shocked by the heat of the Demons opening blitz. Alastair Clarkson was completely powerless to prevent the Demon tsunami which did not let up until the game’s dying moments. THE TEAMS NORTH MELBOURNE B A. Corr B. McKay J. Archer HB J. Goater T. Thomas L. McDonald C E. Ford L. Davies-Uniacke B. Scott HF C. Taylor D. Tucker J. Stephenson F W. Phillips N. Larkey P. Curtis FOL T. Xerri, H. Sheezel, J. Simpkin I/C T. Goldstein R. Hansen Jr K. Turner J. Ziebell SUB C. Lazzaro EMG B. Cunnington T. Powell L.Young IN C. Lazzaro OUT L. Young (omitted) MELBOURNE B J. Bowey S. May T. Rivers HB C. Salem J. Lever J. McVee C A. Neal-Bullen J. Viney E. Langdon HF A. Brayshaw J. Melksham J. Jordon F K. Pickett J. van Rooyen K. Chandler FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter I/C J. Harmes H. Petty J. Smith T. Sparrow SUB M. Hibberd EMG B. Grundy C. Spargo A. Tomlinson IN M. Hibberd T. Sparrow OUT A. Tomlinson (omitted) T. Woewodin (omitted) Injury List: Round 21 Tom Sparrow - Calf | Test Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 - 2 Weeks Tom McDonald - Ankle | 1 - 2 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | 1 - 2 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 3 - 4 Weeks Daniel Turner - Hand | 3 - 4 Weeks Blake Howes - Hand | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  7. The game was over in a little more than the blink of an eye. Twelve minutes and nineteen seconds into the game to be exact. That was how long it took for Melbourne to kick five straight goals through the courtesy of Kade Chandler, Bayley Fritsch (twice), Kysaiah Pickett, Tom Sparrow and the players downfield who split North Melbourne’s defences to set up a lightning start to the match. Soon after, play was suspended to enable the paramedics to collect the unfortunate Charlie Comben from the ground with a broken leg and by this time the Kangaroos were shattered and the game was already more or less over. After a long delay, proceedings continued and the Demons added three more goals to take a 44-point lead into the first break. Alastair Clarkson’s nightmare did not end there. His team continued to receive blows on the injury front as well as on the scoreboard. By night’s end, he had lost Callum Coleman-Jones from concussion after coming off second-best in a marking contest with Steven May and Tom Powell went off after rolling his ankle late in the game. Predictably, the Demon ruck and on ball division was dominant with Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca in ripping form, Chandler, Fritsch and Pickett causing havoc up forward and 150 gamer Angus Brayshaw mopping up everything that came his way in defence. This was the quintessential Demon demolition of a young team in distress and under duress. Notwithstanding that they were coming off a five-day break and coach Simon Goodwin is still tinkering with his lineup, they smashed their way to an eleven goal half time lead and then pushed back on the throttle in the third term adding only four points to that lead. But the adversary was on its knees at three quarter time and Melbourne went for the Roo kill to pile on six goals to hold a 108-point lead minutes into time on. To their credit, the Roos refused to give up. They managed to score the game’s last three goals in quick succession but, despite that late flurry, the end result was a 22.7 (139) to 7.7 (49) win for Melbourne which marked North's biggest losing margin under Clarkson, the Demons' fourth 100-plus score for the year: a result that has seen the move to second spot on the AFL ladder. Goodwin was satisfied. "It was exactly what we wanted," he said. "We really wanted to put the defensive side of our game to them and we did that for the majority of the night." Of course, for teams with high expectations, games like these are never really good indicators of what they need to do in order to achieve the aims to which they aspire. These will come further down the track and not in the blink of an eye. MELBOURNE 8.2.50 13.3.81 16.4.100 22.7.139 NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0.6 2.3.15 4.6.30 7.7.49 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 4 Chandler Petracca Pickett 3 Grundy 2 Bowey Neal-Bullen Rivers Schache Sparrow van Rooyen Viney NORTH MELBOURNE Zurhaar 3 Larkey 2 Cunnington Shiels BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Oliver Fritsch Chandler Brayshaw Viney Bowey NORTH MELBOURNE Sheezel Simpkin Zurhaar Ziebell McDonald INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Comben (leg) Coleman-Jones (concussion) Tom Powell (ankle) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE James Harmes (replaced Michael Hibberd in the fourth quarter) NORTH MELBOURNE Daniel Howe (replaced Charlie Comben in the first quarter) UMPIRES Chris Donlon Ray Chamberlain Martin Rodger Matthew Young CROWD 29,455 at the MCG
