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  1. They say that herding cats is an impossible task but not for the Melbourne Demons who through relentless pressure, scored a commanding 25 point victory in Round 4 over Geelong at the MCG. The team that missed the AFL finals only once in the past dozen years were shown up by the new Demons of 2021 who have recorded their first 4-0 opening to the season in 21 years! Melbourne knew what was coming, and it was Geelong who were shown up for their inability to adapt to the 2021 style of football. Time and time again they tried to revert to the “rope a dope” method which has served them so well over the past years. But that has all now changed. The Demons forced them and pressured them which denied them access to their forward line. They even tried the same tactics on Clayton Oliver, which proved so successful against Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell last week but it didn’t work with Oliver accumulating 34 touches and 6 tackles. They depend so much upon Selwood, Duncan and Guthrie to get the ball, but not while Petracca with 36 touches, and Viney with 21 are around the Sherrin. Even Max Gawn got in on the clearance caper with seven of his own, and the end result was a Melbourne dominance both in the middle and around the packs. It certainly helped this week with some forward accuracy, although 6.8 to half time kept opening the door for the Cats. In contrast, those misses weren’t from set-shots, but rather general play. Bayley Fritsch had his good kicking boot on this week with 4 goals straight before he blotted his sheet with a solitary behind late in the game. He had three majors against his name by half-time, and in the slippery conditions made sure that Melbourne took a nearly four goal lead into the main break. The inevitable comeback from Geelong came in the third term when they managed to kick five straight goals to draw within 12 points. But that was the end of the challenge with the Demons putting them to the sword in the final term with a definitive three goal to one statement. Once again this 2021 side doesn’t fold like previous sides. Melbourne lost Stephen May early in the first quarter, courtesy of yet another Hawkins errant elbow. The sub was activated very swiftly with May headed for hospital with a suspected broken eye socket. The loss of the important May so early would have spelt trouble for the Melbourne of the past, but Adam Tomlinson was moved back onto Hawkins and kept him quiet for the remainder of the game. Helped out by Jake Lever with 11 intercepts, and Christian Salem playing probably his best game for the Red and Blue with 11 intercepts from his 23 touches, the defence held true. With further backing from Trent Rivers and Jayden Hunt who both put in when required, the structure looks assured. Sadly, Nev Jetta could only manage five touches for the game, and his position will be under review for coming games. On the wings, it can only be assumed that Ed Langdon has a form of invisibility cloak, as the opposition don’t seem to know that he exists, until he has the ball in his possession. 26 touches and nearly 500 metres gain, just destroys the opposition, but like previous games this season, he is always the outlet safety valve for the defenders. On the other wing Angus Brayshaw is adapting to his new role, and with 19 touches, he is providing that outlet for the mids that we have lacked to date. We have spoken before of Max, and his performance around the ground is becoming more compelling, since he now has the freedom to roam, courtesy of Luke Jackson. Jackson holds his own in the ruck role, and then doubles as a serious target up forward. He is a work in progress, but the progress is exemplary. The other target up forward in Tom McDonald looked more at home this week. Playing further up the ground he seemed to be moving freely and it was surprising to see him with 21 disposals and importantly nine marks. He didn’t bother the goal umpire, but ensured the ball finished in the forward 50 or brought to ground to advantage Kysaiah Pickett, Nathan Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen and Bayley Fritsch in particular who finished the work. We were fortunate that Geelong were unable to expose the forwards with their strong defenders, and if reports from Casey are true, then Ben Brown is primed for his first game for the side. Melksham will be an easy replacement and was seen trotting along at the back of the play, same as 2020, with only 2 tackles for the game. Charlie Spargo and Tom Sparrow (with a quarter less on the ground) managed 6 & 5 respectively to provide that forward pressure, so essential to the way the game is played today. Geelong have been the icon team for the past 12 years with three premierships and multiple appearances in finals. Hawthorn have been their companions with similar successes over that period. They are the Demons’ opponents next week. Not since 1994 have Melbourne opened the season with 4 wins. Same year as for five opening wins to start the season. This side has the chance to equal that record, and consign Hawthorn to the past as well as it did to Geelong in this match. MELBOURNE 2.4.16 6.8.44 9.9.63 12.13.85 GEELONG 1.1.7 3.3.21 8.3.51 9.6.60 GOALS Melbourne Fritsch 4 Petracca 2 Gawn Jones Langdon Melksham Neal-Bullen Pickett Geelong Hawkins Henry Smith 2 Clark Miers Stanley BEST Melbourne Petracca Langdon Lever Viney Oliver Gawn Fritsch Geelong Selwood, Stewart, C. Guthrie, Smith INJURIES Melbourne S. May (concussion) Geelong B. Parfitt (hip) replaced in selected side by Q. Narkle REPORTS Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne T. Sparrow (replaced S. May) Geelong M. Holmes (unused) UMPIRES Williamson O'Gorman Findlay CROWD 33,728 at the MCG at the MCG
  2. The story goes that there’s a certain player from Geelong who has been seen in Moorabool Street crooning the old Sinatra classic, “I’ve got you under my skin.” His name is O’Connor and he’s been tasked to achieve one thing on Sunday by his coach, Chris Scott: to get under the skin of a Demon midfielder on Sunday and thereby tag him out of the big contest at the G. The idea behind the tactic is to not only blunt one of the team’s most destructive weapons but to distract them all from producing their best in the game. Based on how Scott had his team playing on Easter Monday, this is how his charges are expected to try to control the ebbs and flows of the match going against the new trend of exciting fast, free flowing attacking football which is where the game appears to heading. Stop the opposition by all means available from getting out into the open and pushing forward to attacking tall forwards who win the contests and boot large scores. But they’re an aging team that might get away with such a strategy in a 16 minute quarter match up as they did last year but those extra minutes in 2021 will find them out, particularly against an opponent that sets up well defensively as Melbourne does. So we can expect Scott to possibly adapt and do something differently or risk the possibility of being run over as almost occurred in the last two Cats’ matches. The likelihood is that it won’t work this week because he has too many of his big guns out with injury and suspension. Despite the fact that there’s still plenty of talent left at the Cattery, they are up against a