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  1. Who would have thought? Collingwood had a depleted side with several star players out injured, Max Gawn was in stellar form, Christian Petracca at the top of his game and Simon Goodwin was about to pull off a masterstroke in setting Alex Neal-Bullen onto him to do a fantastic job in subduing the Magpies' best player. Goody had his charges primed to respond robustly to the challenge of turning around their disappointing performance against Fremantle in Alice Springs. And if not that, to make a statement to the player who ended a teammate’s career with a crude (but absolutely legal according to the AFL Tribunal) bump to the head. This was the setting for what should have been an emphatic Melbourne victory except for one minor matter. The majority of Goody’s team froze up as if they had spent their time preparing for the game going up and down the MND slide into the ice bath. From very early in the game, the signs were not good. A couple of simple errors from the Demons and a lack of pressure in the first fifty seconds of the game saw the opening goal kicked by Magpie Will Hoskin-Elliott who was coming back from injury. Of course, he slotted it straight through the middle of the big sticks. By way of a first response, Melbourne was hesitant and fumbly as it struggled to get the ball into attack and three minutes after Collingwood's opening gambit, Max Gawn's shot hit the post. The scene was set for the day. One team made the most of its chances while the other showed little urgency, fiddled around, turned the ball over, didn't chase hard enough and disposed of the ball at an efficiency rate well below the other. As it happens so often in those circumstances, you don't get the rub of the green either. In that way, Kozzy Pickett's shot in the first quarter was given a goal by the goal umpire and eventually overturned by faceless score review just before the ruckmen were about to go up at the bounce. (Not that I dispute the decision, but it would have been nice to see it on the big screen to judge for myself). Assuming the decision was that the ball brushed the post, it was one of five times during the game that a Melbourne shot for goal hit the woodwork. All were chances to gain the favour of momentum while the Pies just couldn't miss. And when the siren sounded for quarter time, the Demon's major match winning prospect Christian Petracca was keeled over in the hands of the trainers with four broken ribs and a number of associated injuries. It took more than another half hour of game time for him to be subbed off (and that's another big question mark coming out of the match) but, as I wrote, the die was already cast. The team was frozen in time. None of this stopped a Demon comeback in the second quarter when the team got going and, in the search for an unlikely hero, found one in Jacob van Rooyen who worked hard, marked a couple, and put the team back into the game with two goals in that term and the first in the second half. After he kicked his second and, with the team down by only seven points, JvR marked on the half forward flank and had the opportunity to take the game on and shoot from a long way out into a vacant goal square. I surmise that had he worn black and white, the kick would have rolled through making it game on. He chose however, to wait, the Pies intercepted and moved the ball on. In the moments that followed, the Pies regained their composure, the Dees dropped their guard and leaked three goals including one from a mark after the siren. Things were suddenly grim at the halfway mark. And the second half was pretty much more of the same with Melbourne falling down by 38 points despite their advantage of two scoring shots for the match. When your shooting accuracy is 29% against your opponent's 74%, there is no chance in the world that you're going to win. But as I wrote, that was obvious from early doors. To add to the Demons' woes, two of its veterans in Max Gawn and Tom McDonald were among its best, alongside Neal-Bullen, Kozzy Pickett worked hard but was wasteful in front of goals, Caleb Windsor was lively. The defence was a shadow of itself and lacked the organisation it normally has when Jake Lever is around. Apart from van Rooyen (and he spent some time in the ruck) the forward line was dysfunctional. Clayton Oliver worked hard but needs to be given more midfield responsibility and Jack Viney couldn't get into the game. Without Petracca for the obligatory four to six, the Demons look like a team that will be frozen out of finals calculations after the break ... unless they can find something like Carlton and the Giants found at about this time last year. MELBOURNE 0.4.4 2.6.18 4.11.35 6.15.51 COLLINGWOOD 3.1.19 7.3.45 11.3.69 14.5.89 GOALS MELBOURNE van Rooyen 3 Pickett 2 Fritsch COLLINGWOOD Harrison Kreuger 3 Hoskin-Elliott 2 Cameron N Daicos Frampton Lipinski Macrae Schultz BEST MELBOURNE Neal-Bullen McDonald Windsor Gawn van Rooyen Pickett COLLINGWOOD Crisp J Daicos Maynard Howe Noble Kreuger INJURIES MELBOURNE C. Petracca (ribs) COLLINGWOOD N. Daicos (corked calf) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil COLLINGWOOD Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jack Billings (replaced Christian Petracca in the third quarter) COLLINGWOOD Jack Bytel (replaced Nick Daicos in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Jamie Broadbent Justin Power Matt Stevic Andrew Stephens CROWD 84,659 at the MCG
  2. I got the word on Saturday from someone who knows someone inside the Fremantle camp that the Dockers were pumped and supremely confident about getting the W the next day against Melbourne at TIO Traeger Park in the red heart of the country. I was informed that the Dockers were extremely confident for a number of reasons. They had beaten the Demons on their home territory at the MCG at their last two meetings so they didn’t see beating them at Alice Springs as a problem. They believed they had figured out the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents well. In particular, they felt that their two ruckmen had the competition’s overworked but leading exponent of the craft covered, that their midfield was more versatile and could beat the combination that swept all before them when the premiership was played off for the first and only time in their neck of the woods. Moreover, the Freo one wood was a defence they backed to hold anyone to a meagre score and that their attack was lean, hungry and primed to score heavily. My mail came from a reliable source but at the time, I dismissed it as fanciful and over optimistic on the part of a club that had, after all, struggled through 2023 to finish in 14th place, managed only four goals at home against the Swans a few weeks ago, had just fallen in against the Saints and managed to grab a last gasp draw against a wounded and faltering Magpie team, again on home turf. This was not the sort of form that was sufficient to warrant such boastfulness. And seven minutes into the game at Alice Springs with the scoreboard showing Melbourne leading by 2.1.13 to 0.0.0, I was feeling pretty confident that the Dockers were on the wrong track and that the Demons were about to secure their place in the top four. But … alas … they were right and I was wrong. From that time, Melbourne managed only one more goal to half time and by the time the game was over, a number of records had been smashed to pieces. It was a complete demolition with the 92 point defeat, the club’s biggest under coach Simon Goodwin. Fremantle's 22.9.141 was the highest score it has conceded since he took over as coach in 2017. By the time, it was over, his team was outside the top eight for the first time since the 2021 premiership season began and when the round ended, they were tenth on the ladder. What happened? The Dockers’ pre-match predictions were all spot on - that’s what happened! Apart from that opening seven minute period, the pressure they applied was far too much for Demons who were beaten all over the ground allowing the marking power of Luke Jackson, Josh Treacy and Jye Amiss to overpower the much vaunted Melbourne defence without Jake Lever as the glue that holds them together. At the other end of the ground, there was not a pulse to be found in its attack. For a coach, the post match conference is the most difficult task on earth after a flogging. Goodwin described the performance as "completely unacceptable" but … alas … if he was directing his comments to the playing group, he was wasting his time. They had completely switched off much earlier in the day MELBOURNE 2.3.15 3.3.21 5.4.34 7.7.49 FREMANTLE 5.2.32 11.5.71 18.7.115 22.9.141 GOALS MELBOURNE McDonald 2 Gawn Oliver Petracca Petty Viney FREMANTLE Amiss 4 Jackson Treacy Walters 3 Frederick 2 Clark Darcy Fyfe Serong Sturt Switkowski Young BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Salem Gawn McVee Viney Neal-Bullen FREMANTLE Clark Serong Brayshaw Amiss Young Walters INJURIES MELBOURNE Hunter (left calf) FREMANTLE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil FREMANTLE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin (replaced Lachie Hunter at half-time) FREMANTLE Corey Wagner (replaced Michael Frederick at three-quarter time) UMPIRES Johanson O'Gorman Williamson Mollison CROWD 6,109 at TIO Traeger Park
  3. … meanwhile, at about the same time that Narrm was putting its feet on the accelerator to obliterate the long-suffering Euro-Yroke combination, I heard someone mention in passing that Kuwarna was leading Waalitj Marawar by a whopping 46 to 1 halfway through the second quarter of their game over in Adelaide. “What is football coming to?” I asked myself. In front of my eyes, the Demons were smashing it through the midfield, forcing turnovers and getting the footy to their forwards who were converting with ease while elsewhere on this wide and beautiful continent, their tormentors from last week were meekly turning up their toes. Was some spirit from the Dreamtime using this year’s Sir Doug Nicholls Round to play tricks with our collective minds? Whatever trickery there is in the air at this time of the year that can turn the conquerers of the Demons into 99 point losing pussycats in the next week, it seems that something was afoot when rumours began to spread that Narrm’s ruck giant was looking pale and wan as he underwent at a surprise fitness test at the MCG. However, the Demons’ skipper who was one of the team’s in last week’s loss, wasn’t going to be left out and he not only made it to the starting gate, but he also turned in one of the season’s great indivudual performances against Rowan Marshall who is no slouch himself. Max Gawn’s final match stats demonstrated the importance of his game - 27 disposals, ten clearances, eight hit outs to advantage, seven marks, ten score involvements, two score assists and a goal. The rest is commentary. … meanwhile, after conceding the first goal of the match, Narrm was dominant for the better part of the opening half without having that much to show for it due mainly to poor conversion when going for goal. Two majors for the Saints in the dying moments of the half had lifted them back to within two goals of sharing the lead at the main break. The Demons had been well in control in defence with Steven May and Tom McDonald holding steady and Adam Tomlinson doing a sterling job filling in for Jake Lever. The midfield was purring along nicely as well. Christian Salem was getting back in his pre injury groove and Narrm was seemingly in control but there remained a shadow of doubt and they really should have been much further in front. It was only after the main break that Narrm broke the banks of the dam wall. Goals came regularly. Christian Petracca was at his unstoppable best and Jacob van Rooyen showed his versatility and value, chopping in with the relief ruckwork and adding valuable goals. The return of Ed Langdon, fully rested after a week elsewhere on the planet was certainly noticed. A comprehensive blow out was on the cards when van Rooyen goaled to put the team ahead by 54 points at the twenty minute mark of the final term but they put up the shutters and allowed a few goals in junk time at the end. As it was, Euro-Yroke booted more than half of their goals in the time on period of the second and fourth quarters respectively. It was good to win but all was not sweetness and light as a handful of players struggled to get their hands on the football. Yet, premierships are not won in May and there is still time for adjustment in terms of positions, personnel and performance at peak fitness. … meanwhile Narrm is back in the top four and, for the moment, back in town although when it reverts back to its identity of Melbourne, it will be fulfilling its out-of-town duties in beautiful Alice Springs when it takes on the Dockers for a different taste of Dreamtime Magic in a place where this year, the forecast is for fine and clear conditions … no rain! I have a feeling that the spirits are much happier there now than they were last year. NARRM 4.7.31 5.9.39 11.10.76 14.16.100 EURO-YROKE 1.0.6 4.3.27 5.5.35 9.8.62 GOALS NARRM van Rooyen 3 Fritsch Petracca Viney 2 Chandler Gawn Hunter May Pickett EURO-YROKE M King 3 Higgins 2 Owens Steele Sinclair Wilson BEST NARRM Gawn Petracca Salem Viney Tomlinson May EURO-YROKE Steele Wanganeen-Milera Sinclair Wood Dow Higgins INJURIES NARRM Harry Petty (foot) EURO-YROKE Nil REPORTS NARRM Nil EURO-YROKE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS NARRM Taj Woewodin (replaced Harrison Petty in the fourth quarter) EURO-YROKE Cooper Sharman (replaced Lance Collard in the third quarter) UMPIRES Curtis Deboy Nicholas Brown Brendan Hosking John Howorth CROWD 37,403 at The MCG
  4. Narrm’s finals prospects took a crushing blow after the team’s insipid performance at Optus Stadium against a confident Waaljit Marawar in the first of its Doug Nicholls Round outings for 2024. I use the description “crushing blow” advisedly because, although the season is not yet at it’s halfway mark, the Demons have now failed abysmally in two of their games against teams currently occupying bottom eight places on the ladder. The manner in which these losing games were played out would be most disturbing to Coach Simon Goodwin. The team went down in the most lacklustre manner without giving a whimper and that is unacceptable given they had premiership aspirations a week and a half ago. And please don’t point to the club’s defeat at the hands of lowly Adelaide at a similar time of the 2021 season because that was a loss by a single point which could easily have gone the other way. The Demons can’t say that it came without warning because the pundits were already pointing before the match to the Eagle’s much improved form on their home turf. And let’s not talk excuses such as the loss before the game of young key talls in Jacob van Rooyen and Daniel Turner and the team’s running man in Ed Langdon or in form key defender Jake Lever early in the match. The later was certainly a blow given the marking dominance of West Coast key forwards Jake Waterman and Jack Darling who combined for half of Waaljit Marawa‘s goals, but Narrm still had plenty of opportunities to win back the initiative. However, the team blew its chances every time an attempt was made to put pressure on the Eagles’ lead and to come back into the game. Kudos to last week’s “almost” hero in Christian Petracca for his cameo in the second half of the second quarter but the home side was good enough to repel the Demons on this and every other occasion they showed a glimmer of a prospect of revival. Bayley Fritsch, who was unsighted in the first half when the ball rarely found itself inside 50 metres from the team’s goal, was an instrumental player in the second half with three goals, but Narrm squandered its opportunities in the third term with 3.7.25 to 5.0.30 so badly that it actually went backwards in the “premiership quarter”. And that was it. Ironically, on the evidence of this match, the Eagles who lost miserably last week in Melbourne by 11 goals, appear closer to a premiership than the Demons. This was demonstrated by the star of the match Harley Reid and to a lesser extent in their midfield by another youngster Reuben Ginbey who showed up their more experienced rivals in the game’s engine room. It’s not hard to see why every recruiting officer in the land was salivating over Reid last November. Forget about him being the rising star - he’s got that wrapped up already as well as such other accolades as the recruit of the century and possibly more coming up. That goal of his (and it needs no further explanation) was goal of the year - a game breaking match-winner that completely blew the game up in Narrm’s face. There’s nothing much more to say. NARRM 2.1.13 6.1.37 9.8.62 10.10.70 WAALITJ MARAWAR 4.3.27 7.8.50 12.8.80 16.9.105 GOALS NARRM Fritsch 3 Brown Chandler McAdam Neal-Bullen Petracca Pickett Windsor WAALITJ MARAWAR Waterman 5 Darling 3 Reid Ryan 2 Cripps Ginbey Hunt Maric BEST NARRM Neal-Bullen Pickett Fritsch Gawn Oliver Petracca WAALITJ MARAWAR Reid Waterman Kelly Darling McGovern Ginbey Duggan INJURIES NARRM Jake Lever (concussion) WAALITJ MARAWAR Nil REPORTS NARRM Nil WAALITJ MARAWAR Nil SUBSTITUTIONS NARRM Taj Woewodin (replaced Jake Lever in the first quarter) WAALITJ MARAWAR Tyrell Dewar (replaced Luke Edwards in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Jeff Dalgleish Brendan Hosking Alex Whetton Harrison Birch CROWD 43,408 at Optus Stadium
