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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. “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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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 
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. No Paxy, no problems, as Melbourne kicked the equal third highest score in AFLW history to romp home against Greater Western Sydney (GWS) in Canberra by 77 points. Paxman had played in all the Demons previous 65 games but was a late withdrawal due a quad injury. Speedy recovery Paxy. Our Giant Killer, Captain Kate Hore was awesome with 23 disposals, 420 metres gained, 6 tackles and 5 goals 2 behinds. Her confidence in her ability to win the ball seems sky high and she plays all over the ground with such aplomb. When all the AFLW captains were asked ‘if you could recruit another player from any AFLW club who would it be?’, three captains chose our number 10. They know what they’re talking about. Clearly the longer games and rotation cap is advantaging teams like Melbourne and North Melbourne. The Dees slammed on seven goals in the last quarter and the Roos kicked five goals in theirs. We will continue to see more goals this year, across the league. Gold Coast matched the Dees kicking 99 points too. The forward line was really strong on Sunday and always looked dangerous. As for the defenders, Chaplin did well in her first game back while Goldie, Gillard, Birch and crew appeared more confident this week. Our best players Hore, Lampard, Hanks, Pearce, Purcell were well supported by an even team effort. Our list management has been meticulous, and we have managed to keep and develop our players at Melbourne. There are 16 players with 30 AFLW games or more of which 8 players have over 50 games. Melbourne now has a historical win loss ratio of 75.8%, the highest in the competition. It really was an outstanding performance by the team. So many contributors which highlights our even spread of talent and that versatility to which Mick Stinear often refers. The Dees are second on the ladder after two games with the Top 4 looking strangely like Meggs predicted, that is North Melbourne, Adelaide, and Geelong. All teams have percentages over 200%. In terms of the game: Q1 GWS win the first centre clearance and goal within 20 seconds. Impressive start but weren’t we going to open with higher intensity this week? Spoke too early. Within a minute our skipper had kicked two wonderful goals, one from a contested mark and the other was a nice snap. Zanker snags another for the Dees before Doyle marks and goals for the Giants’ second. Goldie finds Hore directly in front who kicks her third goal. What an impressive quarter by Kate. ¼ time: GWS 2.1.13 Dees 4.1.17 Q2 Within 2 minutes of the restart Mackin has kicked another goal. Hanksy’s skill level is on another plane. Her precision by hand and foot is sublime Her pass to Bannan is perfectly weighted and she outsprints her opponents and to kick a nice goal. We are getting on top. Hanks then hits up Harris inside 50 on the boundary line. Tayla then centres to Lampard who marks and duly converts. Our number 8 is having a good game. ½ time: GWS 2.1.13 Dees 7.5.47 Q3 GWS come out a bit stronger after halftime and it’s an arm wrestle for the quarter with each team scoring just the one goal. One from the experienced GWS campaigner Eva but the Dees‘ goal deserves a special mention. Kate Hore marks inside 50 from a well-weighted long pass from Liv Purcell. Kate knows this shot looks close to the edge of her kicking distance. As the ball heads straight towards goal, Tayla first bumps tall defender Cambridge McCormick to her left and then solidly bumps Pepa Randall to her right to clear a path for Kate’s kick to sail through at head height. Nice one Tay! ¾ time: GWS 3.3.21 Dees 8.7.55 Q4 A seven goal to nil last quarter was a procession but still entertaining to watch. Well fun for Dees fans anyway. A botched kick in by GWS results in a nice snap by Purcell for her first goal. Bannan gets her second, the result of a Lauren Pearce forward 50 entry. Loz is playing really well today. Purcell and Lampard both score their second goals. 57 points up. Another forward 50 entry by Pearce results in a goal from a free kick after Lily Mithen was tripped. Banno gets her third goal from a clever snap from the pocket. The last goal was created by Dees keeping the ball alive and aptly it’s Kate Hore who gets on the end of the good play to score her fifth goal. GWS have only kicked a solitary point in this half while the Dees have managed 44 points in the final term alone. It’s a convincing 77 point win and 99 points is Melbourne’s second highest all time score. Full time: Dees 15.9.99 defeated GWS 3.4.22 Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said GWS played a good brand of contested footy. A taxing game. Versality is a strength of our playing group. He was happy to earn the four points on the road. GWS coach Cam Bernasconi was disappointed with Melbourne’s seven last quarter goals which created a ‘sour ending’ to the night for his team. He felt GWS was still in the game at ¾ time. Next week we take on old rivals, the Western Bulldogs at Casey Fields on Saturday September 16 at 3:05pm. MELBOURNE 4.1.25 7.5.47 8.7.55 15.9.99 GWS GIANTS 2.1.13 2.1.13 3.3.21 3.4.22 GOALS MELBOURNE Hore 5 Bannan 3 Lampard Purcell 2 Mackin Mithen Zanker GWS GIANTS Doyle Eva Garnett BEST MELBOURNE Hore Hanks Purcell Lampard Pearce GWS GIANTS Barr Eva Evans Parker Beeson INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GWS GIANTS Nil LATE CHANGES GWS GIANTS Annalyse Lister (calf) replaced in selected side by Caitlin Miller MELBOURNE Nil
  13. Melbourne fans have seen it all before in 2023. Poor starts and poor kicking for goal. Ultimately, it was what cost Melbourne a Preliminary final berth (at this point) by losing to Collingwood. Apparently, it was only the second time in 85 years that the Pies had beaten Melbourne in a final, but history meant nothing when the Black and White came out breathing fire in the first quarter, and completely ran over the Demons. In the ruck, Mason Cox set the tone, and won the first nine hit outs against Max Gawn, while Braydon Maynard was true to his word about being physical in this game when he wiped out Angus Brayshaw in the early going. The battered Demon departed on a stretcher and will not play in the next game at the very least. Surely, the Demons would have expected this? Going into the game with only one ruck meant Max would be targeted. And Maynard and Adams have reputations from the past. The result was that Collingwood took a three-goal lead into the first change, while once again, the Demons could only manage a single major for the opening term. And that was from the downfield free kick after the Brayshaw incident. That lead which would prove to be the difference in the end. From that poor start, the Demons started to get themselves into the game overcoming that first quarter trouncing. Unbelievably, they were down ten in the contested possessions game in the first stanza, showing how poor their start had been. By then end of the game, they had “out contested” the Pies, but it was to be all too late, after that ordinary opening term. Even at half-time, with the momentum of the game changing, Melbourne had only managed to score one more major. Two goals to half time in a final is never going to get the victory. This was despite more than doubling the Pies inside 50 entries, but Melbourne just couldn’t score goals when needed, and after all the hard work to get the ball there in the first place. It was to be the recurrent theme for the rest of the match. Melbourne winning just about every statistic but little on the scoreboard to show for it. In one respect, this demonstrated the fallacy of statistics. They are a numerical representation of actions in the past, but they fail to show the quality of those actions, or whether there is an association with final outcomes. In this game, there was nothing more amply demonstrated. Kicking for goal was again the Achilles heel for Melbourne 7.11 for the match and several out on the full. It was almost an identical result as the Kings Birthday game when Melbourne posted 8.18. Had Melbourne scored points from all of those out of bounds it would have made the difference between winning and losing. And while many criticise the Demon forwards, the fact is the options aren’t available in the absence of the injured Brown, Petty and Melksham. Petty would all be playing in that role if not injured, while Schache hasn’t shown much to justify a spot, even with all these injuries to others. Then when Angus went down, it meant Petracca had to spend more time in the middle, thus taking away another forward threat. It also doesn’t help when the coaches persist with putting Max outside the 50m arc when in attack and letting the full forward take the ruck leaving his opponent free to do whatever he wanted. Surely winning the ball in the forward 50 should be the target? The final quarter became a hope of comeback for the Demons, and they scored three majors, while holding Collingwood to a mere two points with the ball living almost exclusively in Melbourne’s forward half. But it was all too little too late, although even in that final effort, there were misses which should have resulted in two fingers from the goal umpire, which were not. The chance was there, and to put it simply, the Demons blew it! Despite a poor opening, Max finally took control in the ruck, without any backup, and finished with 31 hit outs, 22 disposals including 10 clearances. Clayton Oliver was outstanding