well balanced Melbourne that’s approaching near full strength and has shown extra fitness and resilience so far this year. The midfield is strong, it’s backed up by two ruckman who are holding sway around the ground and the defence is very tight, conceding the least amount scored in the competition when opponents enter their forward 50. In the three games to date, the Demons have scored 38.45 against 30.19 (the opposition accuracy has been extraordinary given that it began with six consecutive behinds from the Dockers in round 1). If Melbourne can blunt the accuracy of its opposition one day, then watch out! And there we have it. On paper, the Cats present as the best adversary that the Demons have faced this year but the reality is that they are nowhere near full strength and are perhaps fortunate that they’re not sitting on 0-3. I’m not convinced therefore that they’re capable of getting under Melbourne’s skin this week. Melbourne by 25 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Sunday, 11 April 2021 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 85 wins Geelong 132 wins 2 draws At the MCG Melbourne 52 wins Geelong 54 wins The last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Geelong 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 1 win Scott 5 wins MEDIA TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides. LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 7.5.47 defeated Melbourne 6.8.44 in Round 4, 2020 The Demons were coming off a week’s Covid19 enforced break after Essendon’s Conor McKenna produced a positive test and they made a rusty start to an ugly, low scoring, defensive scrap. They trailed by 17 points at the last charge and their last minute surge fell tantalizingly short when Adam Tomlinson’s shot in the final minute missed narrowly. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: N. Jetta 39 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: J. Hunt 29 A. Tomlinson 20 T. Rivers 24 C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Oliver 13 E. Langdon 15 HF: K. Pickett 36 T. McDonald 25 A. Neal-Bullen 30 F: C. Spargo 9 L. Jackson 6 B. Fritsch 31 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Petracca 5 J. Viney 7 I/C: N. Jones 2 J. Jordon 23 J. Melksham 18 C. Salem 3 Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: K. Chandler 37 M. Hibberd 14 H. Petty 35 No change GEELONG B: L. Henderson 25 M. Blicavs 46 Jed Bews 25 HB: 24 T. Atkins 30 T. Stewart J. Kolodjashnij 8 C: I. Smith 7 M. O'Connor 44 Z. Tuohy 22 HF: M. Duncan 22 G. Miers 32 L. Dahlhaus 40 F: S. Menegola 27 T. Hawkins 26 B. Close 45 Foll: R. Stanley 1 C. Guthrie 29 J. Selwood 14 I/C: J. Clark 6 Z. Guthrie 39 J. Henry 38 Q. Narkle 19 Sub: M. Holmes 9 Emerg: C. Constable 18 J. Jenkins 11 In: B. Close Z. Guthrie S. Menegola Q. Narkle Out: C. Constable (omitted) F. Evans (ankle) S. Higgins (thumb) B. Parfitt (hip soreness - late withdrawal) Injury List: Round 4 Sam Weideman (leg) — Available Ben Brown (knee) — Available James Harmes (wrist) — 3 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season
  3. This game was one of our turning points last season. We were good enough to win had we kept our composure and thought our way through the Cats’ negative tactics (and had Adam Tomlinson’s shot from 50 been a metre closer to target). The 4 points would have come in handy at the end of the year. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Trent Rivers, Steven May, Christian Salem HB Joel Smith, Jake Lever, James Harmes C Ed Langdon, Clayton Oliver, Adam Tomlinson HF Mitch Hannan, Jake Melksham, Aaron vandenBerg FF Bayley Fritsch, Jayden Hunt, Tom McDonald FOL Max Gawn, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney I/C Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart, Kysaiah Pickett EM Luke Jackson, Neville Jetta, Nathan Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen IN Mitch Hannan, Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart, Kysaiah Pickett, Aaron vandenBerg OUT Harley Bennell (managed), Luke Jackson (omitted), Neville Jetta (omitted), Nathan Jones (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted) GEELONG FB Jake Kolodjashnij, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry HB Mark O'Connor, Tom Stewart, Jed Bews C Sam Menegola, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood HF Tom Atkins, Gary Rohan, Mitch Duncan FF Esava Ratugolea, Tom Hawkins, Gryan Miers FOL Darcy Fort, Gary Ablett, Cameron Guthrie IC Luke Dahlhaus, Brandan Parfitt, Jack Steven, Zach Tuohy EM Jordan Clark, Lachie Henderson, Quinton Narkle, James Parsons IN Darcy Fort, Jake Kolodjashnij, Brandan Parfitt OUT Quinton Narkle (omitted), Rhys Stanley (injured), Harry Taylor (managed)
  4. No wonder nobody turns up to games any more.
  5. Welcome to our first home game in 10½ months. Can we continue our post lockdown winning spree?
  6. At a little after 4.00pm last Saturday, the MCG ceased to be the centre of the AFL universe. That was when the AFL’s el supremo Gil McLaughlin announced that the Bombers’ Conor McKenna had returned a COVID-19 positive result and declared that the game set for the following day between Essendon and Melbourne was postponed. What followed was truly the stuff of a pulp fiction novel. We witnessed a suitcase load of mental gymnastics and spin calculated to let McKenna (and the Essendon Football Club) off the hook for breaching the pandemic rules. Never mind that he reportedly attended at least five house inspections, spent time with his host family and trained with a number of teammates in the Bomber backline: the only other player denied a game for the coming rounds was forward James Stewart who wasn’t selected last week but was ordered quarantined with his Irish mate while the defenders in the side were somehow permitted to play. Then came the news that McKenna’s next test came back negative and doesn’t that question the credibility of the science that we’ve been following assiduously for the past three months? After all the brouhaha, the final scene of this cheap, laughable dime store novel has Essendon going into Saturday night’s clash with Carlton at close to full strength. This has nothing to do with the fact that our premier is a Bomber fan or that the whole state has been shut down in the wake of a narrative about our testing regime, but one must ask the question where does this all leave the Melbourne Football Club - you know, the innocent bystander in the script of this pulp fiction story! Well, for starters, we have the unique scenario of the Demons playing at their home ground for the first time in the 2020 season on the last Sunday in the month of June. They move on to their clash with Geelong compromised by the fact that their already disjointed season has been further disrupted - and who knows what effect that will have on the team’s performance? Coach Simon Goodwin has no option but to shrug his shoulders and say - “it is what it is” as his charges take on a deflated Geelong reeling from its home ground defeat at the hands of Carlton but pumped up to atone for the loss. On the other hand, where will Melbourne get its motivation for the game? Had the Demons emerged victorious last weekend, they would have been sitting in the top eight but instead, we are all left wondering. There’s no forward momentum from what could have been a win or even a backs to the wall