  5. Our game is one where the result is often decided by centimetres; the touch of a fingernail, a split-second decision made by a player or official, the angle of vision or the random movement of an oblong ball in flight or in its bounce and trajectory. There is one habit that Melbourne seems to have developed of late in its games against Carlton which is that the Demons keep finding themselves on the wrong end of the stick in terms of the fine line in close games at times when centimetres make the difference. Ironically, the match was lost yesterday when they allowed the Blues to avoid a close contest scenario until the very end when it was just about too late. After Ed Langdon failed to score with the first shot at goal for the game, Carlton added five goals to nothing for the remainder of the opening stanza, leaving the gap of a bridge that was literally less than a centimetre too far for a Melbourne victory. Supporters of the Bluebaggers were pinching themselves with delight as their team piled on the goals, many of them scored by Demon errors such as the simple failure to cover spaces from which the opposition could score easily. The failure to apply sufficient pressure was palpable. Melbourne had equal opportunities, even early to hit the scoreboard. They went into attack often enough but the entry was poor, the forwards were sluggish and the Carlton defence stood firm against a forward line in disarray. Was it the curse of the five day break - or something else? It took until ten minutes into the second quarter when they were trailing by six goals to nothing, for Melbourne to register its first score for the night through the man who was it’s “almost” hero in Christian Petracca who had been sent forward to enable a change in the mix. It was one change that worked although it also meant that for a large part of the game, the Carlton midfield, led by Cripps and Walsh had the upper hand. When you have that upper hand - in this case thanks to a head start and efficiency in front of the big sticks, then you force the other side into pushing it uphill in an arm wrestle, particularly when the rain comes down making a comeback even more difficult. Petracca persisted, Alex Neal-Bullen worked his butt off, Steven May was a tower of strength in defence but most of the side battled and, in the final analysis they just failed to reel in a deficit which, at one stage in the third quarter was as substantial as 38 points. But they never gave up. In the final term, they dug deep and their superior fitness, notwithstanding the shorter break between games, saw them fall short by a single point, making it the third time in as many games against Carlton that Melbourne lost a game, despite having more scoring shots. After the game, coach Simon Goodwin reflected: "We gave a really good side a 6-goal start but our responsibility as a footy club is to rock up and compete in a way that keeps you in the game." All of that is true. The team can take some solace from the fact that they refused to lie down and supporters should take that away from the game instead of lamenting about the general run of the umpiring, dodgy score reviews, a deliberate out of bounds not picked up, a late shot that hit the behind post and even the Petracca surge forward that resulted in him being brought down when a few centimetres could have made all the difference and allowed one last move forward to at least tie the score (important in an 8-point game). None of those things matter when you concede so much in the opening third part of a game against a team that’s more effective in front of the goals. What does matter is that you fight it out to the last second and the very last centimetre. MELBOURNE 0.0.0 3.1.19 7.6.48 11.10.76 CARLTON 5.0.30 8.2.50 11.4.70 12.5.77 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 5 Fritsch Gawn Pickett Turner van Rooyen Windsor CARLTON Owies 3 Curnow 2 Cripps De Koning Hewett McKay Martin Pittonet Walsh BEST MELBOURNE Petracca May Neal-Bullen Viney Gawn Langdon CARLTON Cripps Walsh Weitering Kennedy O Hollands Curnow REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Pittonet (finger) Cerra (hamstring) SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin (replaced Bowey in the fourth quarter) CARLTON George Hewett (replaced Cerra in the third quarter) UMPIRES Matt Stevic Curtis Deboy Nathan Williamson Jacob Mollison CROWD 58,472 at the MCG
  6. Throughout history various philosophers have grappled with the meaning of life. Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and a multitude of authors of diverse religious texts all tried. As society became more complex, the question became attached to specific endeavours in life even including sporting pursuits where such questions arose among our game’s commentariat as, “what is the meaning of football”? Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin must be tired of dealing with such a dilemma but, in doing so, he mocks his detractors. On Saturday night, his Demons, laden with some promising young talent, made a powerful statement against the previously unbeaten and older Cats. Their 8-point victory saw them strengthen their place among the league leaders and they now hold a 6/2 record after the passage of a third of the season. It sent out a message to all and sundry — don’t mess with us or you’ll soon learn the meaning of football. In case you hadn’t noticed, football pundits have been pumping up Geelong’s tires of late. The Cats were going through something of a revival thanks to an opening seven game winning streak after last year’s disappointing fall from grace. Jeremy Cameron was the latest big thing: his place in the game was touching on the stratospheric. Careers were being reinvented in many different ways. You had the “The Swarm”, which is another name for their bevy of small forwards like Miers, Stengle and Close who, by their deadly efficient ball movement, have been a revelation so far in 2024. With the ascendency of Cameron and Hawkins, they formed a formidable forward line capable of racking up remarkably accurate score lines such as their 17.4 (106) in their Easter Monday demolition of the Hawks. Last week, the Cats overcame the Blues in an exhilarating shootout, with victory secured as a result of some dead eye kicking for goal. Carlton came at them late with a barrage of goals to post a century plus losing score and it was that precise scenario which provided Goodwin with the ways and means of overcoming his own critics as well as the competition’s most accurate attack on a cold autumn night just seven days later. With defensive pressure. The game was a played out as a dour arm wrestle which suited Demon defenders Jake Lever, Steven May and Tom McDonald who went about applying the sleeper hold on Cameron and Hawkins who both ended up goalless. At the same time, the smaller and medium defenders put the clamps on the Geelong swarm. Thanks to the young brigade headed by Trent Rivers and including Judd McVee and Blake Howes, they sucked the breath out of Geelong’s much vaunted straight shooting attacking machine. They put them through the wringer after the opening break with the first goalless quarter in two years, resulting in a score line of 2.8 (20) at half time. Melbourne’s score was little better but the winning plan had already been put into place. The premiership quarter turned out the Cats’ best and the one that proved their most accurate while the Demons were badly off target. Enter Goodwin’s critics who were seething with disgust about the cheek of putting on a style that was depriving fandom of the thrills and spills of a circus. Why on earth should the producers of this drab unforgettable contest have the temerity to command bulk primetime viewing at the AFL table? Simon’s answer came in an absorbingly entertaining, see-saw of a final quarter with eye-catching highlights provided by the skipper and by far the competition’s best ruckman in Max Gawn, the unstoppable Lever and May and an energised Clayton Oliver who somehow willed his way in and out of packs with ease. Finally, let’s not forget the forward line brilliance and magic of Bayley Fritsch and Kozzie Pickett who filled the game’s highlights package. Nearing the end, at the 26 minute and 22 second mark of the term, the former dribbled through a spectacular goal from the boundary line to deliver homeward those vital four premiership points. At that very moment, the meaning of football was revealed. MELBOURNE 3.2.20 3.7.25 5.14.44 10.14.74 GEELONG 2.4.16 2.8.20 6.10.46 9.12.66 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 3 Pickett 2 Chandler Gawn Langdon Petty Windsor GEELONG Henry Stengle 2 Clark Close Dempsey Z Guthrie Holmes BEST MELBOURNE Lever Gawn Oliver Fritsch May Pickett GEELONG Holmes Z Guthrie Atkins Stewart Miers INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Bruhn (shoulder) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Bailey Laurie, replaced Jack Billings in the fourth term GEELONG Gary Rohan, replaced Tanner Bruhn in the third term UMPIRES Justin Power Hayden Gavine Simon Meredith Andre Gianfagna CROWD 51,795 at the MCG
  7. Two weeks ago, when the curtain came down on Melbourne’s game against the Brisbane Lions, the team trudged off the MCG looking tired and despondent at the end of a tough run of games played in quick succession. In the days that followed, the fans wanted answers about their team’s lamentable performance that night and foremost among their concerns was whether the loss was a one off result of fatigue or was it due to other factor(s) of far greater consequence. As it turns out, the answer to the major question is still blowing in the wind after the traditional Anzac Day Eve clash between the Demons and the Tigers with the fans forced to wait a little longer for the big reveal. Not surprisingly, the match up between teams in different stages of development was never going to be a definitive guide to those perplexed by the team’s reversal of fortune after such a good week in Adelaide. There were however, some encouraging signs of work in progress towards resolving some of the puzzles presented lately to Simon Goodwin and his coaching panel. Admittedly, they only came later in the game. Circumstance made this event one that most of the 72,840 fans who turned up to the MCG would rather forget. Given the plight of the Richmond Football Club and its ever-expanding injury list and the fact that new Tiger coach Adem Yze was intimately familiar with the way the Demons play, it was inevitable that the game would turn into a slog which is precisely how the first half turned out. The crowd was treated to congested play, skill errors in abundance and a low scoring battle of the defences. A single point favoured the Tigers when the major break delivered us all to twenty minutes of respite. There was nothing more to say other than that Demon fans were entitled to feel a little despair. They had come to the football after a fortnight reflecting on a truly abysmal effort from its much vaunted midfield engine room and even worse from its forwards. Skipper Max Gawn had again been solid and key defenders Jake Lever and Steven May, their usual dependable selves as they marshalled the backline but overall, the team was faltering. Leaving aside the final term against the Lions who slammed on the brakes with the game well and truly won, scoring had seemingly stopped to a trickle. The line of attack was once again looking helpless and impotent. Whatever Goodwin said or did at half time, it worked to great effect. Or perhaps, it was simply his regular game style finally forcing the Tiger hand. The team was suddenly imbued with something - call it the Anzac Spirit if you like - but they lifted their intensity and produced an inspirational ten goal to two second half that witnessed the arrival in football terms of a new key forward. Daniel Turner will definitely be one of the few who will remember this match, along with Jason Taylor who recruited him with a late selection in the midseason draft almost three years ago. The man they call “Disco” announced himself with his three goals on a night when both his side and the opposition managed just three each in the first half. He could hardly be described as an overnight sensation. His progress since he was drafted mainly as a defender has been slow and painful, marred by injuries and a measure of disappointment along the way. And he was almost there when the club prepared him to go forward on the eve of last year’s finals but, alas, others were preferred. Then came another injury setback in the month before the start of this season. Fans will be hoping that he’s not going to be a one hit wonder. The Melbourne cause was aided by two goals each from Bayley Fritsch, Kysaiah Pickett and another newcomer to the club’s goal kicking ranks in the tactical sub, Bailey Laurie, who also will likely not forget the night. Suddenly, there was some versatility in the forward set up adding to the undoubted talent of Fritta and Kozzie. Now for a repeat of that for the full four quarters against the big guns! What we witnessed after half time was a bolder Melbourne emerging upon Max Gawn’s Frank 'Checker' Hughes medal-winning performance in wearing down Toby Nankervis and thereby, the rest of the brave Richmond line up who were by now constantly turning the ball over under pressure. Gawn finished with 23 disposals and 10 marks to go with his 26 hit outs and a goal when it really mattered to start the scoring with the match still an arm wrestle six minutes into the second half. Jake Lever’s game in defence built up to a crescendo and his 26 disposals, 11 marks and 15 intercept possessions were sublime. There’s also a lot to like about how Trent Rivers is maturing into a player of high quality. The Demons got out of the night with a percentage booster and now sit on a 5 - 2 record. They hold a much happier disposition than the one they had at half time. The midfield is still nowhere near its best but no injuries were reported either, which augurs well for their next two matches against two of the competition’s best performed clubs. Perhaps then, supporters will finally discover the answer to the big question troubling them since that problematic game against the Brisbane Lions. Bring it on! MELBOURNE 2.3.15 3.5.23 8.7.55 13.7.85 RICHMOND 1.3.9 3.6.24 4.8.32 5.12.42 GOALS MELBOURNE Turner 3 Fritsch Laurie Pickett 2 Gawn Petracca van Rooyen Windsor RICHMOND Rioli 2 Bolton Lefau Martin BEST MELBOURNE Lever Gawn Turner May Langdon Oliver RICHMOND Lefau Broad Dow Hopper Baker INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil RICHMOND Jacob Hopper (hamstring) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil RICHMOND Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Bailey Laurie (replaced Caleb Windsor in the final quarter) RICHMOND Kamdyn McIntosh (replaced Jacob Hopper in the third quarter) UMPIRES Fisher, Stevic, Broadbent, Adair CROWD 72,840 at the MCG
