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  1. Following successive comprehensive defeats by fellow Top Four heavyweights the Demons play down a division this Sunday against the highly promising Cats. Strangely, no games against the Cats for five seasons and now we play them twice in one season. With the blueprint on how to defeat the Dees available on the dark web the real question is, will we crumble again under the finals pressure cooker or will we rediscover our #DemonSpirit and execute a turnaround? Make no mistake this semi-final against Geelong is an enormous challenge. In Round 5 at Mordor, they stayed in the contest for three quarters but ultimately it was our record breaking forward efficiency that won the evening. Our high scoring has vanished these past two weeks, kicking only 9 and 28 points respectively. Against Top Eight teams this year our record is not so strong with a percentage of 98% whereas it’s 323% against the bottom eight teams. The weather forecast looks good for Sunday, 24 degrees and sunny. So, come along to IKON if you can and support our wonderful team. Noting there are a couple of milestones this week to celebrate: Midfield dynamo Liv Purcell’s plays her 50th game (including 19 games with Geelong), and Mick Stinear is coaching his 75th game. Good luck to the milestoners on Sunday. Selection this week Eliza West is back to boost our contested midfield pressure while Georgia Cambell is omitted. Rhi Watt, Charlotte Wilson and Sammie Johnson are named as emergencies. Geelong has lost goalkicking dynamo Chloe Sheer to a collarbone injury. Our opponents, Geelong The Cats have a strong engine room led by league stars in Georgie Prespakis and Nina Morrison. Support comes from 3-time best and fairest winner Amy McDonald, Zali Frizwell, and Mikayla Bowen. Meg McDonald leads the Cats’ defence along with former Dee Chantel Emonson, Claudia Gunjaca a strong intercept mark, Becky Webster, and Georgie Rankin. Ex Dee Jacqui Parry is having her best season up forward with 13 goals and 46 marks. It’s nice to see Shelley Scott back playing against her old team but the loss of Scheer will weaken their forward line. The danger player is tall athletic Irishwoman Aishling Moloney. She was on fire last time we played kicking 3 goals and will no doubt be a handful for Birch and Gillard again. Expect their coach Dan Lowther to have extra pressure planned for our stars Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks. He has two ready-made terrorisers to unleash in Darcy Moloney and Rachel Kearns. Meggs view Supporters’ confidence is understandably low following the recent defeats. There have been external comments about the Dees having illnesses last week so let’s hope we are fully fit and ready to give it red hot go on Sunday. Meggs is confident that we will bounce back and see an even team contribution. In leading goalkickers Hore, Zanker, Bannan, Harris and others we have the firepower to win. Our defence with Tahlia Gillard, Libby Birch and Goldrick is solid, and our engine room led by Liv Purcell, Tyla Hanks and Loz Pearce is a real strength. Reducing the impact of Prespakis and Ash Moloney is a key to winning. All of our players must win or at least halve the one-v-one contests, its finals footy. We are looking for more energy and physical pressure this week, a rediscovery of our trademark run and carry game and hoping our all-conquering forward line stars get their mojo back. Go Dees! Melbourne to win by 7 points THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at IKON Park, on Sunday 19 November 2023 at 3:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 1 win Geelong 0 wins At IKON Park Melbourne 1 win Geelong 0 wins (Against others - Melbourne 7 wins 1 loss Geelong 2 wins 1 loss The Coaches Stinear 1 win Lowther 0 wins MEDIA TV – 7 mate, Fox Footy, Kayo Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – ABC, AFL Nation, Tagalog FIL THE LAST TIME THEY MET (Season 8, Round 5) MELBOURNE 2.1.13 5.4.34 7.5.47 11.8.74 GEELONG 1.0.6 2.0.12 4.1.25 4.1.25
 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore 4 Paxman Zanker 2 Gay Hanks Mithen GEELONG A. Moloney 3 Morrison
 BEST MELBOURNE Hore Purcell Paxman West Gillard Hanks GEELONG Morrison A. Moloney A. McDonald Prespakis Webster INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil 
GEELONG Nil
 CROWD 4,312 at GMHBA Stadium The Dees proved once again that they were the team to beat in Season 8 running away with a comfortable 49-point win. It was an intense battle and Geelong challenged us. Nina Morrisson was best with a game-high 30 possessions while Irish sensation Aishling Maloney was dominant everywhere and kicked three goals. Liv Purcell, with her typical ferocious play, contested strongly and was well supported by vice captain Tyla Hanks, Lily Mithen, Paxy, and Westy. Kate Hore had a fantastic game kicking four goals and our efficiency in the forward half was brilliant and the reason why we kicked away to win by so much. Mick Stinear said it was an even battle, the contest felt much tighter than the final result. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C B. Mackin T. Hanks A. Mackin HF M. Fitzsimon P. Paxman E. Zanker F K. Hore T. Harris FOLL L. Pearce O. Purcell L. Mithen I/C A. Bannan M. Chaplin E. McNamara J. Ivey E. West EMG S. Johnson R. Watt C. Wilson IN E. West 
OUT G. Campbell (omitted) Milestones Olivia Purcell (50 games), Mick Stinear (75 games coached) GEELONG B C. Emonson C. Guniaca HB R. Webster M. McDonald G. Rankin C M. Bowen G. Prespakis N. Morrison HF R. Garing J. Parry K. Surman F S. Scott A. Moloney FOLL E. Hoare A. McDonald J. Crockett-Grills I/C K. Darby G. Featherston Z. Friswell R. Kearns D. Moloney EMG M. Bragg A. Kennedy B. Plummer IN K. Darby G. Featherston 
OUT M. Bragg (omitted) C. Scheer (collarbone) Injury List: Semi Final Rhi Watt - Concussion | Test Gaby Golvin - Achilles | 1-2 weeks Sarah Lampard - Wrist | 2 Weeks Casey Sherriff - Arm | Season
  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 
 NARRM Nil
 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. Big stakes this weekend. For the winner, will it be a Dees minor premiership and potential home grand final or will it be a Lion‘s Top Four finish and a double chance? Huge interest circulates in the how the ladder unfolds over this weekend’s final round of the 2023 home and away season with some 10 teams vying for 8 places. It’s AFLW Pride Week, a celebration of people from all walks of life coming together, being respected, loved and accepted. Women’s football continues to be a benchmark when it comes to inclusivity and a safe workplace. Mick Stinear and Craig Starcevich are foundation coaches of their respective teams, and this is the 9th time they have met. Stinear leads with 6 wins and 2 losses. Milestones this week include Starc’s 75th match as coach and Libby Birch’s 75th AFLW game. The last match between these sides was the Demons inaugural premiership win in the Season Eight grand final at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield. We’re back there this Saturday at 7:05pm for a rematch. Can’t wait. Selection this week The big selection news this week is that Tayla Harris has recovered from her hamstring injury. She will make her presence felt against one of her old sides. We also have Rhi Watt back, and a nice surprise with Jordey Ivey set to play her fourth game in the red and blue. Last week’s debutant Georgia Gall, Georgia Campbell and Charlotte Wilson have been omitted. Unfortunately, Maddi Gay is 1-2 weeks away. Such an important player for the Dees and was a standout in last year’s final series. Brisbane will bring back two of their best players in Sophie Conway and Cathy Svarc who missed last week in the Lion’s surprise loss to St Kilda, plus Ruby Svarc. Our opponents, Brisbane While, apart from Daisy retiring, no one wanted to leave the Demons during the offseason. Whereas the Lions lost their best mid Emily Bates and a proven goal sneak in Greta Bodey to Hawthorn. Plus, Jessie Wardlaw, the Season Seven competition leading goalkicker, signed with St Kilda. Brisbane, Adelaide, and Melbourne have filled 10 of the 12 available places in AFLW grand finals, dominating the landscape since the league’s inception. The Lions remain a force to be reckoned with. However, this season Brisbane has been upset by lower teams three times. By Richmond in Round 1, Collingwood in Round 6, and St Kilda in Round 9. Conversely, the Lions are undefeated against Top 4 teams with narrow wins over North (by 2 points in Round 4) and Adelaide (by 3 points in Round 9). This season Ally Anderson and Sophie Conway have really stepped up in the absence of Bates. Marking tall Dakota Davison has 15 goals this season and the exciting Courtney Hodder is a real handful at times. Brisbane has a great defence led by their captain Bre Koenen with good support from Nat Grider and Shannon Campbell. Their main ruck Tahlia Hickey wins plenty of hit outs but expect our Loz Pearce match her and have greater impact around the ground. Meggs view Expecting this match will be played in a finals-likemanner with significant consequences for both teams. Brisbane has already beaten Adelaide and North so will fancy themselves against us too. If things go awry during the match, remember that this team has incredible belief. Our coach Mick Stinear really rates his charges versatility and won’t be afraid to mix it up. Our forward line is the envy of the competition and we have scored 173 points more than the Lions this season. With Tay back to support Zanker, Hore and Bannan we have picked our best available lineup. Hopefully the sponginess of the playing surface is long gone, and we break the record for the highest all-time score at this ground also known as the Michael Voss Oval. Why not? Both midfields are high quality and bat deep, so we need to get our hands on the footy first and use our runners. The weather forecast says 20-21 degrees with a chance of rain. Let’s bring our own heat, put the Lions to sleep and win this Season 8 minor premiership. Go Dees! Melbourne by 18 points THE GAME Brisbane v Melbourne at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield, on Saturday 4 November 2023 at 7:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 6 wins Brisbane 2 wins At Springfield Melbourne 1 win Brisbane 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 6 wins Starcevic 2 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – WARF Radio. THE LAST TIME THEY MET - Season 7 Grand Final Melbourne 2.7 (19) defeated Brisbane 2.3 (15) at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield, 27 November 2022 Playing the first ever match at a new venue with a spongy surface not ready-for-purpose did impact the ability of all players to execute skills, run and carry and thus a low scoring but engrossing affair ensued. A win by just four points was the final result but the Dees looked more determined on the day, particularly the final three quarters. Tahlia Gillard kept competition leading goalkicker Jess Wardlaw scoreless, while Westy, Hanksy and Liv P ultimately wore down their more highly decorated midfield opponents in Emily Bates and Ally Anderson. Tayla Harris was a real presence and kicked a goal while Irish player Blaithin Mackin scored our only other goal. But like so many Demon victories it was the collective mindset and uncompromising effort of the Dees that won the day. More contributors, a spread of the frenetic effort, plus the underrated gun players we have on every line. This mindset, our #DemonSpirit, has evolved from the coaching and mentoring abilities of AFLW pioneers Mick Stinear and Daisy Pearce and has been embraced by the whole club. MELBOURNE 0.1.1 1.4.10 2.5.17 2.7.19 BRISBANE LIONS 2.0.12 2.0.12 2.3.15 2.3.15 GOALS MELBOURNE Harris B. Mackin BRISBANE Davidson C. Svarc BEST MELBOURNE West Hanks Gay Paxman Gillard BRISBANE LIONS Campbell Grider C. Svarc Anderson Bates INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE: Koenen (right knee) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil CROWD 7,412 at Brighton Homes Arena, Springfield THE TEAMS BRISBANE LIONS B P. Boltz, S. Campbell HB B. Koenen N. Grider J. Ellenger C. O. O'Dwyer I. Dawes S. Conway HF L. Postlethwaite D. Davidson C. Mullins F T. Smith C. Hodder FOLL T. Hickie C Svarc A. Anderson I/C J. Dunne E. Hampson D. Heslop P. Monahan R. Svarc EMG A. McKee M. Pauga B. K. Smith IN S. Conway C. Svarc R. Svarc OUT A. McKee (omitted) M. Pauga (omitted) B. Smith (omitted) Milestone: Craig Starcevich (75 games as coach) MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick S. Heath M. Chaplin C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Bannan L. Mithen E. Zanker F K. Hore T. Harris FOLL L. Pearce E. West P. Paxman I/C M. Fitzsimon J. Ivey O. Purcell C. Sherriff R. Watt EMG G. Campbell G. Gall C. Wilson IN T. Harris J. Ivey R. Watt 
 OUT G. Campbell (omitted) G.Gall (omitted) C. Wilson (omitted) Milestone: Libby Birch (75 games) Injury List: Round 10 Gabby Colvin - Achilles | Test Tayla Harris - Hamstring | Test Aimee Mackin - Ankle | Test Maddi Gay - Hamstring | 1-2 Weeks Sarah Lampard - Wrist | 3-4 Weeks
  4. Foundation teams Fremantle and Melbourne clash early Saturday afternoon at the Demons’ fortress at Casey Fields in this penultimate round of the 2023 home and away season. It’s Shelley Heath’s 50th game this week and there is not one Melbourne supporter who doesn’t love Heater. The way she goes about it at 160 cms, big smiles and then takes on some of the biggest names in AFLW reducing them to shadows of their former selves. Her tackles are a joyful work of art to be savoured. Heater earned 1 coach’s vote last week for her efforts running with one of the league’s best players in Jasmine Garner. Meggs presumes Mick voted for Heath, but he cannot believe that North coach Darren Crocker gave Jazzy 1 one vote for her game. Gosh, Emma Kearney and Erika O’Shea were much better choices for him if he wanted a North player. Our group really jelled and felled North Melbourne last week and held them to a miserable 1-point for the last 3-quarters. Incredible team defence Dees. Such a driving force from Hanksy and Liv Purcell, with Tahlia Gillard an impenetrable wall with her punching and marking. Fremantle, who were Season Six preliminary finalists, haven’t defeated any team in the eight this season and their form line suggests nothing different will occur on Saturday. Selection this week Some were debating whether Tayla Harris is in our best side. Well to Meggs there is no doubt Tayla brings so much to this team. Selfless, incredible physical presence, arguably the best contested mark in the league, kicks the ball a mile, just makes a contest when it looks impossible. So, if Tay’s fit, she’s selected for sure. The selection committee will also have to decide whether to bring back Gaby Colvin at the likely expense of Charlotte Wilson. Willo was excellent last week in defence especially in the third quarter. Will there be mystery injury of the week? Maeve went down nastily last Saturday but we presume she’s good to go. A tough cookie is Maeve. Our opponents, Fremantle For Fremantle the bad news is that Ebony Antonio is out for the Season. Freo have a couple of tests for Round 9 in Amy Mulholland and the experienced Sarah Verrier. Irish export Aine Tighe is a tall, athletic, rangy player who has taken to AFLW and is really exciting to watch. Her pace and skills allow her to be such a dynamic forward and certainly a hard one to match up on. The Dees brains trust has a conundrum. Who has the pace and size to run with Aine? Expect it won’t be Birch but Gillard or more likely Goldie or Gay. In the midfield they have league champion Kiara Bowers, skipper Hayley Miller and Irish newcomer Orlagh Lally who was impressive last week against the Saints. Dana East was busy too. Ruck Mim Strom has impressed this year and will test Loz Pearce and Georgia Campbell on Saturday. Freo are 4 wins 4 losses and won well at home against St Kilda last week. Meggs’ view No rain is forecast for Saturday, and it will be sunny, a coolish 17-19 degrees with gusty winds. Meggs is heading down the Monash and anticipates a Dees victory but expects Freo to bring a committed effort. Hopefully our contested ball work and slingshot run and carry game style will prevail. It would not surprise if one of our top-drawer forward titans kicks a bag on Saturday. Having three league leading goal scorers in your side (Zanker, Hore and Bannan) must give Mick Stinear supreme confidence that his team can always kick a winning score. Watch out in the 4th quarter. Freo’s defenders will have their work cut out for them for sure. A little percentage boost won’t hurt our minor premiership aspirations so let’s win and win well. Keep our eyes on the prize. Go Dees! Melbourne by 38 points THE GAME Melbourne v Fremantle at Casey Fields, on Saturday 27 October 2023 at 1:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 5 wins Fremantle 2 wins At Casey Fields Melbourne 2 wins Fremantle 1 win The Coaches Stinear 0 wins Webb 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – Casey Radio 97.7 fm from 12:35pm. THE LAST TIME THEY MET (Round 6, Season 7) Melbourne 10.6 (66) defeated Fremantle 5.6 (36) at Fremantle Oval, 2 October 2022 The Dees were unconvincing for 3 quarters as Fremantle at home were highly competitive and only down by 4 points at the 4-minute mark of the last quarter. Melbourne’s skilled ball movement and marking superiority proved too powerful in the last quarter with 4 unanswered goals to win by 30 points. This placed the Dees 5-1 and inside the top-four with Brisbane, Adelaide and Collingwood. Kate Hore starred with 3 classy goals, while midfielders Tyla Hanks (21 disposals and 5 clearances) and Liv Purcell (26 and five) set up the attacking chains that proved to be the difference in that final quarter. Eden Zanker and former Docker Sabreena Duffy kicked two goals each. Champion player Kiara Bowers (26 and eight inside 50s) and their captain Hayley Miller (17 and five clearances) were the best for the Dockers. MELBOURNE 2.1.13 5.2.32 6.3.39 10.6.66 FREMANTLE 2.1.13 3.2.20 5.3.33 5.6.36 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore 3 Duffy Zanker 2 Harris Pearce Purcell FREMANTLE Bowers Franklin Kauffman Miller