with 31 touches resulting in an incredible 742 metres gained. The backline were the real heroes, who at the end of the match had held Collingwood to a meagre 60 points, including that paltry 2 behinds in the final quarter. They did everything right, since they denied the Pies their basic game plan with May, Lever and Bowey all with nine intercept possessions. Michael Hibberd held the dangerous Jamie Elliott to two points, and it was only Hill who broke free on several occasions to really give Collingwood the win with his three goals. This game was feeling of Déjà vu or Deeja Vu for the Melbourne fans. They know all too well how this type of game would finish. Now the question will be does Deeja Vu happen again in the coming week, as the Demons are facing another straight sets exit from the finals. MELBOURNE 1.0.6 2.4.16 4.9.33 7.11.53 COLLINGWOOD 4.2.26 5.3.33 9.4.58 9.6.60 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 2 Pickett McDonald Neal-Bullen Smith Sparrow COLLINGWOOD Hill 3 McStay 2 Cameron Crisp De Goey Mihocek BEST MELBOURNE Gawn Oliver Pickett Hunter Petracca Neal-Bullen COLLINGWOOD Crisp Sidebottom Hoskin-Elliott Quaynor Hill Murphy INJURIES MELBOURNE Angus Brayshaw (concussion) COLLINGWOOD Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil COLLINGWOOD Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Bailey Laurie (replaced Angus Brayshaw in first quarter) COLLINGWOOD Jack Ginnivan (replaced Darcy Cameron in fourth quarter) UMPIRES Matt Stevic Curtis Deboy Andrew Stephens Hayden Gavine CROWD 92,636 at the MCG
  14. Are you not entertained? Wow, that was some second half by the Dees. Our skill level and delivery into the forward 50 was the best we’ve seen. And 10 goals to boot! Not surprisingly, the Hot Pies came out with physicality across the board. Star captain Bri Davey threw her weight around like a gladiator racking up 35 positions to be best on ground. Brit Bonicci was coming back from an ACL too and she racked up 17 possessions to also be influential. You could tell at ground level we were not quite matching their intensity and that led to skill errors. Mike Stinear rued those early missed gettable goals which put us on the back foot. Collingwood were up by 14 points midway through the second quarter and Meggs was thinking, is this what a premiership hangover looks like? But no worries. Mick Stinear resets the group at half-time, some astute positional moves, a ratcheting up of the intensity meter, and voila! A scintillating 5-goal third quarter to none, to run away with the 4 points and be top of the ladder. It was inspiring to watch. Yes, entertained. A secret strength seems the evenness of our playing group. Collingwood had 5 players who had more than 10 possessions whereas Melbourne had 13 such players. Remember that quarters have been extended to 17 minutes plus time on, with rotations restricted to 70 so fitness is another factor, especially late in quarters. Special mention: Shelley Heath with 11 possessions and 11 tackles, ran with and limited Bri Davey’s influence in the second half and helped herself to 2 opportunistic goals. What a star! Other mentions: Kate Hore was everywhere with 6 marks and a Captain’s goal. Lily Mithen was full of energy around the ground, Purcell, Paxy and Mackin too. Eliza MacNamara’s second half for her first game for a year was super. She nailed an incredible inside 50 bullet pass to Hore for her goal. Our tall forwards provided lots of great leads and marked well with Bannan (3 goals), Zanker (2.3) and Harris (1.2). Harris also had 7 marks and got to many contests competing well. Ikon Park always has such a nice vibe. Arriving early, you could see the ground steadily filling, eventually with 8,412 people. It was great to see Kate Roffey and Daisy Pearce there to unveil the Demons Season 7 premiership flag and then we were sung to by Australian legend Missy Higgins. Kate promised big things for Melbourne in Season 8 and thanked all supporters with special praise for the DeeArmy. Their banner celebrating vice-captain Tyla Hanks’ 50th game was amazing. Hanksy played her part too with her usual gameday awesomeness and celebrating her milestone with a crushing win. In terms of the game: Q1 Kate Hore wins the toss. Good omen. We notice Razor Ray is out there with his whistle. Awesome. Melbourne has the better of the opening minutes and a couple of near misses from Harris, Zanker and Sherriff. Highlights reel Alyssa Bannan gets the opening goal of the match with a nice assist from Eliza Mac. Collingwood pushing forward. Our defenders look under pressure. Purcell is adjudged to be holding the ball and Makala Cann kicks truly for the Pies first goal. Davey, Bonicci, Brazill are getting on top, laying some big tackles and the Pies get another goal via Tarni Brown. ¼ time: Dees 1.4.10 Pies 2.0.12 Q2 Within 2 minutes of the start of play the Pies get another goal off the back of a thumping inside 50 entry from Davey when Morris-Dalton kicks it off the ground. Moments later Sabreena Frederick for the Pies has a snap in the goal square but kicks it like Joe Daniher and somehow misses the unmissable. A lucky break for the Dees! Davey then earns a holding the ball free kick in the goal square and duly converts. Pies up by 13 points and getting on top. Mick sends Kate Hore to defence, and she immediately marks and repels a Pies forward entry. Eliza James, a Collingwood forward, is off with an ankle injury. Unfortunately, she doesn’t return. Second-gamer Georgia Campbell takes a contested mark in the goal square and converts. She was a Father-Daughter selection with pick 41 in the 2021 AFLW draft and her Dad, Adrian, played 2 games for the Dees in 1993. ½ time: Dees 2.7.19 Pies 4.3.27 Q3 Melbourne starts brightly with some fast ball movement where Zanker takes control of the footy in the goal square and nicely executes an overhead kick for a goal. That’s how you do it Sabreena. Next a scintillating passage of play begins deep in the backline and ends up with Shelley Heath running into an open goal. The Dees are in front as teammates gather around Heathy. Eliza Mac then intercepts and hits up Kate Hore with that sublime inside 50 pass and Captain Kate goes bang, slotting it perfectly above the goal umpire’s head. Momentum is with the Dees as now as Harris intercepts an errant Magpie handpass to kick the fourth goal of the quarter. Under two minutes now and Harris takes another contested mark in the inside 50 and centres her kick where Banno takes a Mark of the Day and goes back and goals. Banno can now add contested marking to her impressive bouncing, goal scoring and celebrating CV. Less than 30 seconds to go and Hanks steals the ball from Davey to hit Harris on the lead but in an anticlimax, her after-the-siren shot hits the post. No matter. The Dees have turned the pie warmer off and the Pies have gone cold. They’re no chance from here. Collingwood coach Steve Symonds said the Pies missed the ‘run’ of their injured first choice defenders Ruby Schleicher and Lauren Butler. Our tall forwards have certainly dominated. ¾ time: Dees 7.11.19 Pies 4.4.28 Q4 The Pies only score 3 points for the quarter as the Dees dominate and kick 3 goals 2 points. Heath creates something from nothing from a ball up for her second goal. What a game she’s having! Zanker then marks strongly and goes banana on her left foot for her second goal. Sherriff marks inside 50 and then unselfishly handballs to a running Banno for her third goal. It’s game over. Full time: Dees 10.13.73 defeated Pies 4.7.31 If you’re one of those people who say women’s footy is not skillful or entertaining enough for you, please watch the highlights of the third quarter and see if you still feel that way. Coaches and next week Melbourne Coach Mick Stinear said the group started well but didn’t convert early and became concerned when Collingwood got on top. He felt it was an attractive game to watch with both teams having ascendency at various times. When asked, he said Melbourne was conservative with the new AFLW rotation rule limit of 60 interchanges. Collingwood coach Steve Symonds said Melbourne was a really good team last year and have gone up another level this year. When their pressure dropped off, Melbourne was able to get their run-on gaming going and they’re hard to stop. He is a fan of the longer quarters. Next week we take on GWS at Manuka Oval, Canberra on Sunday September 10 at 5:05pm. MELBOURNE 1.4.10 2.7.19 7.11.53 10.13.73 COLLINGWOOD 2.0.12 4.3.27 4.4.28 4.7.31 GOALS MELBOURNE Bannan 3 Heath Zanker 2 Campbell Harris Hore COLLINGWOOD Brown Cann Davey Morris-Dalton BEST MELBOURNE Hanks Bannan Purcell Zanker Heath Hore COLLINGWOOD Davey Bonnici Rowe Cann Morris-Dalton Brazill INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil COLLINGWOOD James (ankle) Brazill (nose) UMPIRES Chamberlain Devenish Simmonds CROWD 8,412 at Ikon Park