  8. The writing was on the wall from the very first bounce of the football. The big men went up, Max Gawn more often than not, decisively won the ruck hit out and invariably a Brisbane Lions onballer either won the battle on the ground or halved the contest and they went at it repeatedly until they finally won out. Melbourne managed the first goal from Alex Neal-Bullen but after that the visitors shut out every area of Demon presence around the ground except in the ruck duels. It was a mauling. However, even Gawn’s herculean dominance throughout the night in that division worked to the advantage of the Lions. There, the numbers told the story of the game in stark detail. For the night, Melbourne won 58 hit outs to Brisbane’s 27, a figure that might at first brush indicate a thrashing in favour of the Demons. The clearance figures had them down by 35 to 44 (it would have been worse, but Brisbane released the pressure valve near the end). The Lions were so successful at brushing off the Dees and sharking Gawn’s hit outs that I found myself at times hoping that McInerney would win the tap out so that the rhythm of the game would be disrupted sufficiently to afford a clearance opportunity to Melbourne. The match had been dubbed as “season defining” for the Lions, one that could spell the end of their 2024 top four hopes even this early in the season. On the other hand, a win would have them in the frame to getting their season back on track. And given that it was dual Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale's 250th game, they had a further purpose in their plans to unseat the Demons and put to bed their Melbourne hoodoo after last year’s narrow defeat in the Grand Final and in the last encounter between the two sides in Round 18 2023 when they were monstered in the midfield late in the game in an epic come-from-behind thriller. This time, it would be different. Cam Rayner was on fire in the midfield from the very beginning. He dominated the game inside and out with 12 first quarter disposals, seven of them contested, six clearances and seven inside 50s. By the end of the game, his count was 25 disposals, 14 contested possessions, ten inside 50s, nine clearances, and seven score involvements. Josh Dunkley finished with 30 disposals and nine marks while Neale himself knocked up 24 disposals and eight clearances. To put it simply, they were first to the ball. I place emphasis of these numbers because Brisbane left Melbourne in their wake with the much-vaunted trio of Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, and Clayton Oliver notching up a mere 61 disposals and 10 clearances combined for the game – also improved late by the release of the Lions’ pressure. So dominant were the Brisbane mid-size brigade in the first half that Neale, who usually leads this group numerically, had the only sixth highest number of team possessions with 12 which equalled Melbourne’s best, namely Kade Chandler and Max Gawn. The latter’s figures were exemplary, he finished equal top in possessions with Jack Viney and accumulated 149 Dream Team points which was 57 points greater than Ed Langdon who was next in his side. The Demons were clearly flat after their successful trip to Adelaide where fans could have noticed that writing on the wall when they were goalless in final quarter against the Crows. This was their fourth match in 19 days, the third in 12 days but the fans were expecting so much more after the success of their business trip to the City of Churches. Before they left Adelaide, the team should have stepped into one of those churches and prayed for more strength and energy because the first three quarters of last night’s game were emblematic of a group that was perilously low on petrol tickets. It left them with an aggregate of three goals over their past four quarters, a figure they exceeded in the final term when the Lions had well and truly taken their feet off the pedal. At half time, the crowd was treated on the MCG screens with a magic act from Magic Mike, a Demon fan. The club would have done better employing him to work some magic and remove the wall that the team was about to hit because the mounting pressure on the field and on the scoreboard induced a sense of panic that left supporters frustrated. Two examples of the panic were Petracca’s attempt to goal from well outside range that was easily mopped up by a Brisbane defender and Caleb Windsor’s blistering run of three bounces which ended similarly. A more measured approach in both cases would almost certainly have resulted in a score, most likely a goal. Petracca should have done better in the circumstances; Windsor will learn from his experience. It was a bad night for the many young players in the team including first gamer, Koltyn Tholstrop who looked a little overawed but did show some good signs for the future. Like Windsor, he will also learn from the experience. The failure to win clearances clearly added pressure on the team and made it harder to score. Moreover, Melbourne struggled to move the ball from its defensive fifty throughout the game with 28 of 47 chains intercepted by Brisbane and only six going inside fifty for a single goal. All of this reflected in the embarrassing statistics in terms of possessions and marks for the likes of Ben Brown, Bayley Fritsch, Harrison Petty and Jacob van Rooyen (at least he was giving Max a chop out in the ruck) – again made to look better in the last half of that final stanza when the Lions went for a well-earned end of game nap. Of course, the Lions’ midfield dominance added to the pressure on the defence which did well in the circumstances to hold the opposition to 82 points for the night. At times, Brisbane was able to use pace to slice through Melbourne’s defences with ease, but credit should also go to Steven May, Jake Lever and Tom McDonald in holding them to that score, and in the end, the difference of 22 points, was enormously flattering to the club. Melbourne simply couldn’t take a trick. The loss of Christian Salem early to a hamstring injury was compounded by the injury to Jake Bowey and retirement of Angus Brayshaw. By way of contrast, the Lions so comfortably negotiated the evening that they didn’t bother employing the tactical sub, so James Tunstill sat on the bench for 100 minutes. The bye could not have come any sooner. MELBOURNE 2.0.12 2.4.16 3.7.25 8.12.60 BRISBANE LIONS 4.2.26 7.4.46 10.8.68 12.10.82 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 2 Brown Chandler Gawn Lever Neal-Bullen van Rooyen BRISBANE LIONS Cameron 3 Daniher Hipwood McCluggage 2 Bailey Fletcher Lohmann BEST MELBOURNE Gawn Chandler Viney Rivers Langdon McDonald BRISBANE LIONS Rayner McCluggage Dunkley Neale Andrews Bailey INJURIES MELBOURNE Christian Salem (hamstring) BRISBANE LIONS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin (replaced Christian Salem in the first quarter) BRISBANE LIONS James Tunstill (unused) UMPIRES Findlay Gavine Nicholls Power CROWD 43,098 at the MCG
  9. One of the ideas behind the Gather Round concept is to give life to the host city, which is something of a challenge for a town like Adelaide where the mid-week entertainment usually involves nothing more exciting than watching the traffic lights change their colour in Rundle Mall. Fortunately, the powers that be gave the Demons the opportunity to help open the show at the Adelaide Oval against the Crows and they duly responded by bringing some bright lights and brilliance to the place with another decisive win against the hometown side. With Melbourne coming off a five-day break from a game against the team from the less salubrious and desirable part of the city, and with Steven May returning from rib and back injuries, surely this was a chance for Adelaide to shine? However, it was not to be, and for a side that missed playing finals in 2022 courtesy of a dodgy AFL non score review, they were shown up by the benchmark side that Melbourne has become for the competition this year. The Dees now have four wins on the trot after playing three of their five games at interstate venues. With the parochial home crowd behind them, and umpires heavily under the influence of the same vociferous baying horde, the going was always going to be tough, and it turned out to be exactly that in the first quarter. The home team had to make a statement early to give themselves any sort of hope by getting in front of, and indeed on top of, the Demon juggernaut. The trouble was that the juggernaut’s defences simply kept denying the Crows thrusts forward. Led by the tough Steven May, with Tex Walker as an opponent, he just kept marking and intercepting the ball. Normal humans would have struggled to lift their arms above their heads with similar rib injuries. May did it with aplomb - nineteen disposals for the game, including an incredible five marks in the first quarter alone. Alongside May, young Judd McVee was the main man repelling Adelaide attacks, and with his eleven first quarter disposals, he also recorded an incredible seven intercepts in the same period at 100% efficiency. Amazingly, he has played just thirty games and is a mere 20 years of age. With the standards down back set by these two in the first stanza, it was a repeat of the scoreline for the Crows from their previous week, as they could only manage 2.5. A solitary goal conceded in the next quarter, reinforced the strength of the Melbourne defence, as others like Jake Lever, Tom McDonald, Blake Howes, Trent Rivers and Christian Salem chipped in to hold them at bay. There were no leading lights in the Crows forward line, and like their Rundle mall counterparts, the signs were flashing “caution” in the Adelaide coaching box by half time. What they failed to see was the “Go” sign that signified the Melbourne third term blitz, led by Bayley Fritsch, who despite having barely contacted the Sherrin in the first half, booted three majors in the third, to effectively put the game to bed. Little was left for the Crows to do, other than throw everything they had at the Dees in that final quarter, but despite closing the gap by two goals in the dying minutes, Melbourne had already put up the shutters to block out any light. In the end the scoreline of 63 - 78 was emblematic of two tired sides coming off five- and six-day breaks, respectively. Many players went for extended periods without any impact on the game, but the Melbourne players know what is required at the business end of the season. And it was interesting to hear Steven May at the end of the game, saying something like “ we came over here on a business trip.” In other words, this “Gather Round” was not a weekend celebration, but rather, part of the job description for a professional team with a strong culture. Another shining light for the Demons this week was a player in only his fifth game for the Club – Caleb “The Duke” Windsor. Normally a young player at the dawn of his career can be a little overwhelmed by the intensity and strength required at AFL level, but not so for Caleb. We all know that he is lightning fast, but he uses his speed, not only to break away, but also as a closing weapon as well. He fears not tackling or the in-and-under stuff. With 461 metres gained from sixteen touches in this match playing as a wingman, it is easy to see why comparisons are being drawn with the great Robbie Flower. Oh, and while we are mentioning the brilliance of others, then the skipper with an incredible eighty-six ruck contests attended, four contested marks and five clearances, simply outshone anyone who Adelaide could muster to compete against him. Equally, it is easy to not notice the standout supernova of Christian Petracca and the extraordinary ability he has to extract the ball, burst through tackles that would impede others and so strongly impact the game, both in possession and on the scoreboard. With the Demons’ shining lights showing the way to finals football, the broken-down Adelaide Crows Camry was left at the Rundle Mall lights with steam emitting from the bonnet, out of business and suddenly realizing it was in a dead-end street! It’s something that Melbourne does these days as part of its business plan. MELBOURNE 2.0.12 6.7.43 10.13.73 10.18.78 ADELAIDE 2.5.17 3.8.36 6.9.45 8.15.63 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 3 Pickett van Rooyen 2 Chandler Petracca Petty ADELAIDE Fogarty 2 Dawson Keays Laird Rachele Rankine Walker BEST MELBOURNE Petracca May Gawn McVee Sparrow Viney ADELAIDE Soligo Dawson Laird Keane Rankine INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin (replaced Ben Brown in the fourth quarter) ADELAIDE Sam Berry (replaced Chris Burgess in the third quarter) UMPIRES Simon Meredith Nathan Williamson Craig Fleer Martin Rodger CROWD 48,020 at the Adelaide Oval
  10. A seven-point victory to the Melbourne Demons over Port Power at Adelaide oval, saw the real power tools on the inside of the fence, as opposed to those versions on the other side, around the ground. Their pre-game chant of “never tear us apart” obviously didn’t carry any weight with the Melbourne players, as that was exactly what happened during the course of the game. This was a most ”un-Melbourne like game” in the way it was played. At various times during the match it all came down to individual efforts. This was a game where BOTH teams had ten goal kickers. It wasn’t about a dominant area of the ground for either side, it was, in a way a return to the old fashioned one on one type football. Often we hear the coaches speak of “moments’ in the game. Well in this game it was one moment, followed by another as each side traded blow for blow and the lead swung back and forth with the maximum margin being only 18 points during the match. Scarily, for opposition sides, the Demons showed that if that is the way you want to play, we will beat you at that game as well. We have often heard the phrase “a captain’s goal” and certainly that happened when Max Gawn managed to kick straight after the ¾ time siren to bring the game back to near level pegging. But that effort which tore the hearts of the Port fans out, was repeated time and time again by other Melbourne players during the game. Led by Jack “hammer” Viney in his 200th game for the Demons, it was him against the Port mids, particularly in the first quarter, but he just kept willing himself to contest, and despite the Power breaking out to a 3 goal lead early on, the team just pegged it back, as Jack hammered the opposition into submission. When needed it was Ben “the drill ” Brown who nailed shots from long range, that never looked to deviate from straight and true. It was Alex “reciprocating saw” Neale-Bullen who kept coming back and forth to the contest, and probably playing his best ever game for the side, at a time when that was exactly what was needed. Then it was the turn of Caleb “ buzz-saw” Windsor who sped past the floundering Port defenders to record his first ever major for the Demons. Another was when Bayley “Polisher” Fritsch calmly went back with only a couple of minutes to run on the clock and split the big sticks from on the boundary line. Down in defence the “Fire extinguishers “ of Jake Lever and Trent Rivers, kept blanketing any potential outbreaks coming from the Port forwards. But this was also about the whole fire crew of Tom McDonald, Blake Howes, Marty Hore and Christian Salem coming just in time to put paid to any spot fires which might develop. Even more impressive was that despite an incredible 66 inside 50s and the Fire Chief of Steven May being absent, all these individual saves simply denied Port a winning score. In the middle it was the “grinders” of Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Tom Sparrow alongside Jack Viney who had the job to just wear down the Port mids. Make no mistake, they had a seriously good combination, and by all statistical measures, they were ascendant. But like last week against the Hawks, the stats just don’t matter, when the quality is what is being sought. To reiterate what Simon Goodwin said “we are comfortable with that, unless it has scoreboard impact”! So the Demons power tools all over the ground did indeed “tear them apart” . The toothless voices heard before the match, like their black and white counterparts in Melbourne were seen streaming from the ground before the match finished. Perhaps they realised their team didn’t have wings, but was never going to fly like the Power of the Melbourne Demons. MELBOURNE 3.2.20 7.3.45 10.4.64 15.6.96 PORT ADELAIDE 4.1.25 7.3.45 10.8.68 13.11.89 GOALS MELBOURNE Brown 3 Fritsch Neal-Bullen Sparrow 2 Gawn Langdon Oliver Pickett Viney Windsor PORT ADELAIDE Byrne-Jones Finlayson Rioli 2 Dixon Evans Houston McEntee Marshall Rozee Soldo BEST MELBOURNE Neal-Bullen Gawn Petracca Rivers Viney Oliver PORT ADELAIDE Drew Houston Rozee Wines Butters Soldo INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil PORT ADELAIDE Boak (head knock) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil PORT ADELAIDE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin, replaced Jack Billings in the fourth quarter PORT ADELAIDE Jase Burgoyne, replaced Francis Evans in the third quarter UMPIRES Hayden Gavine Alex Whetton Robert Findlay Martin Rodger CROWD 38,105 at Adelaide Oval
  11. For too long in the past, Demon fans became habitually sick and tired of watching the Hawks hand out thrashings to their side. But Melbourne’s empahtic 55-point win at the MCG on Saturday has truly put a fork in the Hawk and turned that history well and truly on its head. The Demons have now won nine of their last ten encounters with the other result, a draw. And like a fork, it was the multi-pronged options that Melbourne had all across the ground. It certainly helped that Hawthorn was playing a game style emblematic of ten years ago, as they tried to play possession football by constantly chipping the ball backwards and forwards to one another. Despite the Hawks amassing a whopping 52 uncontested marks in the first quarter, it was all for nothing as the Demons piled on five goals with the Hawks managing only one point. Mitchell’s men were playing more of a soccer match with their game of keepings off. The result demonstrates how statistics are only a measure of what happens in a game, rather than an indicator of the effectiveness of those actions toward producing success. Well, the game was as good as over come that first siren, and having punctured any hope the Hawks had to be competitive, they simply had to stop the bleeding. To that end, they put up to two extra players at the contest which resulted in an AFL version of a rugby match. So the scoreline only advanced by three goals between the two sides in the second stanza. Tragically, for the Demons, Steven May was sent to hospital with an injury to his ribs/lung area and not long after Jake Lever did some sort of damage to his knee. Not many teams would be able to recover from the loss of both key defenders with half a game of football to play, but Melbourne is a different case in point. So the fans had been treated to game of soccer, followed by rugby, but from there on in Melbourne played AFL, and piled on another eight goals in the second half, despite the loss of their full back and centre half back. Fortunately, Marty Hore was substitute and he fitted in to admirably hold his spot in the backline as a replacement. Tom McDonald assumed the full back position, while Christian Salem moved into the backline to assist and Harry Petty swung back to fill the gap left by Lever. The defensive machine never missed a beat and allowed Hawthorn to kick only three goals in the second half. Yet again the Hawks tried to target Clayton Oliver, but once again those tactics from ten years ago failed to cover the rest of the Demons mids. Centre clearances were a phenomenal 14 to 5, as they simply left other Melbourne mids unattended at the bounce. Once again while the stats were heavily in favour of the Dees, it was the ease and damage that those free flowing possessions from the middle that put yet another fork in the Hawks game plan. Up forward, Bayley Fritsch put another fork in the Sicily bubble, who despite 27 touches (of which 22 were uncontested), allowed Fritsch to kick five goals. Again, it is of little value keeping the stats people busy while your opponent is keeping the scorers even busier. The Melbourne coaches played the game style to force the Hawks until they made mistakes. All game long it was just a case of rinse and repeat, as the Hawks simply could not penetrate the Demons all ground defence. And when they made the inevitable error, it was always costly since Melbourne move the ball so quickly and open up the field. The Hawks just kept looking sideways or trying to switch without any success whatsoever. With the Hawks being forked, Melbourne now travels to Adelaide for their next two matches including a short turn around of only five days between Port Adelaide and Adelaide. That certainly won’t help with the injury concerns being experienced in the defence. Having used the forks to damaging effect in this game, the brains trust might have to use the steak knives to carve up the opposition in the coming matches. MELBOURNE 5.3.33 6.5.41 10.7.67 14.9.93 HAWTHORN 0.1.1 2.3.15 4.6.30 5.8.38 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 5 Pickett 3 Chandler 2 Billings Petracca van Rooyen Sparrow HAWTHORN Breust Lewis McDonald Weddle Watson BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Fritsch Neal-Bullen Salem Gawn Pickett HAWTHORN Sicily Weddle Amon Scrimshaw, Worpel INJURIES MELBOURNE Jake Lever (knee) Steven May (ribs) HAWTHORN Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Marty Hore replaced Steven May at half-time. HAWTHORN Jack Gunston replaced Luke Breust in the third quarter. UMPIRES Williamson Heffernan Wallace Adair CROWD 43,960 at the MCG