striving for vindication after a defeat - just nothingness. We can only hope that this game is allowed to go ahead and something happens to trip the switch that causes the Demons to recall their dominance over the Cats at their last meeting at the MCG in halcyon days of 2018 when they crushed them in the Elimination Final and like the protagonists in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, took the money and ran. Which brings me to my weekly tip - follow our premier’s advice and stay home. THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Sunday 28 June 2020 at 3.35pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 85 wins Geelong 131 wins 2 draws At the MCG Melbourne 52 wins Geelong 53 wins The last five meetings Geelong 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches Scott 4 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel 7 live at 3.30pm LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 20.6.126 defeated Melbourne 6.10.46 in Round 2, 2019 The Cats extracted extreme vengeance for their elimination final defeat from the previous year’s finals with an 80 point victory. This was despite the fact that the Demons were winners at the clearances and went inside fifty 73 times to 48. Figure that out. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE FB Trent Rivers, Steven May, Christian Salem HB Joel Smith, Jake Lever, James Harmes C Ed Langdon, Clayton Oliver, Adam Tomlinson HF Mitch Hannan, Jake Melksham, Aaron vandenBerg FF Bayley Fritsch, Jayden Hunt, Tom McDonald FOL Max Gawn, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney I/C Angus Brayshaw, Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart, Kysaiah Pickett EM Luke Jackson, Neville Jetta, Nathan Jones, Alex Neal-Bullen IN Mitch Hannan, Michael Hibberd, Jay Lockhart, Kysaiah Pickett, Aaron vandenBerg OUT Harley Bennell (managed), Luke Jackson (omitted), Neville Jetta (omitted), Nathan Jones (omitted), Alex Neal-Bullen (omitted) GEELONG FB Jake Kolodjashnij, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry HB Mark O'Connor, Tom Stewart, Jed Bews C Sam Menegola, Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood HF Tom Atkins, Gary Rohan, Mitch Duncan FF Esava Ratugolea, Tom Hawkins, Gryan Miers FOL Darcy Fort, Gary Ablett, Cameron Guthrie IC Luke Dahlhaus, Brandan Parfitt, Jack Steven, Zach Tuohy EM Jordan Clark, Lachie Henderson, Quinton Narkle, James Parsons IN Darcy Fort, Jake Kolodjashnij, Brandan Parfitt OUT Quinton Narkle (omitted), Rhys Stanley (injured), Harry Taylor (managed) Injury List: Round 4 Braydon Preuss (Achilles) – 3-4 weeks Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  7. The game played in Round 2 last year is best forgotten. GEELONG B Jack Henry, Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart HB Jake Kolodjashnij Harry Taylor Mitch Duncan C Joel Selwood Patrick Dangerfield Jordan Clark HF Luke Dahlhaus Esava Ratugolea Brandan Parfitt F Gary Ablett Tom Hawkins Gary Rohan FOL Rhys Stanley Tim Kelly Tom Atkins I/C Charlie Constanble Sam Menagola Gryan Miers Mark O’Connor EM Ryan Abbott Zach Gurthrie Lachie Henderson Jermaine Jones MELBOURNE B Jay Lockhart Oscar McDonald Neville Jetta HB Jayden Hunt Steven May Nathan Jones C Bayley Fritsch Clayton Oliver Christian Salem HF Alex Neal-Bullen Tom McDonald Jack Viney F Jake Melksham Sam Weideman Christian Petracca FOL Max Gawn James Harmes Angus Brayshaw I/C Sam Frost Michael Hibberd Kade Kolodjashnij Tom Sparrow EM Marty Hore Declan Keilty Braydon Preuss Charlie Spargo IN Kade Kolodjashnij Jay Lockhart Steven May OUT Marty Hore (omitted) Charlie Spargo (omitted) Corey Wagner (omitted)
  8. DEEVENGE IS SWEET by George On The Outer After suffering the humiliation of two defeats by barely a kick at the hands of Geelong during the regular season, the Demons were out for revenge in the Elimination Final. Facing a finals hardened Geelong, the coach and the players had set out on a mantra of “Our Game style” of an uncompromising hard at ball and player attitude. The Cats were hoping for some sort of saver in the vein of those earlier games with Taylor and Guthrie barely able to get up more than a hobble even before the game started and a list of players beyond their past glories filling spots all over the ground, this wasn’t a team to be feared. Incredibly, even the Geelong cheer squad could barely muster 100 or so members; stacked with day release from local nursing homes in the Corio region. They were surrounded by whole bays of Demon fans who drowned them out as the teams ran onto the ground and continued their raucous support for the remainder of the match. With 91,767 in attendance (an amount that exceeded the Richmond-Hawthorn crowd of the day before) and the MCC members stacked to the rafters with Melbourne supporters, it was clear that a giant has truly awoken. The opening term set the tone for the match and, in reality the score after the first siren of 5.3 to a meagre 2 points should have seen the result put beyond doubt. In fact, the final margin of 29 was only just below that quarter time lead. The tone of the game was set by the Melbourne players. Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes did untold damage mentally and physically to the Geelong mids who were simply shell-shocked by the intensity, and ferociousness of the tackling. They were not used to this style and they constantly and bitterly complained to the umpires and staged for free kicks that they might have gotten at Kardinia Park but not here. They were simply caught out on the night as they harassed, brushed aside, pressured and tackled ferociously by the up and coming tough brigade. Even when they thought they had escaped their opponent’s clutches, wave after wave of Demon players attacked them again and again until they gave up possession. For Melbourne, all this effort was rewarded in front of goal as Tom McDonald, Sam Weideman and Jake Melksham posted majors from strong efforts. Weideman in particular had a break-out game, and choosing to do it in a final was just what the Doctor ordered in the absence of Jesse Hogan. His confidence is and has been rising in the past couple of games and, with solid marks and second efforts now his stock in trade, he came of age on the big stage. Despite the margin at the first change, the subsequent two quarters turned into a slog-fest that wasn’t helped by Melbourne's inaccuracy in front of goal with 1.10 recorded in that period. Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones and Alex Neal-Bullen all fluffed easy shots that would have put the game beyond doubt while others contributed to the malaise without scoring a major. The pressure on the fans was rising, because we had seen this happen before against Geelong. The hearts were in the mouth as Menengola kicked into the post from ten metres out, then with Hawkins lining up for goal to bring the margin back to almost two kicks, the fourth umpire intervened following a Selwood infraction with Melksham at the interchange gate. It was ironic that Selwood's histrionics finally came back to bite him, and probably cost his team any momentum that they had built. The ultimate “head high” tackle delivered against his own team, if you like. With a 23 point lead going into the final term (the same margin as it was at the same time at their last meeting), there was still time and the opportunity to see a Geelong revival. Not for Jack Viney though, as he absolutely nailed Selwood in a tackle at the start to make certain who was master. His kick into the forward line was sharked by Christian Petracca who dished it off to Jones, to open the margin to nearly 5 goals. Still Geelong wouldn’t go away with a Tuohy goal, but then big Max nailed Duncan in the middle of the ground, and pushed them back again. The Football Gods surely were favouring the Demons when Geelong had opened the Demons up and the ball headed goalward. Oscar McDonald vainly struggled back to spoil a certain Bews mark in the forward pocket. The ball landed square in the back of Oscar’s head and the Demons rebounded the ball away. Finally, with ten minutes to go a quick Melksham kick forward was read better in the air by Mitch Hannan who raced goalwardwith three bounces to seal the game. A final flourish and another strong Weideman mark put the icing on the cake and the Demons had won their first finals match in twelve years. The crowd went beserk and sang the Team Song again and again. For they knew after this long time that revenge is sweet - best served cold, slowly and methodically by the steam-roller Demons: not unlike Ken’s revenge ... Melbourne 5.3.33 5.9.39 6.13.49 10.15.75 Geelong 0.2.2 2.4.16 3.8.26 6.10.46 Goals Melbourne Weideman 3 Gawn Hannan Harmes Jones T McDonald Melksham Neal-Bullen Geelong Hawkins 2 Duncan Kelly Murdoch Tuohy Best Melbourne Weideman Harmes Brayshaw T McDonald Gawn Viney Salem Geelong Dangerfield Tuohy J Selwood Ablett Injuries Melbourne Nil Geelong Murdoch (concussion) Tuohy (knee) Stewart (ribs). Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Chamberlain, Findlay, Mollison Official crowd 91,767 at the MCG
  9. After suffering the humiliation of two defeats by barely a kick at the hands of Geelong during the regular season, the Demons were out for revenge in the Elimination Final. Facing a finals hardened Geelong, the coach and the players had set out on a mantra of “Our Game style” of an uncompromising hard at ball and player attitude. The Cats were hoping for some sort of saver in the vein of those earlier games with Taylor and Guthrie barely able to get up more than a hobble even before the game started and a list of players beyond their past glories filling spots all over the ground, this wasn’t a team to be feared. Incredibly, even the Geelong cheer squad could barely muster 100 or so members; stacked with day release from local nursing homes in the Corio region. They were surrounded by whole bays of Demon fans who drowned them out as the teams ran onto the ground and continued their raucous support for the remainder of the match. With 91,767 in attendance (an amount that exceeded the Richmond-Hawthorn crowd of the day before) and the MCC members stacked to the rafters with Melbourne supporters, it was clear that a giant has truly awoken. The opening term set the tone for the match and, in reality the score after the first siren of 5.3 to a meagre 2 points should have seen the result put beyond doubt. In fact, the final margin of 29 was only just below that quarter time lead. The tone of the game was set by the Melbourne players. Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw and James Harmes did untold damage mentally and physically to the Geelong mids who were simply shell-shocked by the intensity, and ferociousness of the tackling. They were not used to this style and they constantly and bitterly complained to the umpires and staged for free kicks that they might have gotten at Kardinia Park but not here. They were simply caught out on the night as they harassed, brushed aside, pressured and tackled ferociously by the up and coming tough brigade. Even when they thought they had escaped their opponent’s clutches, wave after wave of Demon players attacked them again and again until they gave up possession. For Melbourne, all this effort was rewarded in front of goal as Tom McDonald, Sam Weideman and Jake Melksham posted majors from strong efforts. Weideman in particular had a break-out game, and choosing to do it in a final was just what the Doctor ordered in the absence of Jesse Hogan. His confidence is and has been rising in the past couple of games and, with solid marks and second efforts now his stock in trade, he came of age on the big stage. Despite the margin at the first change, the subsequent two quarters turned into a slog-fest that wasn’t helped by Melbourne's inaccuracy in front of goal with 1.10 recorded in that period. Dom Tyson, Nathan Jones and Alex Neal-Bullen all fluffed easy shots that would have put the game beyond doubt while others contributed to the malaise without scoring a major. The pressure on the fans was rising, because we had seen this happen before against Geelong. The hearts were in the mouth as Menengola kicked into the post from ten metres out, then with Hawkins lining up for goal to bring the margin back to almost two kicks, the fourth umpire intervened following a Selwood infraction with Melksham at the interchange gate. It was ironic that Selwood's histrionics finally came back to bite him, and probably cost his team any momentum that they had built. The ultimate “head high” tackle delivered against his own team, if you like. With a 23 point lead going into the final term (the same margin as it was at the same time at their last meeting), there was still time and the opportunity to see a Geelong revival. Not for Jack Viney though, as he absolutely nailed Selwood in a tackle at the start to make certain who was master. His kick into the forward line was sharked by Christian Petracca who dished it off to Jones, to open the margin to nearly 5 goals. Still Geelong wouldn’t go away with a Tuohy goal, but then big Max nailed Duncan in the middle of the ground, and pushed them back again. The Football Gods surely were favouring the Demons when Geelong had opened the Demons up and the ball headed goalward. Oscar McDonald vainly struggled back to spoil a certain Bews mark in the forward pocket. The ball landed square in the back of Oscar’s head and the Demons rebounded the ball away. Finally, with ten minutes to go a quick Melksham kick forward was read better in the air by Mitch Hannan who raced goalwardwith three bounces to seal the game. A final flourish and another strong Weideman mark put the icing on the cake and the Demons had won their first finals match in twelve years. The crowd went beserk and sang the Team Song again and again. For they knew after this long time that revenge is sweet - best served cold, slowly and methodically by the steam-roller Demons: not unlike Ken’s revenge ... Melbourne 5.3.33 5.9.39 6.13.49 10.15.75 Geelong 0.2.2 2.4.16 3.8.26 6.10.46 Goals Melbourne Weideman 3 Gawn Hannan Harmes Jones T McDonald Melksham Neal-Bullen Geelong Hawkins 2 Duncan Kelly Murdoch Tuohy Best Melbourne Weideman Harmes Brayshaw T McDonald Gawn Viney Salem Geelong Dangerfield Tuohy J Selwood Ablett Injuries Melbourne Nil Geelong Murdoch (concussion) Tuohy (knee) Stewart (ribs). Reports Melbourne Nil Geelong Nil Umpires Chamberlain, Findlay, Mollison Official crowd 91,767 at the MCG
  10. The biggest game of the last dozen years, calls for an early thread... I see us winning and comfortably, but can’t help but feel that accuracy will be the difference between setting up a meeting with Hawthorn or ending our season early.