  15. Buddy Franklin’s farewell to his Sydney crowd, with a home finals berth in the offing for the Swans. All was set for a victory party in the Harbour City except that someone forgot to tell the Melbourne Demons, who turned out to be real party poopers. It certainly was set up for those victory celebrations when the Swans bounced out to a near three goal lead in the third quarter, but by the end that time the Demons had pegged the lead back to a mere four points. That lead soon evaporated, with Melbourne keeping the home side to a mere two points in the final stanza while they piled on a further four goals. At the commencement of the game, Melbourne already knew its fate with the results in other matches already being decided, and a fourth-place finish and a final against the arch-enemy Collingwood locked in for the first week. Melbourne teams in the past would have put the cue in the rack, and coasted to the end of the game, avoiding injury, and resting valuable players. But not this side. When the going demanded a lift in tempo, and with the game result in doubt up stepped the leaders of the club and the coach who demanded the output epitomized by the Demon Spirit. We have often heard of “playing our style of game” and it was on full display in this game. Especially in that third quarter when injuries threatened. Bayley Fritsch on return from seven weeks away with a foot injury, hobbled off the ground, and the fans feared the worse. However, he was to return, and finish the game with five goals, and what looked like a bruised side of his foot. It seems he will be able to play in subsequent games. Jake Bowey was in all sorts of trouble with a shoulder injury, but he also returned to the field and had a hand in repelling many an attacking thrust by the opposition. Then the worst was to occur when an innocuous stumble by a running Jake Melksham saw him collapse clutching his knee. While Melbourne fans can only hope, the body language from the coach in the post-match conference was rather glum, with an ACL injury as a strong prospect. After missing the 2021 Premiership, this would be a catastrophic event for Jake, especially since his form has been so good in the past weeks. For the first half of the game, the Demons clearly were not at their best. Perhaps it was slippery in the middle of the ground, but fumbling seemed to be the order of the day. With a tag on Clayton Oliver, his output was curtailed. But then Christian Petracca got going especially from that mid-point in the third and the tag was moved to him, to no avail, and that released Oliver as well. Petracca finished with 29 touches, and while he didn’t take full advantage in front of goal, he still accumulated 17 of those possessions as contested. Oliver, when he was unshackled finished with 25 and 10 contested, while the ever-irrepressible Jack Viney just powered on with 29 touches of his own and 14 contested. Tellingly, when Gawn, Petracca and Oliver were rested in the final minutes, Viney was still out there fighting and bullocking his way through the opposition. Down back, stability has returned with the addition of Daniel “Disco” Turner in only his third game for the club. Importantly, he knows how to play and execute a zone defence and positioned himself as required. It meant Jake Lever and Steven May were free to do their best jobs, so it was not surprising that May finished with 21 disposals, six marks and an incredible 550 metres gained. Lever was free to do his best and both stayed on the ground for 100% of the game. Unsurprisingly as a result, the Sydney talls in McDonald and Amartey only managed a single goal between them. Disco is likely to be playing finals in only his fourth game, so he probably needs to speak with Jaky Bowey about what can happen to someone in that circumstance. On the wings, Lachie Hunter ran riot again, and Ed Langdon was almost as influential, certainly saving one Sydney goal with a last gasp tackle. Hunter racked up another over 500 metres gained game from his 21 touches. Kudos also deserve to go to Jacob van Rooyen who despite low disposal numbers had plenty of time in the ruck and managed 15 hit outs from 80% game time. It was a big effort for a 20-year-old, especially since Sydney’s number 1 ruck in Tom Hickey only managed 17 hit outs for the game. With a break now to the first of the finals, a couple of Melbourne players will relish the rest, after a long season. It was interesting that even in this game, the coach was trying all manner of things. Jake Bowey taking most of the kickouts, Trent Rivers and Hunter in the midfield, Alex Neal-Bullen on the wing. It all pointed to the flexibility that will be needed and for the opposition to be unexpected come finals. With the forthcoming game against Collingwood, whose fans have declared their team to be certain premiers already, the stage is set for the Demons to become the party poopers, yet again. How sweet will that be! MELBOURNE 3.2.20 5.4.34 7.8.50 11.11.77 SYDNEY SWANS 2.5.17 3.8.26 7.12.54 7.14.56 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 5 Melksham 2 Brayshaw Petracca Pickett van Rooyen SYDNEY SWANS Gulden 2 McDonald McLean Mills Warner Wicks BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Fritsch Viney May Brayshaw Neal-Bullen SYDNEY SWANS Gulden Mills Parker Warner McCartin Stephens LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Nil SYDNEY SWANS Tom Papley (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Ryan Clarke INJURIES MELBOURNE Fritsch (foot) Melksham (leg) Bowey (shoulder) SYDNEY SWANS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil SYDNEY SWANS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Bailey Laurie (replaced Jake Melksham in third quarter) SYDNEY SWANS Nil UMPIRES Ray Chamberlain Simon Meredith Nathan Williamson Andre Gianfagna CROWD 41,753 at the SCG
  16. The Demons locked in a top four spot on the AFL 2023 ladder on Sunday with a 27-point victory against the Hawks denying them a third top end scalp in a row. Melbourne is now primed for finals action in September, although at this late stage who and where it will play in the first week is the loaded question as its final ladder position depends upon games yet to be played. This match was a hard tussle with barely a goal or two in it until the Demons broke the shackles in the final term. Indeed, Hawthorn got within six points in that final quarter, only to see Melbourne break away convincingly. Shackles were certainly the way the Hawks wanted to play, with Finn Maguiness locked onto Clayton Oliver like a leech, restricting him to just 14 touches. Was it worth it? Perhaps, but it shows the respect that oppositions show to a player like Oliver in just his second game back from a ten week layoff. It was a strange game to watch, as the Melbourne movers and shakers just seemed to be below their best. Except, of course, for Jack Viney who just kept on barrelling in with 25 touches including 9 contested possessions. Angus Brayshaw with 20 disposals, Christian Petracca with 22, and Tom Sparrow 17 are probably not the numbers we have become accustomed to from the mids. However, when needed it was Oliver and Petracca in those final minutes who conjured the damaging goals. The disposal disease wasn’t restricted to the middle of the ground. Kysaiah Pickett only touched the ball five times with a single effective disposal. Kade Chandler, Jacob van Rooyen and Joel Smith each finished with seven touches to their names. The problems of the forward line were still lurking and it was left to Jake Melksham with 15 disposals and 3 goals to show the way, although both Smith and van Rooyen capitalised on the low possession count with two and three goals respectively. Not to mention 100% & 85% disposal efficiency from those paltry opportunities. Even Chandler didn’t miss a target for the whole night. The backline structures also looked shaky until the final term, when Smith was sent back there and suddenly Steven May and Jake Lever won the ball again and again. Lever with 13 marks including a magnificent one on one victory when the Hawks were within a goal, simply changed the course of the game. Trent Rivers had been busily holding the fort prior to that final surge, and he was easily the best performed MFC player to that point. He finished the game with 27 touches and a very creditable 496 metres gained. Rivers is rapidly becoming the springboard out of defence with his run and long kicking that is so damaging in today’s game. Down the wings, Ed Langdon was his damaging best, as Hawthorn hadn’t learnt the lessons of others who keep the ball away from his side of the ground. He finished with 18 touches producing 435 metres contribution to the territory game for the side. That the side was able to win this tight tussle, with a good number of players well below their best was a credit, particularly when it resulted in that top four outcome. They may not need to win next week, but that is not the Melbourne way in this game. A top two finish still possible at this point in time and the players will know if that is the case before they enter the ground next Sunday. The other inspiration for the players is that of playing not only in finals but also in a potential premiership side. The other contenders at the top end are suddenly looking tired and the inevitable injuries are showing up their weaknesses. With the Demons looking to load up with more silverware, then locking in a spot in the side now means nothing less than 100% commitment and output from each and every individual. MELBOURNE 3.2.20 6.5.41 10.6.66 13.9.87 HAWTHORN 4.2.26 6.3.39 8.5.53 9.6.60 GOALS MELBOURNE Melksham van Rooyen 3 Smith 2 Brayshaw Chandler Oliver Petracca Sparrow HAWTHORN Breust Hustwaite McDonald 2 Day Grainger-Barass Moore BEST MELBOURNE Melksham Lever Viney Rivers Brayshaw Petracca HAWTHORN Worpel Nash Maginness Day Sicily Amon INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Nil REPORTS

 MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Nil LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Nil HAWTHORN Jai Newcombe (replaced in the selected side by Henry Hustwaite) SUBSTITUTIONS

 MELBOURNE Josh Schache (replaced Adam Tomlinson in the fourth quarter) HAWTHORN Jai Serong (replaced Max Ramsden at three-quarter time) UMPIRES Andrew Stephens Brendan Hosking Alex Whetton Nathan Toner CROWD 50,142 at the MCG PINK LADY DAY Congratulations to the fans who turned up to support their team and the heartening revival of the Breast Cancer initiative at our games.