  12. For the second week in a row, the Demons had to endure some particularly oppressive match conditions — this time, playing in 30 degree temperatures at the MCG, following the humid sticky Sydney atmosphere of last week. The warmer conditions didn’t seem to worry the Dee’s since the ball was so much easier to handle, and handle it with surety they did in handing out a 45 point drubbing to the much fancied Western Bulldogs. After a slow start that saw the Dogs out to a 14 point lead early in the opening quarter, the gears of the Demon machine clicked into action and by quarter time the margin was a solitary point in favour of the Demons. The initial bite of the Dogs was cauterized by the relentless Melbourne defence led by Steven May, who finished the match with 25 disposals, 13 marks and 607 metres gained. The Demon defender handed out another drubbing to an opposition full forward, this time in Aaron Naughton who could only manage six disposals and a single mark. It’s a good thing for him that he recently was signed up for the next eight years, otherwise, based on that performance, he might well be standing in line at Centrelink come Monday morning. For Melbourne, the game also saw the return of Tom McDonald to the backline. Whether through necessity or rejuvenation, it was a delight to see him at his best following what has essentially been two years away from the game with continuous injuries of some sort or another. His 18 touches including eight telling interceptions and ten marks, helped to make the backline virtually impenetrable. Jake Lever of course, chipped in with ten intercepts and Trent Rivers did likewise. And to top it all off, Marty Hore returned from an even longer break (1,667 days to be exact) away from the AFL and cemented a spot in the future for himself, more than ably filling the gap left by Jake Bowey’s injury last week. Oh, and second gamer, Blake Howes finished with 16 disposals, while another youngster in Judd McVee finished with 20 touches. It was remarkable that the Dogs scored at all, given their much vaunted talls structure in front of goal. Up forward, the Demons witnessed another Lazarus-like performance from Ben Brown, who has been on the injured or rehab list for the best part of two years as well. While not dominant, despite two goals, he just doesn’t get any shorter during the game, and on a number of occasions brought the ball to ground to advantage the smalls. Not surprisingly Kade Chandler kicked three goals, Alex Neal-Bullen and Kozzy Pickett pressed home two apiece with and Jack Billings and Christian Salem also took advantage of the big man’s presence. Equally as important was that Brown took the pressure off young Jacob van Rooyen who had to double up in the ruck role again. And BBB’s three contested marks out of six were truly telling for the side, just when needed. Bayley Fritsch unfortunately had a “mare” of a game, and seemed right off the pace when he has been so reliable with both marking and kicking in the past. Hopefully, this is just a blip, but maybe someone who played at Coldstream and Casey in the winter doesn’t adapt well to the hotter conditions that were witnessed in this match. So with the forward structure back to something dangerous, the calls about “bombing” or “lowering of eyes” seem so meaningless now. The battle of the mids in all honesty was a draw between the two sides. Bontempelli, Liberatore, Treloar and English v Petracca, Oliver, Viney and Gawn. Just about all the statistics were matched, although Max had a slight advantage in the ruck contests and marking. Not really unexpected, as the Bulldogs’ midfield is seriously good, but they are nearly totally dependent upon that quartet of players to generate wins for the team. Melbourne learned the lessons from last week about the interchanges, and managed Max much more favourably in this game. Likewise the other mids, who with Salem now playing time in the middle, just gave more options and breaks in the hot conditions. When English and Bontempelli had their break in the final quarter, and Max and Oliver came back in, the Demons just took over and finished with six majors for the quarter, handing out the drubbing that had been long coming. It was good to get the win on the board for the Dee’s, just to level the ledger. The up and coming Hawks next week will provide a challenge, but theirs is all based on the enthusiasm of youth. But with the structures that Melbourne put into place today, they will be squeezed until they break, providing they are not given too much rub of the green to start with. Without that, the Hawks will also face a Dee-rubbing. MELBOURNE 4.4.28 8.5.53 10.8.68 16.13.109 WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.3.27 6.5.41 7.7.49 9.10.64 GOALS MELBOURNE Chandler van Rooyen 3 Brown Neal-Bullen Pickett 2 Billings Petracca Salem Viney WESTERN BULLDOGS Ugle-Hagan 2 Bontempelli Bramble Gallagher Lobb Naughton Weightman West BEST MELBOURNE Oliver Gawn May Billings Petracca Chandler WESTERN BULLDOGS Bontempelli Liberatore Treloar English Johannisen INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Taj Woewodin (replaced Caleb Windsor in the fourth quarter) WESTERN BULLDOGS Caleb Daniel (replaced Ryley Sanders in the third quarter) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil UMPIRES Hayden Gavine Robert Findlay Nathan Toner Andrew Adair OFFICIAL CROWD 44,100 at The MCG
  13. There was much fanfare about the Demons featuring in Round Zero or whatever the AFL has deemed it. Plenty of exclusive TV coverage, a full house at the SCG, the anticipated Grundy v Gawn match up, what could possibly be a better build-up to Season 2024? Well after all the hype, all the Demons could manage was a whimper, as they were blown away by the Swans who had planned immaculately and utilise all their advantages, ground, weather & tactics superlatively. This was a game where the Demons were simply out-coached, by the old fox, John Longmire. Surely the Melbourne coaching panel (it’s not all down to the senior coach) would have realised the following:- • The SCG is small, so a style of play which employs fast running, open spaces, looking for outside run and carry simply does not work. The ground itself is conducive to contested, all bodies to the ball, flooding tactics. And this is exactly what Longmire employs, same as his predecessor, Paul Roos. • The weather was forecast to be humid, warm and even a chance of showers. The ball in those conditions is going to be slippery, so players must be instructed to play “wet weather” type football. Sydney did exactly that, but Melbourne just kept trying to string together handball chains which inevitably failed when the ball was fumbled or mis-directed. Similarly, just kick the ball … any kick will get substantial territory on such a small ground, and it just moves to the next contest, simply because there is no space without bodies nearby. • Why would they select Charlie Spargo who hadn’t been on the training track for the past month with an Achilles injury, and then get him to stand Blakey at 195cm while Spargo is a mere 172cm. Baffling to say the least. But Longmire was even smarter, as he knew Max Gawn would be a deciding factor, especially since he was missing three of his first choice mids in Mills, Parker and Adams. So nullify Max became the instruction. Bump, harass, block or simply belt him at every opportunity and from any player on the field. It worked brilliantly, as there wasn’t much defence of the captain from other Melbourne players, and by the final quarter he was truly battered and bruised. To top it off, Grundy adopted new tactics of blocking Max in the ruck once the ball was bounced, and there should be questions about whether it was legal, since it would attract a free kick in any other part of the ground. Frustratingly, the coaching staff couldn’t see the obvious effect until the final quarter by which time, the damage was done. As Grundy backed into Max, the ball was only ever going to go in one direction, no matter which ruckman hit it. And that was to the Sydney side of the circle. Surely, our mids would have been told to load up that side and shark the ball. But no - it continued virtually all night. Max cannot play the whole game. Grundy was given breaks throughout for long periods especially in the third, where as Max played 82% game time. Then Grundy was not used exclusively in the ruck, and certainly in the final quarter spent most of it a kick behind play. The Sydney style of play also guarantees no freedom for the opposition forwards as they flood the defensive 50m arc profusely. At one point there were 16 red and white players inside, so please give me relief from people who say “lower the eyes”. There is no space provided by the ground firstly and most of it is covered by Swans players. The result was Bayley Fritsch was the only forward to trouble the goal umpire more than once, and he recorded four goals from just six touches. That shows how hard it was for all forwards, but even the Sydney forwards in McDonald with eight touches for the game and Amartey with three (and then being subbed out) demonstrated it wasn’t a night for ANY forward. At least they competed, and Longmire again saw the disadvantage of having non performers up forward with his timely sub in Wicks who had 5 touches in a quarter and provided more input to their success. Any hope the Demons might have had, and they even got a point in front at one stage, was thrown away by fumbling, and even more sadly by a raft of individuals who provided little to nothing for the whole game. The backs held up particularly in the first half, but the constant onslaught eventually wore them down. New boy Blake Howes acquitted himself well in his first game and needed to after Bowey left the ground with a shoulder injury. That was another critical error for the coaching staff, who then took Salem from the middle to sit at HBF, when we needed to clear the ball from the middle and stop it getting there in the first place. On the wing Caleb Windsor – “the Duke” also impressed and while yet to adapt to the physicality of AFL level football, certainly showed plenty and will be called upon for a regular spot in the coming weeks. I won’t go through the individual failures since it was obvious to anyone who watched the game who was at fault. Unfortunately, there were a good number, and those who have been tried, tried and tried again. Give me a Kynan Brown or a Will Verrall fairly soon to replace them, as our circumstances would not have been any worse. We got nought from this game, and probably finished in negative territory. This despite the return of Clayton Oliver, who was obviously a bit underdone, but still managed 30 touches. If others had put in similar efforts to his, the balance sheet would definitely be in the positive. MELBOURNE 1.6.12 2.8.20 7.8.50 9.10.64 SYDNEY SWANS 3.3.21 4.3.27 7.12.54 12.14.86 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 4 Viney 2 Langdon Petracca van Rooyen SYDNEY SWANS Hayward McLean 2 Florent Fox Heeney McDonald McInerney Papley Warner Wicks BEST MELBOURNE Viney May Salem Petracca Oliver Gawn SYDNEY SWANS Heeney Grundy Blakey Warner Papley Florent Rampe INJURIES MELBOURNE Jake Bowey (shoulder) SYDNEY SWANS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jack Billings (replaced Bailey Laurie in the third quarter) SYDNEY SWANS Sam Wicks (replaced Joel Amartey in the third quarter) UMPIRES Donlon, Gavine, Findlay, Mollison CROWD 40,012 at the SCG
  14. Congratulations to the Brisbane Lions. Undefeated in all 6 matches against the top teams (North Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, and Melbourne). They are worthy winners of the 2023 AFLW premiership. Our ambition for a Season 8 back-to-back premiership was derailed. In round 6 Adelaide spilled the beans on the template to outplay us. From there news spread fast to other top teams who applied similar intense physical pressure at the source which crushed our gameplan to execute via quick hands to runners. We had moments of competitiveness against Adelaide and Geelong, but both the 2023 Grand finalists had our measure at the pointy end of the season. Finishing 2023 Top 4 and exiting in straight sets was an unhappy outcome for supporters, especially given the men’s team finished the same way. But MFC Chair Kate Roffey reminded members that no one will be more disappointed in how we finished the year than the players themselves, they will be determined to bounce back. For Mick Stinear, his football department, Kate Hore and the playing group, it will be back to base camp in 2024, fitter and stronger, and the introduction of some new faces to get excited about. Meggs is optimistic. At the beginning of the season, Demons supporters were regularly posting how much they were enjoying watching women’s footy. It was true, we were playing some really entertaining and skillful football, our best footy is super exciting. Following are reflections on Season Eight 2023: What went right For any team to win a back-to-back premiership, almost everything has to go right. Offence Finishing 2nd with 8 wins and a percentage of 222.9, our ‘points for’ of 653 is the highest in AFLW competition history. Our forward stars Eden Zanker and Kate Hore jointly shared the AFLW Goalkicking Award with a record 20 goals for the Home and Away Season. Edo also snagged three goals in the final against Geelong to finish with 23 for the season, another league record (equal with Brisbane’s Dakota Davidson). One Club - McLelland Trophy Winners = $1 Million MFC Chair Kate Roffey praised how competitive our Club’s men’s and woman’s programs are when highlighting the honour of accepting the revamped and relaunched 2023 McClelland Trophy. She said that while the $1 million prize money is welcomed, the real value is the recognition of the ‘extraordinary commitment it takes across the entire Club to field and support two extremely high performing teams each weekend’. The Daisy replacement No one was surprised about the Club’s appointment of Kate Hore as Captain of the Melbourne Football Club as she was the standout candidate. From the outset of her captaincy tenure our Number 10’s leadership was evident. Her teammates see her as an inspiration on and off the field. Kate does everything well yet appears so humble. Statistically 2023 was her best ever year. She led the league for average score involvements with 6.5 a game, was an equal league-leading goalkicker and averaged 4 marks and 4 tackles per game. External recognition of Kate’s outstanding year came from her peers as the AFL Player’s Association’s Best Captain for 2023 and from the media for by being selected as a forward and captain of the 2023 AFLW All-Australian Team. Last Quarter Bandits New AFLW rules for 2023 included 17-minute quarters and a 60 interchange-limit and these changes advantaged the Dees with our deep fleet of seasoned midfield runners able play out quarters and matches and kick higher scores. Our extended run of unbeaten last quarters ran from Round 4 of Season 7 until North undid us in the Qualifying final, an AFLW record of 19 games. Some exhilarating 4th quarter footy was witnessed by the Demons faithful during the season: Eden Zanker mesmerised the highly rated Crows defence at Casey in Round 6 and then repeated that with three last quarter goals in the losing semi-final against the Cats. Other notable last quarter efforts include seven goals against the Giants in Round 2 and four goals against the Cats in Round 5. Irish Eyes Are Smiling Goldie and the Mackins add so much run and competitiveness and are vital cogs in our gameplan. Blaithin had a tremendous second season, a big improver. Goldie always rises to the challenges of big games and lifts her teammates. Aimee looks a natural forward so injury free