  11. This year’s games against the Cats will haunt us unless we get it right on Friday night. THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Tom Stewart, Jake Kolodjashnij, Zach Tuohy HB: Cameron Guthrie, Lachie Henderson, Jack Henry ? Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Scott Selwood HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Brandan Parfitt F: Quinton Narkle, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel Foll: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan I/C: Jed Bews, Jordan Cunico, Jamaine Jones, Tim Kelly Emg: Ryan Abbott, Jordan Murdoch, Sam Simpson, Jackson Thurlow In: Jordan Cunico, Lachie Henderson Out: Wylie Buzza (omitted), Sam Simpson (omitted) MELBOURNE B: James Harmes, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis ? Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF: Jake Melksham, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Charlie Spargo Foll: Max Gawn, Angus Brayshaw, Bernie Vince I/C: Jay Kennedy Harris, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Petracca, Joel Smith Emg: Oskar Baker Cameron Pedersen Josh Wagner Sam Weideman In: Joel Smith, Dom Tyson Out: Mitch Hannan (jarred knee), Michael Hibberd (quad)
  12. Geelong is the ideal opponent for Melbourne to confront in its long-awaited return to finals football. The history of these teams goes back to the game’s very formative years. They were the first two clubs and the rivalry was fierce in the early days; inaugural members of the VFA and then the VFL, they developed rich histories in the last century and together, they took the game overseas in 1963. The Cats won the flag in that year, the Demons prevailed in the next and then it stopped for both of them. It was Geelong that recovered the first - they’ve won three flags and enjoyed regular finals appearances over the past dozen seasons. On Friday night, Melbourne will play its first and only final in that time span. The teams last met in a final in the 2005 Elimination Final, a spiteful game which Melbourne lost amid suffering a stack of injuries including a career-threatening facial injury to Jeff White sustained in a ruck duel when Geelong’s Steven King’s attempt to kick a ball out of mid-air ended with his errant boot striking the ruckman and breaking his jaw. The Cats went on to win by 55 points. The Demons have beaten them once in the interim - a surprise result in 2015 that heralded the long-awaited advent of another ruckman, Max Gawn, into the ranks of the leading lights of his craft. The heartbreak of those contests and their closing moments has been well documented. In both encounters, Melbourne was generally superior in most facets of the game but suffered brief lapses that were pounced upon by a more efficient Geelong combination. The Demons were dominant in the inside 50s and in scoring shots but the Cats’ conversion rate was far superior. It’s hard to beat a team that kicks eight straight goals in a quarter to finish with a score of 16.4.100. Those results, and indeed almost the entire body of the club’s efforts against Geelong over these past dozen seasons has not only been humiliating but they reached their lowest ebb against this club in July, 2011 when they curled up their toes and lost by 186 points at Kardinia Park. To make the recovery complete, it would be fitting for the new Demons and another step towards redemption for the Melbourne Football Club to mark its return to finals football with an emphatic win over the Cats on Friday night. THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Friday 7 September 2018 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 84 wins Geelong 130 wins 2 draws At the MCG Melbourne 51 wins Geelong 53 wins The last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Geelong 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Scott 3 wins MEDIA TV - Channel 7 live at 7:30pm Fox Footy Channel live at 7:30pm RADIO - Triple M 3AW SEN ABC ABC Grandstand LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 16.4.100 defeated Melbourne 14.14.98 at GMHBA Stadium in Round 18, 2018 It was a game in which the Cats simply couldn’t do wrong in the second half. They didn’t miss a shot at the goals in the final term slotting in eight goals straight, enabling them to win after the siren. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis HB: Christian Salem, Sam Frost, Michael Hibberd C : Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes HF: Jake Melksham, Tom McDonald, Angus Brayshaw F: Bayley Fritsch, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney I/C: Mitch Hannan, Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo, Aaron vandenBerg Emg: Jay Kennedy Harris, Jayden Hunt, Joel Smith, Tim Smith In: Mitch Hannan, Jack Viney Out: Jay Kennedy Harris (omitted) Kent (AC joint) GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Lachie Henderson, Tom Stewart HB: Jed Bews, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy C : Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Cameron Guthrie HF: Sam Menegola, Gary Ablett, Tim Kelly F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Jordan Murdoch Foll: Ryan Abbott, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan I/C: Jack Henry Mark O'Connor Brandan Parfitt Scott Selwood Emg: Lachie Fogarty, Quinton Narkle, Zac Smith, Jackson Thurlow No change The last time the Cats played a “real” game of football rather than a practice match against witches hats was about four weeks ago when they lost to the Hawks at the MCG, the same venue at which they also narrowly went down to the Tigers a week earlier. With no hard match conditioning for more than a month and a poor record at the home of football, the question looms as to whether the club stand up to the pressure of finals football which most participants (and certainly Hawthorn after its qualifying final game v Richmond) will tell you, is more than a notch above that of any home and away game. On the other hand, the Demons could not have had a better build up to its finals campaign with every game in the past month seeing a build up in pressure cooker football as it contested three vital must-win contests. In every case, these were promoted as desperate and dangerous struggles against fellow finalists that generally lived up to their billing. The fact that two of those matches were played at the home of football with relatively strong crowd numbers and the other in the hostile environment of a place where the team had never played before, simply added to Melbourne’s cause. In terms of preparation for the last month in September, the Demons have it all over the Cats and that is why, for their long-suffering players and fans, the team’s first finals appearance since 2006 holds no fears. To top it all off, the Demons have fared much better than the Cats in team selection with the inclusions of Jack Viney and Mitch Hannan for the injured Dean Kent and omitted small man Jay Kennedy Harris marking a substantial improvement for the team which mauled the Greater Western Sydney Giants in their last start win. It’s true that Geelong boasts an unchanged line up and has few injury worries - usually a good side for clubs going into a finals campaign - but in this instance, the absence of Rhys Stanley, who was so important in their most recent win over Melbourne in July at GMHBA Stadium, is a major blow to their fortunes. That’s because Stanley’s efforts in that match against All-Australian ruckman, Max Gawn when the two matched it blow for blow in the ruck contests and around the ground and even more so in those vital moments in the vital final term when the Demon big man was twice off the ground with the blood rule, were fundamental to Geelong’s dramatic come-from-behind victory. The Cats are now left with the inexperienced Ryan Abbot (average 27.3 hit outs per game) and the lightly used in the ruck Mark Blicavs to take on the game’s premier big man who uses such a good proportion of his average of 45.5 hitouts per game to such devastating effect in feeding a damaging midfield that plays strong pressure football and leads the AFL in contested possessions. The result is that I expect the Demon midfield to prevail even against their much vaunted and experienced Geelong counterparts. This will in turn translate on the scoreboard for the club that has kicked more goals than any other side in the competition this season. Moreover, their defence is much improved in terms of personnel than was the case at their last meeting when Michael Hibberd was a notable absentee and Sam Frost had yet to hit his current form high. The extra pressure of a stronger defensive unit should ensure that Jack Hawkins won’t embarrass them with anything like a seven goal straight performance and their other forwards will be kept under a tighter rein. All of which adds up to a Melbourne win by 38 points.