 Tighe BEST MELBOURNE Hanks Purcell Hore Zanker Paxman Harris FREMANTLE Bowers Miller, East Tighe O'Sullivan INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil FREMANTLE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil FREMANTLE Nil THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay M. Chaplin C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Bannan L. Mithen E. Zanker F M. Fitzsimon K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West S. Heath I/C G. Campbell P. Paxman O. Purcell C. Sherriff C. Wilson EMG G. Gall J. Ivey R. Watt No change FREMANTLE B E. O'Driscoll P. Seth HB R. Roux S. Gibbs M. Scanlon C J. Low G. O'Sullivan O. Lally HF H. Miller L. Pugh M. Kauffman F S. Wielstra K. Bowers FOLL M. Strom D. East A. Stannett I/C J. Flynn M. Hyde T. Mulder A. Mulholland A. Runnalls EMG E. Fiedler A. Hetherington M. Tuhakaraina IN A. Mulholland S. Wielstra OUT A. Tighe (knee soreness) M. Tuhakaraina (omitted) Injury List: Round 9 Gaby Colvin - Achilles | Test Tayla Harris - Hamstring | Test Aimee Mackin - Ankle | 1 Week Sarah Lampard - Wrist | 2 - 4 Weeks
  5. 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
  6. The last game of Indigenous Round 7 sees Narrm flying to Perth to take on the 17th placed West Coast Eagles at the Perth Demons home ground, Mineral Resources Park, starting at 5:05pm Melbourne time. After being comprehensively outgunned by the Crows in last week’s second and third quarters, Narrm responded brilliantly to get within three points in the last, but alas it wasn’t enough. Eden Zanker was unstoppable with five goals against the best defensive unit in the AFLW. Edo earned 8 coaches votes and is now top of the goalkicking table with 15 goals above Kate Hore with 14. Hanksy too was recognised with four coaches votes for her superior midfield exploits. With five wins and a good percentage we have a strong platform to reload our season heading into finals and we must aspire to secure a Top 2 position and the double chance. This all means they must make short work of West Coast on Sunday. AFLW ladder crystal ball gazing fun Looking at the draw for the final four rounds, Meggs expects the Dees to have percentage boosting wins against West Coast and Fremantle (at Casey in Round 9). The blockbusters against North (Round 8 at Ikon) and Brisbane (Round 10, grand final rematch in Ipswich) will help determine the shape the Top Four. The Brisbane game may well decide who wins the McClelland Trophy. If the Demons win all four matches, we are certainties to finish Top Two. Drop 1 game and other results and percentage come in to play. North has gimme games against Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs, but Meggs expects North to lose to Melbourne (Round 8) and Adelaide (Round 9 in Adelaide). Adelaide will continue winning, but Brisbane might outperform at their home ground in Round 8 and cause an upset. This leaves Melbourne finishing as minor premiers by percentage from Adelaide and four teams on 28 points. Meggs has Carlton, Richmond and Fremantle finishing outside the 8 on 20 points. It looks like it could be a very exciting finish to the home and away season. Irish players Aimee Mackin and Sinead Goldrick both suffered lateral ankle sprains against Adelaide. The AFLW Head of High-Performance said that “if all things go to plan, they should be okay” to play on Sunday. Unfortunately, Loz Pearce suffered an AC sprain and is still sore so she will likely be replaced by Georgia Campbell. Paxy will miss again due to concussion protocols. Mick Stinear commented in the post-match presser that there are 3 or 4 non-playing squad members putting their hands up for selection. After witnessing a lot of quiet performances last week, he may well select some fresh names. Ivey, Chaplin, Wilson, Johnson, and Watt are a few experienced names available. Our opponents, West Coast The Eagles squad is similar to last season with no new key signings. Captain Emma Swanson is a consistent performer leading her team and is supported in the midfield by the capable Isabella Lewis, Irish player Aisling McCarthy and Dana Hooker. Defenders Charlotte Thomas and Belinda Smith are important high possession players. West Coast had a nice win against the Power in round 5 but have been otherwise one of the competition’s weakest opponents. Carlton beat them by 53 points in round 3 at Sunday’s venue. Meggs view Megg’s is anticipating a four quarter effort, where we maintain the contested footy rage, apply early scoreboard pressure and fly home with the four points. (plus a nice percentage boost). That’s not too much to ask? Kate Hore, Tyla Hanks and Eden Zanker continue to play starring roles each week but a key strength of Narrm remains the depth and versatility of this playing group. We’ll miss Paxy again of course but we know that Liv Purcell, Lily Mithen, Eliza West and plenty of others will step up. Last week Mick set Goldie and Blaithin Mackin midfield duties and they both excelled. Time to reload and get back on the winners list. Go Dees! Narrm by 48 points THE GAME West Coast v Narrm at Mineral Resources Park, Perth, on Sunday 15 October 2023 at 5:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Narrm 2 wins West Coast 0 wins At Mineral Resources Park (Lathlain Park) West Coast Eagles 0 wins Narrm 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 1 Prior 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – Check local guides THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 11.13 (79) defeated West Coast 0.1.1 (1) at Casey Fields, 29 October 2022 Daisy’s Dees scored a huge 78-point one-sided win against West Coast in challenging windy and wet conditions at Casey Fields in Sarah Lampard’s 50th game. The match was the final round of the home and away season but the huge win felt more like a 1-point loss because one extra point would have secured the Season 7 minor premiership and the potential for a home grand final. But with 9 goal kickers and a dominant midfield there were no complaints about finishing Top 2 from the Coach Mick Stinear. Besides, only a few weeks later, we won our inaugural premiership so joyously on that sunny afternoon in Springfield. MELBOURNE 3.5.23 5.8.38 7.12.54 11.13.79 WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0.0 0.1.1 0.1.1 0.1.1 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore Zanker 2 Paxman Fitzsimon Purcell Bannan Mackin Hanks Heath WEST COAST Nil BEST MELBOURNE Paxman Purcell Birch Hore Mithen WEST COAST Thomas Roberts McCarthy Lackay INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil WEST COAST Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil WEST COAST Nil CROWD 726 at Casey Fields THE TEAMS WEST COAST B Z. Wakfer S. McDonald HB B. Smith E. Gooch C. Thomas C J. Britton A. McCarthy C. Rowley HF K. Gibson E. Roberts S. Davison F A. Franklin D. Hooker FOLL S. Lakay I. Lewis E. Swanson I/C (from) K. Bartlett E. Elkington E. Hartill E. Humphries A. Schmidt J. Sedunary E. G. Smith L. Wakfer, IN E. Elkington A. Franklin E. Humphries S. Lakay J. Sedunary 
OUT S. Goranova (knee) M. Western (omitted) NARRM B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Chaplin S. Heath C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Bannan M. Fitzsimon C. Sheriff F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL G. Campbell E. West L. Mithen I/C (from) G. Colvin G. Gall J. Ivey S. Lampard A. Mackin O. Purcell R. Watt C. Wilson IN G. Campbell M. Chaplin G. Gall J. Ivey R. Watt C. Wilson OUT M. Gay (soreness) T. Harris (hamstring) L. Pearce (shoulder) MILESTONE 50 club games – Libby Birch (Narrm) Injury List: Round 7 A Mackin (ankle) test S Goldrick (ankle) test L Pearce (Shoulder) test P Paxman (concussion) 1 week
  7. Big Guns, Melbourne and Adelaide, the two remaining undefeated teams in Season Eight, take battle on Saturday afternoon at Casey Fields, with the winner to go four points clear at the top of the ladder. We can’t wait to see how this potential grand final preview unfolds. Melbourne has been rocketing along this season as the highest points scorer and has the best percentage. Some questioned its opponents to date, but putting Geelong to the sword by 49 points at its home ground last week was super impressive. Offensively in the five games this season, the Demons have scored 58 goals kicked by 16 different goal scorers and the Crows have 49 goals from 14 different players. Defensively this season each have had 18 goals kicked against so there’s not that much in it. Over the nine matches played between the Demons and the Crows since 2017: • Total points scored - 285 to 289. • Wins – 5 to 4 • Finals – 1 to 2 • Casey Fields – 2 to 1 (combined scores 15.17.107 to 16.11.107, equal points) Again, not much in it. Mick Stinear has coached the Dees since inception in 2017 and Matthew Clarke joined the Crows from 2019. Adelaide has 3 premierships (2017, 2019, Season 6, 2022) and Melbourne has 1 (Season 7, 2022). Two teams 5 zip and in ripping form, it’s going to be a cracker of a game. Hopefully the notorious Casey wind will behave more akin to a zephyr this week. More recognition during the week for Demons skipper Kate Hore who made the Round 5 Team of the Week. Kate leads the Season 8 goalkicking tally on 14 goals and heads the all-time AFLW scorers on 67 goals. Selection this week Tayla Harris is a test this week on her hamstring. They won well last week without Tay but her first 4 weeks were full of team first contributions. Sammie Johnson also has a test, on her calf. Adelaide has defensive duo Steve-Lee Thompson returning and possibly Najwa Allen who has a hamstring test. Our opponents, Adelaide Any team that can win well when missing 3 quality premiership defenders in Sarah Allan, Steve-Lee Thompson and Najwa Allen, has great depth. In their absence Adelaide has shown us the defensive abilities of Zoe Prowse, Chelsea Biddell and Sarah Goodwin. While the Demons have such a dangerous quality and breadth of forward talent, the Crows possess a really strong defensive group and so the matchups will be critical to who wins this match. Usually, it starts in the middle and Adelaide have the outstanding Ebony Marinoff (10) and Anne Hatchard (33) who dominate contested footy but have ruck depth in Jessica Allan, Montana McKinnon and Caitlin Gould and a host of fast smalls in Martin, Waterhouse, Charlton and Kelly. Forward-wise the dangerous Danielle Ponter, winger Eloise Jones, ruck Gould and Rachelle Martin have been snagging majors this year. Our defenders will have their work cut out. Meggs view Thankfully no rain is forecast for Saturday. He is heading down the Monash and hoping for a super contest and senses a big margin this week is unlikely. It will be likely we won’t see the recent higher scoring due to sustained four quarter pressure. Both teams are super fit. On matchups Meggs thinks that, if Tayla Harris is available, we can better stretch the capable Crows defence. Gold Coast’s Lucy Single lined up on Marinoff and kept her quiet somewhat. Heath has been great at executing all tasks set her so maybe another ‘run with’ role awaits. A key power of our playing group is versatility, it’s such a strength. Expect Mick to confidently make positional moves during a match to improve outcomes. Edo Zanker and Kate Hore were super last week. Liv Purcell, Tyla Hanks, Lily Mithen and Eliza West were strong in the contest and will need to be physical again versus Adelaide. Watch out for the run of Paxy, Lize and the Mackins and our trademark handball chains. Another four full quarters please. Let’s smoke ‘em in this season defining top of the ladder battle of the Big Guns. Go Dees! Melbourne by 8 points THE GAME Melbourne v Adelaide at Casey Fields, on Saturday 7 October 2023 at 3:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 5 wins Adelaide 4 wins At Casey Fields Melbourne 2 wins Adelaide 1 win The Coaches Stinear 3 wins Clarke 4 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio – Casey Radio 97.7 fm from 2:35pm. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 7.6 (48) defeated Adelaide 4.3 (27) at Ikon Park, 4 November 2022 The Dees convincingly overcome the fast-starting reigning-premiers Adelaide to win by 21 points in a fiery Qualifying Final match at Ikon Park. Adelaide jumped out of the blocks in the first quarter kicking their first goal inside 20 seconds and finished with 3 goals to nil. At the quarter time break Mick moved Shelley Heath to the dangerous Ponter and Sarah Lampard to a wing. Great moves. Lampy impressed everyone with her 2 goals and Heath was in everything laying 7 hard tackles, as she does. He matched up Goldie on 4-time AFLW most courageous player award winner, Adelaide skipper Chelsea Randall and kept her to 7 possessions for the game. A highlight of the second quarter was Bannan’s 6-bounce sprint down the wing while midfield ace Liv Purcell (BOG) and Tayla Harris were outstanding. Blaithin Mackin had 15 disposals and, along with Banno, sold lots of candy during the match. The Dees kicked the last 3 goals of the match to put the result beyond doubt. The final goal by Eden Zanker was a nice way for her to finish her ‘50 dazzling games’. MELBOURNE 0.2.2 3.4.23 4.6.30 7.6.48 ADELAIDE 3.2.20 3.2.20 4.2.26 4.3.27 GOALS MELBOURNE L Bannan Lampard 2 L Pearce Purcell Zanker ADELAIDE Gould 2 Ponter, Woodland BEST MELBOURNE Purcell Lampard Bannan Mithen Hanks Harris ADELAIDE Marinoff Allan Gould Ponter Hatchard INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Randall (head knock) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Nil CROWD 2555 at Ikon Park THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Gillard M. Gay S. Heath C B. Mackin T. Hanks McNamara HF A. Bannan L. Mithen C. Sherriff F T. Harris E. Zanker FOLL L. Pearce O. Purcell K. HoreI/C G. Colvin M. Fitzsimon S. Lampard A. Mackin E. West EMG G. Campbell M. Chaplin J. Ivey IN M. Fitzsimon T. Harris OUT G. Campbell (omitted), P. Paxman (concussion) ADELAIDE B C. Biddell Z. Prowse HB S. Thompson N. Allen S. Goodwin C N. Kelly A. Hatchard M. Newman HF Y. Bonner C. Randall E. Jones F C. Gould D. Ponter FOLL J. Allan E. Marinoff T. Charlton I/C A Ballard R. Martin K. Mueller H. Munyard J. Waterhouse EMG M. McKinnon B. Smith B. Tonon IN N. Allen S. Thompson 
OUT M. McKinnon (omitted) B. Tonon (omitted) Injury List: Round 6 Tayla Harris - hamstring | Test Sammie Johnson - calf | Test