  17. A fingernail ... that is the difference between winning an AFL match and holding on to 2nd place on the ladder. Or a spot in the next stage of the FIFA womens world cup. While one Carlton Blue’s player had a fingernail long enough to deny a Melbourne victory, Le Bleues had bitten theirs down (along with a lot of Australian fans) in a dramatic penalty shootout. Was the Petracca kick touched or not? Which way does a deflection from the woodwork go? It matters no more, because the decision has been made, and one team of Blues goes home happy, while the other just goes home. Melbourne was on the end of a nail biting finish in this game, and certainly had multiple chances in the dying minutes of the game to take the victory. But when playing against sides like Carlton who sit 5th on the ladder, these are the games which are typical of the finals football that is to come. The match will always come down to one or two critical moments. The coach himself said after the match that it is important to “win those moments”. The Demons didn’t and have paid the price. And once again, with rain falling in this match the Demons failed. Almost every loss by the team has been in slippery and or wet conditions. In some games it was a failure to adapt to play wet weather football, but like this game it just causes a drop off in the slickness needed to transit the ball to the attacking end of the ground. The Demons got off to a poor start in the game, and scored a solitary goal from barely half a dozen entries into the forward 50. Fortunately, their defenders denied Carlton again and again, so come the end of the first quarter both sides had only bothered the goal umpires once each. The second quarter was much the same and the two teams went into the break with three majors each and two points separating them. It was to be a portent of the end result. The match was simply being played between the arcs, and with over 50 i50’s for each side and only 6 goals it certainly wasn’t a game to be watched by the spectators. But then most of them were watching the shootout at another game on their phones. Finally in the 3rd quarter things started to happen. Australia had won the soccer and everyone, including the players returned their concentration to playing real football. More goals kicked in 1 quarter than in the previous half, but once again both sides were level pegging, and there promised to be a nail biting shootout in the final stanza. Well that proved to be the case, and Melbourne gave the Blues a mighty step up in the opening minutes when they simply waltzed the ball out of the middle and put themselves 18 points up, which was the highest margin for the night. To their credit, the Demons clawed their way back and with yet another miraculous goal to Kysaiah Pickett, followed by a great mark and straight kick from Joel Smith, they were back in it. A “gimme” chance to Christian Salem surprisingly fell short and then the Petracca shot was adjudged to have been touched on the line. A four point victory to the Baggers. All around the ground, there were great contests. Steven May probably won the fight against Charlie Curnow, only allowing him two goals. He was ably assisted by Jake Lever with 12 intercept possessions. Still, the Carlton smalls were winning the match for them, so we saw Michael Hibberd introduced to quell the rot, and that he did. As the coach noted, it wasn’t a night for forwards, and the Gawndy experiment was repeated with no positive outcome. A paltry three marks between the two players for the match, is not what is expected and certainly not needed. While Gawn dominated the ruck for hitouts, the outcome was not to the teams advantage, and it was no surprise that the final quarter comeback from the Demons occurred when Grundy was used in the ruck. More importantly the same experiment utterly failed when both players went forward. Does anybody remember them getting a single touch in that area? Once again they just clog up the space and it caused the coach to move Smith to the forward line to get some presence up there. It couldn’t be left to a 20 year old Jacob Van Rooyen alone, who was battling against Weitering, one of the best backs in the whole league. With the fingernails well and truly bitten down to their base, the Demon fans have nothing left now for the final two matches. A game against a re-vitalised Hawthorn and another against Sydney in the Harbour city, are going to be more of the same. Or will comprehensive victories against these two sides, allow sufficient growth for those with severe cases of MFCSS to endure the finals series? MELBOURNE 1.0.6 3.3.21 6.6.42 8.8.56 CARLTON 1.3.9 3.5.23 6.6.42 9.6.60 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 2 Chandler Langdon Neal-Bullen Pickett Smith Sparrow CARLTON C Curnow Owies 2 Acres Cripps De Koning Docherty Martin BEST MELBOURNE Viney Oliver Petracca Salem Brayshaw Hunter CARLTON Cripps Newman Weitering Hewett Docherty Saad INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Sam Docherty (calf) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil CARLTON Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Michael Hibberd (replaced James Jordon in the third quarter) CARLTON Ed Curnow (replaced Sam Docherty in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Justin Power Ray Chamberlain Robert Findlay Brent Wallace CROWD 68,577 at the MCG
  18. When the Demons were down by 33 points early in their game against the lowly Kangaroos, they had to find some true “devil” to keep their charge for a top two spot on track and that is exactly what they did at Blundstone Arena on Sunday. North Melbourne managed five goals in that opening quarter, but they could only manage a further five for the remainder of the match. By way of contrast, after scoring a paltry single goal in the first, the Melbourne piled on 14 to finally run out 32 point winners and continue the 2023 tale of the Demons. Sadly, after finally finding another forward target in Harrison Petty, an ankle/foot injury looks to have put him out of action for the coming weeks. This came after another strong performance from him with two goals from only barely half a game. Fortunately, his fellow forwards filled the gap with Jacob van Rooyen also contributing two among his ten score involvements and Alex Neal-Bullen with three majors. The tale of the afternoon however, lay with the spectacular Kysaiah Pickett who manufactured three unbelievable six pointers, and Kade Chandler with his straight shooting boots on again, at critical junctures in the game also with another three. The Demons were off to a poor start, and the backline seemed in all sorts of trouble, while the lack of pressure around the ball was really telling with the lack of scoreboard results before they found their devil in the second term. It was then that they began to apply the much-needed pressure that eventually caused the young Kangaroos to wilt. Angus Brayshaw, who finished with 37 touches and 13 contested possessions led the way while Lachie Hunter had an amazing 33 touches with 15 contested playing on the wing. In the much vaunted ruck contest between Max Gawn and Todd Goldstein, it was Max who probably won the day by a small margin, with his 15 hitouts to advantage from 30 in total, although Goldy managed 11 score involvements from the meagre 21 his side had in total. The backs finally got their act together, even after the loss of Petty forced Joel Smith to move forward and Michael Hibberd to bolster the defence. The backline just looks to be more of a team when Hibberd is skirting the flanks, and even though he only had six touches, it was only one less than Smith had for the whole game. But his strong physical presence allowed May and Lever who were out of sorts in that first half, to perform their usual roles. The 2023 tale of the Demons is one that shows more Devil, significantly while other teams around them in that top four bracket continue to fail unexpectedly. A top four spot is now all but assured but the carrot of a top two placing and a home final is also well and truly within reach. There is nothing more that the Demons can keep doing than winning. If others fail to take their chances then they will accept that very willingly, especially since finals football is only weeks away. Losing Petty isn’t helpful but the guaranteed return next week of Clayton Oliver (Simon Goodwin said so in his post match conference) and the likely return of Bayley Fritsch in the weeks to come, will strengthen the team considerably. At the tail end of the season, this tale is turning out to be a tale of a single minded approach to the season, with the premiership target being that sole focus. MELBOURNE 1.3.9 8.4.52 14.7.91 15.13.103 NORTH MELBOURNE 5.5.35 8.8.56 9.9.63 10.11.71 GOALS MELBOURNE Chandler Neal-Bullen Pickett 3 Petracca Petty van Rooyen 2 NORTH MELBOURNE Ford 3 Goldstein 2 Curtis Larkey Scott Simpkin Taylor BEST MELBOURNE Pickett Petracca Brayshaw Hunter Neal-Bullen Viney NORTH MELBOURNE Ziebell Ford Simpkin Davies-Uniacke Scott McDonald INJURIES MELBOURNE Harrison Petty (ankle) NORTH MELBOURNE Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil NORTH MELBOURNE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Michael Hibberd (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter) NORTH MELBOURNE Charlie Lazzarro (replaced Robert Hansen jnr in the third quarter) UMPIRES Leigh Fisher Alex Whetton Cameron Jones Nicholas McGinness CROWD 8,034 (mostly Melbourne supporters) at Blundstone Arena