  13. We still have a lot to learn ... and a long way to go.
  14. AND IT STARTS AGAIN ... by The Oracle Melbourne goes into the 2018 season full of the usual hope that fills up an coming teams that are starting to show maturity and it comes up against the perfect opponent to show its wares against in Sunday afternoon’s blockbuster at the MCG. Aside from Richmond which by far exceeded everyone’s expectations in 2017 including its own, Geelong is a club that certainly surprised many with its third placed finish and a home and away record of 16 wins and 6 defeats that paved the way for a Preliminary Final appearance after beating the Swans in a Semi Final. They weren’t supposed to go that far but the Cats ended up a mere whisker away from a grand final and their fans are adamant that they could have gone all the way had they been given a chance. But the Demons were the real coulda, woulda, shoulda team of the competition as they failed to put away some of the competition’s lowly sides and stumbled late when the opportunity was there to build on percentage lost in the last-round to Collingwood who had nothing to gain while Melbourne had everything to lose. The result was that they not only missed September action by a record 0.5 percentage but had to wait an agonising 24 hours to brood over their fate. The team had a bad year with injury losing Jack Viney and others at the end and Max Gawn and Jesse Hogan for half a season soon after the start but they had a place in the finals all but wrapped up halfway through the last quarter of the penultimate game of the season only to permit 45 minutes of game time to destroy the dream. Along the way, there were a few missteps apart from the injury problems. The Demons were in the wars from day one with Bernie Vince reported in round 1 and Jordan Lewis copping three weeks and Jesse Hogan two in round 2 against Carlton. Clayton Oliver was involved in some uncomfortable on field incidents and then there was Tomas Bugg ... In light of the above, the controversial cancellation of the pre season training camp and the PR fiasco that followed has the football world wondering whether the Demons are made of the right stuff to step into what is for them, the unfamiliar territory of finals football. THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Sunday 26 March 2018 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 84 wins Geelong 128 wins 2 draws At MCG Melbourne 51 wins Geelong 52 wins The last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Geelong 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Scott 1 win MEDIA TV - Channel 7 and Fox Sports Live RADIO - TBA LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 20.6.126 defeated Melbourne 13.19.97 at Etihad Stadium in Round 3, 2017 In what was a disastrous game for the Demons’ 2017 aspirations, Max Gawn tore his hamstring, the team dominated for much of the middle part of the game but bad kicking is bad football. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Jordan Lewis, Christian Salem HF: Christian Petracca, Cam Pedersen, James Harmes F: Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Alex Neal-Bullen I/C: Jake Melksham, Mitch Hannan, Corey Maynard, Josh Wagner Emg: Angus Brayshaw, Tom Bugg, Sam Frost, Dom Tyson NEW: Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons), Jake Lever (Adelaide) GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy HB: Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart, Jed Bus C: Cam Guthrie, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan HF: Cory Gregson, Esava Ratugolea, James Parsons F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Brendan Parfitt R: Zac Smith, Gary Ablett, Sam Menegola I/C: Lachie Fogarty, Zac Guthrie, Tim Kelly, Jordan Murdoch Emg: Charlie Constable, Jordan Cunico, Rhys Stanley, Cameron Thurlow NEW: Lachie Fogarty (Western Jets), Tim Kelly (South Fremantle), Esava Ratugolea (Murray Bushrangers) OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Whispering Jack The shadow of injuries to key players looms heavily over this game with the Cats missing one of the jewels of their midfield triumvirate in Paddy Dangerfield and coming in with underdone veteran Gary Ablett back for the first time since leaving the Suns while the Demons have been rocked by the news that Jack Viney and Tom McDonald will miss six-to-eight weeks and the surprise omission from the final team of Andrew Brayshaw and Dom Tyson. This is however, not the time to dwell on injuries. We are on the cusp of a new season and this is the exact time of year for clubs not only to make statements about the year ahead but to stake their early claims for finals places. As Melbourne learned to their pain in 2017, every game and every quarter of football counts. The shortfall of two goals that cost it a place last year could just as easily have been made up in the opening quarter of its first game against St Kilda as it could in the last quarter against Collingwood in Round 23. And with that in mind, I’m tipping the Demons who have lived and breathed with this thought for the past six months. Even though pre season form is not necessarily a guide to anything much in particular, it was the way they impressed in their unbeaten two game JLT Community Series that sways my thinking. They outclassed North Melbourne and dominated St Kilda for all but a quarter but it was the way they did it, without relying on dominant individuals in any part of the ground that resonated with me. The fact that they had multiple goal kickers in both games and generally dominated the opposition midfields in a total team effort that is thematic of today’s game. It’s how the Tigers came out of the pack in the latter part of last year with their high pressure game that made the difference in the end. That is why losing a Viney or a T McDonald might be inconvenient in the short term but it won’t make a difference against Geelong. The Cats are now heavily dependent on their midfield which was below par in the JLT series and without Dangerfield they look to be highly exposed. It would take a superhuman effort from G Ablett (the “G” standing for “Grandfather”) or a substantial amount of successful head ducking from Joel Selwood to get them across the line this week. Sunday’s game is the first MCG clash between these teams since 2014. I can’t remember the last time Melbourne beat Geelong on their home ground but the time has come. It will happen in game one with Demons coming out of the shadows to win by 10 points.