  8. Shadows form over Middle-Earth as the two oldest football clubs in the land Melbourne and Geelong take battle for the very first time for 4-points, down at Kardinia Park (aka Mordor). If you dare, come venture down the highway and support our talented team. Melbourne’s Season Eight form line is 4 zip and we’ve been playing some scintillating footy. The fanbase is growing. It needs to be said that our opponents so far have hardly been top shelf: Collingwood sits 12th on the ladder with one win and a percentage of 74.7%, Hawthorn (15th, 1 win, 56.5%), Western Bulldogs (16th, 0 wins, 58.3%) and GWS Giants (17th, 0 wins, 45.0%). Geelong on the other hand have beaten Western Bulldogs, the Swans and Power (both good wins away), and only lost to North at Mordor after leading well at half time. Lord Dan Lowther has his charges coming out breathing fire, they are fast starters. No team has scored a goal against the Cats in first quarters this season. Let’s spoil that party on Thursday! In comparison, no team has scored a last quarter goal against the Demons this season (actually not since Round 4 Season Seven, 2022). Meggs was pleased to see that Libby Birch, who has been building slowly this season, was named in the backline for the Round 4 Team of the Week. Other TOTW Melbourne inclusions were our superstar leaders Tyla Hanks and Kate Hore. Nice recognition girls. It’s Maddison Gay’s 50th this week (including 7 games for Carlton). Congratulations and Happy Birthday Maddi! Selection this week Gaby Colvin will play her first game back since her ACL and Maddi Gay was rested lasted week to be primed for this vital clash. Maeve Chaplin and the injured Tayla Harris (hamstring soreness) will make way. Meggs expects Tahlia Gillard (190 cms) to help Loz out in the ruck against the Cats beanpole Erin Hoare who is 194 cms. Tahls played well in the ruck during the 2023 VFLW season. Geelong reported no injuries last week. Our opponents, Geelong The Cats have elite young midfielders in Georgie Prespakis and Nina Morrison who have great support from the bullocking Becky Webster and Amy McDonald. Bowen and Crockett-Grills provide speed and pressure from the wings. The Cats’ defence is led brilliantly by Meg McDonald, with support from former Dee Chantel Emonson who takes the kickouts using her neat skills. Watch out for defenders, Claudia Gunjaca, a strong intercept mark, and Georgie Rankin. Chloe Scheer is equal second on the AFLW goalkicking table with 10 goals, equal with Captain Kate. While Ex Dee Jacqui Parry is equal 4th with 8 goals, alongside our girl Eden Zanker. Meggs view Expectations are high for an entertaining twilight match and a much closer contest than the Demons have seen so far in Season Eight. The Cats' home ground is narrow like last week at Frankston so hopefully that experience helps us. They are strong on every line and have several match winners. However, in their Round 4 top of the table clash against North only nine Cats players managed more than 10 possessions. Stopping Prespakis and Scheer would surely be gameday planning considerations. Heathy and or Hanksy to Georgie P, maybe Goldie runs with Chloe Scheer. Birch a likely option for the one-paced Parry or even the super competitor Gaby Colvin now that she’s back. Mick Stinear has shown us the power of versatility with this playing group. If gameday demands action, then expect Mick to shuffle his team and conjure moves. Our forward line is our ace. We have clever, talented goalkicking players everywhere you look. It will challenge the Cats backline, especially given our mid field support and trademark quick ball movement. It won’t surprise if Geelong lead at some point but our resilience and trust in #demonspirit is strong. Let’s bring the pressure over four full quarters like we have each game this season and, if so, Meggs is confident we can win the Battle of Mordor. Go Dees! Melbourne by 13 points THE GAME Melbourne v Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, Wadawurrung, on Thursday 28 September 2023 at 6:15pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 0 wins Geelong 0 wins At GMHBA, Geelong Melbourne 0 wins Geelong 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 0 wins Lowther 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET This is the first meeting between the two clubs. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF C. Sherriff O. Purcell A. Bannan F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce P. Paxman L. Mithen I/C G. Campbell G. Colvin S. Lampard A. Mackin EMG M. Chaplin M. Fitzsimon J. Ivey IN G. Colvin M. Gay OUT M. Chaplin (omitted) T. Harris (hamstring) GEELONG B M. Bragg C. Gunjaca HB C. Emonson M. McDonald G. Rankin C M. Bowen G. Prespakis N. Morrison HF K. Surman J. Parry D. Moloney F C. Scheer A. Moloney FOLL E. Hoare R. Webster A. McDonald I/C J. Crockett-Grills K. Darby Z. Friswell R. Garing Ab. McDonald EMG G. Featherston I. Houtsma B. Plummer IN J. Crockett-Grills Ab. McDonald 
OUT R. Kearns (knee) B. Plummer (omitted) Injury List: Round 5 Sammie Johnson - calf | Test Tayla Harris - hamstring | 1 Week
  9. Meggs asks is it time to heave ho the melodies and words of yesteryear and update Club theme songs with some Australian composers and singers? What prompted this reflection was the discovery that this week’s combatants’ themes were written by the same early 20th century American composer, George M. Cohan. Cohan’s melodies The Yankee Doodle Boy and You’re a Grand Old Flag have been used by Hawthorn since 1956 and Melbourne since 1912. Even earlier, the club themes of Brisbane (French National Anthem) and Geelong (Bizet’s Carmen) were written during the 19th century by two disparate Frenchmen. Meggs can’t see the connection to Aussie rules. A discussion for another time perhaps. This week Melbourne takes on Hawthorn at Kinetic Stadium in Frankston at 5:05pm. Get excited, it’s a brand new venue for the Dees to exploit and break records. So far in Season Eight Melbourne is undefeated with three convincing wins against Collingwood, GWS and the Western Bulldogs and are premiership favourites. By way of comparison, Hawthorn defeated the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat but has lost to Essendon and Fremantle. Mick Stinear would have to be pleased with his forwards. They have the highest points for (255), nine goals more than any other team, and are second on the ladder by percentage (271.3%). Kate Hore tops the all-time AFLW goalkickers list with 61 goals, while Tayla Harris sits third on 59. Enough stats. Last week’s match demonstrated the depth of Melbourne’s midfield, led by Hanksy, Purcell, Mithen, Paxy and Westy with support from Mackin, Hore and Heathy (trying to slow the Blackburn train). Isn’t McNamara building brilliantly into the season! Selection this week Alyssa Bannan is listed as a test on her sprained ankle. If Banno misses, then expect housemate Megan Fitzsimon (also listed as a test) to be her replacement. Go Fitzy. Hawthorn reported that Stephenson will be unavailable due to concussion. Our opponents, Hawthorn Hawthorn’s experienced coach Bec Goddard knows her footy. The practice match loss to Melbourne by 64 points will have provided plenty of learnings for her team. Meggs expects the Hawks to be prepared and much more competitive in this match. The key question is, can they match Melbourne’s fitness and pressure over four quarters? Watching them play the first three rounds you can see they have recruited a strong group of senior players from around the competition. All Australians Emily Bates and Greta Bodey from Brisbane, Aileen Gilroy and Kaitlyn Ashmore from North and their skipper Tilly Lucas-Rodd have been fantastic additions and are leading the team in 2023. The Hawks have a couple of young rucks, one is Lucy Wales (from Casey Demons), who should test our girls. Irishwomen Aine McDonagh and Bridie Hipwell have both impressed around goals. Meggs view The Demons are heavy favourites this week. The forward line should be too talented for the Hawks’ backline to control, especially with the mid field support and pressure applied over the four quarters. The evenness of talent and skill under pressure will be telling. It is hard to see Bates, Lucas-Rodd, Kashy, Gilroy, young Fleming et al sustaining the rage but they have looked good at times this year and applied lots of pressure in our pre-season game. That said, Meggs thinks we are humming and on song while the opposition will not be a happy team at the end of the night. Go Dees! Melbourne by 33 points THE GAME Melbourne v Hawthorn at Kinetic Stadium, Frankston, on Friday 22 September 2023 at 5:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 0 wins Hawthorn 0 wins At Kinetic Stadium, Frankston Melbourne 0 wins Hawthorn 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 2 wins Goddard 0 wins MEDIA TV - live free on 7mate. Foxtel, Kayo. Mobile – AFL Live Official App and AFLW Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET This is the first official meeting between the clubs but they met last month in a practice match at Casey Fields with Melbourne winning a one-sided affair 8.16.64 to 0.6.6 (19 August 2023). It was a good chance for Mick Stinear to trial new strategies and test his team’s fitness under the new rules of longer quarters and interchange limits. He welcomed back Eliza McNamara and Gaby Colvin from long term injuries. Sherriff looked to be playing forward this year and Kate Hore was setting herself up for a great season. Georgia Campbell has played only one game mainly as a forward but went ok in the ruck and took a strong grab. Eden Zanker kicked four goals, looked confident and set for a big year. Missing players included Gay, Gall, Fowler, Ivey, Aimee Mackin and Watt. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B T. Gillard L. Birch HB S. Goldrick S.Lampard S. Heath C B. Mackin T. Hanks E. McNamara HF A. Mackin L. Mithen T. Harris F K. Hore E. Zanker FOLL L. Pearce P. Paxman O. Purcell I/C A. Bannan G. Campbell M. Chaplin G. C. Sherriff E. West EMG G. Colvin J. Ivey R. Watt IN A. Mackin OUT M. Gay (managed) HAWTHORN B E. Everist M. Eardley HB C. Brown J. Richardson C. Baskaran C K. Stratton T. Lucas-Rodd T. Smith HF A. McDonagh B. Hipwell G. Bodey F T. Luke S. Locke FOLL L. Wales A. Gilroy J. Fleming I/C K. Ashmore E. Bates B. Deed L. Elliott T. Fellows EMG M. Breed C. Dumont A. Kemp IN B. Deed T. Fellows OUT A. Makur Chuot (managed) L. Stephenson (concussion) Injury List: Round 4 Alyssa Bannan (ankle) test Megan Fitzsimon (back) test Sammie Johnson (calf) 1 week
  10. The Western Bulldogs and the Demons have history. Prior to the creation of the AFLW league, the AFL ran four years of exhibition matches featuring our two teams between 2013 and 2016. The winner holds the Hampson-Hardeman Cup, in honour of two women who were founders of the national women’s football competition. After 13 games the Demons hold nine wins, four losses record and currently hold the Cup after trouncing the Dogs last year by 64 points. The exhibition games were a precursor to formation of the AFLW league. Eight teams were granted licences including the Dees and the Dogs and thus began the national women’s football league. The Dogs rose early with a premiership cup in 2018 in Season Two. However, lately they have stalled, and their alumni of lost dogs includes some of the league’s most impressive names: Kearney, Conti, Brennan and our own Libby Birch. Bonnie Toogood has moved to Essendon. Hard names to replace and less than a handful of players remain from their premiership team. Selection this week The injury report suggests everyone is available, so Paxy comes in for sure. It will be interesting to see whether they bring Fitzy straight back too. Wilson will likely be the unlucky one to miss out. Bulldogs reported nil injuries last week and have Brit Gutknecht and Millie Brown listed as test. Our opponents, Western Bulldogs All Australian star Ellie Blackburn is clearly their matchwinner and there are other good role players such as stalwart Kirsty Lamb, Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig and Deanna Berry. One improver is their ruck Alice Edmonds who, after leaving Richmond, has flourished at the Dogs under Nathan Burke and earned All Australian honours last season. The Western Bulldogs have only played at Casey Fields once and that was last season’s 64-point drubbing. Meggs view Another big score is on the cards this Saturday afternoon. Last week the Demons were again exciting when they were able to the win the ball and execute to outside runners. We are fantastic to watch, and Mick has the team firing early in the season. Loz Pearce was great last week and her battle with Alice Edmonds will be good to watch. Stinear last week praised our multi-faceted, versatile forward structure. It is amazing we have such a dynamic group and expect it will be a real headache for Nathan Burke on Saturday. The marking power of Tayla Harris and Eden Zanker, the speed of Alyssa Bannan, the sublime footy nous, and skills of Kate Hore, and our mids rolling forward to snap goals like Liv Purcell, Sarah Lampard, Blaithin Mackin and Lily Mithen did last week. Our opponents have lost their opening two games to Geelong by 48 points and to expansion side Hawthorn by seven points and have a percentage of 50.5%. On the other hand, the Dees have beaten contender Collingwood by 42 points and GWS away by 77 points to be second on the ladder with a percentage of 324.5%. Hope it’s a pleasant afternoon with not too much wind to hinder the skills. Go Dees! Melbourne by 45 points THE GAME Melbourne v Western Bulldogs at Casey Fields, on Saturday 16 September 2023 at 3:05pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 9 wins WB 4 wins At Casey Fields Melbourne 1 win WB 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 3 wins Burke 1 win MEDIA TV - live free on 7mate. Foxtel, Kayo. Check your local guides. Mobile – AFL Live Official App and AFLW Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 10.13 (73) defeated WB 1.3 (9) at Casey Fields, 9 October 2022 This Season Seven Round Seven clash was all one-way traffic with the Dees earning a percentage boosting win and consolidating themselves in the Top Four. Other than an accidental clash of heads between Paxy and Loz Pearce it was simply a case of Melbourne’s system overwhelming anything the Dogs could muster. West and Purcell were instrumental in gaining control of the footy. Excitement machine Banno kicked three goals, with Harris putting her hand up for mark of the year and Zanker doing well too. Goals Melbourne: Bannan 3, Zanker 2, Harris 2, West, Hore, Duffy Western Bulldogs: Hartwig Best Melbourne: Paxman, West, Goldrick, Purcell Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Ferres, Edmonds, Grant Injuries Melbourne: L. Pearce (head knock), Paxman (head knock) Western Bulldogs: Nil Reports: Nil Crowd: 2,154 at Casey Fields THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C E. McNamara T. Hanks S.Lampard HF A. Bannan L. Mithen T. Harris F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West O. Purcell I/C (from) M. Chaplin G. Campbell B. Mackin P. Paxman C. Sherriff EMG J. Ivey R. Watt C. Wilson IN P. Paxman OUT C. Wilson (omitted) WESTERN BULLDOGS B I. Grant K. Lynch HB E. Georgostathis K. Coyne M. Gorham C R. Wilcox K. Lamb I. Pritchard HF C. Moody G. Newton G. Lagioia F S. Hartwig D. Berry FOLL A. Edmonds E. Blackburn J. Fitzgerald IC D. Carruthers A. Smith B. McFarlane K. McLeod H. Woodley EMG R. Cranston N. Ferres B. Hunt IN M. Gorham H. Woodley A. Smith OUT D. Bateman (omitted) N. Ferres (omitted) B. Hunt (omitted) Injury List: Round 3 Megan Fitzsimon (back) test Paxy Paxman Chaplin (quad) test