and with a full pre-season we have found a footballer. All-Australians Other than the aforementioned great seasons of Kate and Edo, our generational key defender Tahlia Gillard and our uber talented Vice Captain Tyla Hanks also made the All-Australian Squad. Tahls is building an impressive CV of big-name scalps while Tyla, our most skillful playmaker, is now widely recognised for her week in, week out, football genius. What went wrong (the excuses) All was going swimmingly until quarter time in Round 6 against Adelaide at Casey Fields. The Draw Was our draw too soft? In six games against bottom eight teams we had a percentage of 323% whereas in the six games against the top eight teams our percentage was 96.4%. Why were we out of form at the wrong time of year? Mick, this is really a question for you. Did being the hunted, not the hunter, eventually weigh us down? Injuries didn’t’ help Maddi Gay, Aimee Mackin, Tayla Harris and Paxy all missed multiple matches. Lampy broke her wrist in Round 7, Sherriff re-injured her forearm in Round 10. Gabby Colvin only played 2 games. The unspoken illness that swept the team during the finals, was this truly a factor? List composition and game plan Improvement by other teams relative to us? Yes, definitely. Exposed at the source by stronger and more willing bodies. North laid 104 tackles (Dees 80) in the final and Brisbane 81 (Dees 57) in Round 10. Brisbane dominated uncontested possessions 133:75 and marks 51:27. Adelaide dominated us for two quarters in Round 6 but we were able to fight back but not so against Brisbane or North. In the Geelong final it was all going the wrong way until a last quarter hurrah. All four teams exposed not only our lack of midfield physicality but our leg speed and depth in defence. By not being able to exit the contest skilfully we coughed up the footy and back it came. Being 2022 reigning premiers, we already have an excellent core playing group, but all successful teams must renew and refresh their list. Premiers Brisbane lost Bates, Bodey and Wardlaw in 2022. Our shopping list should include some bigger bodies for the midfield and a strong key defender. All new recruits must be runners and competitors who come with established core footy skills. Do we know whether Casey girl Claudia Whitford would consider rejoining the Dees? She has starred for Gold Coast this year. Player movements The Trade Period opens on Thursday 7 December 2023 and closes 14 December. AFLW is reporting that Casey Sherriff, Libby Birch, and Eliza West may be off the Hawthorn. Gold Coast are apparently chasing Charlotte Wilson. We have another Father-Daughter selection in young speedster Jemma Rigoni which is exciting. In other news Georgina ‘Chook’ Fowler has retired from football and leaves the Dees without making her debut. The Draft is being held on Monday 18 December 2023. Speculation Meggs speculates that some end-of-season player reviews will be interesting. Fitzy, the ultra-skilled pressure forward, failed to kick a goal in her 8 games this season. She did have a career-high 15 disposals in the qualifying final against North and a career-high 10 tackles against Fremantle in Round 9. Could Fitzy play on the ball where she has done well in VFLW or even a defensive role? You want the ball in her hands because she has good skills and makes good decisions. Her housemate, the highly talented Alyssa Bannan, had some fine moments in 2023 including a 5-goal haul against the lowly West Coast Eagles. However, Alyssa was unable to consistently assert herself in the 6 key matches against the Top 4 teams, kicking just the one goal. Maybe play her on the wing? Getting fitter and stronger must be a focus for Banno in 2024. Best and Fairest In the AFLW Best and Fairest, Demons scored 46 votes. Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks earned 12 votes, Eden Zanker and Paxy Paxman 6., Alyssa Bannan 5, Eliza West and Lauren Pearce 2, and Liv Purcell 1. The Demons Best and Fairest is being held 9 December 2023. Meggs is tipping Tyla Hanks to win her second best and fairest. She has been our inspirational playmaker all year. Last year’s winner Kate Hore has been superb and might be thereabouts too. Melbourne FC has written a piece on some of the top-performing Demons of the season here: Tahlia Gillard   In just her third season at the top level, Tahlia Gillard has broken into the league as an upcoming star of the defensive 50. She’s improved with each week at the contest and on the rebound. The 19-year-old has managed to shut down some of the best forwards in the league, averaging 5.6 intercepts and 5.2 spoils, with her consistency earning her an inaugural selection in the All-Australian squad. Tyla Hanks   As vice-captain, Tyla Hanks’ impressive performances were a constant for the team in 2023, using her footy smarts, natural talent and silky skills to cement herself as one of the competition’s best midfielders. Statistically, she continued to reach new milestones, averaging a career-high 21.7 disposals, 5.6 clearances, 4.4 score involvements and 3.7 inside 50s. The midfielder finished the season with 12 votes in the league best and fairest count, an equal club-high. Shelley Heath  She might fly under the radar externally, but Shelley Heath is a highly celebrated Demon at the club for her versatility, strength and determination. Often tasked with locking down the opposition’s most influential players, this year has seen her talent showcased across both the backline and midfield, while also impacting in front of goals, kicking two during Round 1.   Kate Hore   This season has seen Kate Hore take on the new title of captain, embracing the responsibility and allowing it to push her game to another level. The crafty forward became the second player in league history to kick 20 goals in a home-and-season, earning her the title of leading goal-kicker alongside Eden Zanker. She also led the league for average score involvements with 6.5 a game.   Most recently, she became a three-time All-Australian forward and received the honour of All-Australian captain to go alongside her AFL Players' Association's Best Captain title. Blaithin Mackin   In just her second season at the club, Blaithin Mackin has further adapted into the sport, having only come across from Gaelic football last year. The speedy winger has been persistent in her develop of the AFL craft, her natural agility and creative skill an asset to the side. Her best performance came in Round 8 where she registered 21 disposals, six marks and four tackles.  Lily Mithen  A stalwart for the Demon line-up since the inaugural season, Lily Mithen has continued to be a pillar of strength for the team in 2023. The energetic and determined utility was impressive in the contest, her versatility an important quality for the side during integral games throughout the season. She averaged 16.6 disposals and kicked a career-high total of four goals.   Lauren Pearce No one does it quite like Lauren Pearce and in 2023 she continued her talented ways in the red and blue. Known for her impressive ruck craft, with the ability to follow up at ground-level, Pearce averaged 18.5 hitouts and 3.2 clearances a game, often seen changing the momentum of a game with a single tap. Despite missing one match in the middle of the season, Pearce’s impact across the year will no doubt put her in good stead for this year’s top honour. Olivia Purcell  A fiery midfielder who consistently steps up under pressure is Olivia Purcell, whose 2023 has been another testament to her talent. The bullish Demon is as competitive as they come, attacking the contest with an unmatched will to win. This season has seen her average 21.9 disposals, 4.5 tackles, 4.2 clearances and a career-high 4.6 score involvements.   Eden Zanker   Experienced Demon Eden Zanker produced a career-best campaign in 2023. The tall forward came into the season with perfected forward craft and a strength in the aerial contest, averaging close to four marks a game. She wrote herself into the history books as the first AFLW player to kick 20 goals in a home-and-away season and was named the league’s leading goal-kicker alongside Kate Hore.  She topped off her year with an inaugural All-Australian selection. Thank you readers Well, that’s all for Season Eight. It has been a pleasure writing about this wonderful team so thank you for reading. Meggs wishes you all the best for the festive season. MEGGS
  15. It was a hot afternoon at IKON where the ferocious Cats came to play, had read the manual on how to beat us and the Demons were unable to match them for the first three quarters. With physical pressure, they took the game on with relative ease and though our resistance seemed better than the previous two weeks it was still not good enough. Within the opening minute, Kate Hore marks within range, but her shot was a miss-kick, like a fat iron, and it kinda set a flat tone for the afternoon. Young Geelong stars Nina Morrison (clearly best on ground) and Georgie Prespakis were ferocious, while 3-time best and fairest winner Amy McDonald started proceedings with two great goals in the opening quarter. Maddi Gay did give the Demon faithful some hope after the half time siren with a terrific long-range goal from a mark. Only three goals in it at half time. The Cats came out strongly after the main break and put the game beyond reach leading by 30 points at ¾ time. An unassailable lead? That’s what everyone thought. Melbourne in eight seasons had never lost three games in a row. Well in the ¾ time huddle, with Harris hurt, Mick Stinear mixed it up. He threw Tahlia Gillard into the ruck, with dynamo Goldie, Kate Hore and the extractor Westy and within seconds of the commencement of the last quarter we had scored a goal. The season-long weight of expectation of being reigning premiers, the hunted versus the hunter, had somehow lifted from our players’ shoulders. Emerging belief. Nothing to lose. It was a very exciting last quarter comeback to watch at the ground but ultimately it was too little too late. After witnessing almost three weeks of un-Melbourne-like football at least we finally displayed some of our trademark exciting football in the last quarter of 2023. Demons Fans were building with excitement as we kicked five goals in the last to nearly pinch a win, falling sadly short by less than a goal. That Loz Pearce snap was agonisingly close to forcing extra-time. Eden Zanker started holding her marks and kicked three brilliant last quarter goals to finish on 23 goals for the season, an AFLW record. Congratulations Edo. Geelong Coach Dan Lowther was shown on the big screen several times looking highly nervous. The big Geelong contingent who came up on the buses sensed the danger too and started cheering loudly for their team as the margin kept whittling away. But fortunately for them the siren sounded before our last forward thrust could be completed. In the end the Cats deserved the win. For the Dees Goldie was strong throughout, Hanksy is our talented talisman, Maddi Gay plays so well in finals, Westy made a strong comeback, Liv Purcell is an important cog in the midfield along with Paxy and Loz Pearce while Zanker starred in that last quarter. There were several players who didn’t impact the match and really every time we win, we have an even contribution. Sadly, not this week. Sherriff and Lampy were missed. The Demons will now start all the end of season processes including players reviews and list management. There is obviously some work to be done to improve. Well, that’s the season wrap up from Meggs. It has been a pleasure going to matches, reporting and reviewing and he thanks you for taking the time to read these missives. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was gutted but said Geelong deserved to win. For three quarters Geelong got first use of the ball. Our belief kicked in in that last quarter and at least showed what the group is capable of. We were unfortunately out of form at the wrong time of year. Why was that Mick? Geelong coach Dan Lowther thought his side had enough of a buffer at ¾ time to win the match but was nervous towards the end and clearly relieved when that final siren sounded. He highlighted Hanksy’s outstanding last quarter. One concern for the Cats is their fading last quarters. In their 2 finals so far, Geelong has only scored 1.1.7 and their opposition 8.4.52. The Cats have earned a Preliminary Final contest next week against Brisbane at Ipswich starting at 7:45pm Melbourne time. It will be a tough assignment for them, and we wish them well.  MELBOURNE 0.2.2 1.4.10 1.7.19 6.9.45 GEELONG 2.4.16 4.5.29 6.7.43 7.8.50 GOALS MELBOURNE Zanker 3 Gay Hanks A Mackin GEELONG A.McDonald 2 Crockett-Grills Darby Moloney Parry Scott BEST MELBOURNE Gay West Zanker Gillard Purcell Hanks GEELONG Morrison A McDonald Webster M McDonald Parry Prespakis INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil UMPIRES Adams Scott Talbot CROWD 5,057 at IKON Park
  16. We were expecting that after last week’s comprehensive defeat by Brisbane, our coach Mick Stinear would have his charges coming out breathing finals fire. Instead, it was North who had the aggression, the numbers, who blocked our scoring avenues and rendered us impotent, unable to match the Kangas during any phase of the match. Darren Crocker, the North coach, later highlighted that how to beat Melbourne is no secret following recent losses to Adelaide and Brisbane and now North. With the secret out, will Geelong be our next subduer? In fairness North was brilliant. They won across all three lines and made us look second rate. By jingo they laid 104 tackles. We were not able to generate any corridor switches, not helped by our many dropped marks and kicking errors. Our forwards were unable to halve contests, never ever seemed to be in front and ultimately the footy never stayed long enough near our goals. No surprise then that Melbourne, despite having the greatest attack in AFLW history, was unable to score a goal in the first 3 quarters. One goal three points is our second lowest score in history and the 41-point loss is our second highest loss. It was also unhappily our first loss at IKON Park. Libby Birch is excellent as the deep defender with her intercept marking and reading of the play. However North forced her to play one on one and you could see at ground level that she was being constantly outbodied and outsprinted. North has three talls in Randall, Shierlaw and Emma King and it would seem we were missing one key defender. Meggs watched all the AFLW finals games over the weekend and the standard of matches was really high. In a sliding doors moment, former Dee Brenna Tarrant left us for greater opportunities in Sin City. She has really blossomed and was the standout Swans key defender on Saturday. The North big three of Garner, Riddell and Kearney were superb. Expecting Heater to blanket the best player in the AFLW as a core strategy every time needs rethinking Mick. In terms of our team, Tyla Hanks and Liv Purcell worked tirelessly for 4 quarters. They along with others such as Goldie, Gay, Kate Hore, B Mackin, Paxy, Chaplin and Loz Pearce showed the level of physical commitment required to play in finals. Unfortunately, there was never enough connection to ever win this game. Anyway, enough doom and gloom. We are still alive in Season Eight. Let’s move on, cash in our double chance and bounce back like true defending champions against the Cats. In terms of the game: Meggs and Mrs Meggs sat amongst the players families this week which was lovely and engaged in some lively chats during the game. Q1 It was a mostly tight opening quarter. Tahlia Randall outbodied Loz Pearce in a ruck contest before slamming it onto her boot for the only goal of the quarter. North peppers the goals for points only and we feel lucky that no damage is done. Hansky has a late chance but mistimes her kick. ¼ time: Dees 0.1.1 Roos 1.4.10 Q2 We struggle to get the ball forward and when we do it comes straight out again. North scores the only goal of the quarter by Randall who outbodies Birch in a marking contest. It is swirly out there for footy but really sunny and warm in our seats. ½ time: Dees 0.1.1 Roos 2.4.16 Q3 Mick makes a move. Tayla Harris starts the quarter in the ruck, with Hanksy, Kate and Paxy and instantly we move the ball forward and Loz Pearce marks directly in front. Momentum is lost as she misses left a la Max Gawn. North then explode for their best quarter of the game. Three rather impressive goals by North to Randall and then Eddey on the run twice. The Dees double their score but it’s only 2 points in total. We can’t believe that the league’s most potent forward line has failed to fire a bullet. Zanks what’s happening? ¾ time: Dees 0.2.2 Roos 5.6.36 Q4 We are beaten in every quarter. Kate Hore marks nicely but hits the post from directly in front. A few moments later Bannan who has been mostly unsighted takes a nice mark and kicks truly for our only goal for the day. North’s Gatt runs 20 metres without bouncing it and O’Loughlin kicks North’s penultimate goal. Emma King then puts the final nail in our coffin for a 41-point drubbing. What has happened to the #DemonSpirit these past two weeks? Dees 1.3.9 Roos 7.8.50 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was thankful that our successful home and away performance allowed us the double chance. He said North’s defence was sound and they thoroughly deserved the win. We were scored against too easily and there wasn’t enough connection. North coach Darren Crocker said his side has built a unique defensive system over a number of seasons and was pleased how it held up in finals conditions. He referenced the tackling and pressure by Adelaide and Brisbane in their recent wins over Melbourne which demonstrated the method of how to beat us. For Melbourne, another huge task awaits Mick Stinear and his football department as they regroup for a battle against the confident Cats next Sunday at 3.05pm AEDT at IKON Park. MELBOURNE 0.1.1 0.2.2 0.2.2 1.3.9 NORTH MELBOURNE 1.4.10 2.4.16 5.6.36 7.8.50 GOALS MELBOURNE Bannan NORTH MELBOURNE Randall 3 Eddey 2 E. King O'Loughlin BEST MELBOURNE Purcell Hanks Hore Gillard Pearce NORTH MELBOURNE Garner Randall Kearney Riddell Eddey Ferguson Gatt INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Shierlaw (teeth/cut lip) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil UMPIRES Adams Laycock Mitchell CROWD 5,431 at Ikon Park