  19. Twice in the game against Richmond, Melbourne found itself down by 20 points but it kept on coming. By the ¾ time bell, the Dees had their noses in front in a game that was turning into a cliffhanger. The Toiyges persevered and found themselves again in front early in the final quarter. All of a sudden however, the game changed — in a short space of time, it turned from a cliffhanger into a deep chasm with the Demons eventually running out winners by five goals. For the Tigers, not only has the cliff loomed up following their three premierships in four years, but in the same way as this game panned out, their aging stars have reached the end of their useful life. They simply are unable to do what they had done in the past. Cotchin, with a meagre nine touches, Grimes six, Riewoldt eight, Baker eleven. They were all the movers and shakers from those glory years, yet in this game could not amass more possessions combined than Jack Viney. Viney on his own was better than those four Richmond players, but a collective gasp went through the Melbourne supporters as it looked like he had done some sort of serious injury in the third quarter as he lay motionless on the ground. As doctors and trainers rushed to him, it appeared to all that he was finished for the game but like the legendary Lazarus, he wasn’t down and out for four days before resurrection. He returned to the battle straight away, without even taking a break on the bench. Things got even worse for Richmond in that final quarter, when Max Gawn grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and kept blasting the ball forward from centre bounce and around the ground ruck contests. In no small measure his dominance came when Ivan Soldo fell off the cliff, couldn’t run any more, and Richmond were forced to use Balta and Martin as substitute rucks. Max finished with 28 possessions of which an incredible 22 were contested, and 10 score involvements. Feeding off the Gawn masterclass were Viney with 32 touches, 10 contested while Christian Petracca kept racking up similar numbers with 29 of his own, and 14 of those contested. And then Angus Brayshaw chipped in with a leisurely 22 touches and nine contested. While the lead changes kept coming until that final stanza, the much doubted Melbourne forward line hit a frightening high for other teams in contention, with 130 points scored including six in the final quarter. There is now no other place in the side than forward for Harrison Petty who slotted six goals straight from ten marks, while his partner in Jacob van Rooyen kept putting it straight over the goal umpires cap four times without a miss. The accuracy, which had been missing earlier in the season became infectious and Jake Melksham sent the ball sailing over the same goal umpires hats four times without missing. Of course, Kysaiah Pickett had to have some influence and he put through two majors, but blotted the forwards copy book with a solitary point, unlike the others. But we will forgive that … The backs struggled for a good part of the match, and kept giving up silly goals to keep the Tigers in the match. To change things up, Judd McVee was struggling with Dustin Martin, when he was playing forward, but Simon Goodwin then moved Steven May on to him, and like his other premiership team-mates, he simply went missing in the end. This change could have been damaging to a young player, but not Judd, who was simply sublime in that final challenging quarter, dancing through opposition players, and delivering the ball accurately to those upfield. Jake Lever, of course, was back to his best with nine intercept possessions and eight marks, but the really damaging player in the backline is becoming Trent Rivers with 22 touches, and with his long kicking an extraordinary 427 metres gained. Melbourne now sits comfortably in the top four and nothing is likely to change from that position from here to finals time. Can they slide into the top two spot? It’s possible given that the other top three sides lost this week, so a lot depends upon their results in the coming games. The Demons are looking to climb the mountain again, and are in the perfect condition at the right time in the season. For the Toyges, they simply nosedived, not only out of contention for the eight, but into a very deep hole for the future. There was no cliffhanger in this game, no hanging on by the finger nails; they were booted well and truly over the edge. At the end their players were truly “yellow and black” from the beating they took and the hard landing at the bottom. MELBOURNE 3.5.23 8.5.53 14.6.90 20.10.130 RICHMOND 5.4.34 9.7.61 13.8.86 15.8.98 GOALS MELBOURNE Petty 6 Melksham van Rooyen 4 Pickett 2 Chandler Hunter Neal-Bullen Petracca RICHMOND Martin 3 Baker McIntosh 2 Balta Bolton Coulthard Prestia Riewoldt Rioli Soldo Taranto BEST MELBOURNE Petty Gawn Viney Melksham van Rooyen Rivers
 RICHMOND Martin Bolton Taranto Prestia Baker INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil
 RICHMOND Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil RICHMOND Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Adam Tomlinson in the third quarter) RICHMOND Matthew Coulthard (replaced Ben Miller in the third quarter) UMPIRES Daniel Johanson Mathew Nicholls Nathan Toner Andre Gianfagna CROWD 52,294 at the MCG
  20. Melbourne went within four points of eating Crow on the MCG on Sunday. That was the margin that saw them breathing sighs of relief as they got across the line to beat Adelaide. In doing so, they put four more important points inside the winning column for their season. The banking of those four premiership points was vital, as it now leaves the Demons two games + percentage clear of fifth place on the ladder. This gives the coaching staff the opportunity to “manage” players over the coming weeks, because it is unlikely that they will finish higher than fourth. Although not yet set in stone, the chances are they will finish in no different position to where they are today — facing the first round of the finals against Collingwood at the MCG. Like last week, this was a game of huge momentum swings. Up by five goals in the third quarter, up by four midway through the last only to see scores levelled with 15 minutes to play. Then opening up another two goal plus lead, and finally getting over the line by four points. Make no mistake, Adelaide are a good, yet erratic side. They have recorded wins against Port and Brisbane this year, and lost to Collingwood twice by a point and then by two points at the MCG less than a month ago so Melbourne’s narrow win was still an exceptional one. Fortunately, the Crows struggled to kick straight from set shots, something with which Melbourne supporters would be truly familiar. The half time score line of 3 goals 9 behinds which turned into 6.13 at the ¾ time bell kept them out of the game and they only found their kicking boots in the final quarter putting 7 majors through from nine shots at goal. There were mixed performances from the Melbourne players, with Jack Viney, once again leading the positive column. Thirteen contested possessions, with nothing in the stats sheets for the number of times he simply willed himself to contests to deny the Crows free range. Christian Petracca also threw his hat into the ring with 26 touches of which 14 were contested. Unlike last week he couldn’t find his straight kicking boots, and he failed to bother the goal umpire. However, it was Kade Chandler who made a welcome return to the forward line. He created space again and again to sail the ball truly over the goal umpires hat three times. It was also pleasing to see Kysaiah Pickett return to his devastating self both when he was in the middle and also the forward line. Even the captain got in on the act and kicked two long bombs to record majors. The Demons new “super sub” Joel Smith came on in the final quarter and scored at an absolutely critical time with his first foray into the action. He would have had a second major, but was denied by a touched call from the umpire. However, he then centred the ball from tight in the pocket next time to ensure a mark to Taj Woewodin who scored what was probably the match winner. Smith might find himself in a more long lasting role up forward next week. In the absence of Clayton Oliver, the Sparrow, Angus Brayshaw, Viney, Petracca, James Jordon and Pickett filled the gap in the middle matching it with Adelaide in the centre, but outplaying them around the ground 24:19. And while the forwards had plenty of marks to their name i50, the fact that they could only record a single tackle in the same area, should be a cause for concern, especially since rebound 50’s are the major source of scoring for top four sides in 2023. For the Melbourne fans beating Adelaide is a far more enjoyable situation than falling to them, because eating Crow with a defeat, would have been just too unbearable to stomach at this time of the year. Down Rundle Mall way, they regard Pie floaters as a delicacy so we will just have to leave the Crow eating to them … MELBOURNE 2.2.14 6.4.40 11.7.73 14.13.97