  11. At half time in the 1975 Grand final against North Melbourne, legendary Hawthorn coach entered Australian sporting folklore when he implored his charges who were lagging behind their opponents to ‘do something’: "At least do something. Do. Don't think. Don't hope. Do. At least you can come off saying 'I did this'," Kennedy said. Kennedy’s plea failed but he had made his point and the Hawks rose again in 1976 when they took the premiership flag from the Kangaroos. The same frustrations which Kennedy faced in 1975 have been felt by the Demon faithful at times throughout 2022 and again, in parts of 2023. Last Thursday, as we sat and watched the train wreck of another slow start against Collingwood, followed by the last quarter and a half of a game in which opportunity after opportunity was butchered by poor decision making and execution in the forward line, many of us were moved to let out that helpless primal scream of ‘do something’! Melbourne won only one first quarter from Round 20 onwards (against an inaccurate Sydney team). The opposition put scoreboard pressure on the Demons, forcing them to work hard to get back into the game and win. Against, better teams such as Carlton (Round 22: 8.8.56 to 9.6.60) and Collingwood (EF: 7.11.53 to 9.6.60) the win simply did not eventuate even though Melbourne ran out the far stronger team in these match ups. Melbourne has as strong a defence and midfield as any in the competition. The defence has, for the most part, been playing out its role and has curbed the dangerous Charlie Curnow and his cohort of little men twice this year but the midfield needs to do something to lift its intensity rating when the battle starts. The contest between the midfields will be of paramount importance as the Blues’ Cripps, Walsh and Cerra, at their best can match the Demons’ gold star rated mids in Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney. It might well devolve into a question of who among the bit parts of the respective mids can stand up and be counted, particularly when they play their opening gambit. The other something needed from Melbourne is its efficiency when going forward. They need to be less predictable as otherwise, the Blues’ defence headed by Weitering will pick the Demons apart. Any attack that has 32 more inside-50 entries than its opponent but kicks only seven goals in a match has to be classified as bordering on dysfunctional so the Melbourne selectors have to do something to turn that situation around. That’s easier said than done without the forward line trio of Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham and Jacob van Rooyen who, between them, managed 14 goals straight in Round 20 against Richmond but will all be absent on Friday night. Does the club have the depth of talent necessary to enable it to take advantage in front of goal if the midfield stands up to give them scoring opportunities as expected? Much is being made about claims that Max Gawn and Oliver might be going into battle on Friday night but a little bluebird tells me that Cripps and Marchbank will also be carrying their own injuries into the game. The Demons have the ability to select some seasoned players including All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy and James Jordon and Charlie Spargo who have both played in a premiership team, along with the likes of Bayley Fritsch, Kozzy Pickett and Tom McDonald who had major roles in the same campaign for that 2021 flag. There is plenty of scope left for coach Simon Goodwin and his team to do something. And, I’m tipping that they will do so and overcome the Blues by the slender margin of a solitary point. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Friday 15 September 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Carlton 118 wins Melbourne 97 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Carlton 51 wins Melbourne 56 wins Past five meetings Carlton 1 win Melbourne 4 The Coaches Voss 1 win Goodwin 2 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Carlton 9.6.60 defeated Melbourne 8.8.56 at the MCG Round 22, 2023 The Demons made a poor start to the game but somehow were close enough to be well in the contest at each interval before falling asleep again in the opening minutes of the final term when they conceded three goals. Inaccuracy and a Carlton fingernail cost them the win that might have secured them a second place finish and an easier run to a Preliminary Final. Angus Brayshaw’s 31 touches were pivotal to the Demons’ ultimately unsuccessful lunge toward victory. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. Lever A. Tomlinson J. Bowey HB J. McVee S. May C. Salem C L. Hunter C. Oliver E. Langdon HF J. Jordon B. Fritsch C. Petracca F T. Sparrow McDonald A. Neal-Bullen FOLL M. Gawn, J. Viney, K. Pickett I/C K. Chandler T. Rivers J. Smith C. Spargo SUB J. Schache EMG B. Grundy M. Hibberd B. Laurie IN J. Jordon J. Schache C. Spargo A. Tomlinson OUT A. Brayshaw (concussion) M. Hibberd (omitted) B. Laurie (omitted) J. van Rooyen (suspended) CARLTON B B. Kemp J. Weitering N. Newman HB A. Cincotta M. McGovern A. Saad C B. Acres P. Cripps M. Cottrell HF S. Docherty T. De Koning M. Owies F L. Fogarty C. Curnow J. Motlop FOLL M. Pittonet A. Cerra S. Walsh I/C D. Cunningham G. Hewett M. Kennedy C. Marchbank SUB O. Hollands EMG P. Dow S. Durdin Z. Fisher IN O. Hollands M. Kennedy OUT H. McKay (hamstring) J. Martin (suspended) Injury and Suspension List: Semi Final Ben Brown - Knee | Test James Harmes - Hamstring | Test Angus Brayshaw - Concussion | TBC Jacob van Rooyen Suspended | 1 Week Luke Dunstan - Knee | Season Blake Howes - Hand | Season Jake Melksham - Knee | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  12. The reigning AFLW champions dee-stroyed contender Collingwood last week, to open the 2023 season with a third-term masterclass and confirmed their premiership contender credentials. It was such an exhilarating and satisfying match to watch. We witnessed the Eliza Mac comeback, Heathy versus the goliath Davey, new captain Kate starring, Banno and Edo kicking goals, an exciting new tall unearthed in Campbell and our fleet of mids were everywhere especially in that third quarter. And what about those repeated pinpoint deliveries into the forward 50 arc? This weekend the team flies to Canberra for their first ever game at Manuka Oval against fellow foundation club Greater Western Sydney on Sunday at 5:05pm. In a pre-match interview last week Scott Gowans, the Swans coach, described GWS as the worst performing foundation club. Before this match no expansion team had defeated a foundation team. Thus, GWS should have been well motivated, but it was the Swans who backed up their coach’s words with a stirring victory at North Sydney Oval. GWS started well, being 25 points up mid-way through the third quarter but a Chloe Molloy inspired comeback led the Swans to a 5-point historic first ever win for the expansion side. This Sunday evening GWS will encounter a whole new level of dangerous forward line against the Dees talls, speed, and (fingers crossed) accuracy. If we match their intensity, we have the defensive structure to take control and kick a winning score. Selection One change: Maeve Chaplin returns from concussion and will add steel and strength behind the ball. Her ability to attack the contest and deliver a booming kick will be welcomed back. Megan Fitzsimon has been omitted due to injury. Defenders Colvin and Wilson along with Rhi Watt are the emergencies. While our best players were duly lauded for last week’s win there were couple of teammates who we hope will improve their performance this week: Fitzy was quiet (possibly injury impacted), Westy was in and out, and the defensive group Birch, Gillard and Goldrick seemed a bit rusty. At the MFC AFLW launch Meggs asked the coach how Gaby Colvin (named as an emergency) could break into such a strong defensive team, and he was at pains to emphasise what a competitor Gaby is. He is bullish on her so there is certainly pressure on that backline to perform. GWS has named an unchanged line up. Our opponents, GWS Watching their game last week GWS has a sprinkling of experience across the group with Alyce Parker, Alicia Eva, Chloe Dalton, Bec Beeson, Nicola Barr (who plays her 50th game) and a group of tall defenders in Pepa Randall, Grace Hill and Cambridge McCormick. Tall forward Georgia Garnett was lively kicking two nice goals and small Haneen Zreika can play. They will be smarting from their loss last week so expect them to come out strongly. Meggs’ view Last Friday, you could see that the Pies were intense and got on top in that first half led by Bri Davey and Brit Bonicci. Girls let’s start stronger this week. Watching the GWS game our general field kicking and handball skills appear a level above, so if we work hard enough we will overrun them early in the match and secure a big win. The new 60 cap interchange rule is advantaging Melbourne as we have many quality fit midfielders such as Hanksy, Liv Purcell, Westy, Lily M, Paxy plus running machines B Macken and Eliza Mac on the wings and Kate Hore and Heath have gameday midfield roles at certain times. This advantageous depth allows the Dees to share the load, unlike many teams such as GWS who have really only a couple of strong quality mids at their disposal and who will likely tire during the new regime of extended matches and rotation cap. During the recent Casey VFLW season both Fitzy and Goldie had turns on the ball and did well. If GWS star mid Alyce Parker is getting on top at any point expect Coach Mick to throw Giant slayer Shelley Heath on to her. Hore, Harris, Zanker and Bannan are all stars in our forward line and Meggs struggles to see how Pepa Randall and her GWS defensive cohort can contain their collective brilliance. The full ground defence is supported by a strong structure of well drilled teammates setting up and responding to ball movement. Of course, it doesn’t work as well when there is quick ball movement like Collingwood were able to do last week so expect GWS to try and unpick our systems. Good luck with that Cam (GWS coach Bernasconi). Last week Georgia Campbell kicked a nice goal, nicely celebrating her birthday and her first win. Our number one looks the goods as a ruck/ forward and will be tremendous support for Loz Pearce. If Georgia continues to develop, she shapes as a likely successor. Tomorrow’s weather looks fine. Feeling confident this week. Us Dees supporters need some good news this weekend and Meggs expects our champion AFLW team to deliver in Canberra and find our voice. Go Dees! Melbourne by 35 points THE GAME Melbourne v GWS at Manual Oval, Canberra, on Sunday 10 September 2023 at 5:05pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 4 wins GWS 1 win At Manuka Melbourne 0 wins GWS 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 0 wins Bernasconi 0 wins MEDIA TV - live free on 7mate. Foxtel, Kayo. Check your local guides. Mobile – AFL Live Official App and AFLW Official App Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 6.8.44 defeated GWS 1.1.7 at Casey Fields in Season 6 Round 6 - 12 February 2022 This Season 6 clash was one way traffic with the Dees handing GWS their biggest defeat of the season at Casey Fields, Melbourne’s fortress. If not for the notorious windy conditions, the Dees could have won by more as the forwards had issues converting. The defenders including Ali Brown, Libby Birch and Gaby Colvin were miserly, racking up intercepts and only allowing GWS one solitary goal, late in the game. The Coach sent Shelley Heath to GWS’s star Irish forward Cora Staunton and kept her goalless. What an impressive list of tagging victims Heathy has accumulated over the years. Our star midfielders Lily Mithen, Paxy Paxman, Tyla Hanks and Eliza West all gathered 20 or more disposals for the day and Tayla Harris and Kate Hore kicked two goals each. GOALS Melbourne Harris Hore 2 D Pearce Scott GWS Giants Doyle BEST Melbourne Hanks Mithen West Paxman GWS Giants Randall Parker Eva Dallaway THE TEAMS GWS B J. Hicks P. Randall HB C. Dalton G. Hill T. Evans C J. Doyle N. Barr M. Brazendale HF Z. Goldsworthy H. Zreika A. Parker F G. Garnett B. Mowbray FOLL F. Davies A. Lister A. Eva I/C (from) T. Cattle A. Dallaway T. Germech J. Grierson C. McCormick C. Miller K. Smith IN T. Cattle J. Grierson C. Miller OUT MELBOURNE B L. Birch T. Gillard HB S. Goldrick M. Gay S. Heath C S.Lampard T. Hanks E. McNamara HF T. Harris L. Mithen A. Bannan F E. Zanker K. Hore FOLL L. Pearce E. West K. Paxman I/C (from) G. Campbell M. Chaplin G. Colvin B. Mackin O. Purcell R. Watt C. Wilson IN M. Chaplin G. Colvin C. Wilson, R. Watt OUT M. Fitzsimon (Injured) Injury List: Round 2 Saraid Taylor (foot) test Maeve Chaplin (concussion) test
  13. The coming of Springtime brings about a renewal in the cycle of life in all walks and on all levels. We feel the warmer weather, we work better and the changes affect the way we live and how we rest and play. This includes our pastimes and, in particular, our sports. In the AFL, they say that when the home-and-away season ends, a new season begins. On Thursday evening, Melbourne and Collingwood will embark on this new season in a game that could well be pivotal in determining which of the remaining eight teams will be triumphant at the end of the month on that one day in September. The fact that Collingwood is the minor premier and led the field for most of the regular season to finish on top of the league table is certainly of significance but it’s not as important in terms of finals outcome as the recent form of the respective clubs. So let’s look at how they’ve been travelling in the lead up to the finals? From Round 20 onwards, the Pies lowered their colours on three occasions. They also managed to just scramble in to beat the Cats and they finished with a huge victory over the basket case Bombers in a pressure-free meaningless environment after an opening moments when it was clear they were playing against witches hats. No team in recent memory has won a premiership with a record of so many losses in the run home to an AFL/VFL finals series. While it’s true that, Collingwood will welcome back captain Darcy Moore and Nathan Murphy to add some steel to their often chaotic defensive lineup, the question remains whether the skipper and his offsider will be ready for the pressure cooker conditions of a finals campaign and whether the team can regain the confidence and composure it held over the season and a half prior to its recent form reversal. On the other hand, Melbourne’s recent form has been more impressive with six wins from the last seven matches with the solitary loss in that time coming at the hands of the competition’s form team in Carlton and only after a controversial goal review late in the game. The finals of course, are a different beast and, in that regard, finals experience and particular, a record of high performance in finals is crucial. An index of players at clubs in the finals race with the highest average AFL Player ratings in finals has four Demons in the top eight rankings with Clayton Oliver coming in first at an average of 17.2, Brodie Grundy fourth (14.9), Christian Petracca fifth (14.3) and Max Gawn seventh (13.9) with only two Magpies — Moore (14.1) and Scott Pendlebury (13.8) filling in at sixth and eighth respectively. And on recent form, the latter while still dangerous is slowing down appreciably. Of the Demons in this group, Grundy is only an outside chance to play, but this only highlights the strength and depth of the Demons. In addition to this, is the fact that during Oliver’s prolonged absence due to hamstring issues, Melbourne covered his loss remarkably well. Jack Viney, Angus Brayshaw and a number of others stepped up from their comfort levels to fill the breach in the middle and Petracca even went forward with telling effect. The upshot is that we have a Demon midfield that is in no way reliant on one or two star players at the very time when the Magpies are exposed for speed and feeling the effect of the loss of their ace card in Nick Daicos. And meanwhile, Ed Langdon and Lachle Hunter lie in wait for that player’s older sibling on the wings. Much has been made of Melbourne’s supposed forward line woes and the absence of Harry Petty and Jake Melksham who booted ten straight goals in their last full game together. Again, the club’s depth will be tested, but the return of Bayley Fritsch and the likely return of Tom McDonald should be enough to confront the Collingwood defence which, notwithstanding its last up start when it conceded a miserable 31 points to a dysfunctional Essendon forward line, has been problematic in the run home to the finals. I haven’t mentioned Melbourne’s defence yet but it really should be recognised for its strength and effectiveness as demonstrated in its last game, one which had little meaning in terms of where the club was going to finish and who was to be its first finals opponent against a team desperate to win a home final. The high pressure applied by the Demons for much of the game was impressive and a fantastic tune up for September action. Melbourne has timed its run to perfection. It sits in the top six in every recognised premiership indicator and is number one in four of them including inside 50 differential, metres gained differential and inside 50s. The Demons are primed to continue their decades long run in finals of dominance over the Magpies. That run will continue on Thursday night when Melbourne takes its first step to premiership glory with a 27-point victory over the old enemy. THE GAME Melbourne v Collingwood at the MCG, Thursday 7 September, 2023 at 7.