  17. “Cold aggression”, Lions star full forward Dakota Davidson called it. Brisbane outmuscled, outran, and ultimately overwhelmed us. They certainly came to play and exorcised their 2022 grand final grudge defeating the Demons in the rematch by 25 points. Stats count and Brisbane won the key ones. Inside 50s 42 to 24, centre clearances 8 to 6, uncontested possessions 133 to 75 and 51 marks to 27. The Lions’ sustained pressure is the kind we usually bring for other teams. There was one brief moment, at the 13-minute mark of the second quarter, when Melbourne skipper Kate Hore put the Dees in front. Alas that was our last goal for the rest of the game. The match was eerily reminiscent of the second and third quarter shellacking that Adelaide delivered in Round 6. Disappointingly, there was no last quarter comeback this time as the Lions had completely blanketed the handful of soldiers bravely resisting. Melbourne’s renowned versatility and even contribution failed to emerge. Pearce, Hanks, Hore, Purcell, Gillard, Goldrick, Mackin and Harris were all willing but needed everyone to get more involved if we were to win. Star mid Paxy Paxman was ruled out before the game with hamstring awareness and replaced by last week’s debutant Georgia Gall. Rhi Watt was ruled out with concussion during the game. Maeve Chaplin was visibly upset as she was helped off the ground following her collision with Davidson. Encouragingly, she later re-emerged and finished out the match. Replacements are needed. No Maddie Gay next week and possibly no Paxy. We can only hope that Aimee Mackin and Gaby Colvin complete their recoveries and that no one else is added to the unavailable list. Some are concerned that Tyla Hanks may be in trouble for her dangerous tackle. A dispiriting way to finish the home and away season, but our second spot and a double chance has been well earned so let’s start over. Anything is possible in finals. In terms of the game: Q1 Brisbane starts with heat and Dakota Davidson scores the first goal from a nice mark on a lead. Meggs is concerned about leg speed over the ground as Brisbane carve Melbourne up through the middle with a long bomb running goal by Hampson. Gall for Paxy seems an odd replacement. We seem to be fumbling and dropping marks under the perceived pressure. Against the run of play, a chain of Demons sees Fitzy hit up Sherriff who marks in from of goal. The commentator mentions that Casey has kicked 4 goals 14 points over the past two seasons but thankfully she can’t hear Jason Bennett and kicks truly. ¼ time: Lions 2.2.14 Dees 1.0.6 Q2 We start stronger this quarter. Tayla appears to re-injure her shoulder but moments later marks and goals. Just as we look to be attacking Kate drops a chest mark under pressure and Brisbane take the ball coast-to-coast for a goal with some exhilarating ball movement. Hanks is taken high and goals from directly in front. Zanker is now on second ruck duties replacing the concussed Rhi Watt. A brilliant pick up and snap from Kate Hore on a tight angle sees the Demons in front. However, it doesn’t take long before Brisbane takes back the lead after Davidson scores her second goal. Brisbane showing us some more of their cold aggression right on half-time with a number of players pushing and shoving. ½ time: Lions 4.3.27 Dees 4.0.24 Q3 Brisbane dominate the opening of the 3rd term and score 2 quick goals. Meggs watches most Brisbane games and Jade Ellenger is not someone who opposition coaches would typically consider for a matchup. However, she is giving the Lions heaps of defensive drive, playing the best game of her career. No one appears to be playing on her. The weight of Lions inside 50s is overwhelming our defence and Ruby Svarc and Sophie Conway score late quarter goals. ¾ time: Lions 8.4.52 to Dees 4.1.25 Q4 An arm wrestle with no goals scored by either team this term. While the Dees failed to kick a goal in the second half, we are the 4th quarter specialists, and win last quarter by 2 points. Lions 8.5.53 to Dees 4.4.28 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said Brisbane was too good tonight and deserved to win. Defensively Brisbane was brilliant tonight and we struggled to navigate a way through. It was a physical game and Rhi Watt is out with concussion. He referred to really good depth in his squad. Lions coach Craig Starcevich said there was some passages of play by his team that were the best they’ve ever done. He felt he had his best team out there which helps. Brisbane having defeated all the other top four teams must be considered an equal flag favourite with Adelaide. Their qualifying final next week in Adelaide will be a blockbuster. For Melbourne, a huge task awaits Mick Stinear and his football department as they tend to bruised bodies and restoring self-confidence ahead of our all-important qualifying final against North Melbourne. Dees should start as favourites but recent wins count for nothing once the game starts. MELBOURNE 1.0.6 4.0.24 4.1.25 4.4.28 BRISBANE LIONS 2.2.14 4.3.27 8.4.52 8.5.53 GOALS MELBOURNE Hanks Harris Hore Sherriff BRISBANE LIONS Conway Davidson 2 Hampson Mullins Smith R Svarc BEST MELBOURNE Pearce Hore Purcell Hanks Gillard BRISBANE LIONS Ellenger Koenen Hodder Conway Anderson Dawes LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Paxy Paxman (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Georgia Gall BRISBANE LIONS Nil INJURIES MELBOURNE R. Watt (concussion) BRISBANE LIONS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil CROWD 3,004 at Brighton Homes Arena
  18. Hang out to your hats. The strong blustery conditions made it extremely difficult for either team to execute footy skills but nonetheless an entertaining match ensured for those brave enough to venture down to Casey Fields on Saturday. Impressive Irish player Aine Tighe was a late withdrawal for Freo. Maddie Gay was also a late change, and she was replaced with 19 year-old Georgia Gall, the 6-foot ex Melbourne Stars BBL cricketer who has been impressing the coaches in scrimmage games. Fremantle came to play, boosted in confidence by their impressive 24-point win against St Kilda the previous week. With total clearances at 30 each it was tough in the middle. Fremantle possess a strong army of physical mids in Kiara Bowers, Ange Stannett, Dana East, and skipper Hayley Miller and were competitive all day. Despite our four-quarter efforts, the Dockers still managed to kick a goal in each quarter. The Demons are noted 4th quarter specialists and kicked 3 goals to 1 which was enough to run out comfortable winners in the end by 33 points. For the Dees, Paxy was ubiquitous with a game-high disposal count of 27 including 10 contested possessions. Eliza McNamara (25, 10), Lily Mithen (20,7), Liv Purcell (20, 8), and Sinead Goldrick (19, 10) demonstrated the breadth of our contributors in the hard-fought win. With 10 tackles and 20 disposals Westy is back. Her efforts around the contest were awesome as was her crafty goal using the brute strength of West against (Dana) East. It was noticeable at ground level that Freo has many quick players and at times we looked slow in comparison. They achieved a couple of running goals by breaking down our defensive wall. Not as obvious on the telly but our well drilled side has several players who read the play so well and either regain possession via intercepts or half a contest with a tackle or create a stoppage. Goldie and Mackin typically do this so well, but Meggs wanted to praise Eliza McNamara for her efforts yesterday. On numerous occasions she confidently inserted herself in the play for intercepts or tackles. A very good game Lize. Gillard continues to elevate herself to be our premier defender. Our leading scorers Eden Zanker and Kate Hore kicked 2 goals each and top the AFLW goalkicking table (20 and 19 respectively). It was Shelley Heath’s 50th game and a banner celebrating her milestone had been jointly created by DeeArmy and the Melbourne players. Unfortunately, due to the strong winds which would have ripped it to shreds, the raising was postponed. No matter, it was nice for Heathy to have a win and contribute well during her big match and she feistily laid 7 of her trademark tackles. News of Brisbane’s loss to St Kilda at RSEA Park later in the afternoon was important for the Dees as we hope to lock in the $1m Dr McLelland Trophy prize. Meggs’ quick maths suggests even if the Pies thump Sydney and Richmond in the next 2 weeks and Melbourne is thrashed by Brisbane in Round 10, we would finish on top on percentage. Adelaide plays North and West Coast and is expected to win both games, therefore the result of next week’s grand final rematch at Ipswich next Saturday evening will decide whether it’s the Crows or the Demons as Season Eight minor premiers. In terms of the game: Q1 Freo wins the toss and kicks with the wind. Fremantle wins the 1st clearance and Birch takes a nice defensive mark. She then plays on, and the ball ends up coming straight back where Freo forward pressure wins a free in front of goal. Kauffman kicks the first of her three goals for the day. It’s tough conditions but eventually Hanksy, ever the opportunist, makes something out of nothing with a great check-side goal. The Dockers hit the post again and have not taken their opportunities with the wind. ¼ time: Dees 1.2.8 Dockers 1.3.9 Q2 We now have the wind. The game is being played in the Demons forward half, with Freo defending well. It’s only a matter of time until we score, and Kate’s poster is a highlight. Then in the space of a few minutes the Dees pile on three quick goals to Zanker, Paxy and Westy. Three goals and six points for the quarter means we have not taken our opportunities. Freo’s hard work is finally rewarded when they move the ball over our defensive wall and run with speed to kick a good team goal by Kauffman, who outsprints Wilson. ½ time: Dees 4.9.33 Dockers 2.3.15 Q3 Against the wind, Kate kicks a goal off the ground. Later in the quarter Goldie is surprisingly adjudged holding the ball and Freo’s Serena Gibbs converts from directly in front. A big quarter coming up. ¾ time: Dees 5.9.39 Dockers 3.4.22 Q4 Some untidy wind impacted play in the Demons forward line is finally rewarded via a long-range snap on goal by Blaithin Mackin. Brilliant B. Kauffman then marks and goals from up throw up. Freo are not going away. Some clever vision from Liv Purcell who long bombs into space to Sherriff who outruns her opponents cleverly taking control of the footy and giving to Kate Hore for a nice team goal. A defensive kick in error sees Zanker mark and goal to take back her outright leadership of the AFLW goalkicking table. And that’s that, a 33 point win. Dees win 8.13.61 to Dockers 4.4.28 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was really pleased with the outcome in the end. It was challenging conditions against a tough, physical side. A good four quarters with 21 scoring shots. He highlighted our versatility. Tayla Harris and Aimee Mackin should be available next week and provide him with a selection headache. A massive test on the road next week. Dockers coach Lisa Webb was disappointed they were not able to get the result but was particularly proud of their exceptional effort. She noted Freo were down a couple of soldiers, namely Aine Tighe and Ebony Antonio. Next week is the last round of Season Eight. The reigning premiers play a grand final rematch against Brisbane at the same venue, Brighton Homes Arena, Ipswich on Saturday evening November 4 at 7:05pm. Beat Brisbane and we finish minor premiers plus (if we make it that far) a home grand final at our fortress Ikon Park. MELBOURNE 1.2.8 4.9.33 5.9.39 8.13.61 FREMANTLE 1.3.9 2.3.15 3.4.22 4.4.28 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore Zanker 2 Hanks B Mackin Paxman West FREMANTLE Kauffman 3 Gibbs BEST MELBOURNE Paxman West McNamara Fitzsimon Mithen Hore FREMANTLE Kauffman Bowers Stannett East Lally MillerINJURIES INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil FREMANTLE Flynn (back) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil FREMANTLE Nil UMPIRES Devenish Howard Talbot CROWD 1,650 at Casey Fields
  19. There was buzzing in the grandstand, for the word had passed around that the mighty Crows had fallen during the day. It had opened up a glitch for one of the two teams on the pitch to sit alone atop of the array. By the end of the night, it was Narrm, with our trademark #DemonSpirit, just too good for too long and BACK ON TOP, on percentage, of the AFLW Season Eight premiership ladder. It was an impressive defensive display by Narrm at its favourite home ground, with North scoring a solitary point after quarter time. The modest crowd numbers would have disappointed the powers that be but nevertheless, it was a pleasure to feel the twilight atmosphere at Ikon and witness the football spectacle on such an immaculate playing surface. The majority crowd were Narrm supporters who Meggs is sure thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Vice-Captain Tyla Hanks was clearly the best player on the ground and should earn the 10 coaches votes this week. The media heaps praise on coaches votes leader Jas Garner (who is typically outstanding) but she won’t vote this week thanks to Shelley Heath’s monumental containment effort. Liv Purcell too was prolific too with her characteristically strong performance. The Dees really spread the load having 13 different players with more than 10 possessions while North had only 9. Meggs had Hanks, Purcell, Hore, Mithen, B. Mackin, Gillard and Heath as the best players but there were quite a few others that could have been mentioned. It was said that Libby Birch looks comfortable behind the microphone and her defensive group was truly excellent on Saturday. Now having secured top spot, they need to maintain it by knocking off Freo next week at Casey and then defeat Brisbane in Round 10. If they do, we the minor premiership, Dr McLelland Trophy, a handy $1m plus first dibs on a home grand final. This season is so much fun to watch, hope you are enjoying it too. In terms of the game: Wurundjeri elder Uncle Bill Nicholson Jnr gives a rousing welcome to country, Emma Kearney with Mia King wins the coin toss and finally we are underway. Q1 Lots of talk from the commentators about how to stop Jas Garner. It doesn’t take them long to work out that the Narrm Coach Mick Stinear has sent Heater (Shelley Heath) to blanket her. North with some good pressure score the first goal by Irish player Niamh Martin, her first in AFLW. Meggs notices Fitzsimon, a late inclusion, picking up goal-sneak Alice O’Loughlin. A 50-metre infringement by Erika O’Shea leads to Casey Sherriff taking her shot from 30 metres and she nails it. All square. Isn’t it great to see Paxy back out there? Hanksy seems to be everywhere. The Dees fail to clear the ball and it ends up with North’s Tess Craven who kicks a long bomb from 45 metres to take the lead. ¼ time: Dees 1.1.7 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q2 Maeve Chaplin is tackled by Amy Smith, sister of Joel, and goes off hurt. Soon Kate Hore takes a ripper contested mark 25 metres out and converts. Kate you star! The Dees are starting to win the ball and run and carry. Some exciting passages. Heathy is having a great quarter. Kate then gets on the end of good run but hits the post. Thankfully we see Chappy ready to come back on. She’s one tough cookie. Georgia Campbell wins a ruck infringement and goals. A very happy team celebration ensues. A good quarter from Narrm and Paxy confirms that it’s a hot contest out there. ½ time: Dees 3.4.22 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q3 Narrm continues to apply team pressure. Hanksy outclasses everyone from a ball up, showing off her speed and skill, to kick a brilliant goal. With the first four inside 50s for the quarter it feels like Narrm is in control. But then the final few minutes of the quarter are played out in North’s forward half. Charlotte Wilson with stoic defence has some of her best moments in a Narrm jumper. No score for North that quarter. ¾ time: Dees 4.5.29 Kangaroos 2.1.13 Q4 Narrm proves yet again they are the 4th quarter specialists by keeping their opponents goalless. Gilliard taking lots of contested marks while Purcell, Hanks, Heathy and everyone are buzzing and making it impossible for North to get back into this game. Eventually Zanker takes a strong contested mark and superbly goals from 40 metres out and it is game over Roos. Dees 5.7.37 Kangaroos 2.2.14. Coaches and next week Narrm Coach Mick Stinear said it was a really tough game of footy and we showed effort for four quarters. He was particularly pleased with the strength of our team defence and our ability to maintain the ball in the forward half. He wasn’t worried about the lack of scoring, citing a couple of misses on the goal line. He praised Shelley Heath for her run-with roll on Jasmine Garner, using her speed to limit Jas’ usual output. North coach Darren Crocker said his team tonight was not the real North Melbourne, that’s not the way we want to play. He said to Narrm’s credit they put North under a lot of pressure and his team couldn’t move the ball like they have against lesser sides. Next week we are back at Casey Fields to take on Fremantle at 1:05pm Saturday 28 October 2023 while North journey to the City of Churches for another testing Top Four clash against Adelaide next Sunday. NARRM 1.1.7 3.4.22 4.5.29 5.7.37 NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.1.13 2.2.14 GOALS NARRM Campbell Hanks Hore Sherriff Zanker NORTH MELBOURNE Craven Martin BEST NARRM Hanks Purcell Hore Mithen B Mackin Gillard NORTH MELBOURNE Riddell Kearney M King Garner O'Shea Ferguson LATE CHANGES NARRM Aimee Mackin (ankle) and Gab Colvin (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Megan Fitzsimon and Charlotte Wilson NORTH MELBOURNE Nil INJURIES NARRM Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil REPORTS NARRM Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil UMPIRES Howard Morgan Simmonds CROWD 2,704 at Ikon Park