  15. After the 2017 finale to the season, where the Demons were denied a finals spot by ½ a percent, surely the message about those little efforts in a game which affect the final outcome should have been learned. Yet again, the Demons failed at the final hurdle, and it wasn’t that a Max Gawn shot on goal cost the game, but when those chances are given to a player, it can mean the difference between winning and losing ... or missing the finals by ½ a per cent. And there were others in the game who stuffed up opportunities that would have broken Geelong’s back and they too fluffed those chances. Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen and Corey Maynard all produced some shockers at critical times, and the overall situation wasn’t helped by the sheer lack of output from too many in the side. Mitch Hannan with only 9 touches, Salem with 12, ANB with 13 simply wasn’t good enough when playing through the mid-field, and each and every one of these will come under scrutiny for their places next week, especially since the likes of Dom Tyson, Sam Frost, Tom Bugg and Angus Brayshaw stand match ready. The real positive to come out of this game was that Geelong (even without Dangerfield) were and probably still are a top 4 side. That is the standard that the Demons have to aspire to, and they took it up to the Cats the whole game. Virtually all statistics, but for uncontested marks were nearly identical, yet this stat showed the willingness of the Geelong players to run to position and offer an option. Equally troubling was the lack of willingness to “man up” in those one on one situations, and the Melbourne players too often let their direct opponent run into that space, without being right on their shoulder. The other troubling problem was the lack of forward pressure from the small forwards. Geelong were always playing one extra deep in defence and often up to three extras behind the ball. The likes of Jeff Garlett, James Harmes and need to tackle and harass, Garlett with a solitary tackle and Hannan with 2. Harmes had 4, but most of his efforts were broken. As well they didn’t provide the ground-level support to Hogan who was a first rate target and brought the ball to ground, only to find no Melbourne forward at his feet. With three goals to his name after being double-teamed for much of the game, this was a courageous outcome from him. First gamer Bailey Fritsch showed more than enough in his debut with his strong aerial capabilities and willingness to compete. And down back Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince held the fortress time and time again with 17 and 24 touches each, and Lewis having 10 contested possessions. Most will overlook Oscar McDonald’s efforts, but his direct opponent in Tom Hawkins finished the day with a solitary behind! Next week is an away game against a young Brisbane side. To avoid a repeat of 2017, this is a side that not only needs to be beaten, but beaten by a large margin, to ensure the percentage boost necessary to put the Demons in a good place come year end, when a spot on the ladder can be made or lost by a goal here or there……or ½ of one %! Melbourne 6.1.37 8.5.53 12.9.81 13.16.94 Geelong 5.3.33 12.8.80 13.10.88 14.13.97 Goals Melbourne Hogan 3 Neal-Bullen Pedersen 2 Fritsch Garlett Gawn Hannan Oliver Petracca Geelong Menzel 4 Parfitt 2 Ablett Fogarty C Guthrie Kelly Murdoch Parsons Ratugolea Smith Best Melbourne Petracca Gawn Oliver Jones Hogan Lewis Geelong Selwood Ablett Menzel Duncan Parfitt Kelly Injuries Melbourne Nil Geelong Taylor (foot), Stewart (ankle) C Guthrie (groin) Reports Nil Umpires Stevic, Deboy, Gavine Official crowd 54,112 at the MCG
  16. ½ PER CENT DEMONS by George on the Outer After the 2017 finale to the season, where the Demons were denied a finals spot by ½ a percent, surely the message about those little efforts in a game which affect the final outcome should have been learned. Yet again, the Demons failed at the final hurdle, and it wasn’t that a Max Gawn shot on goal cost the game, but when those chances are given to a player, it can mean the difference between winning and losing ... or missing the finals by ½ a per cent. And there were others in the game who stuffed up opportunities that would have broken Geelong’s back and they too fluffed those chances. Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen and Corey Maynard all produced some shockers at critical times, and the overall situation wasn’t helped by the sheer lack of output from too many in the side. Mitch Hannan with only 9 touches, Salem with 12, ANB with 13 simply wasn’t good enough when playing through the mid-field, and each and every one of these will come under scrutiny for their places next week, especially since the likes of Dom Tyson, Sam Frost, Tom Bugg and Angus Brayshaw stand match ready. The real positive to come out of this game was that Geelong (even without Dangerfield) were and probably still are a top 4 side. That is the standard that the Demons have to aspire to, and they took it up to the Cats the whole game. Virtually all statistics, but for uncontested marks were nearly identical, yet this stat showed the willingness of the Geelong players to run to position and offer an option. Equally troubling was the lack of willingness to “man up” in those one on one situations, and the Melbourne players too often let their direct opponent run into that space, without being right on their shoulder. The other troubling problem was the lack of forward pressure from the small forwards. Geelong were always playing one extra deep in defence and often up to three extras behind the ball. The likes of Jeff Garlett, James Harmes and need to tackle and harass, Garlett with a solitary tackle and Hannan with 2. Harmes had 4, but most of his efforts were broken. As well they didn’t provide the ground-level support to Hogan who was a first rate target and brought the ball to ground, only to find no Melbourne forward at his feet. With three goals to his name after being double-teamed for much of the game, this was a courageous outcome from him. First gamer Bailey Fritsch showed more than enough in his debut with his strong aerial capabilities and willingness to compete. And down back Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince held the fortress time and time again with 17 and 24 touches each, and Lewis having 10 contested possessions. Most will overlook Oscar McDonald’s efforts, but his direct opponent in Tom Hawkins finished the day with a solitary behind! Next week is an away game against a young Brisbane side. To avoid a repeat of 2017, this is a side that not only needs to be beaten, but beaten by a large margin, to ensure the percentage boost necessary to put the Demons in a good place come year end, when a spot on the ladder can be made or lost by a goal here or there……or ½ of one %! Melbourne 6.1.37 8.5.53 12.9.81 13.16.94 Geelong 5.3.33 12.8.80 13.10.88 14.13.97 Goals Melbourne Hogan 3 Neal-Bullen Pedersen 2 Fritsch Garlett Gawn Hannan Oliver Petracca Geelong Menzel 4 Parfitt 2 Ablett Fogarty C Guthrie Kelly Murdoch Parsons Ratugolea Smith Best Melbourne Petracca Gawn Oliver Jones Hogan Lewis Geelong Selwood Ablett Menzel Duncan Parfitt Kelly Injuries Melbourne Nil Geelong Taylor (foot), Stewart (ankle) C Guthrie (groin) Reports Nil Umpires Stevic, Deboy, Gavine Official crowd 54,112 at the MCG
  17. The two oldest clubs in the game do battle today but Geelong has regularly held the upper hand for well over a decade in our own heartland. Time to take the MCG back.