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 85 wins Collingwood 153 wins 5 drawn At the MCG Melbourne 64 wins Collingwood 85 wins 3 drawn Last five meetings Melbourne 2 wins Collingwood 3 wins The Coaches Goodwin 1 win McCrae 2 wins LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 8.18.66 defeated Collingwood 9.8.62 at the MCG in Round 13, 2023 The Pies were off to a flying start with the opening three goals of the game but managed just six for the remainder including two in the final moments to make it a close finish but, in reality the inaccurate Demons were in control for most of the contest. THE TEAMS COLLINGWOOD B N. Murphy D. Moore I. Quaynor HB B. Maynard O. Markov S. Pendlebury C S. Sidebottom T. Adams J. Daicos HF B. Hill B. Mihocek J. Howe F J. Elliott D. McStay J. De Goey FOLL M. Cox B. McCreery J. Crisp I/C D. Cameron W. Hoskin-Elliott P. Lipinski T. Mitchell SUB J. Ginnivan EMG B. Frampton F. Macrae J. Noble IN B. McCreery D. Moore N.Murphy OUT B. Frampton (omitted) F. Macrae (omitted) J.Noble (omitted) MELBOURNE B M. Hibberd S. May J. Bowey HB J. McVee J. Lever A. Brayshaw C K. Pickett J. Viney E. Langdon HF L. Hunter T. McDonald A. Neal-Bullen F T. Sparrow J. van Rooyen K. Chandler FOLL M.Gawn C. Oliver C. Petracca I/C B. Fritsch T. Rivers C. Salem J. Smith SUB B. Laurie EMG B. Grundy J. Jordon A. Tomlinson IN M. Hibberd T. McDonald OUT J.Melksham (knee) D. Turner (omitted) Injury List: Qualifying Final Michael Hibberd - Concussion | Available Bayley Fritsch - Foot | Test Ben Brown - Knee | TBC Luke Dunstan - Knee | Season Blake Howes - Hand | Season Jake Melksham - Knee | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  14. Friday Night Footy, and the only game in town, is the Mighty Dees up against the Hot Pies at our second home, IKON Park. And as a bonus Missy Higgins will sing to us before the match and (hopefully) Eliza Mac is back! Before the match the Demons will unfurl their 2022 AFLW Premiership Flag and spectators are encouraged to be there from 6:30pm. Princes (IKON) Park is a popular ground choice by our players. It offers elite facilities, wind shelter from the grandstands, and a high-quality playing surface. Most importantly the players say they can hear and feel the crowd supporting them which they can feed off. It is a great venue for fans too with easy viewing, transport and parking. Dees supporters have really warmed to IKON especially since we’ve had some brilliant recent wins there (including finals) and it’s not as remote as Casey for Meggs and others. Remember that Collingwood and Melbourne were part of that initial cohort of 8 clubs that began the AFLW back in that 2017 first season. Interestingly our first ever game against Collingwood was at Princes Park (Round 2 2017). The Dees came away victorious that day by 19 points and a certain D Pearce from Melbourne was the game high disposal gatherer with 16 possessions and 7 laid tackles. While this is our first ever ‘Season Opener’, Collingwood will have played in 6 out of the 8 season openers. Selection this week Coach Mick Stinear says we are at ‘ground zero’ following our reaching of the top of the mountain with the 2022 AFLW Premiership cup and Tyla Hanks, our newly minted vice-captain, has echoed these comments. So how does the last season’s statistically best defence and second-best offence improve in 2023? We’ll see on Friday night but there are some questions first. How will the team cope with the loss of Daisy? In the practice games Eden Zanker starred as a marking forward but who else comes in? Gaby Colvin is back from her ACL and working toward selection, but who would she replace? Tahlia Gillard was a revelation in 2022 at full back and a vital cog in our defensive group and Libby Birch one of the best marking interceptors. Maddie Gay is very important in gelling our the backs too. Eliza MacNamara is a running wing but who does she displace? Blaithin Mackin just improved week on week last year so who takes the other wing? Meggs thinks Mick has some selection headaches. Yes It was good to see we have some developing ruck support for Loz Pearce with Georgia Campbell (1) impressing in practice games and working her craft during the VFLW season with Casey. Given the injury report and that only 2 players from the grand final are not playing (i.e. Daisy and Maeve Chaplin), we await selection news with eager anticipation. Dees list changes Saraid Taylor (28), a young tall from Richmond and Georgina ‘Chook’ Fowler (12), a forward from GWS with a Rugby7s background have joined the Dees. Blaithin Mackin’s (31) sister, Aimee who has impressed everyone with her Gaelic Football videos must be over her hamstring concerns and available but it’s Mick’s call whether she plays. Sammie Johnson is also back training after giving birth to son Luca and featured in the Hawthorn practice game. It’s only 4 months since she gave birth! Our opponents, the Pies Former Collingwood co-captain Steph Chiocci has moved to St Kilda along with experienced mid Jaimee Lambert. A huge loss was gun forward Chloe Molloy to Sydney, to be their co-captain. The Pies do see the return from ACLs of experienced stars Bri Davey and Brit Bonnici, and we’ll see on Friday how well these two have recovered. The Pies also recruited onballer Tarni White from St Kilda who we expect will play. Gun defender Ruby Schleicher is listed on their injury as a ‘test’. Ruby would be a loss for them. Meggs view We have a settled playing group with a strong contested midfield group led by Hanks, Purcell, West, Mithen, and Paxy. Our main ruck Pearce has support from Campbell, Harris, with Zanker and Gillard too. The defence has Birch, Gillard, Gay, Goldrick, Heath, and someone comes in to replace Chaplin. Maybe Wilson. Our forward group has star power in Hore, Bannan and Zanker. The 2023 NAB AFLW Season opener promises to be a typically tight and contested game. Expecting Collingwood to come out really strong so we need to match them in contested footy. Our balanced depth is our strength, and our mix of forwards create difficult matchups for the Pies. Our practice form was a bit scratchy with wins over Blues by 21 points and Hawks by 58 points. Neither opposition team is expected to make finals. At least the cobwebs have been blown away. The Pies lost at home to Geelong by 14 points and away to Fremantle by 1 point. Over 8 years our coach has jointly shaped our club and family environment at Melbourne FC which is a launchpad for another successful season ahead. The Dees don’t get too ahead of themselves, they live in the moment, and embody the #demonspirit. The players know they’re back at ground zero, they will follow the process and the results will manifest. Expecting big things in 2023. Isn’t it a great time to be a Melbourne supporter with our women, reigning champions and opening a new AFLW season and less than a week later the AFLM are playing a Qualifying Final at the G. Meggs has tickets to both games and is highly optimistic of successful pie nights. Go Dees! Melbourne by 19 points THE GAME Melbourne v Collingwood at Ikon Park, on Friday 1 September 2023 at 7:20pm (Melbourne time) HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 3 wins Collingwood 2 wins At Princes Park Melbourne 1 win Collingwood 0 wins The Coaches Stinear 0 wins Symonds 1 win MEDIA TV - live on 7 and Kayo. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Collingwood 7.7 (49) defeated Melbourne 1.8 (14) at Victoria Park, 28 February 2021 Collingwood stamped itself as one of the AFLW 2021 premiership favourites after disposing of the wayward Demons by 35 points in Indigenous Round 5 in 2021. Star forward Chloe Molloy (now with Sydney) was unstoppable with 3 goals. Collingwood kept Melbourne goalless until late in the third quarter until ruck Loz Pearce kicked a great goal on the run. Magpies ball magnets Brittany Bonnici and Jamiee Lambert (now with St Kilda) had days out with dominant displays in the midfield. GOALS Melbourne: L Pearce Collingwood: Molloy 3, Davey 2, Sheridan, Cann BEST Melbourne: Hanks, Paxman, Scott, L.Pearce, Hore, Mithen Collingwood: Molloy, Davey, Bonnici, Livingstone, Lambert, Schleicher THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B L.Birch 9 T.Gillard 17 HB S. Heath 30 M.Gay 3 S.Goldrick 23 C S. Lampard 8 O.Purcell 2 E.McNamara 22 HF T. Harris 7 L.Mithen 14 A.Bannan 16 F E.Zanker 29 K.Hore - C 10 FOLL L.Pearce 15 T.Hanks 5 P.Paxman 4 I/C B.Mackin 31 G.Campbell 1 E.West 11 C.Sherriff 18 M.Fitzsimon 24 EMG G.Colvin 32 C.Wilson 20 S.Johnson 25 New faces: None
 Notable absences: Maeve Chaplin (concussion) Jordi Ivey
 Milestones: Tyla Hanks - 50 games COLLINGWOOD B S.Casey 22 S.Livingstone 12 HB S.Sansonetti 16 S.Karlson 20 A.Brazill 10 C J. Allen 6 B.Davey - C 3 T.White 29 HF G.Campbell 13 E.Morris 21 E.James 2 F N.Morris-Dalton 17 S.Rowe 7 FOLL S.Frederick 1 M.Cann 25 B.Bonnici 8 I/C A. Porter 9 E.Fowler 15 L.Brazzale 24 T.Brown 26 A.Sheridan 14 EMG I.Barnett 4 C.Blair 28 E.Smith 33 New faces Grace Campbell Selena Karlson Eleri Morris Nell Morris-Dalton Tarni White 
Notable absences Lauren Butler (foot) Jo Lin (foot) Ruby Schleicher (foot) Injury List: Round 1 Maeve Chaplin (concussion) Saraid Taylor (foot)
  15. This is the time of year in football terms when the contenders separate themselves from the also rans. Last weekend’s results including one that rightly or wrongly, for the second week running, was determined by a goal umpire’s interpretation of an event that took place right in front of his eyes, has ensured that only one team in the competition can enter the ranks of the contenders from the outside. The rest will be considered by many in the football world as bums planning their campaigns for the future. For the third consecutive season, the Demons remain contenders and given their top four finish, they are strong contenders now. Their game in Sydney against another contender in the Sydney Swans, won’t change that but it would be unwise to consider the contest simply as a dead rubber. They still have their eyes on a top-two finish and home qualifying final but, because their final game for the season will be played out on Sunday afternoon, that issue might have been decided by then and they could well be already locked into fourth spot. The Swans are on a roll with six wins in a row. They can still finish anywhere between fifth and eighth and will be anxious for another scalp, particularly against a top four team in circumstances that could land them a much-prized home game elimination final. Whatever the case, there is an overriding principle at stake being that, while you don’t want to show your cards early or lose players with injury at the pointy end of the season, you don’t want to flirt with form either. History has proven that on numerous occasions. And even at this time of year, both clubs have many things to prove as their preparation for the finals ramp up. In Melbourne’s case, it has still yet to settle the all-important forward line up which appeared to have been fixed until Harrison Petty’s season-ending injury a few weeks ago. Bayley Fritsch is set to return this week, but will the Demons also give premiership big man Tom McDonald an opportunity to show his wares at the same time? What balance will be struck between the club’s midfield and the move of Christian Petracca for moments up forward and how to run Clayton Oliver into peak fitness and form on his return after such a long layoff? How does Simon Goodwin manage his ruck set up with the Gawn/Grundy experiment desperately in need of resolution (if that hasn’t yet been determined)? At the time of writing, the next day on which rain is predicted on the ten-day weather forecast for Sydney happens to be this Sunday. If the weather gurus turn out to be correct, then it will give the Demons the opportunity to dispel as a myth the idea that the team can’t perform in the wet. The last time they were called upon to do that was in the 2021 Anzac Eve clash when they demolished the reigning premiers Richmond and went on to win the flag. So, while many might claim that this game has no meaning, the Demons need to play like true contenders in all aspects of the game, rain, hail, or shine. That’s always been the Goodwin way and has particularly been the case in the past three seasons when his charges have always been in the competition’s top echelon. It will continue this week and deeply into September. Melbourne by 10 points. THE GAME Sydney Swans v Melbourne at the SCG Sunday 27 August 2023 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Sydney Swans 117 wins Melbourne 95 wins 2 drawn At SCG Sydney Swans 14 wins Melbourne 8 wins Last 5 meetings Sydney Swans 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Longmire 7 wins Goodwin 3 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 21.8.134 defeated Sydney Swans 12.12.84 in Round 3 2023 at the MCG The Demons were keen to avenge their loss to the Swans in last year’s qualifying final and, after a strong start and a keen tussle, they blew their opponents off the park with a 50-point shellacking on the MCG. Christian Petracca starred with 33 touches and, in the absence of Max Gawn who was injured the week before in Brisbane, Brodie Grundy starred with 25 hit outs to go with his 21 disposals. THE TEAMS SYDNEY SWANS B T. McCartin D. Rampe H. Cunningham HB O. Florent N. Blakey J. Lloyd C E. Gulden C. Warner D. Stephens HF W. Hayward H. McLean I. Heeney F L. McDonald J. Amartey R. Clarke FOLL T. Hickey L. Parker C. Mills I/C B. Campbell R. Fox J. Rowbottom S. Wicks SUB A. Francis EMG L.Melican M.Roberts IN J.Amartey OUT T. Papley (hamstring) MELBOURNE
 B J. Bowey S. May T. Rivers HB J. McVee J. Lever C. Salem C L. Hunter J. Viney A. Brayshaw HF K. Chandler J. Melksham A. Neal-Bullen F E. Langdon J. van Rooyen K. Pickett FOLL M. Gawn C. Oliver C. Petracca I/C B. Fritsch J. Smith T. Sparrow D. Turner SUB B. Laurie EMG T. McDonald A. Tomlinson T. Woewodin IN B. Fritsch D. Turner OUT J. Schache (omitted) A. Tomlinson (omitted) Injury List: Round 24 Bayley Fritsch - Foot | Test Michael Hibberd - Concussion | 1 - 2 Weeks Ben Brown - Knee | TBC Blake Howes - Hand | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  16. Ours is a team game but there are always members of a team who stand out from the rest. They are the leaders and in the case of the Melbourne Football Club, its leaders have held them in good stead over the past few years, most notably men like Max Gawn and Jack Viney who never cease fighting for the team. They are the ones (not the only ones) whose fighting spirit never dampens — the fighter in them stays, and so do they. This week Max Gawn will play his 200th AFL game, a magnificent achievement considering how his career started, how he withstood early severe injuries and how he developed his game to reach the pinnacle of his craft as a ruckman. He is The Boxer, a fighter by his trade. We congratulate him on his achievements. There are more to come. Another fighter in Alex Neal-Bullen plays his 150th game. He not only fights but he also runs and, despite coming in for some criticism from those who don’t appreciate the role he plays in the team complemented by his athleticism. There’s more to come from him too. Melbourne is likely to be challenged in this penultimate game of the home and away season. There should be no illusions about that, given the recent form of their opponents in Hawthorn who have beaten two top eight sides at their last starts including top-of-the-ladder Collingwood and a Western Bulldogs team, albeit one that continues to struggle to hold its position in the top echelon of the competition. However, one finds it difficult to comprehend that scenario in light of the situation in Round 20 when the Hawks gave up nine goals to the Saints in the opening term as they succumbed to a 29-point loss despite a spirited third quarter comeback. Melbourne beat Richmond later that afternoon by 32 points and were contending for a top two finish. The Demons haven’t performed poorly in their subsequent two clashes, but their starts have been unimpressive, and they have failed to make the most of their opportunities once they belatedly got themselves going. So, the Demons face a resurgent Hawthorn in a tricky game having just lost one of their goal kicking keys to the Richmond victory. The good news is that one of the other key team players in Clayton Oliver made a spectacular comeback after ten weeks on the sidelines with 27 disposals, 10 clearances and 13 tackles. Most of those stats came in the second half and he was constantly being held off the ball. Mitchell will possibly assign Finn Maginness to shut him down and good luck for that. The red headed Demon has a lot more to give after removing the cobwebs against the Blues. Hawthorn is building with some solid contributors of its own in the midfield. The likes of the emerging Day and Newman are talented and young but they come up against one of the best on ball brigades in the business this week and will be sorely tested. The Demons have too much at stake to let this one go and I expect them to start better this week, hold firm in defence, play with the same intensity and mindset that has them in the top four and fight the good fight. Their experience and leadership will make certain of that! Melbourne by 23 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Hawthorn at the MCG Sunday 20 August 2023 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 81 wins Hawthorn 87 wins 1 draw At the MCG Melbourne 41 wins Hawthorn 46 wins 1 draw Last 5 meetings Melbourne 4 wins Hawthorn 0 wins 1 draw The Coaches Goodwin 1 win Mitchell 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 15.13.103 defeated Hawthorn 7.7.49 in Round 9, 2023 at The MCG The Demons shot out of the blocks and were all over the Hawks with solid pressure throughout the entire first half. They released the pressure valve temporarily in the second half but we’re back on the job in quick time to end up recording a comfortable victory. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. Bowey S. May T. Rivers HB J. McVee J. Smith J. Lever C C. Salem J. Viney E. Langdon HF T. Sparrow J. Melksham A. Neal-Bullen F K. Pickett J. van Rooyen L. Hunter FOLL M. Gawn C. Oliver C. Petracca I/C A. Brayshaw K. Chandler B. Laurie A. Tomlinson SUB J. Schache EMG B. Grundy J. Jordon C. Spargo IN B. Laurie J. Schache A. Tomlinson OUT B. Grundy (omitted) M. Hibberd (omitted) J. Jordon (omitted) HAWTHORN B B. Hardwick J. Blanck J. Impey HB J. Sicily J. Scrimshaw H. Morrison C K. Amon W. Day J. Weddle HF H. Hustwaite L. Breust J. Ward F D. Moore J. Koschitzke F. Maginness FOLL N. Reeves C. Nash J. Worpel I/C D. Grainger-Barras N. Long C. MacDonald M. Ramsden SUB J. Serong EMG T. Brockman B. Ryan IN H. Hustwaite N. Long M. Ramsden J. Serong OUT M. Lewis (foot) B. MacDonald (omitted) J. Newcombe (hamstring) C. Wingard (Achilles) Injury List: Round 23 Ben Brown - Knee | Test Daniel Turner - Hand | Test Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 1 - 2 Weeks Blake Howes - Hand | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  17. After Melbourne beat Carlton in an MCG snore fest on the first Friday night of winter, most of those who witnessed this insipid event would have been hard put to believe that the return match nine weeks hence would gain billing as a showcase encounter between the two in-form teams of the AFL competition. The Blues started the season strongly, but they had hit a wall. Struck by injuries and form lapses, they were behaving as nervous wrecks, botching their targets, making poor decisions and appearing like deer standing frozen in an approaching car’s headlights. Sensing their team was heading for football’s scrap heap to fight for choice draft picks in the second half of the season, the fans were not happy — they were baying for blood. Anyone’s blood. Meanwhile, the Demons, who started the year positively, were also in a rut having lost their last two games: both winnable. Faced with the prospect of having to live for a while without the driving force of champion on baller Clayton Oliver as well as with a dysfunctional forward line that had forgotten how to score goals, they managed to prevail in this forgettable clash against the lamentable Blues but it was clear that both clubs were in need of an infusion of some magical power to get them to move forward. It was surely by magic then, that Michael Voss was able to uncover the right chemistry to turn his club on its head with seven straight wins, many of them by large amounts with their closest opponent being the ladder leader Collingwood where the margin was seventeen points. Last week, the Blues faltered in the first half against the Saints, but they blasted their way into fifth position on the ladder in the face a typically ultra negative defence from Ross Lyon whose charges managed a single goal in the last half. Melbourne also found a winning trajectory, albeit without the same huge margins but it endured a similarly slow last start against the lowly Kangaroos before a ten-goal turnaround saw them move into second place on the table. Suddenly, it’s second versus fifth in what promises to be an intriguing matchup between two teams that have key personnel missing from their line ups. At least there can be no more perfect venue for such an encounter with the Blues coming off the soulless Marvel Stadium contrasting with the Demons’ last venue in a suburban setting at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. On Saturday night, it will be a full-throated reception from 80,000 fans at the magical MCG. A fortnight ago, Melbourne thought it had discovered the perfect forward line formula after a search that lasted almost two years. Harrison Petty, Jacob van Rooyen and Jake Melksham were deadly in hitting the target fourteen times in a score of 130 points but the loss of Petty through injury will cause a rethink and a reshuffle. The outcome will be crucial in this match as Carlton’s brilliant defender Jacob Weitering awaits his next prey. At the other end of the ground, Carlton’s attack has discovered the magic formula for a newfound potency since the last encounter between these teams. Charlie Curnow has blossomed in the absence of Harry McKay, assisted by a bevy of dangerous small to medium forwards ever-ready to swoop on ground balls set up when aerial contests are smothered. At the time of writing, before team selection, it’s not known exactly who will line up in the respective teams’ midfields. The expected return of Clayton Oliver could be decisive but who knows how he will fare after being on the missing list since a rainy night in Adelaide in the middle of May. In his absence, the Demons’ changed midfield structure has served the team well and allowed Christian Petracca to go forward at times with great success while Jack Viney lifted several notches, Angus Brayshaw added his delicate touch and others came to the aid of the party. Clarrie’s return will add a touch of spice to this game as will the possible change to the forward line resulting from Harrison Petty’s absence. Will Simon Goodwin find some more magical powers in his chemistry set to influence the outcome of this game? This week Melbourne has claimed top place on the Musashi Power Rankings ahead of Collingwood who have been leading the pack for most of the year. Carlton have climbed into fourth place. This is the pointer that swayed my decision about who wins — I’m tipping a magical 5-point victory for the Demons. THE GAME Melbourne v Carlton at the MCG Saturday 12 August 2023 at 7.30pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Carlton 117 wins Melbourne 97 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Carlton 50 wins Melbourne 56 wins Past five meetings Carlton 0 wins Melbourne 5 The Coaches Voss 0 wins Goodwin 2 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 8.13.61 defeated Carlton 6.8.44 at the MCG Round 12, 2023 It was a dour struggle between two teams intent on defence. Christian Petracca with thirty-two touches and six marks was outstanding as the Demons returned to the winner’s list after a couple of close defeats. THE TEAMS CARLTON B A. Cincotta J. Weitering A. Saad HB N. Newman C. Marchbank B. Kemp C B. Acres P. Cripps O. Hollands HF J. Martin T. De Koning D. Cuningham F L. Fogarty C. Curnow M. Owies FOLL M. Pittonet S. Docherty G. Hewett I/C M. Cottrell P. Dow Z. Fisher J. Motlop SUB E. Curnow EMG J. Boyd S. Durdin J. Honey NO CHANGE MELBOURNE B C. Salem S. May T. Rivers HB J. Bowey J. Lever A. Brayshaw C L. Hunter J. Viney A. Neal-Bullen HF C. Petracca J. Smith K. Chandler F J. Melksham J. van Rooyen Jordon FOLL M. Gawn C. Oliver K. Pickett I/C B. Grundy E. Langdon J. McVee T. Sparrow SUB M. Hibberd EMG J. Harmes J. Schache C. Spargo IN B. Grundy C. Oliver OUT J. Harmes (omitted) H. Petty (foot) Injury List: Round 22 Tom McDonald - Ankle | Test Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | Test Kye Turner - Groin | Test Ben Brown - Knee | 1 Week Daniel Turner - Hand | 1 - 2 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 2 - 3 Weeks Blake Howes - Hand | Season Harrison Petty - Foot | Season Oliver Sestan - Elbow | Season
  18. 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
  19. The search to discover the real Melbourne continues. Most of the search centres on its forward line but there’s more to it than that. The attack worked reasonably well for the first nine rounds despite the disruption of injuries to key position players. The Demons averaged 107 points per game to feature as the competition’s leading scorer, had a 7-2 win/loss record and were heading for a possible top two placing. But as wet weather and goal front inaccuracy bedeviled the team over rounds 10 to 16, that average plummeted dramatically to 64 points as they lost four out of six games by narrow margins — games that were eminently winnable and people were asking, “what is the real Melbourne?” It was then that coach Simon Goodwin undertook a new tack, mixing things around in the midfield and up forward due in part to form and to necessity as a result injuries, notably to star players like Clayton Oliver and Bayley Fritsch. This involved some clever and inspired innovation. Brodie Grundy was sent to Casey to work on his forward craft, some of the team’s smaller forwards were also sent to the VFL, others were given more midfield minutes and Christian Petracca’s spent extra time up forward yielding four goals twice in a row. In the three matches since, the team has started hitting the target more regularly, the average score surged upwards by 30 points, and the wins have come. But despite the improvement in forward connection, Goodwin is still searching. "We are still not finished in what we are doing and we have got to find ways to continue to improve … ," he said after last week’s game. One area where his team needs to improve is in bridling opposition run ons such as those we’ve seen recently from Geelong, GWS Giants, Brisbane and Adelaide. Stop these and the Demons will really be on their way. And that brings us to this week’s game against Richmond which finished last week’s game against Hawthorn with six consecutive goals after they languished in the shadows of defeat shortly before three quarter time. The Tigers rose Phoenix-like from the dead to revive their finals hopes and with the new belief engendered by their last ditch win, they present danger to Melbourne if they can repeat that effort. As it is, they gave the Demons a hard time at their last encounter on Anzac Day Eve when under the coaching of Damien Hardwick who not long after, quit the club having lost the desire to continue in the job. His replacement, Andrew McQualter has them buzzing along nicely with the likes of Taranto, Bolton and Baker starring and Dustin Martin returning to his dangerous form of old. The Demons will have to produce their very best in terms of applying maximum pressure for four quarters. They can’t afford a repeat of their recent final term fadeouts against the Cats and the Crows because the Tigers have come back from the dead in two of their last three games which is the reason why the sit outside the top eight on percentage only. I’m backing Goodwin to succeed in his search for the answer to the puzzle. The Demons are due to perform for the full four quarters and to prove once again that they are the true masters of the MCG. Melbourne by 55 points. THE GAME Richmond v Melbourne on Sunday 30 July 2023 at 3.20pm at the MCG HEAD TO HEAD Overall Richmond 107 wins Melbourne 78 wins Drawn 2 At the MCG Richmond 72 wins Melbourne 66 wins Drawn 1 Past five meetings Richmond 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches McQualter 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 15.6.96 defeated Richmond 11.12.78 at the MCG, Round 6, 2023 The Demons looked sluggish on their return from the Gather Round in Adelaide. Richmond opened up a decent lead in the third term but thanks to the midfield brilliance of Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca, Melbourne was able to take control early in the final term to win by three goals. THE TEAMS RICHMOND B N. Balta, D. Grimes T. Young HB N. Vlastuin N. Broad D. Rioli C K. McIntosh T. Taranto J. Ross HF J. Graham J. Hopper L. Baker F J. Riewoldt D. Martin M. Pickett FOLL I. Soldo D. Prestia S. Bolton I/C S. Banks, T. Cotchin R. Mansell B. Miller SUB M. Coulthard EMG N. Cumberland H. Ralphsmith S. Ryan No Change MELBOURNE B T. Rivers, S. May, J. Lever HB C. Salem A. Tomlinson J. Bowey C L. Hunter J. Viney E. Langdon HF K. Chandler J. Melksham J. Jordon F A. Neal-Bullen J. Van Rooyen K. Pickett FOLL M. Gawn A. Brayshaw C. Petracca I/C J. Harmes J. McVee H. Petty T. Woewodin SUB J. Smith EMG B. Grundy M. Hibberd C. Spargo IN J. Harmes H. Petty OUT B. Brown (omitted) T. Sparrow Injury List: Round 20 Harry Petty - Ribs | Test Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 2 - 3 Weeks Tom McDonald - Ankle | 2 - 3 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | 3 - 4 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 4 - 5 Weeks Daniel Turner - Hand | 4 - 5 Weeks Blake Howes - Hand | Season
  20. The last round clearly demonstrated how unpredictable season 2023 has become. Port Adelaide crashed to Carlton who were considered a basket case last month. The Swans got up against the Bulldogs who looked a top four proposition a fortnight ago, the red hot Bombers were disposed of in less than 20 minutes by the Cats who were recently facing a calamitous fall out of finals contention. And the Giants have come from nowhere to become finals challengers after delivering a huge hit on the Crows on their own turf in Adelaide where they were considered almost invincible. It’s hard to figure out the Crows. They were looking finals bound after beating the Lions and coming close (twice) to beating the Magpies but their recent form has been very ordinary. But all things considered, you can’t entirely write them off in this topsy turvy season, even in this week’s match up with the Demons at the MCG. After all, despite their twelfth place on the ladder, Adelaide’s best form in 2023 has been pretty good. In fact, its percentage is the fifth highest in the competition, slightly higher than cross-town rivals in second-on-the-ladder, Port Adelaide who they beat early in the season. They were unlucky to lose to top placed Collingwood when they last ventured onto the MCG so their season’s record against top sides is excellent. And they are desperate for a win to stay in the finals race. Melbourne hasn’t been a picture of consistency either, having dropped games to teams like Freo and the Giants who are out of the eight — games they should have won. It has however, shown some admirable traits over the past couple of matches. Simon Goodwin has covered the loss through injury of midfield superstar Clayton Oliver and leading medium forward Bayley Fritsch, strengthened its defence and rejigged its rucks by reverting to Max Gawn’s almost solo ruck status with occasional chop outs from young key forward Jacob van Rooyen. His willingness to experiment and boldness in team selection is bearing fruit. The omission of Brodie Grundy and sending him to the VFL to hone his forward play. Much the same as the way Ben Brown was given the opportunity to get his body right at Casey for the team assault on the flag in 2021. The compelling aspect of last week’s win over Brisbane is the way the players rallied together late in the game and the camaraderie and energy that was in evidence among the team. Within a fortnight they have transformed their mindset from the hunted to the hunter again, reminiscent of the Melbourne of two years ago as the club commenced its run towards the finals and a premiership. Adelaide’s cause has not been assisted by the loss through injury of Rory Laird and the suspension of Josh Rachele. They can barely afford to lose players of such calibre to a prospective top four side and whilst Melbourne also has key players missing, it has the depth to cover such loss. The Crows don’t and for this reason, they will be eaten alive. The Demons to win by 49 points. THE GAME Adelaide v Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday 23 July, 2023 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall - Melbourne 18 wins Adelaide 26 wins At MCG - Melbourne 8 wins Adelaide 7 wins Past five meetings - Melbourne 3 wins Adelaide 2 wins The Coaches - Simon Goodwin 3 wins Matthew Nicks 1 win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 14.10.94 defeated Adelaide 10.5.65 at Adelaide Oval, Round 16, 2022 With both Max Gawn and Luke Jackson missing through injury, this was a danger game for Melbourne. The Crows were tenacious and things were tight at half time before the Demons established their authority on the game through the dominance of the midfield combination of Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver, a brilliant performance from Ed Langdon on a wing and a powerful defence. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B C Salem S. May J. Lever HB J. Bowey A. Tomlinson J. McVee C L. Hunter J. Viney E. Langdon HF K. Pickett J. Van Rooyen T. Sparrow F A. Neal-Bullen B. Brown T. Woewodin FOLL M. Gawn A. Brayshaw C. Petracca I/C K. Chandler J. Jordon J. Melksham T. Rivers SUB J. Smith EMG B. Grundy M. Hibberd B. Laurie IN K. Chandler A. Tomlinson OUT H. Petty (ribs) C. Spargo (omitted) ADELAIDE B B. Smith N. Murray J. Butts HB M. Hinge J. Worrell W. Milera C C. Jones J. Dawson B. Cook HF B. Keays D. Fogarty S. McAdam F L. Pedlar T. Walker I. Rankine FOLL R. O'Brien H. Schoenberg M. Crouch I/C L. Murphy L. Nankervis R. Sloane R. Thilthorpe SUB J. Hately EMG E. Himmelberg IN B. Cook M. Crouch L. Murphy L. Nankervis H. Schoenberg OUT R. Laird (shoulder) N. McHenry (illness) M. Michalanney (managed) J. Rachele (suspension) L. Sholl (omitted) Injury List: Round 19 
