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  1. “No-one let the Dogs out” was the Demons response for the (former) top side. The Melbourne defence, capably lead by Steven May and Jake Lever simply suffocated any hopes that the Western Bulldogs might have had about leading the competition at the mid-way point. Instead, it is the Demons who now sit at the top of the ladder, again a game clear, while their supporters are starting to believe that this side is the real deal. Pity is that those same supporters couldn’t watch their team demolish the opposition live, due to the latest Covid19 outbreak restrictions. But the eerie silence at the ground would have been in contrast to the excitement being displayed within Demon households throughout the State. Right from the start Melbourne was obviously fired up. A goal within 30 seconds to James Harmes should have served as a warning to the Bulldogs of the fine form to come for the night. Tom Liberatore became his direct opponent for the majority of the game, and was physically attacked and smothered at any opportunity he had. Averaging nine clearances a game, he was held to a mere four and without that, the Bulldogs wave of runners simply didn’t get the ball. Harmes on the other hand cleared the ball five times and laid seven tackles stamping out any Bulldog flicker of hope. Bontempelli was similarly attacked, and denied the freedom he has usually experienced. Without their usual style of attack, the ball was often sent skyward under pressure, but into the waiting arms of the Demon defensive lines. Time and time again, Lever and May with 20 intercepts together, were on the end of the opposition balls into their forward line, with the rest of the defenders taking care of Bruce and Naughton. Harry Petty has now slotted into the system down back, and Michael Hibberd and Trent Rivers were the strong reliable sweepers who denied any crumbs that may have fallen the Bulldogs way. It is too easy to forget that Petty and Rivers have barely played 20 games, yet both have already cemented long term places in the side. With the mids denying access to the ball, and the backs cleaning up the forward moves, the Bulldogs simply couldn’t get any meaningful score on the board. Meanwhile the Melbourne forward line enjoyed a night out, particularly as the Demons pressure caused multiple turnovers in the forward half, and this week Melbourne took full use of those opportunities. The four goal lead at ¼ time was to be ultimately the difference for the rest of the game, as the Bulldogs couldn’t find an avenue that wasn’t blocked by Melbourne players. This season we have witnessed their fast transition and flicking it around to open up gaps, but all too often they stood flat-footed looking for something that wasn’t there. Credit must go the wingers who covered the ground to frustrate the switch that was being attempted, as it gave the rest of the defensive structure time to swing in behind them. They don’t get a statistic for that, but in this game Angus Brayshaw and Ed Langdon had six intercepts between them, showing how hard they were working. The forwards in this game were kicking more goals than behinds, but in all honesty, the Bulldogs backline without Easton Wood lacked any real composure. Goals to Tom McDonald, Sam Weideman and Bayley Fritsch had come from uncontested marks, showing the structure just kept breaking down. Still, Melbourne exploited that situation. Unfortunately, Weideman showed little to commend despite two goals, as he had amassed only 1 handball up to half way in the third quarter, and finishing with six touches in total. As a full forward he needs to be demanding the ball, and holding marks, something he is yet to show on a consistent basis in his career. Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca ... well just the usual day at the office for them — 33 touches for Oliver, 24 Petracca and Max dominating the ruck, along with his partner in Luke Jackson. They move onto the next job with the opposition coaches still unable to work out how to stop them. The Dee-fence of the Melbourne kept the opposition away from the ball, but we are hoping that the Covid fence currently in place will not stop their fans being able to watch their side, on their relentless march to September action for too much longer. MELBOURNE 6.5.41 9.6.60 12.8.80 13.9.87 WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.2.14 6.5.41 6.8.44 8.11.59 GOALS Melbourne Fritsch McDonald 3 Weideman 2 Gawn Harmes Jordon Petracca Pickett Western Bulldogs Bruce 3 English 2 Daniel Naughton Weightman BEST Melbourne Oliver Petracca May Harmes Gawn Lever Western Bulldogs Macrae Dale Smith Daniel Bontempelli INJURIES Melbourne Langdon (concussion) Western Bulldogs Garcia (concussion) REPORTS Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil SUBSTITUTES Melbourne Sparrow (replaced Langdon) Western Bulldogs Butler (replaced Garcia) UMPIRES Andrew Stephens Ray Chamberlain Nathan Williamson OFFICIAL CROWD 0 at Marvel Stadium