 ADELAIDE 1.4.10 3.9.27 6.13.49 13.15.93 GOALS MELBOURNE Chandler 3 Gawn Melksham Pickett 2 Neal-Bullen Smith van Rooyen Viney Woewodin 
 ADELAIDE Walker 4 Rankine 3 Fogarty Keays Murphy BEST MELBOURNE Pickett Viney Brayshaw Gawn Chandler Petracca
 ADELAIDE Rankine Walker Hinge Dawson Milera Crouch LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Ned McHenry and Patrick Parnell (illness) replaced in selected side by Luke Nankervis and Lachlan Murphy INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Murray (knee) Rankine (hamstring) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil ADELAIDE Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Ben Brown in fourth quarter)
 ADELAIDE Jackson Hately (replaced Jordon Butts in third quarter) UMPIRES Leigh Haussen Curtis Deboy Mathew Nicholls Craig Fleer CROWD 33,122 at the MCG
  21. The Demons pulled one out of the fire, with a one point win over the Brisbane Lions in an enthralling, exciting, frustrating and nail-biting game. The Lions came out on on Bastille Day to the sounds of “La Marseillaise” and they were fired up. They sat two games clear of the Demons on the ladder after having burnt them in the 2022 finals series. And it turned out to be a bad night for the French with their team also going down in a FIFA Womens World Cup practice match across town … I digress. Back to the real footy … Early on, Melbourne was truly on fire hitting the scoreboard regularly with four goals in the first ten minutes to lead by 25 points before Brisbane had troubled the scorer. The Lions fought their way back a little to reduce the lead to just under three goals by the first change. Demon fans were looking at each other in disbelief, as their side seemingly had overcome their lethargy of recent weeks, even scoring more goals in that first quarter than in their entire recent game against the Giants. Still, the early expectations were soon dashed, as the Lions relentlessly ground down the Demons‘ lead to hit the front by a solitary point just before half-time. The third quarter was much the same with Brisbane creating run through the middle, and Melbourne players failing to put in the required effort to cut off or run with their opponents. This was creating plenty of chances for the Lions’ forwards. When Daniher and Hipwood start kicking goals due to the lack of upfield pressure, then you know that things are starting to go the Lions way. They held a 21-point lead by the final break. The stage was set for an expected final quarter capitulation by the Demons and the first 10 to 15 minutes were certainly pointing that way. The visitors got first blood with a goal to Joey Daniher who put on one of his classic diving acts to milk a free kick and then converted to put them ahead by 27 points. Some supporters were heading for the exits at that point - those who did were soon to be burnt by that decision. From out of nowhere, the Demons found some fire in the belly but they missed with a few shots at goal until Pickett kicked his third and they were three goals down with only seven minutes left to play. A couple of minutes later, Jake Melksham reduced the deficit down to two goals with a nice shot on an angle. Jack Viney willed himself to win the game, and quite literally ripped the ball out of McInerney’s hands and slotted another major to put the Demons five points down with two minutes to play. The crowd of Demons supporters was fired up as had not been seen since the 2021 GF game, shouting and screaming at the top of their voices. The sounds had completely reversed from only ten minutes earlier when the Brisbane supporters had started a “L-I-O-N-S” chant. Their team had gone defensive far too early and they were not to see the sight of “Le jour de gloire est arrive”. Instead, it was to be a night of doom and gloom for the “enfants de la Patrie” when Melksham managed to mark a Brayshaw snap into the forward line and then truly delivered the six points to put the Demons a solitary point in front with 33 seconds remaining. If the Melbourne supporters were fired up before, they were now simply volcanic! In those 30 seconds remaining Viney again extracted the clearance to pump the ball forward. But Melbourne were unable to capitalise, and the ball came down the other end where Jake Lever managed to mark a hotly contested football against Hipwood. The siren sounded and the noise levels went up again. Melbourne had pulled a victory right out of the fire. While the four points were needed to keep Melbourne’s position on the ladder in the lead-up to the finals, it was the psychological message that was important. The Demons might well face the Lions at some stage in the finals and they are likely to be affected by the outcome of this game, in an almost identical manner as Geelong in 2021. And Melbourne is sure to be imbued with that same sense of invincibility that they felt in their Premiership year. This was a game of 3 v 4 and a one point result was probably a fitting end. The Demons are forging their finals thrust in the furnace of these games. This, without Clayton Oliver or Brodie Grundy in the middle, and having rested players while experimenting with various combinations up forward in particular. Christian Petracca kicked 4 goals with his power on full display, and importantly, with rediscovered accuracy. Kysaiah Pickett found his fire with 3 majors while Taj Woewodin electrified the crowd and team-mates with his first goal at AFL level in a calm, smooth way reflective of his father’s style. Lachie Hunter was responsible for 559 metres gained, while Ed Langdon was down to 285. This was an indictment against Brisbane who deliberately avoided the Langdon wing, not realising however, that Hunter is just as lethal with his running power and left foot. The defenders were back to their best team efforts, and Trent Rivers probably provided the impetus for those last couple of goals, when he grabbed the ball deep in Brisbane territory, sidestepped 3 opposition and drove the ball forward. It was an action which quite literally changed the course of the game. In the ruck on his own, Max had an ordinary phase in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, but came back to his best when needed and started to take critical contested marks and clearances. Five marks, three contested and three centre clearances started to drive the Demons, and his grab from the boundary throw in to pass to Brayshaw for that final Melksham goal was telling. Yes, the Demons pulled one out of the fire, but they are now fired up as one, and the supporters are probably even more so. Bringing the heat at the right end of the season was exactly what is needed. With Adelaide coming up as next the opponent, do not be surprised if the smell of burnt Crow is wafting around the stands of the G come next Sunday evening. MELBOURNE 6.2.38 8.3.51 12.4.76 16.9.105 BRISBANE LIONS 3.3.21 8.4.52 15.7.97 16.8.104 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 4 Pickett 3 Melksham 2 Bowey Brown Gawn Neal-Bullen Spargo Viney Woewodin BRISBANE LIONS Gunston 3 Bailey Cameron Daniher McCarthy 2 Ashcroft Fletcher Hipwood Lyons McInerney BEST MELBOURNE Petracca, Gawn Brayshaw Viney Pickett Melksham BRISBANE LIONS Daniher McCluggage Neale Ashcroft Andrews Bailey INJURIES MELBOURNE Harrison Petty (hip) BRISBANE LIONS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil BRISBANE LIONS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter) BRISBANE LIONS Deven Robertson (replaced Jarrod Berry in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Mathew Nicholls Nathan Williamson Robert Findlay Andre Gianfagna CROWD 38,030 at The MCG
  22. With a return to the winners circle, Melbourne produced a much needed victory against the Saints, in a fourth v fifth on the ladder match. The win also created a small buffer to those below, whereas a loss would have put the team’s whole finals objective on the edge. After losses in the wet, it could be said that the team had accumulated a fair bit of rust, and even in this game it wasn’t a pretty sight for their supporters. There were plenty of unforced errors, miskicks, dumb decision-making and certainly not the free flowing style of game we know the side is capable of, and more importantly, that’s needed to feature in finals action. The game was turned into a dour contest by the opposition coach, who honestly will never produce a premiership side while the main focus is on defence and defence alone. It might prevent the Saints from being thrashed, but it doesn’t teach them how to kick winning scores. This tactic might have been the norm more than five to ten years ago, unsurprisingly when the Saints and Fremantle featured in finals, but it will usually end in failure in the long term. While the Demons were busy trying to find their best on the field, the Saints were badly affected by injury. Pre-match they were without Hill, Membrey, Battle, Higgins and Coffield and less than a third of the way into game they had lost King, Cordy and Ross. This made the Saints