Harry Petty - Ribs | Test Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 3 - 4 Weeks Tom McDonald - Ankle | 3 - 4 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 5 - 6 Weeks
Daniel Turner - Hand | 5 - 6 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | TBC
  21. After the game, Simon Goodwin bemoaned the fact that his team’s performance against St Kilda was far from perfect but given it was an important contest between fourth and fifth, it matters little that the win against a team battered from pillar to post and minus key players was ugly. The win was the main objective as it is again this week against the Brisbane Lions. The Demons desperately needed validation in the form of victory in their third straight game away from the MCG in a season where the advantage of playing on your home turf can not be underestimated. More than a month since their victory from left field over Collingwood, they return to take a 7 - 1 win/loss record at the home of football into their game against third placed Brisbane who seem to have a primeval fear of this neck of the woods — for the Lions it’s the ultimate hoodoo ground. Up north they’re called Brizvegas suggesting they’re bright and glitzy (except when their light towers crash) but the minute they hit the concourse at Yarra Park they turn into Brizghanistan, a mostly dark place where lights flicker only intermittently. And we know too well how poorly they play in those circumstances. I’m discounting the outcome of last year’s semi final between the clubs as an aberration, the result of a banged up Melbourne side running out of puff and bereft of the fitness required to win a finals matchup. Still, while the Demons’ form has by no means been decisive and they need to improve considerably to beat Brisbane on Friday night. The Lions might have a blind spot when it comes to playing on the MCG but you need do more than just turn up to the ground if you want to win. Since Round 10, Melbourne has undergone what’s known as a “midseason slump” but things definitely started to turn around last week with some subtle changes to the team mix caused by the necessity to take on new challenges after failing to grab winning opportunities in their previous two matches against Geelong and GWS. Despite the fact that Melbourne had less time in the forward half against St Kilda, it managed 50% more goals than in any of its past five games. It marked a desperately needed correction in the way the team converts its opportunities when transitioning into attack, in the first instance delivering much better efficiency in front of goal. This came in a number of forms, resulting from the inclusion of Ben Brown, Christian Petracca spending more time up forward, playing fewer small forwards and a changed midfield mix. The Demons still have the ability to defend ball movement with precision and control from the backline through the middle, an important aspect both against the opposition and in taking field position into attack. But … … still have to lift a few extra cogs if they want to seriously return to the race for the flag and they have all the incentive in the world to do so on Friday night against the Lions. They must surely recall the smarmy way their former captain Dayne Zorko and his entourage acted in their meetings late in the season, the humiliating fall out of the finals in straight sets on home territory and the touch up meted out in their Round 2 encounter up north until the lights went out. All emotional stuff but in every high powered game, there’s always an element of bottled up emotion and energy a team needs to unleash in order to set up victory. The time is right for the Demons to step up to home plate and I’m tipping them to do exactly that. Melbourne to win by 41 points. THE GAME Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at The MCG, Friday 14 July, 2023 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD * Overall: Melbourne 29 wins Brisbane Lions 24 wins At The MCG Melbourne 15 wins Brisbane 4 wins Last Five Meetings: Melbourne 3 wins Brisbane Lions 2 wins The Coaches: Goodwin 7 wins Fagan 4 wins * does not include Brisbane Bears or Fitzroy games LAST TIME THEY MET Brisbane Lions 14.9.93 defeated Melbourne 13.4.82 at The Gabba, Round 2, 2023 It was best known as the night when the lights went out at the Gabba but also for Max Gawn’s early exit from a knee injury and Melbourne’s inability to handle the footy in the humid, soppy conditions in the opening term. The Lions had a big lead when the darkness set in but when the lights went back on the accurate Demons stormed home and came close to bridging the gap before time ran out. Ben Brown claimed his second four goal bag in a row. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE 
B J. McVee H. Petty J. Lever HB J. Bowey S. May A. Brayshaw C T. Rivers J. Viney T. Woewodin HF K. Pickett J. Melksham E. Langdon F J. Jordon B. Brown C. Spargo FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca L. Hunter I/C A. Neal-Bullen C. Salem T. Sparrow J. van Rooyen SUB J. Smith EMG K. Chandler L. Dunstan B. Grundy IN J. van Rooyen OUT B. Grundy (omitted) BRISBANE B B. Starcevich H. Andrews J. Payne HB C. McKenna R. Lester K. Coleman C H. McCluggage Z. Bailey J. Fletcher HF C. Cameron E. Hipwood L. McCarthy F D. Zorko J. Daniher C. Rayner FOLL O. McInerney L. Neale W. Ashcroft I/C J. Berry J. Gunston J. Lyons D. Wilmot 
SUB D. Robertson EMG D. Fort D. Joyce K. Lohmann IN J. Berry L. McCarthy OUT J. Madden (shoulder) K. Lohmann (omitted) Injury List: Round 18 Harry Petty - Ribs | Available Michael Hibberd - Kidney | Test Tom McDonald - Ankle | 3 - 5 Weeks Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 4 Weeks Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 6 - 7 Weeks Daniel Turner - Hand | 6 - 7 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | TBC STATS HURT by Sam the Stats Man Melbourne has had a moderate run with injuries this year although the loss of a few key players here and there to various ailments has hurt the club’s 2023 campaign. The loss of Max Gawn through a knee injury in the equivalent game against the Lions in the capital of the sunshine state was the early blow. The impact was felt immediately under the shock of the skipper’s painful departure from the ground and the action. He was out for a month which included the then surprise defeat during the Gather Round at the hands of the Bombers in Adelaide. Christian Salem’s thyroid and knee woes saw him miss a large slab of games early while key talls Ben Brown and Tom McDonald have injuries and form to blame for prolonged absences which affected the team’s forward performance. The biggest loss to injury by far has been the well-documented saga of Clayton Oliver’s hamstring compounded by a week in hospital with infected blisters on the foot and further compounded by further hamstring damage of a complex nature that sees his return pushed back to somewhere near the finals. Bayley Fritsh is out until the finals - the club having to make do with others up forward in the vital games to come in the interim. One other statistic stands out to my mind. The Demon’s exciting and electric goalkicking sensation Kozzie Pickett, who booted four goals and earned a two week suspension in Round 1. Since his return from the sin bin, his productivity has gone into decline and from Round 11, he has kicked only four goals in five games. Considering that he booted six in one game against Port Adelaide last year, his lack of productivity in goal scoring is a worry even if the number of his pressure acts may have improved slightly. The playing list details to date:- ADAMS, Jed CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 BOWEY Jake MFC games 14, MFC goals 1, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 BRAYSHAW, Angus MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 BROWN, Ben MFC games 5, MFC goals 9, CDFC games 7, CDFC goals 11 CHANDLER, Kade MFC games 14, MFC goals 13, CDFC game 1, CDFC goals 0 DUNSTAN, Luke CDFC games 10, CDFC goals 5 FARRIS-WHITE, Kyah CDFC games 4, CDFC goals 0 FRITSCH, Bayley MFC games 15, MFC goals 16 GAWN, Max MFC games 13, MFC goals 3 GRUNDY, Brodie MFC games 16, MFC goals 3 HARMES, James MFC games 7, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 4 HIBBERD, Michael MFC games 9, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 1, CDFC goals 0 HOWES, Blake CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 HUNTER, Lachie MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 JEFFERSON, Matthew CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 18 JORDON, James MFC games 12, MFC goals 3, CDFC games 4, CDFC goals 4 LANGDON , Ed MFC games 16, MFC goals 1 LAURIE, Bailey MFC games 2, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 13, CDFC goals 9 LEVER, Jake MFC games 15, MFC goals 0 MCDONALD, Tom MFC games 6, MFC goals 5, CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 5 MCVEE, Judd MFC games 16, MFC goals 0 MAY, Steven MFC games 14, MFC goals 0 MELKSHAM, Jake MFC games 6, MFC goals 4, CDFC games 6, CDFC goals 17 MONIZ-WAKEFIELD, Andy CDFC games 13, CDFC goals 10 NEALE-BULLEN, Alex MFC games 16, MFC goals 7 OLIVER, Clayton MFC games 10, MFC goals 4 PETRACCA, Christian MFC games 16, MFC goals 8 PETTY, Harrison MFC games 11, MFC goals 2 PICKETT, Kysaiah MFC games 14, MFC goals 22 RIVERS, Trent MFC games 16, MFC goals 1 SALEM, Christian - MFC games 7, MFC goals 0 SCHACHE, Josh- MFC games 1, MFC goal 1, CDFC games 11, CDFC goals 27 SESTAN, Oliver CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 11 SMITH, Deakyn CDFC games 14, CDFC goals 0 SMITH, Joel - MFC games 5, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 5, CDFC goals 11 SPARGO, Charlie MFC games 12, MFC goals 6. CDFC games 2, CDFC goal 1 SPARROW, Tom MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 TOMLINSON, Adam MFC games 5, MFC goals 0, CDFC games 8, CDFC goals 0 TURNER, Daniel - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 9, CDFC goals 0 TURNER, Kye CDFC games 2, CDFC goals 0 VAN ROOYEN, Jacob MFC games 12, MFC goals 10, CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 6 VERRALL, Will CDFC games 3, CDFC goals 0 VINEY, Jack MFC games 15, MFC goals 3 WOEWODIN, Taj - MFC game 1, MFC goal 0, CDFC games 9, CDFC goals 6
  22. There’s only one way that St Kilda will beat Melbourne on Saturday night and that is if the roof of Marvel Stadium develops a leak from the rain outside (the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a 70% chance of rain). Under a closed roof, the windless conditions at the venue give the Demons’ forward line their best chance in ages of snapping out of the most massive dose of off the rails scoring yips since Ian Baker-Finch put away his favourite set of clubs and retired from golf. It’s a well-documented fact that from Rounds 1-9 this season when Melbourne was ranked No. 1 for scoring accuracy, they have plummeted to a No. 18 ranking through rounds 10-16. And all this before the Demons confirmed their best forward Bayley Fritsch will miss an estimated 7-8 weeks with a broken foot which effectively means his season is over even assuming his recovery rate sees him at full fitness at a slightly better rate than Clayton Oliver or Tom McDonald. These players are all vital cogs in the club’s revival. The thing is that Melbourne is still playing its customary tough, hard brand of pressure football in the air and on the ground in defence and in the middle but when the ball starts zeroing in on that front third of the ground, it automatically finds a player wearing an opposition guernsey or goes through the wrong side of the big sticks. The saving grace has been that while Demons kicked 5.15 against the Giants, following scores of 8.15, 8.18, and 8.13, most of their recent losses were played in heavy wet conditions and that won’t be the case this week. The team has been followed around by dark black storm clouds laden with precipitation. It has followed them at home, in Geelong, over to Adelaide a couple of times and even to the country’s normally dry heart. The malaise has virtually eliminated their final two chances altogether and threatens their tenuous hold on a top four spot. They might even drop out of the finals altogether if they continue to miss their targets in front of goal. Fortunately, the circuit-breaker is now at hand for the game at St Kilda, winners at their last start but by a paltry eight points against the AFL’s most easy to beat side since the days when Dean Bailey and Mark Neeld ruled the roost at Melbourne. Over the first three quarters, the Saints allowed the Eagles to score 12.2 from 28 inside 50 entries. Now a defence as lousy as that is quite capable of leaking goals even to the wayward Demons on dry ground and I’m eliminating the possibility of a reprise to the days when the sprinkler system was inadvertently left on overnight before a game at the Saints’ old home ground. There are too many comic book heroes at Marvel Stadium to allow that to happen. I’m tipping Melbourne to hit its targets in the dry conditions at the Docklands and to win by 50 points. THE GAME St Kilda v Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday 8 July 2023 at 7.25pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall St Kilda 94 wins Melbourne 124 1 drawn At Marvel Stadium St Kilda 9 wins Melbourne 6 wins Past five meetings St Kilda 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches Lyon 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 14.9.93 defeated St Kilda 8.7.55 at The MCG, Round 8, 2022 Ah, what a glorious time it was when the Demons found their men on the forward line and those men kicked truly. Ed Langdon, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca all gathered possessions in the high thirties and Ben Brown and Kozzie Pickett snagged three goals each. Oh, wasn’t that a time? THE TEAMS ST KILDA B Z. Cordy D. Howard C. Wilkie HB J. Webster M. Windhager N. Wanganeen-Milera C M. Wood J. Steele S. Ross HF D. Butler M. Phillipou M. Owens F A. Caminiti M. King J. Gresham FOLL R. Marshall B. Crouch J. Sinclair I/C J. Billings Z. Jones C. Sharman L. Stocker SUB R. Byrnes EMG T. Campbell H. Clark J. Peris IN J. Billings Z. Cordy Z. Jones OUT J. Battle (concussion) J. Higgins (knee) B. Hill (knee) MELBOURNE B J. Bowey S. May H. Petty HB C. Salem J. Lever A. Brayshaw C J. Jordon J. Viney E. Langdon HF K. Pickett J. Melksham T. Sparrow F A. Neal-Bullen B. Brown C. Spargo FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca T. Rivers I/C B. Grundy L. Hunter J. McVee T. Woewodin SUB J. Smith EMG K. Chandler J. Harmes J. van Rooyen IN J. Jordon C. Spargo T. Woewodin OUT K. Chandler (omitted) B. Fritsch (foot) J. Harmes (omitted) Injury List: Round 17 Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | Test 
Michael Hibberd - Kidney | 2 Weeks 
Tom McDonald - Ankle | 4 - 6 Weeks 
 Bayley Fritsch - Foot | 7 - 8 Weeks 