  20. In sunny and hot summery conditions, the rampaging Narrm in their magnificent Indigenous guernseys, turned it on in the second half while keeping the low flying Eagles scoreless to run away with a dominating 70-point win. The Dees have scored ten or more goals in every game this year except in the loss to Adelaide. With 527 Points for, they are up 59% on last year and 85% up on their 7-season average. The Narrm Offensive is in full flight. Alyssa Bannan starred with 10 score involvements, a career-best 5 goals and picked up the maximum Coaches Votes too. Eden Zanker leads the AFLW goalkicking table with 17, Kate Hore 16 and Bannan is now in 7th position with 12 goals for the year. Lots of fire power. Newcomer Aimee Mackin kicked her first goal in AFLW and just looks dangerous out there with her pace, poise and vision. And you know she’s just gonna get better. Younger sister, Blaithin, has rapidly become one of our Narrm stars with her 2-way running, natural footy instincts, and ability to break tackles. When Tyla Hanks went off in the first quarter we were worried but thankfully she played the game out well earning 2 coaches votes. Others to earn votes were Blaithin Mackin (4), Liv Purcell (4), Kate Hore (2), Eliza West (3) and Banno (10). Also, it was good to see some of the last week’s quieter performers emerge. Westy was prolific, Casey Sherriff got creative, and Libby Birch proved again that she likes playing against West Coast. In terms of the game: Q1 The Eagles started with intensity, and we did too. Hanks is tackled in the forward pocket, appears hurt and heads off. We hope she’s okay. Young Georgia Campbell doing well. Improving each week. Casey Sherriff using her smarts gets a handball to the electric Bannan for the first goal. The uber popular Rhi Watt is now out there now. Meggs was really impressed by her footy skills. Gillard gives away a 50-metre penalty which results in the Eagles first goal. More electricity and skill from Bannan as she breaks away for her second. Following one of Liv Purcell’s eight inside 50s for the day, Bannan marks and kicks her third. She’s on fire. The Mackin sisters are in everything today and Aimee kicks her first ever goal in AFLW from a ball up just outside the goal square. It’s a good start for Narrm. ¼ time: Dees 4.1.15 Eagles 1.0.6 Q2 The Eagles have their best quarter, kicking one goal and keeping Narrm goalless. A quarter highlight for Meggs was Heathy’s tackle on the members wing wrapping up Davison. Don’t mess with our Taekwondo champion. ½ time: Dees 4.3.27 Eagles 2.0.12 During the break it’s nice to hear from former Demon, Krstel Petrevski, who speaks about her Eagles indigenous jumper design. Q3 Bannan hits up Zanker who goes back and slots her first goal. The Eagles defensive switch comes unstuck and Hore taps it to Bannon for her fourth goal. We are well on top now. Our next goal is the quarter highlight with all our Irish contingent involved. Goldie to Blaithin to Aimee who uses her deadly left boot from the boundary to hit up Casey Sherriff directly in front for our seventh goal. Will Schofield, the ex Eagles player and commentator, is effusive in his praise for Aimee. Aimee involved in the next goal too with an assist to Kate Hore. ¾ time: Dees 8.10.58 Eagles 2.0.12 Q4 Lily Mithen kicks to Kate Hore, surprise surprise, and Kate slots the first goal of the quarter. Bannan misses a running goal opportunity but it was a thrilling point to watch. We then realise it’s 7-point play as the Eagles fail to clear the ball and Zanker marks and goals for her second. Bannan then marks in front and achieving a career best 5 goals. With less than 30 seconds left, Banno marks and cramps up. Kate Hore takes the shot but hits the post. The siren sounds and an indigenous language version of it’s a grand old flag is played on the public address system. A convincing 70-point win. Coaches and next week Narrm Coach Mick Stinear was really pleased with the energy of the inclusions of Rhi Watt, Maeve Chaplin, Charlotte Wilson and Georgia Campbell. Last week our high forwards didn’t adjust enough to Adelaide’s pressure. It was good to see improvement this week. Banno was brilliant. He praised the high-performance team for their work in building the fitness and strength of our team who embraced the hot conditions better than the Eagles. Eagles coach Michael Prior was unhappy with the AFL for scheduling (in a 10-week 18-team competition), the 2022 premiers against his 2022 Wooden Spooners. He is later forced to backtrack these comments. He felt they were in at half-time and thought Ella Roberts and Charlie Thomas were outstanding. Next week they take on the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos at our second home ground, Ikon Park, on Saturday evening 21 October 23 at 7:15pm. What an epic battle this will be! Hope you’re getting a ticket. NARRM 4.1.25 4.3.27 8.10.58 11.16.82 WEST COAST EAGLES 1.0.6 2.0.12 2.0.12 2.0.12 GOALS NARRM Bannan 5 Hore Zanker 2 A Mackin Sherriff WEST COAST EAGLES Gibson Rowley BEST NARRM Bannan Hore Purcell Watt Hanks B Mackin WEST COAST EAGLES Thomas Roberts Gooch Hooker Lewis CHANGES NARRM Nil WEST COAST EAGLES Sarah Lakay replaced in selected side by Beth Schilling
 INJURIES NARRM Nil WEST COAST EAGLES Nil REPORTS NARRM Nil WEST COAST EAGLES Nil UMPIRES Hughes Laycock Wharton CROWD 1,232 at Mineral Resources Park Mineral Resources Park
  21. The Saturday afternoon picnic atmosphere of Casey Fields was filled with expectations for this top of the ladder clash of AFLW heavyweights Melbourne and Adelaide. The majority of supporters present were dee-voted red-and-blue patrons, but everyone had to endure the blaring announcements and music. Thankfully the notorious wind was manageable. In the first quarter the visiting Crows failed to score while the Demons put 16 points on the board. Everyone around us seemed quietly content at quarter time. Season Eight business as usual? It could have been more had Edo not hit the post from a set shot and Lampy (who had scored two goals the last time Melbourne played Adelaide) missed a golden opportunity. At quarter time Matthew Clarke, the Crows Coach, must have said something inspirational as his charges visibly amped up their pressure to have scores level by half-time. As we walked around the ground the Dees supporters appeared ominously quiet, possibly sensing an upset (or maybe going deaf from the PA). It was a third quarter domination by Adelaide to which Mick Stinear commented afterwards had rattled his Dees. The bigger Crows bodies and pressure around the contest caused our defensive systems to break down and enabled them to kick six unanswered goals during this period. It was reminiscent of how the Demons lost both games to the Crows in Season Six. Mick tried Goldie, Blaithin Mackin and Kate Hore in the middle at times trying to stem the flow. Maddi Gay was one winner for us in defence but overall, we seemed overwhelmed and just couldn’t find the footy. Deep in the third quarter and against the run of play, Eliza McNamara kicked a desperately needed running goal which lifted the collective spirits of Demon hearts around the ground. Melbourne’s reputation as fourth quarter specialists was again on show, delivering a strong comeback to get within three points. But it wasn’t enough. The Crows kicked two goals in the last quarter to win by 10 points and ended our 14-game winning streak. The last 4 games of the Season are WCE away, North at Ikon, Freo at Casey, and Brisbane away. The match was a quality contest and highly entertaining. Despite the disappointment of losing this clash, we have laid a very good foundation for Season 8. We should remain ambitious for a Top 2 finish from where we can launch our premiership defence. In terms of the game: Q1 A centre clearance from the opening bounce leads to an inside 50 mark and conversion by Eden Zanker. Off to a flying start. Unfortunately, Edo hits the post on a set shot from a contested mark. She then kicks her second goal off the ground with under 5 minutes to play. We see Aimee Mackin has gone off with an ankle injury. ¼ time: Dees 2.4.16 Crows 0.0.0 Q2 Ponter marks in front of her opponent and converts. Crows pressure is coming this quarter and Ebony Marinoff kicks a nice goal from a scrimmage. A couple more points from the Crows and we are all square at half time. ½ time: Dees 2.4.16 Crows 2.4.16 Q3 Tremendous physical pressure coming from the Crows, and the Dees can’t get hold of the footy. Hatchard takes a strong contested mark in the goal square against Blaithin Mackin and converts. A strange holding the ball decision against Goldie in the forward pocket is taken by best on ground Marinoff and she duly converts. Nice goal Ebony. Adelaide’s Caitlin Gould marks on the point post and is able to pass off to Eloise Jones who was unmarked, and she kicks truly. Melbourne’s defence is shaky. The Dees fail to clear the ball and it comes back so quickly with the dangerous Ponter taking full advantage of a bouncing ball to kick the Crows’ 6th goal in a row to lead by a game-high 25 points. With less than 30 seconds left to play in the quarter, a Lampy smother allows Kate Hore to grab the footy and launch an inside 50 where some Demon teammates get the ball to Eliza McNamara who kicks a wonderful goal on the run. A crowd and team lifter for sure. ¾ time: Dees 3.4.22 Crows 6.5.41 Q4 Melbourne, the 4th quarter specialists, have a goal inside the first minute after a contested mark by Eden Zanker directly in front. The home crowd enjoyed that one. Next Harris bombs it long inside 50 and Zanker does it again. Edo is a star, her 4th goal today. 14.26 left on the clock. Hopes are rising before a Tayla Harris overzealous bump on Marinoff results in a down field free kick to Hatchard who goals. Melbourne’s day is not done yet. Goldie, who is playing really well today, takes a loose ball and bombs it inside 50 where Hore, and then Zanker pass it to the running McNamara who kicks her second brilliant running goal. Go Lize! We see later that Lize’s game time was only 51%. Not sure why? When Eden Zanker wins a free kick, goes back and slots it, it’s a three-point game! The crowd is going bananas. However, with less than 2 minutes to play from a throw up on the grandstand wing, Marinoff knocks it out to Adelaide’s advantage and the ball eventually ends up with Gould running into an open goal. Colvin, Birch, and Gillard watch on, unable do anything to stop it. The Crows generated eight more inside 50s, laid 13 more tackles, and won 10 more intercept possessions for the match to be too strong in the end. Our last quarter effort showed real self-belief. It just wasn’t our day. Dees 7.4.46 Crows 8.8.56. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear stated that the Crows pressure spiked in the middle part of the game which created trouble when exiting our defensive half. Adelaide had plus 40 possessions in that third quarter. But he was pleased with how his team played out the final quarter. The Crows taught us some lessons today he said. He referenced the similar loss in Round 4 loss to Brisbane last season and hopes to take away some more learnings. Crows coach Matthew Clarke said it was a great game and ended up a bit closer than he would have liked. A sluggish start but the way his team worked their way into the game was outstanding, particularly the third quarter to which he referred to the ‘stand out feature’. Melbourne has been the leading team of Season 8, and their forward efficiency is a real strength. He praised Zanker’s 5 goal game as outstanding. Next week we travel to Perth to take on the West Coast Eagles at 5:05pm Sunday 15 October 2023. Mick said he has 3 or 4 players pressing for selection and that Paxy is recovering from her home concussion accident. Aimee Mackin (ankle injury), Casey Sherriff, and Gaby Colvin were quiet and there weren’t alone. Twelve Demon players had less than 9 possessions for the afternoon. MELBOURNE 2.4.16 2.4.16 3.4.22 7.4.46 ADELAIDE 0.0.0 2.4.16 6.5.41 8.8.56 GOALS MELBOURNE Zanker 5 McNamara 2 ADELAIDE Hatchard Marinoff Ponter 2 Gould Jones BEST MELBOURNE Zanker Hanks Hore Purcell Gay ADELAIDE Hatchard Marinoff Allan Ponter Kelly Newman INJURIES MELBOURNE A. Mackin (ankle) ADELAIDE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Nil UMPIRES Adams Clamp Nippress VENUE Casey Fields
  22. There was no setting sun to ruin the spectacle this week, just the rising moon over the brand-new empty GMHBA Stadium in Moorabool Street. It was a perfect evening for footy on a pristine surface with an enthusiastic crowd building. Children dressed in Demon colours formed a Guard of Honour as the reigning premiers ran through the raised Demon banner declaring: MELBOURNE & GEELONG, A NEW CHAPTER IN THE OLDEST RIVALRY. The strong travelling group of Demons fans who gathered en masse behind the #DeeArmy had plenty to cheer about as the Dees proved once again, they are the team to beat in Season Eight. At the ground you could see and hear the intensity from both teams. Geelong did their best to challenge with high class mids Nina Morrison (who had a game-high 30 possessions and kicked an excellent goal), Amy McDonald, and Georgie Prespakis strong all night. Irish recruit, Aishling Moloney was a Cats standout, taking four contested marks and kicking three goals, in only her fifth game of AFLW. Kate Hore led her team with 20 disposals, five tackles and four goals making it 14 goals for the year to be leading goalkicker. There is a wonderful support cast at the Dees. Liv Purcell was her usual ferocious self, contesting strongly and Tyla Hanks, Lily Mithen, Paxy, and Westy helped maintained that pressure for four full quarters. Our defence must be doing something right. Melbourne has not conceded a Q4 goal for 14 games. In the last quarters of this season’s matches we have scored 20.14 (134) to 0.4 (4). Incredible! Our players commented how they felt the match was much closer and were surprised by the 49-point margin. No injuries were reported but there would be a few bruises for sure. In terms of the game: Q1 We heard that Geelong were fast starters and yet to concede a first quarter goal this season. Well, that record was never going to last long against the Dees. With 4:20 left on the clock Paxy wins a free kick in front of goal and duly converts. From the next centre clearance Liv Purcell kicks long to Loz Pearce who marks and hands off to Kate Hore for her first goal. The Cats’ first goal comes from an Aishling Moloney mark inside 50. ¼ time: Cats 1.0.6 Dees 2.1.13 Q2 Kate gets her second goal following a trademark run and carry from the wing. This team is so great to watch. Geelong’s Meg McDonald kicks across half back allowing Alyssa Bannan the opportunity to beat two Geelong defenders, whipping up some magic and kicking to the goal square for Zanker to run onto. Edo has her first. An inspiring solo goal from Nina Morrison for the Cats before Aimee Mackin impresses the Dees fans with a little cameo run directly in front of us. Wow. Kate Hore marks inside 50 and kicks her third goal. ½ time: Cats 2.0.12 Dees 5.4.34 Q3 Another tight contested quarter where the teams score two goals each. Melbourne fails to clear the ball and Moloney marks and kicks her second goal. Morrison gets caught holding the ball in front of goal and Hanksy converts straight over the umpire’s head. Big Max pops up on the screen. Lots of cheers. One club! Moloney, making our defenders nervous, marks and goals again for a 16-point game. Demons seem to be getting on top with a few Cat fumbles creeping in now. Paxy’s long bomb deep inside 50 is converted by Edo for her second goal. ¾ time: Dees Cats 4.1.25 Dees 7.5.47 Q4 The banner celebrated Maddi Gay’s 50th game but it was also her birthday. So, Kate Hore honoured Maddi’s lead so she could mark and kick a goal to celebrate. The genesis of the next goal was by Casey Sherriff who intercepted a handball basketball style and commenced a chain of passes which ended up being Kate Hore’s fourth goal. Exquisite footy. This team is a joy to watch. Demons are well on top now. The big screen spots Daisy in the crowd. The commentator asks which team is she supporting? Paxy marks and kicks a great goal from difficult angle and Lily Mithen kicks the final goal following a 50-metre penalty. The Cats have been ill-disciplined at times, they’re probably not enjoying the footy lesson. The siren sounds and Melbourne breaks the record for the highest score by any team against Geelong. Cats 4.1.25 Dees 11.8.74. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear commented that the Cats have really strong mids and it was an even battle, but our midfield depth helped us. He highlighted Eden Zanker’s performance in the absence of Tayla Harris. Cats coach Dan Lowther was a little disappointed that they were not able to put on scoreboard pressure after winning the clearances. He felt the second half effort was an improvement on the Kangaroos game. Next week is a top-of-the-table clash against the Adelaide at Casey Fields on Saturday October 7 at 3:05pm. What a massive clash to look forward to!!!! 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 Moloney 3 Morrison BEST MELBOURNE Hore Purcell Paxman West Gillard Hanks GEELONG Morrison A Moloney Amy McDonaldPrespakis Webster INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil CROWD 4,312 at GMHBA Stadium 