  8. Melbourne great Nathan Jones was 18 years of age and four matches into his AFL career when the Demons steamrolled the Kangaroos by 50 points on the MCG in Round 20, 2006. After that game, the club toiled for years to beat North Melbourne and had to endure the embarrassment of a 17-game losing streak that finally ended in 2018. By that time, Jones was a 30 year old veteran of 242 games and most of Demonkind was bedeviled by the memory of those multiple losses over a dozen seasons. Times have changed. Jones went on to play in a couple more wins against the Kangaroos but he has retired and someone else is wearing the famous #2 guernsey. The club won a flag, the Kangaroos fell on hard times and picked up a couple of wooden spoons. The Demons have started their own three game mini streak over the Roos and are looking to add to that on Saturday night when the two meet at the MCG for the first time since that streak-breaking game of 2018. We’ve heard a great deal about Alastair Clarkson’s efforts to convert the hapless Kangaroos into a more competitive unit this year but after two early wins, they are falling behind the pack. Nobody is under any illusions that the process is long and slow and it would be easy to think of this week’s encounter as an opportunity for revenge or to humiliate a wounded opponent. But that’s something for hyped up fans, not for clubs, coaches, players and most true supporters. The reality is that you can never take any opponent for granted. In 2021, a premiership year for Melbourne, the team lowered its colours to the reigning wooden spooner, Adelaide which tell us that there’s no place for complacency against any opponent these days. Clarko is a crafty and experienced coach and he would have observed how Brad Scott and to a lesser extent, Damien Hardwick managed to trouble Melbourne’s defensive capabilities over the past two weeks. The problem for him is that to replicate such a scenario, he needs to have his side playing at their early season form. That’s a big ask. Meanwhile, Simon Goodwin is carrying out a not so subtle reboot of the team’s systems after Melbourne‘s disappointing straight sets exit from the AFL 2022 finals. After a great preseason and a promising opening match, his team has been affected by injuries to key personnel and a fixture that took them interstate three times in four weeks, a combination which has produced a mixed bag of super performances interspersed with games highlighted by a lack of intensity and pressure that led to defeat and near defeat. And while the team has been relieved of carrying the burden of the “premiership favourite” tag — one it didn’t wear well in the latter half of 2022 — the challenges keep on coming. This week it’s the five day break in between games which places additional pressure on the fitness staff and the selectors. The season is long, entailing lots of travel and heavy training loads adding to stress on players and the need for management of players young and old. Melbourne’s much vaunted depth is about to be tested. Fortunately for the Demons, they have the edge in football experience and know how over the young Kangaroos. Irrespective of the team’s makeup this week, it’s strength in the ruck and midfield should be too great in the end. The problem for Clarkson is that he’s working with a young and inexperienced, albeit enthusiastic group and, as Demon fans will recall from the times when their team had exactly such a makeup a decade ago, you need a lot more to beat a winning streak. Melbourne by 45 points. THE GAME Melbourne v North Melbourne on Saturday 29 April, 2023 at The MCG at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 87 wins North Melbourne 82 wins 1 draw At The MCG Melbourne 55 wins North Melbourne 37 wins Last five times Melbourne 4 wins North Melbourne 1 win The coaches Goodwin 0 wins Clarkson 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Narrm 14.16.100 defeated North Melbourne 8.5.53 at Marvel Stadium, Round 10, 2022 The Demons played in their first game as Narrm Football Club in recognition of the indigenous name for the region in which the club plays as part of the celebrations of the Indigenous Round. North challenged early but by the third quarter their scoring dried up and 'Narrm' kicked away to win comfortably to make it 10 wins on end to start the season. The victory against a plucky opponent marked the last of a long run of 17 consecutive wins that included the club’s 13th Premiership in September 2021. Clayton Oliver was outstanding with his 45 possessions in a dominant midfield. The club was struck hard by injury with Ed Langdon subbed off with broken ribs and it was also Tom McDonald’s last game for the season as he missed the remainder of 2021 with a foot injury. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. Bowey S. May J. Lever HB A. Brayshaw B. Fritsch T. Rivers C E. Langdon C. Oliver T. Sparrow HF J. Viney J. Schache M. Hibberd F J. Jordon J van Rooyen J. McVee FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca K. Chandler I/C B. Grundy L. Hunter A. Neal-Bullen K. Pickett SUB J. Harmes EMG B. Laurie T. McDonald D. Turner IN J. Harmes J. Schache OUT B. Laurie (omitted) H. Petty (concussion) NORTH MELBOURNE B G. Logue B. McKay J. Ziebell HB L. McDonald A. Hall H. Sheezel C C. Taylor T. Powell L. Shiels HF P. Curtis C. Comben J. Stephenson F J. Simpkin N. Larkey C. Coleman-Jones FOLL T. Goldstein D. Tucker C. Zurhaar I/C A. Corr B. Cunnington B. Scott K. Turner SUB D. Howe EMG B. Drury H. Greenwood D. Howe W. Phillips IN C. Coleman-Jones D. Howe J. Simpkin OUT L. Davies-Uniacke (heel) D. Howe (omitted) W. Phillips (omitted) Injury List: Round 7 (TBC)
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