even more defensive, and while some supporters criticised players in the backline for not moving the ball quickly, there was nothing open further up the field due to the extreme flooding tactics being employed against them. So the game simply became a waiting and watching scenario, back and forth, back and forth. Melbourne would intercept on the half-back line and try to thread their way through the St.Kilda lines, but not doing such a good job too often. When things didn’t work the Saints would try to switch immediately (another old tactic, that isn’t employed by leading coaches), only to discover the Demons had already covered their move by the time it got to the wing, and another intercept would occur. Start all over again! And intercept Melbourne did. There were 23 team intercept marks, with Steven May leading the way with eight from his 13 intercepts alone. Of course he was ably backed up by Petty with seven intercepts, Lever, McVee, Salem and Rivers chipping in with six each. The absence of any St.Kilda tall forwards certainly helped the situation, but without a change to game plan, the Saints were simply never going to be successful. Their goals almost exclusively came from spillages or dropped marks by the Melbourne players, a sure sign of how rusty some were, especially in the perfect conditions under the roof of Marvel stadium. Let’s hope the rustiness exhibited in the ruck division has finally been ground away, since Gawn and Grundy were given a lesson in not only ruckwork but around the ground play by Rohan Marshall on his own. Thirty disposals, seven intercepts, seven i50’s and ten marks at 86% disposal efficiency equalled or exceeded the totals for both Gawn and Grundy combined. Once again the Gawndy experiment of resting up forward was a miserable failure with zero score from both. They clogged up the forward line, unable to run defensively against smaller fitter defenders who stream away from them bringing the concept beyond the rusty stage to just plain embarrassing. We only need one on the ground at any time, and give the other a rest on the bench. Troubling is that Grundy was only on the ground for 67% of the time, so perhaps more than rust is involved. The much vaunted woes of the forward line had some of the rust scraped away. At least the side was kicking straight from set shots this week. Thanks mainly to Christian Petracca who, with brute strength was able to beat his opponent one-on-one to record four goals for the match. His kicking from set shots was more assured, indicating some considerable work had gone on during the week. The sad indictment is that our best forward is our best mid at the moment. We got away with it in this match, but will that be possible against Brisbane next week who have top rate midfielders to match against. If the ball doesn’t get into attack, it won’t matter how good Trac is up forward. Melksham kicked 2 goals, but rather than get excited about the number, both came from his usual tactic of out the back. Once again zero tackles despite being on the ground for over 90% of the game is more than being rusty. Those type of scoring opportunities won’t be repeated against the Brisbane defence. As they say, a win is a win. Maybe, but if the opponent is swaying on their feet in the first quarter, and only two interchange available for the majority of the game, a three goal victory in perfect conditions is a sub-par outcome. It was the time to grind off the rust and re-discover the shiny, polished metal beneath. By game’s end, only part of the job had been done, with just glimpses being shown. The engine is barely turning over smoothly and the drive train is a bit wonky. Time to get out the WD-40 and apply a hefty measure of hard work.  MELBOURNE 5.0.30 7.2.44 9.5.59 12.7.79 ST KILDA 3.5.23 4.7.31 6.8.44 8.10.58 GOALS MELBOURNE Petracca 4 Melksham Sparrow 2 Brown Hunter Langdon Neal-Bullen ST KILDA Gresham Owens 2 Billings Sharman Steele Wood BEST MELBOURNE Langdon Neal-Bullen May Sparrow Viney Petracca ST KILDA Steele Sinclair Marshall Wanganeen-Milera INJURIES MELBOURNE Petty (back) ST KILDA Ross (hamstring) King (shoulder) Cordy (concussion) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil ST KILDA Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty in the final quarter) ST KILDA Ryan Byrnes (replaced Max King in the first quarter) UMPIRES Chris Donlon Nick Foot Andrew Stephens Nathan Williamson CROWD 30,749 at Marvel Stadium
  23. Demon fans will remember well the classic call of “Bang, bang, bang” from the 2021 Premiership game. However, in a truly disappointing game against GWS in the Alice, it was more a case of “pop, fizz, pfft”. When the coach came out and said, “we failed to execute” it is was the same as a firing squad loading with blanks … they simply fail to execute. Melbourne’s firing squad is its forward line and once again they simply were unable to put scoreboard pressure on the opposition with a pathetic (even given the wet conditions) 5.15. There can be no question that the rest of the side are doing their bit. The backs keep repulsing attacks and provide the springboard for multiple forays forward. The mids win contested ball, and just about every other possible statistic including pumping 73 inside 50’s into the forward line but to produce only five goals for the game is a telling indictment. In particular, the lack of forward craft stood out. The intent of modern game tactics is to bring the ball to ground for the smalls to crumb, but the only crumbing goals came from Jack Bowey and Brodie Grundy. There was plenty of running around, ball watching and generally not getting involved by the small forwards, but kicking goals seems not to be in their KPI’s. It was even further compounded by momentum killers in James Harmes and Alex Neale-Bullen who, often at critical times, are unable to perform basic football skills. Their actions simply deflate the rest of the side, and negate the fine efforts of those downfield. Once again, Melbourne failed to adapt to wet weather conditions. What is it now? Five out of six losses in wet or slippery conditions. Perhaps it is too hard to expect players to “get in front, kick long, kick off the ground, or just plain kick it”. Wet weather skills are required, but in this game, the only people who seemed to be doing it for the Demons were the defenders. And the loss of Bayley Fritsch early was critical, since he is perhaps our only reliable goal-kicker. Replacing him with Jake Melksham proved pointless, as he reverted to his usual tactic of seeking cheap kicks out the back, leaving his opponents to play in front (wet weather football). Why he was selected as sub was questionable, since he can only play one position these days. Meanwhile James Jordon gets shunted back to the VFL where he amasses 41 disposals! Another shot to the foot by the selectors. Last week the coach said “we need more out of Grundy and Gawn in the forward line”. Another week and another fail in this area. Yes, it was wet, but four marks around the ground between them , and the solitary goal from Grundy when crumbing the ball in a ruck contest is not why they are being positioned in the forward line. There is something wrong physically with both … Grundy only 62% game time, and Max managing three marks total in the past two games. Perhaps they need a rest on the bench instead of clogging up the forward half, and demonstrating they can’t keep up with defenders streaming downfield. Once again not a shot fired from these two. Finally, thank heavens (obviously not the same type that produces rain and nine degrees for top temperature in Alice Springs) for Jack Viney. Forty-one disposals including 24 contested possessions kept the side in the game, and was probably best on ground for the third week in a row. He has truly stood up in the absence of Clayton Oliver, but it is a pity his resolve hasn’t spread to others in the side. This game demonstrated the fallacy of statistics alone. They are the numerical outcome of what has already happened, but they are not the indicator of success. Only when there is success do the numbers reflect that, not the other way around. The Demons dominated every possible number, yet lost the game. How does that work? The statistics show we were firing in every possible way. A: We kept firing blanks. With a now critical game against the Saints, the real positive for the side must be that it will be played under a roof i.e no wet weather football required. Or can the side, and the selectors manage to shoot ourselves in the foot? MELBOURNE 1.5.11 2.9.21 4.12.36 5.15.45 GWS GIANTS 1.0.6 3.3.21 6.4.40 7.5.47 GOALS MELBOURNE Bowey Grundy Langdon Melksham Pickett GWS GIANTS Greene 2 Brown Cumming Kelly O’Halloran BEST MELBOURNE Viney Hunter Petracca May Bowey Pickett GWS GIANTS Coniglio Green Kelly Greene Briggs Himmelberg INJURIES MELBOURNE Bayley Fritsch (foot) GWS GIANTS Nil REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GWS GIANTS Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Jake Melksham (replaced at Bayley Fritsch in the first quarter) GWS GIANTS Ryan Angwin (replaced Daniel Lloyd in the fourth quarter) UMPIRES Matt Stevic Nathan Toner Andrew Heffernan Martin Rodger CROWD 3,413 at TIO Traeger Park