  23. In the twilight at Frankston Oval, for the first ever match between Melbourne and Hawthorn, the Demons were clinical winning by 59 points and remain undefeated in Season Eight. The Melbourne team ran out to a wonderful #DeeArmy banner paying tribute to Ron Barassi, ‘a football legend, the greatest Demon’. So true! Meggs was super excited to see Irish recruit Aimee Mackin playing her first game. Aimee quickly showed us that she belongs out there with composure, game sense and footy skills. She even outshone her li’l sister in the disposal count (13/11). Our competition-leading forwards group just got a bit better. Vice-captain Tyla Hanks starred again amassing 26 disposals, 3 clearances, 10 contested possessions and 10 score involvements, surely another 10 coaches’ votes. Eden Zanker (14 disposals, 8 marks) was a shining presence in our post-Daisy forward line and delivered a purple patch in the third quarter kicking a career-high three goals in as many minutes. Superstar Edo! Tayla Harris has been awesome this season with her 1%ers and contested marking. Her strength at the contest must lift her teammates. Other mentions include Pearce and Campbell who won the ruck contest, game-high possession winner Liv Purcell (29) was everywhere, as was Mithen, Westy, McNamara and Paxy. Hore and Heathy continue their fine seasons too. Thirteen players on the ground had less than ten disposals for the match but only two of them were Demons. Such an even team contribution makes us difficult to stop. The setting sun was playing havoc with TV camera people, commentators, coaches, and players. Presumably this timeslot was scheduled to suit the Men’s Preliminary Final. Not ideal. The Hawks had taken some learnings from their earlier practice match against us by winning the tackle count (79/57) and the inside 50s (31/30) but ultimately the Demons were unstoppable. The Hawks midfield group including Bates, Lucas-Rodd, Kashy, and young Fleming got their hands on the ball enough and tried to unsettle the Dees at times with great pressure. Irishwoman Aine McDonagh impressed with her goal and Stratton took a couple of forward 50 marks but one goal for a match won’t win you many games. In terms of the game: Q1 With under 5 minutes left to play, the Demons using their trademark run and carry, take the ball from deep in Hawthorn’s forward 50 all the way to the goal square where resting ruck Lauren Pearce kicks the opener. Meggs’ favourite bit of this play was Georgia Campbell bumping Hawk midfield maestro Bates out of the contest so she loses control of the footy, allowing Maeve Chaplin to intercept and kick downfield. Hanks then artfully directs this play (with three handballs), and Westy, Zanker, B Mackin, Sherriff and Banno are all involved. Scintillating stuff. Then two minutes later, that sibling moment! A Mackin traps the ball, baulks, and left foots it toward goal and B Mackin is waiting near the goalpost. We all think the ball will bounce through for a goal but it’s a Sherrin and has its own ideas. No probs for Blaithin who controls the footy under pressure from two Hawks and finishes off her sister’s good work. ¼ time: Dees 2.4.16 Hawks 0.1.1 Q2 Mithen hits up Hore who goals. How many times has Lil passed to Kate? (And vice versa?) Another end-to-end Demon goal results in a Bannan major. Casey Sherriff is down with what looks like a corkie but Banno’s ankle seems fine. A goalless first half by Hawthorn. Defenders doing well. ½ time: Dees 4.6.30 Hawks 0.3.3 Q3 Tyla Hanks hits up Kate Hore on a nice lead inside 50. Kate then passes to Eliza Mac directly in front. Lize goals and celebrates in her unique dancing style. Number 22 is a joy to watch. Hawthorn’s Aine McDonagh wins a free kick and slots a lovely left foot goal from the boundary line. Next is that hat-trick of goals by Eden Zanker. The last one features a ‘don’t argue’ from Hanksy, a brilliant defensive smother by Loz Pearce who recovers and handballs to Hore who kicks to the top of the square to Edo. We are blitzing them. Interestingly our ¾ time score of 8.7.55 was the same as it was against the Bulldogs last week, but the Bulldogs had scored 5 more goals. ¾ time: Dees 8.7.55 Hawks 1.5.11 Q4 No one scores a goal against Melbourne in last quarters (well not for a long time). This game was to be no different with the Hawks failing to even score a point. Kate kicks one goal and Tayla the other (after some nice work from the busy Liv Purcell). The siren sounds and it’s a convincing 59-point win. Dees 10.10.70 Hawks 1.5.11. Coaches and next week Melbourne Assistant Shae Sloane was the matchday coach. She was pleased with how her team was able to stay calm with ball in hand under heaps of Hawthorn pressure. Hawks coach Bec Goddard was pleased with her team’s pressure and happy the Hawks won the inside 50 count. Next week Melbourne take on Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday September 28 at 6:15pm. The Cats will be a much stiffer opponent, especially at home. MELBOURNE 2.4.16 4.6.30 8.7.55 10.10.70 HAWTHORN 0.2.2 0.3.3 1.5.11 1.5.11 GOALS MELBOURNE Zanker 3 Hore 2 Bannan Harris B. Mackin McNamara Pearce HAWTHORN McDonagh BEST MELBOURNE Hanks Purcell Paxman Zanker Heath Mithen HAWTHORN Bates Lucas-Rodd McDonagh Wales Eardley Fleming INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Nil UMPIRES Bailes Dore Talbot CROWD 2,917 at Kinetic Stadium, Frankston
  24. The Demons withstood a spirited challenge from the Western Bulldogs in the 10th anniversary of the Hampson-Hardeman Cup to run away with it in the last quarter and take their unbeaten run to 12 wins on the trot, an AFLW record. The Doggies were tenacious and their losing score of 6.5.41 was the highest score against Melbourne since their last loss against Brisbane in Round 4 on 18 September 2022. With the sad passing of AFL football legend Ronald Dale Barassi, champion player and coaching maestro, and Friday night’s shattering 2-point semi-final loss to Carlton by the men’s team, we Demon supporters needed something to lift our spirits. Meggs hopes our star AFLW team’s 42-point, entertaining, hard-fought victory at the Field of Dreams, Casey Fields, was cathartic for you too. Our key leaders Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks continue their weekly displays of sublime footy nous and skill execution. Improvement builds across the entire playing group and our depth of personnel and elite fitness levels are the envy of the league. Coach Mick mentioned there is some work to do on our defence. Some would agree. The Bulldogs were terrific with their endeavour, led by star captain Ellie Blackburn and trailed by only eight points midway through the third quarter. Melbourne’s system, fitness and ability to execute our trademark run and carry game style saw the Dees win easily in the end. It was a physical game and the notorious Casey windy conditions made skill execution difficult. Melbourne had 16 players with more than ten possessions displaying the even spread of contribution whereas by comparison the Bulldogs had only ten players. Too many positives to mention everyone but a few: Eliza McNamara is building nicely in her comeback from injury. Loz Pearce has started this season very strongly and her ruck support, young Campbell, looks promising. Tayla Harris had a terrific game and Macken keeps learning, starting at a few centre bounces. The Dees remain second on the ladder after three games on percentage and take on the Hawks away next week. Melbourne will start favourite, but the problem with building a winning streak is the implied pressure of an unbeaten run. In terms of the game: Q1 From the outset such intensity from the Bulldogs.The Dees win a contested ball in the centre and then execute their trademark run and carry. Harris Hore, Purcell and finally Hanks involved, who side steps and pinpoint passes to Mithen. Lily goes back and goals for Melbourne’s first score. Moments later Hore gets high-tackled in front of goal and kicks our second from her freekick. Next Mackin kicks deep inside the 50 to Bannan, who instinctively moves to her right to score but is then tackled by two ferocious Dogs, her shot goes wide but now she’s down in pain. Sadly, Bannan’s day is done. On the last play of the quarter Eliza Mac puts Hore under pressure with her handball and Deanna Berry picks it up and slams it through from 40 metres. Nice goal, she had missed with her two previous attempts. ¼ time: Dees 2.3.15 Dogs 1.2.8 Q2 Again, real intensity from the Bulldogs. Ellie Blackburn leads her team well. Halfway through the quarter Hanksy wins a free and passes to Paxy in a better position who goals. Repeated forward entries and Sherriff kicks a nice opportunist’s goal. Dogs keeping up the effort and stalwart Kirsty Lamb kicks a lovely left foot goal from a throw in. Mick has moved Heath on to Ellie B. Tough gig. Young Rylie Wilcox takes a ripper mark over Eliza Mac and kicks a nice goal. ½ time: Dees 5.7.37 Dogs 3.3.21 Q3 The Bulldogs team intensity continues. Kirsty Lamb, without looking, kicks a miracle goal and it’s a 10-point game. Harris kicks long to Gay who goals. Gillard drops a mark she should have taken, McLoed then runs into an open goal and it’s an 8-point game. From the ensuing centre bounce the Dees win the clearance and Zanker gets on the end for a quick reply. We make it look easy at times. Some more magic from our new forward, Maddi Gay, who gives and gets from Sherriff to kick a rippa goal on the run, her second for the day. Some more confusion from our backs allows McFarlane to run on to a bouncing ball and kick a Dogs goal. ¾ time: Dees 8.7.55 Dogs 6.5.35 Q4 Lily Mithen kicks a nice goal on the run to begin. That’s 2 today. Go Lil. Next Eliza MacNamara kicks a ripping inside 50 low drop punt to hit Kate Hore, lace out. It’s Tayla Harris’ turn to pinpoint Zanker inside 50. Edo bananas a goal on her leftie. Dogs are tiring, the team intensity has waned. Dees running away with it. Hanksy finds Paxy who long bombs her second goal. The siren sounds and it’s a convincing 42-point win. Three zip in 2023. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear was pleased with the win in tricky conditions. We were able to execute our run and carry game to put on good score. He noted there were defensive lapses during the match, with the Dogs scoring more freely than he would have liked. He said Alyssa Bannan has a sprained ankle. Optimistically she’ll be right for next week, at worst 1-2 weeks. Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke was proud of his team’s four-quarter effort and intensity around the contest. He feels Melbourne are the best team going around by a fair way. He highlighted that pre-season injuries have affected the Dogs overall match fitness but sees promising signs ahead. Next week, the Demons take on the Hawks at Kinetic Stadium (Friday, September 22 at 5:05pm).  MELBOURNE 2.3.15 5.7.37 8.7.55 12.11.83 WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2.8 3.3.21 6.5.41 6.5.41 GOALS MELBOURNE Gay Hore Mithen Paxman Zanker 2 Hanks Sherriff WESTERN BULLDOGS Lamb 2 Berry McFarlane McLeod Wilcox BEST MELBOURNE Hanks McNamara Hore Pearce Gay Paxman WESTERN BULLDOGS Blackburn Lynch Lamb Pritchard Wilcox INJURIES MELBOURNE Bannan (ankle) Gay (hip) WESTERN BULLDOGS Wilcox (knee) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil WESTERN BULLDOGS Nil CROWD 1,457 at Casey Fields
  25. Well, the 2023 season is over for the Demons after a two point loss to the Blues in the First Semi Final. All season WE have been hearing about the “learnings” that the team needed to make after each loss, but how much have we actually learnt when they: 1. Lost four successive finals at our own home ground; 2. Fell in five of their last six losses despite having more shots at goal and in the sixth, they had an equal number of shots; 3. Lost seven games by under two goals; 4. Kicked 118.51 (69.8%) in the first 7 games, but scored 203.226 (45.2%) for the remainder of the season. In the finals it was 16.28 at 36.4%. What has been learnt is that kicking straight wins matches. But that blatantly obvious notion seems to have eluded the MFC as they burned numerous opportunities to ice games. With Melbourne recording yet another miserable 9.17 in front of goal, the result left the door ajar for Carlton, and they bumbled their way through it with seconds remaining to send their obnoxious fans into delirium. Chances, chances and straight out failure to score a major when the opportunity presented. The captain fluffed two straightforward attempts from close range. The side’s last five shots for the season were all behinds at a time when the game and the season was on the line. We have heard that finals football is a different game. It certainly is, since it becomes a matter of centimetres and individual wins over an opponent. With two goals denied because of touched calls, including one by Max as well, the line between success and failure was once again, quite literally a fingernail. A season finished and a real opportunity lost. Have the team and coaching panel learnt the lesson? Hard to see that they have when the results are the same. It was also hard to understand both the selections and the non-use of the sub. The claim that Schache was to be insurance for Max, frankly fails the “pub test” when he wasn’t used at all. The non selection of Grundy also fails the same test, since Max was forced to play 87% game time against two ruckmen, including no break at all in the third quarter! Grundy had an exemplary performance in his last game at Casey while playing in the ruck, something which Schache didn’t do! The defenders held up strongly all night led by Steven May with ten interceptions, while Jake Lever backed up with nine. May took seven marks, Lever eight, but it was those truly telling contested marks, not just the three he took, but that they were at critical points in the game. Adam Tomlinson returned to the side, and managed to lose De Koning in his first venture, and in his second pushed him in the back, so gifting Carlton their first two goals. What was the margin in the end? Why Turner wasn’t given the role, when he reads the play so much better and is streets ahead in mobility is another conundrum. Big shout out to Trent Rivers with an amazing ten contested possessions while playing off half back. But it was up forward that the side was let down. They missed Harrison Petty, Jake Melksham, Jacob van Rooyen and Ben Brown although they had co-opted Joel Smith to be the leading target. He certainly performed well above expectations with three goals and (unlike others) zero behinds. The same could not be said for Tom McDonald who simply looked slow and unable to impact any aspect of the game. Wasn’t he brought in as the back up ruck? Or was that Schache? Well in that role he only had 1 hit out and no score for the match, so that was another piece of brilliance, with Schache sitting on the bench for the whole game. The mids did their best against quality opposition, Jack Viney with a credible 15 contested touches from his 31 overall. Petracca also 15 contested, but in the absence of Brayshaw, he was unable to be used up forward as much, and the forwards certainly needed all the help they could get. The supporters were burnt again, but we all know they will come back. They have learnt to take defeat all too often and it is no surprise that “Melbourne Football Club Supporter Syndrome” is burnt into their psyche when their side blows a two goal lead with minutes to go … again. One would think those supporters would learn?  MELBOURNE 3.3.21 4.7.31 7.11.53 9.17.71 CARLTON 2.2.14 5.3.33 7.5.47 11.7.73 GOALS MELBOURNE Smith 3 Fritsch Pickett 2 Langdon Petracca CARLTON Acres De Koning Motlop Walsh 2 Curnow Kennedy Owies BEST MELBOURNE May Oliver Viney Smith Petracca Sparrow CARLTON Walsh Cripps Newman De Koning Weitering Saad INJURIES

 MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Cripps (nose) Docherty (shoulder) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Ollie Hollands replaced David Cuningham in the fourth quarter UMPIRES Simon Meredith Nathan Williamson Andre Gianfagna Jacob Mollison CROWD 96,412 at the MCG
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