Kye Turner - Groin | TBC
  23. The last time I quoted former Kangaroos champion and Foxtel commentator David King in a match preview, the Demons played one of their best games to date of 2023 and beat Collingwood at the MCG on Kings Birthday. This has led me to return to the guru of all things football strategy, tactics and wisdom for another crack because I’m genuinely concerned that Melbourne is not achieving the things of which it is capable. Speaking on Fox Footy at the weekend, King delivered a significant reality check about the Demons’ forward line arguing that it’s “on life support” and their current mix up forward “is not winning a prelim final” this year. The current mix includes playing elite ruckmen in key forward posts. And based on their recent struggles up forward, the moment of truth is coming quickly for the Melbourne Football Club which earlier in the season was averaging more than 100 points per game (to Round 9) and was leading all AFL clubs for scoring at around that time. However, the past five matches have seen its match totals plummet with scores of 76 (vs Port Adelaide), 72 (Fremantle), 61 (Carlton), 66 (Collingwood) and 63 (Geelong). The team is suddenly bleeding from turnovers, battling to convert scores from inside 50 and in the past four matches has been in the mid 30s goal accuracy percentage range. Of course, it wasn’t just the forward line that was responsible for capitulating against Geelong, Fremantle and Port Adelaide or the near victory from defeat snatch against Collingwood. It was however, the lapses in the forward line where insufficient pressure was asserted on the Cats’ defence in the forward half that turned momentum in the space of three minutes that destroyed three quarters of hard work in their most recent encounter. That’s a red flag that brings the team to its moment of truth. I’m not sure whether the match committee is on top of this because we’re seeing minor patch up jobs with the forward line on a weekly basis with the same flat line forward scoring outcomes, little signs of pressure exerted on opposing defences and low possession statistics for the small forwards. This was not happening earlier this season and King is right to state the situation is not sustainable — the club remains strong in defence and has an elite level midfield (albeit missing its goat in the hamstrung Clayton Oliver) but to maintain a reasonable prospect of getting to a preliminary final, let alone winning one, it requires the forwards to make more of a contribution to the team effort than eight goals and many more behinds over the course of a game. The GWS Giants are no slouches. They not long ago bested Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and in their last game thrashed Fremantle on their home turf. This means the trip to Traeger Park, Melbourne’s home away from home, will present it with more than a few problems. Toby Greene is a likely handful for whoever is chosen to take him on, the Giants have excellent midfield talent in Kelly, Green and Coniglio and a very handy defence. Fortunately for the Demons, the Giants will have little support in the crowd and have to contend with the post bye hoodoo that’s ravaging AFL clubs this year. By way of a strange twist of fate the weather bureau is predicting heavy rain in the days leading up to the game. This should clear by game day and the Demons will be hoping that the ground drains well because they haven’t handled wet, greasy conditions well this year. On their last visit to the Alice, the Demons overturned a last start defeat against Geelong with the help of a six goal masterclass from Kozzy Pickett and the performances of Christian Petracca and Jack Viney in the middle. They overcame a slow start and focused on maintaining momentum throughout the game. They need to repeat that on Sunday at TIO Traeger Park and the best way to achieving that is by improving their inside 50 efficiency and scoring accuracy. With the moment of truth facing them in the heart of the country, the time has come to prove that there’s plenty of life left in their 2023 campaign. Melbourne by 15 points. THE GAME Melbourne v GWS Giants at TIO Traeger Park, Sunday 2 July, 2023 at 3:20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall – Melbourne 9 wins GWS Giants 7 wins At TIO Traeger Park – Melbourne 0 wins GWS Giants 0 wins Past five meetings – Melbourne 3 wins GWS Giants 2 wins The Coaches – Goodwin 0 wins Kingsley 0 wins THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 19.6.120 defeated GWS Giants 7.11.53 at The MCG, Round 5 2022 This was one of Melbourne’s few big victories of the 2022 season, predicated on strong running, heavy defensive pressure and yes, sublime attacking football and superb accuracy when kicking for goal. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B J. McVee S. May C. Salem HB T. Sparrow J. Lever T. Rivers C L. Hunter J. Viney E. Langdon HF C. Petracca B. Fritsch J. Smith F A. Neal-Bullen B. Grundy K. Chandler FOLL M. Gawn A. Brayshaw J. Harmes I/C J. Bowey B. Brown H. Petty K. Pickett SUB J. Melksham EMG J. van Rooyen C. Spargo A. Tomlinson IN J. Bowey B. Brown J. Harmes J. Melksham OUT M. Hibberd (kidney) James Jordon (omitted) C. Spargo (omitted) J. van Rooyen GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY GIANTS B J. Buckley S. Taylor C. Idun HF L. Ash H. Himmelberg N. Haynes C J. Kelly C. Ward F. Callaghan HF D. Lloyd J. Riccardi T. Bedford F X. O'Halloran J. Hogan T. Greene FOLL K. Briggs S. Coniglio T. Green I/C C. M. Brown I. Cumming L. Keefe H. Perryman SUB R. Angwin EMG A. Cadman J. Fahey M. Flynn IN R. Angwin I. Cumming J. Hogan OUT A. Cadman (omitted) J. Fahey (omitted) Whitfield (suspension) Injury List: Round 16 Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | 1 - 2 Weeks Michael Hibberd - Kidney | TBC Tom McDonald - Foot | 4 - 6 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | TBC
  24. According to an article on the AFL website, there’s a new reason for supporters to panic at this time of year and that’s the post bye let down. The trend of dropping the first game on return from a bye has gone to a new level this season with teams now a collective 1-5 in 2023 when playing after their mid-season break (and the only win was the Saints’ Round 13 triumph over the Swans, also fresh from a spell). This puts the Demons at risk in their clash with the Cats at the half-completed taxpayer funded you beaut stadium on Corio Bay, the home side having already suffered the let down last weekend. Thankfully, the Demons are the best coached organization in the country and Simon Goodwin and his coaching cohort have everything under control. Firstly, the team is heading down the highway to Geelong to train at GMHBA Stadium rather than on game day, aiming to really "treat it like a game away from home." They are already used to the long-haul travel and if this isn’t enough, they’ve been training on a scaled down track at Casey Fields that matches the exact dimensions of the Cattery. And while they were training out there, I noticed vision of players practicing their set shots for goal - that is sheer genius of Einstein dimensions! Melbourne was exceptional in almost every aspect of the game in their pre bye match against ladder leaders Collingwood but for the fact that they could not hit the side of the proverbial barn door. The club comes up against the normally highly accurate Geelong who were on target but otherwise performed abysmally against Port Adelaide last week. This will test my swings and roundabouts theory about shooting for goal. The Dees are due to kick straight this week and it’s time for the Cats to have the yips. This factor could be decisive in nullifying Geelong’s home ground advantage and swing things in Melbourne’s favour. If that doesn’t do it, then how about Melbourne’s midfield advantage even without the return of Clayton Oliver who jumped out of a hospital bed on Kings Birthday Monday to run laps of the G until the early hours of the following morning. He will miss again but what a fantastic example to set for the rest of the team? Geelong’s equivalent of Oliver is Paddy Dangerfield who suffered a partially collapsed lung and a cracked rib after their last game and is probably still on the Princes Highway driving home from the City of Churches. He won’t be playing, nor will Cam Guthrie (toe-joint injury) or Joel Selwood (retired). That trio were all instrumental in the Cats’ victory the last time these teams met at this venue. They are virtually irreplaceable in the context of this game so we can expect Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Clarrie, Tom Sparrow and anyone else placed in the game’s boiler room to have a big night out. And that leaves Melbourne with one major obstacle to victory - the need to suppress Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins and prevent them from kicking too many goals. Well let me introduce that pair and Gary Rohan and the rest of the Cat’s attack to Steven May, Jake Lever and their merry backmen who are ready to be mean, miserly and miserable in their treatment of opposing forwards. They will stop at nothing - not even the roadblocks at the entry to Sleepy Hollow - to prevent Geelong from going through the gateway into the eight so say bye, bye to the Cats. Maintaining a grip on the top four after their truncated bye weekend off will be an added bonus that victory will bring for the Dees! Melbourne to win by 17 points. THE GAME Geelong v Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday 22 June 2023 at 7.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Geelong 133 wins Melbourne 88 wins 2 draws At GMHBA Stadium Geelong 41 wins Melbourne 19 wins 1 draw The last five meetings Geelong 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches Scott 6 wins Goodwin 4 wins LAST TIME THEY MET Geelong 12.19.91 defeated Melbourne 9.9.63 at GMHBA Stadium in Round 17 2022 Both sides were coming off a five-day break, but the Cats were back-to-back at home after a 112 point win over an insipid North while the Demons were coming back from a game in Adelaide. They were neck and neck at the final break, but it was not unexpected that Melbourne faded badly in the final term to be beaten by 28 points. THE TEAMS GEELONG B Z. Guthrie S. De Koning Z. Tuohy HB J. Henry T. Stewart T. Atkins C I. Smith M. Duncan M. Holmes HF O. Henry J. Cameron T. Stengle F G. Rohan T. Hawkins B. Close FOLL R. Stanley M. Blicavs T. Bruhn I/C J. Bews J. Kolodjashnij G. Miers M. O'Connor SUB J. Bowes EMG O. Dempsey M. Knevitt O. Mullin IN R. Stanley OUT P. Dangerfield MELBOURNE B T. Rivers S. May J. McVee HB A. Brayshaw J. Lever C. Salem C A. Neal-Bullen J. Viney E. Langdon HF K. Pickett B. Fritsch T. Sparrow F J. Smith M. Gawn K. Chandler FOLL B. Grundy C. Petracca L. Hunter I/C M. Hibberd J. Jordon H. Petty J. van Rooyen SUB C. Spargo EMG B. Brown A. Tomlinson T. Woewodin IN H. Petty OUT A. Tomlinson Injury List: Round 15 Jake Bowey - Concussion | Available Will Verrall - Pelvis | Available Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | Test Harry Petty - Foot | Test Kye Turner - Groin | TBC Tom McDonald - Foot | 5 - 7 Weeks
  25. “If Melbourne are to finish top four, they have to beat Collingwood next week” — David King (First Crack 4 June 2023) Monday’s Kings Birthday blockbuster will mark the first of its kind after a seven decade reign by Queen Elizabeth II and, if David King is to be believed, it will be a season-defining game for Melbourne. Even though the the Demons seem to be well ensconced in the top four, this situation is in many ways a mirage given the number of teams yapping at their heels a rung or two below them ready to pounce. With a bye and a game against the resurgent Cats to follow, it’s clear how critical the game is for the club which currently only has only one top eight scalp under its belt. To make matters even more dire, the team’s form has been in apparent decline over the past few weeks. The inaccuracy in kicking for goal highlighted further by a seemingly sudden surge of impotency in attack has some supporters up in arms but you don’t lose skills overnight. This is an issue that historically can vary from week to week among teams and there’s no reason why Melbourne can’t revert back to that early season deadly form in front of goal. And if they do, then watch out because the word is out that they were inspired this week by former coach and MND sufferer Neale Daniher’s moving address ahead of Monday’s Big Freeze. Speaking of reverting back, it’s worth freezing the frame and looking at where Melbourne stood last year when it came up against Collingwood in Round 21 last year. The Demons were coming off a series of interstate trips combined with six day breaks and absolutely blitzed the Magpies in the first half. Absent the latter’s accuracy in front of goal (8 goals from 10 shots), it would have been all over by half time. As it was, the Pies’ accuracy persisted (3.2 to 1.4) as they pegged the Dees back in the third term before they overcame them in the final quarter. It will be interesting to see how differently Melbourne comes up this week with the benefit of a ten day break against a team that’s had a run of easy wins against lowly sides over the past month or so. In fact, it would be fair to say that the last month for Collingwood has a similar feel to the Melbourne experience of 2022 including games against the likes of North Melbourne and the West Coast Eagles where they each won easily in cruise mode and came out with some important personnel unavailable. Sure, the Magpies work hard, play for each other and are a tough running side but it’s been a while since they’ve been tested and are coming into Monday’s blockbuster game without some handy playmakers in De Goey and Sidebottom out of the side and others under a cloud. Luckily for Collingwood, Melbourne’s hand could not be strengthened by the return of Clayton Oliver, hospitalized with blisters on his feet after recovering from a hammy. I was hoping to see him recover on the morning of the game and turn up still connected to a saline drip and still pick up 40 touches in the afternoon. Still, the Demon midfield did okay against Carlton without Clarrie so it’s not the end of the world. There’s also been a noticeable lift in the form of Melbourne’s defence which is returning to the high standards it achieved in 2021. They will miss Jake Bowey but with the tall backs in good form, Christian Salem hitting his straps and Michael Hibberd back after resting his Achilles, expect to see Collingwood tested to the limit and frozen out of the game. Melbourne to ice a game for the ages by two points. Donate to fight MND here THE GAME Melbourne v Collingwood at the MCG, Monday 12 June, 2023 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Melbourne 84 wins Collingwood 153 wins 5 drawn At the MCG Melbourne 63 wins Collingwood 85 wins 3 drawn Last five meetings Melbourne 1 win Collingwood 4 wins The Coaches Goodwin 0 wins McCrae 2 wins LAST TIME THEY MET Collingwood 15.6.96 defeated Melbourne 13.11.89 at the MCG in Round 21, 2022 Melbourne led by a point at 23½ minutes into the final term when Ash Johnson kicked the goal that put a remarkably accurate Collingwood in front. The Demons had almost 100 more disposals, won the clearances 52-32 and went inside 50 on 65-41 occasions but couldn’t match the Magpies’ shooting accuracy for goal which finished at 71% but was in the 80s for most of the game. THE TEAMS MELBOURNE B T. Rivers S. May J. Lever HB M. Hibberd A. Tomlinson J. Smith C L. Hunter J. Viney T. Sparrow HF C. Spargo B. Fritsch A. Neal-Bullen F J. van Rooyen B. Grundy K. Chandler FOLL M. Gawn C. Petracca K. Pickett I/C A. Brayshaw E. Langdon J. McVee C. Salem
 SUB J. Jordon EMG J. Melksham J. Schache T. Woewodin IN M. Hibberd OUT J. Bowey (concussion) J. Harmes (suspended) COLLINGWOOD B I. Quaynor D. Moore B. Maynard HB B. Frampton N. Murphy S. Pendlebury C W. Hoskin-Elliott J. Crisp J. Daicos HF A. Johnson B. Mihocek P. Lipinski F R. McInnes D. Cameron B. Hill FOLL M. Cox N. Daicos T. Mitchell I/C T. Adams H. Harrison J. Noble B. McCreery SUB O. Markov EMG T. Bianco F. Macrae IN P. Lipinski OUT J. De Goey (suspended) Injury and Suspension List: Round 13 Clayton Oliver - Hamstring | Test Luke Dunstan - Knee | Test James Harmes - Suspension | 1 Week Jake Bowey - Concussion | 1 Week Harry Petty - Foot | 1 - 2 Weeks Will Verrall - Pelvis | 1 - 2 Weeks Kye Turner - Groin | 3 - 4 Weeks Tom McDonald - Foot | 6 - 8 Weeks
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