  18. The game was at Etihad and it was a disaster ... THE TEAMS GEELONG B: Zach Touhy, Tom Lonergan, Andrew Mackie HB: Tom Stewart, Lachie Henderson, Jackson Thurlow C: Mark Blicavs, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola HF: James Parsons, Harry Taylor, Brandan Parfitt F: Steven Motlop, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel FOLL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Cameron Guthrie I/C: Mitch Duncan, Lincoln McCarthy, Jordan Murdoch, Tom Ruggles EMG: Jed Bews, Darcy Lang, Rhys Stanley IN: Cameron Guthrie, Sam Menegola, James Parsons, Zac Smith OUT: Josh Cowan (managed), George Horlin-Smith (hand), Darcy Lang (omitted), Rhys Stanley (omitted) NEW: James Parsons MELBOURNE B: Christian Salem, Tom McDonald, Jayden Hunt HB: Neville Jetta, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Dom Tyson, James Harmes HF: Mitch Hannan, Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen F: Jeff Garlett, Christian Petracca, Timothy Smith FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney I/C: Dean Kent, Jake Melksham, Billy Stretch, Jack Watts EMG: Tomas Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Jake Spencer IN: Dean Kent Timothy Smith, Bernie Vince OUT: Angus Brayshaw (omitted), Jesse Hogan (suspended), Jordan Lewis (suspended) NEW: Timothy Smith
  19. Melbourne goes into the 2018 season full of the usual hope that fills up an coming teams that are starting to show maturity and it comes up against the perfect opponent to show its wares against in Sunday afternoon’s blockbuster at the MCG. Aside from Richmond which by far exceeded everyone’s expectations in 2017 including its own, Geelong is a club that certainly surprised many with its third placed finish and a home and away record of 16 wins and 6 defeats that paved the way for a Preliminary Final appearance after beating the Swans in a Semi Final. They weren’t supposed to go that far but the Cats ended up a mere whisker away from a grand final and their fans are adamant that they could have gone all the way had they been given a chance. But the Demons were the real coulda, woulda, shoulda team of the competition as they failed to put away some of the competition’s lowly sides and stumbled late when the opportunity was there to build on percentage lost in the last-round to Collingwood who had nothing to gain while Melbourne had everything to lose. The result was that they not only missed September action by a record 0.5 percentage but had to wait an agonising 24 hours to brood over their fate. The team had a bad year with injury losing Jack Viney and others at the end and Max Gawn and Jesse Hogan for half a season soon after the start but they had a place in the finals all but wrapped up halfway through the last quarter of the penultimate game of the season only to permit 45 minutes of game time to destroy the dream. Along the way, there were a few missteps apart from the injury problems. The Demons were in the wars from day one with Bernie Vince reported in round 1 and Jordan Lewis copping three weeks and Jesse Hogan two in round 2 against Carlton. Clayton Oliver was involved in some uncomfortable on field incidents and then there was Tomas Bugg ... In light of the above, the controversial cancellation of the pre season training camp and the PR fiasco that followed has the football world wondering whether the Demons are made of the right stuff to step into what is for them, the unfamiliar territory of finals football. THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at the MCG on Sunday 26 March 2018 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 84 wins Geelong 128 wins 2 draws At MCG Melbourne 51 wins Geelong 52 wins The last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Geelong 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins Scott 1 win MEDIA TV - Channel 7 and Fox Sports Live RADIO - TBA LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 20.6.126 defeated Melbourne 13.19.97 at Etihad Stadium in Round 3, 2017 In what was a disastrous game for the Demons’ 2017 aspirations, Max Gawn tore his hamstring, the team dominated for much of the middle part of the game but bad kicking is bad football. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Jake Lever, Neville Jetta HB: Jayden Hunt, Oscar McDonald, Nathan Jones C: Bernie Vince, Jordan Lewis, Christian Salem HF: Christian Petracca, Cam Pedersen, James Harmes F: Bayley Fritsch, Jesse Hogan, Jeff Garlett Foll: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Alex Neal-Bullen I/C: Jake Melksham, Mitch Hannan, Corey Maynard, Josh Wagner Emg: Angus Brayshaw, Tom Bugg, Sam Frost, Dom Tyson NEW: Bayley Fritsch (Casey Demons), Jake Lever (Adelaide) GEELONG B: Jake Kolodjashnij, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy HB: Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart, Jed Bus C: Cam Guthrie, Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan HF: Cory Gregson, Esava Ratugolea, James Parsons F: Daniel Menzel, Tom Hawkins, Brendan Parfitt R: Zac Smith, Gary Ablett, Sam Menegola I/C: Lachie Fogarty, Zac Guthrie, Tim Kelly, Mark O’Connor Emg: Charlie Constable, Jordan Cunico, Jordan Murdoch, Rhys Stanley NEW: Lachie Fogarty (Western Jets), Tim Kelly (South Fremantle), Esava Ratugolea (Murray Bushrangers) OUT OF THE SHADOWS by Whispering Jack The shadow of injuries to key players looms heavily over this game with the Cats missing one of the jewels of their midfield triumvirate in Paddy Dangerfield and coming in with underdone veteran Gary Ablett back for the first time since leaving the Suns while the Demons have been rocked by the news that Jack Viney and Tom McDonald will miss six-to-eight weeks and the surprise omission from the final team of Andrew Brayshaw and Dom Tyson. This is however, not the time to dwell on injuries. We are on the cusp of a new season and this is the exact time of year for clubs not only to make statements about the year ahead but to stake their early claims for finals places. As Melbourne learned to their pain in 2017, every game and every quarter of football counts. The shortfall of two goals that cost it a place last year could just as easily have been made up in the opening quarter of its first game against St Kilda as it could in the last quarter against Collingwood in Round 23. And with that in mind, I’m tipping the Demons who have lived and breathed with this thought for the past six months. Even though pre season form is not necessarily a guide to anything much in particular, it was the way they impressed in their unbeaten two game JLT Community Series that sways my thinking. They outclassed North Melbourne and dominated St Kilda for all but a quarter but it was the way they did it, without relying on dominant individuals in any part of the ground that resonated with me. The fact that they had multiple goal kickers in both games and generally dominated the opposition midfields in a total team effort that is thematic of today’s game. It’s how the Tigers came out of the pack in the latter part of last year with their high pressure game that made the difference in the end. That is why losing a Viney or a T McDonald might be inconvenient in the short term but it won’t make a difference against Geelong. The Cats are now heavily dependent on their midfield which was below par in the JLT series and without Dangerfield they look to be highly exposed. It would take a superhuman effort from G Ablett (the “G” standing for “Grandfather”) or a substantial amount of successful head ducking from Joel Selwood to get them across the line this week. Sunday’s game is the first MCG clash between these teams since 2014. I can’t remember the last time Melbourne beat Geelong on their home ground but the time has come. It will happen in game one with Demons coming out of the shadows to win by 10 points.
  20. One of the worst performances from a Melbourne team on the MCG. Yes - we had some debacles in the past few years but we're supposed to have a good coach and some players now and we surely have gone backwards in the last two weeks.
  21. I just figured out that we give more votes every week than we kick goals but please go ahead anyway.
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