  24. The players thought that one night in Mordor (Geelong) before the game would be bad enough, but it turned into two dark nights with the Cats giving the Demons a lesson in the final quarter to run out 15-point winners. And while the coach makes much about “learnings”, surely it is time for the side to “learn” how to play wet weather football? Three defeats in wet conditions so far this year. You can add the Brisbane game on a humid, slippery night to make it four. In such conditions, the game style must change. Kick the ball off the ground, just kick the ball. In this game the Demons had 158 handballs - 53 more than Geelong. That is NOT wet weather football. And while conditions in the last quarter were not belting rain, as in the others, the ground remained wet. Three of those six Geelong final quarter goals started from kicks off the ground further upfield. If the Cats weren’t soccering the ball, they were kicking long and deep. In slippery conditions it creates chaos and opportunities, which certainly happened on a further three occasions. Melbourne led by seven points into the last quarter, but following another ANB howler, the momentum changed with Geelong kicking three goals in the next three minutes. Game over as the Mordor darkness descended. But that wasn’t the only obvious failing. After standing Darcy Moore last game and denying him opportunity, Joel Smith simply lost Stewart this week and allowed five intercepts in the final critical quarter. It finally (but by then, far too late) led to Petty being taken from the backline in the dying moments of the game to provide some aerial contest. Other forwards hadn’t learnt the wet weather football mantra of playing in front. So, Henry, Bews and Stewart had an easy job which was made even easier with the lack of crumbing from the Melbourne small forwards. Contested possessions? Despite winning the numbers game for the match, it was -10 in the final quarter. Rucks? Despite winning the hit outs stat, neither Grundy nor Gawn provided any around the ground input to any real effect. Max took his solitary mark for the game with less than a minute to play! Which further compounded the problems in the forward line with only eight for the night while Geelong managed 50% more! Can we just give up on “resting” rucks in front of goal? Max has kicked 7 in 11 games and Brodie 9 in 14 games. It is just embarrassing watching both trying to run to deny the opposition backs head downfield….they are meant to be resting not running. There was little to commend from this game. Just remember Geelong were without Dangerfield and Guthrie in the middle, while they lost Cameron early in the game. That should have given the Demons a huge advantage. So, what are the “learnings” from this game? Mordor is still a horrible place to spend the night. Worse if it is two. Wet weather doesn’t seem to worry Cats. No need to acclimatise for Kitty Litter Park … it is only 21 metres above sea level. We need El Nino to be running hot in September to avoid rain ruining our chances. MELBOURNE 2.1.13 4.8.32 6.11.47 8.15.63 GEELONG 3.4.22 4.7.31 5.10.40 11.12.78 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch Pickett J Smith 2 Petracca van Rooyen GEELONG Rohan 3 Bruhn 2 Blicavs Duncan Z Guthrie Hawkins Henry Stengle BEST MELBOURNE Petracca Viney Salem Lever Rivers Hunter GEELONG Stewart Close Bruhn Rohan Duncan Atkins INJURIES MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Jeremy Cameron (concussion) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil GEELONG Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE Charlie Spargo (replaced Jordon in the third quarter) GEELONG Jack Bowes (replaced Cameron in the first quarter) UMPIRES Nick Foot Daniel Johanson Brett Rosebury Nathan Williamson CROWD 19,617 at Kitty Litter Park
  25. King Gee, a name synonymous with hard work wear, was emblematic of the hard work done by Melbourne against Collingwood at the “Gee” to win the first King’s Birthday match in more than seven decades. As a result, the Demons have never lost a modern day version of the King’s Royal Blockbuster match and long may that continue! The final margin of a mere four points probably overstated the closeness of the match since, for the third week in a row, the Demons could not kick straight from set shots in front of goal. This week it was 4.10 from those set shots. And while the coach thought it was the least of his worries post match, the fact that such poor outcomes keep the opposition in the game and capable of challenging to the end is something that needs to be sorted in the weeks and months to come. The final score of 8.18 really summed it up. Fortunately, a stingy defensive structure kept the opposition well out of the game, so all credit for the win should lie with those defenders. Having said that, the forwards without their straight kicking boots, as least put on plenty of pressure to keep the ball in the attacking area with 17 tackles inside 50. That the Collingwood forwards managed only four for the game, demonstrates that their game style is all about “run and gun”, without a lot of hard work forward of the ball. To this point of the season they have papered over that deficiency, but were exposed by the brilliant defensive unit of the Demons, who repelled attack after attack. The three talls in defence means stability down back and enables players around them to be free to do damage. While Jake Lever was held to a solitary mark, Adam Tomlinson popped up with ten for the game. Nine intercept possessions each for Christian Salem and Trent Rivers were complemented by eight each for Steven May and Jake Lever while Judd McVee chipped in with seven. The combination of Salem and Rivers combination was deadly to Collingwood’s chances, both with 24 touches, but with disposal efficiency of 83 and 78% respectively, meaning that they were not only repelling opposition advances, but also starting the next line of attack. Given that the Magpies came into this match averaging 94 points a game, the fact they were held to a mere 62 points in this match was exemplary. The other important factor in the game success for Melbourne was a game plan which denied Collingwood the corridor, which they need to execute their “run and gun” tactic. Time and time again they were forced wide and the inside kick or running past handball denied as the Demons stuck to their task of all ground pressure, with simple hard work. The other area of dominance was the King Gee efforts in the middle by Jack Viney and Christian Petracca. The former, with 32 touches and an incredible 19 contested possessions, led the way to make him King of the “Gee” on the day. While Petracca with 28 touches and 15 contested certainly helped cover the absence of Clayton Oliver. On the wing Lachie Hunter kept punching the ball forward with 28 touches, seven of which were contested, just to add to his game topping 610 metres gained for the side. Up forward, despite the inability to kick truly, at least Bayley Fritsch was able to nail three majors, which took him to 200 goals for the Club. Jacob van Rooyen only managed a single major, but his attack on contest is constant, and probably what the coaches want most of all. Joel Smith looked far more comfortable this week, and when called upon to deliver, did so. None more so than a run down from behind tackle to help change momentum in the Demons favour. Importantly his tall presence caused no end of problems for the Collingwood defence who are too accustomed to Moore being left unattended in the game. Not so today. Finally, a shout out to the vocal crowd of Demon supporters. They had plenty to shout out loud about and while the crowd numbers didn’t meet the expected 90+ thousand, they certainly made their voices heard at critical times during the match. If the MCC and AFL member areas had been more highly populated this could well have reached a home and away record. The Demons take away the four points, which was critical in the overall season context as it keeps the side in the top four position, and stopped Collingwood moving further ahead on the ladder. It put the side into the right position for the second half of the season, where they will be trying to prove they are the true Kings of the “Gee” come the last week of September MELBOURNE 1.4.10 3.8.26 6.11.47 8.18.66 COLLINGWOOD 3.1.19 5.4.34 6.5.41 9.8.62 GOALS MELBOURNE Fritsch 3 Grundy Neal-Bullen Smith van Rooyen Viney COLLINGWOOD Lipinski 2 Cox Crisp N Daicos Harrison Hill McCreery Mihocek BEST MELBOURNE Viney May Fritsch Salem Petracca Tomlinson COLLINGWOOD Mitchell Pendlebury Crisp N Daicos Maynard LATE CHANGES MELBOURNE Nil COLLINGWOOD Jack Ginnivan (managed), replaced in selected side by Reef McInnes INJURIES MELBOURNE Adam Tomlinson (hand) Jack Viney (shoulder) COLLINGWOOD Darcy Moore (ankle) REPORTS MELBOURNE Nil COLLINGWOOD Nil SUBSTITUTIONS MELBOURNE James Jordon (replaced Charlie Spargo in the third quarter) COLLINGWOOD Oleg Markov (replaced Ash Johnson in the third quarter) UMPIRES Hayden Gavine Brendan Hosking Simon Meredith Matt Stevic CROWD 83,578 at the MCG FIGHT MND TOTAL TO DATE $2,454,483 Thank You
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