  2. Last week I predicted a comfortable Melbourne victory for its game against Adelaide. “Something in the order of 61 points”, I opined. Well, after the game, I checked the wording of my preview very carefully from all angles and I have now concluded that I have to issue an apology to Demon fans. I got it wrong. I’m not bitter and twisted about my error in failing to predict the coaching errors, defensive mistakes, lack of forward pressure and, of course, the complete failure of those officiating to do so in a professional manner. Really, I’m not. So let’s get over it and discuss Friday’s game between the two top teams in the AFL competition. The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne had a number of items on their to do lists in common last week. One of the main ones was that both had to beat opponents sitting in the bottom third of the ladder. Accordingly, both were expected to win — and win well. However, their respective encounters could not have produced different outcomes. The Bulldogs tore the Saints apart from the get go. Jack Macrae (41 touches), BaIley Dale (34) and Tom Liberatore (31) dominated proceedings while skipper Marcus Bontempelli and forward Aaron Naughton kicked nine goals between them. It was a slaughter, a 111 point victory that tore the heart and soul out of the St Kilda. On the other hand, Melbourne ... could I please apologise again? I got it wrong. Now to the game itself ... and quite a pall has been cast over a matchup that’s been rare in the recent history of both football clubs - a top two clash. It should have been a high profile contest attracting maximum publicity for reasons purely related to the football contest that was about to unfold. Unfortunately, just when we thought it was safe to go outside and enjoy the finer things in life like football, that dreadful bug once again managed to walk undetected right under the noses of our gold standard quarantine watchdogs. Most discussion this week has therefore been as to whether the round will go ahead. The Bulldogs had to be isolated earlier in the week and even the venue for the contest was considered a Covid19 hotspot with another game between the Hawks and the Suns already scrapped (really, would anyone have noticed?). Assuming it goes on, this game will provide a fascinating contest for the depleted midfields of both clubs with Jack Viney missing from the Demons and Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar out for the Doggies. A lot will depend on the winner of the contest between the remaining midfielders which might boil down to an arm wrestling match with an ascendency for only one part of a quarter proving the difference. In looking at the midfields, Melbourne might have the ascendency through its rucks with Luke Jackson the most mobile two metre midfielder in the game these days. The Bulldogs appear to have the superior forward line on current form and despite an off week against the Crows last week, the Demons’ strength is in its defence and the pressure that division is able to impose on its opponents (and Christian Salem’s return from last week’s mystery injury will be a help). I’m finding it difficult to separate the teams in this top of the table clash so out of an abundance of caution and in order to enable me to avoid issuing another apology next week, I’m tipping the Dishlickers to win by a point. THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, Friday, 28 May, 2021 at 7.50pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Western Bulldogs 77 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw At Marvel Stadium Western Bulldogs 10 wins Melbourne 8 wins Last Five Meetings Western Bulldogs 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches Beveridge 2 wins Goodwin 3 wins MEDIA TV live and on demand on Kayo and live on Foxtel. Check your local guides. Radio - check your local guides. THE LAST TIME THEY MET Western Bulldogs 12.8.80 defeated Melbourne 7.10.52 at Metricon Stadium in Round 13, 2020 This game marked Melbourne’s ultimate downfall for 2020. Leading by 7 points at the half time break, the Demons capitulated to the superior Bulldog midfield which carved them up both on the inside and outside in the half hour that followed. Christian Petracca and Jack Viney were Melbourne’s best but on the whole, the team wasn’t good enough. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B: T. Duryea 15 A. Keath 42 H. Crozier 9 HB: B. Williams 34 Z. Cordy 12 C. Daniel 35 C: B. Dale 31 T. Liberatore 21 J. Johannisen 39 HF: L. Hunter 7 J. Bruce 17 C. Weightman 19 F: T. English 44 A. Naughton 33 M. Bontempelli 4 Foll: J. Sweet 41 J. Macrae 11 B. Smith 6 I/C: R. Garcia 38 P. Lipinski 27 L. McNeil 30 R. Smith 37 Sub: L. Butler 18 Emerg: R. Gardner 43 R. West 14 L. Young 2 In: T. English R Garcia P. Lipinski Out: M. Hannan (calf)A. Scott (managed) A. Treloar (ankle) MELBOURNE B: J. Hunt 29 S. May 1 J. Lever 8 HB: C. Salem 3 H. Petty 35 M. Hibberd 14 C: A. Brayshaw 10 C. Petracca 5 E. Langdon 15 HF J. Jordon 23 T. McDonald 25 J. Melksham 18 F: B. Fritsch 31 S. Weideman 26 C. Spargo 9 Foll: M. Gawn 11 C. Oliver 13 K. Pickett 36 I/C: J. Harmes 4 L. Jackson 6 A. Neal-Bullen 30 T. Rivers 24 Sub: T. Sparrow 32 Emerg: J. Bowey 17 B. Brown 50 K. Chandler 37 In: C. Salem Out: N. Jetta (omitted) Injury List: Round 11 Christian Salem (groin) — Available Aaron vandenBerg (quad) — Available Jack Viney (toe) — 2 to 3 Weeks Joel Smith (knee) — 3 to 4 Weeks Deakyn Smith (ankle) — 4 to 5 Weeks Bailey Laurie (eye socket) — 5 to 6 Weeks Marty Hore (knee) — Season Aaron Nietschke (knee) — Season Adam Tomlinson (knee) — Season
  3. They simply outclassed us in the middle and all over the ground after half time. WESTERN BULLDOGS FB Easton Wood Alex Keath Caleb Daniel HB Bailey Williams Ryan Gardner Hayden Crozier C Bailey Smith Jack Macrae Lachie Hunter HF Toby McLean Josh Bruce Mitch Wallis FF Tom Liberatore Aaron Naughton Ben Cavarra FOL Tim English Marcus Bontempelli Josh Dunkley I/C Jason Johannisen Patrick Lipinski Ed Richards Laitham Vandermeer, EM Tory Dickson Riley Garcia Roarke Smith Lewis Young IN Josh Bruce Hayden Crozier Jason Johannisen Laitham Vandermeer OUT Bailey Dale (omitted) Sam Lloyd (omitted) Roarke Smith (managed) Rhylee West (groin) MELBOURNE FB Jay Lockhart Steven May Jake Lever HB Christian Salem Adam Tomlinson Michael Hibberd C Ed Langdon Jack Viney James Harmes HF Nathan Jones Sam Weideman Christian Petracca FF Kysaiah Pickett Tom McDonald Bayley Fritsch FOL Braydon Preuss Jake Melksham Clayton Oliver I/C Angus Brayshaw Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow Aaron vandenBerg EMG Mitch Brown Mitch Hannan Trent Rivers Joel Smith NO CHANGE
  4. May I have your votes for this afternoon’s game please - 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  5. There’s been a lot of discussion in recent days about who are the most improved players in the competition but when it comes to the title of the most improved team in the AFL, Melbourne must be shortening as favourite. Last year’s Demons won only 5 games out of 22 but this year, it’s 6 out of 11 and that’s massive! In terms of percentage, the improvement is also tremendous. Last year, they finished with just 78.6%. This year, it stands at 118.2%. Need I say more? Yes — there’s still today, a day upon which a win is absolutely essential in shaping the course of the remainder of 2020.
  6. The Melbourne Football Club should hand out an award to the person who came up with the concept of the 20 day football frenzy the football world experienced from Round 9 to the completion of Round 12 on Monday. When the AFL fixture was moved into a state of perpetual motion, things changed so quickly that it was difficult to fathom exactly what was happening to the competition but the Demons have been one of the beneficiaries to date. The flogging the team received at the hands of Port Adelaide at the Gabba in late July that evoked the Chairman’s angry response seems a distant memory. Melbourne’s plight was considered with shock and awe by all and sundry in the football world in much the same way as the world looked at the Titanic when it hit that iceberg in the North Atlantic; left sinking near the bottom. Then, in the short space of eleven days, the ship was salvaged, the engine room was restored to full capacity and the vessel was last seen steaming towards safe harbours. A football miracle! The miracle can be explained in terms of the resolution of problems exposed in the game against Port and earlier losses during this season and the last. A number of selection issues were dealt with, we saw better and more efficient composition from the midfield, there was better spread and more creativity from the forwards, more composure around the ground and a strengthening of the already solid back half. In short, things began to gel - and with the team at peak fitness, they rolled over three opponents with massive final quarters. Suddenly, they were in the top eight. As Angus Brayshaw said in an interview earlier this week, “It's taken a bit to get going but we feel like now when we go out and play there's a bit of a blueprint on how to do it. You just have to keep doing it against the best teams.” And that final sentence is the crux of the matter going forward. The first two teams in the triple header of wins in a fortnight are languishing at the bottom of the ladder, while facing an injury depleted Collingwood coming off a four day break was like approaching road kill. So while the frenzy has seen a restoration of belief, it has yet to answer the big question facing the Demons in 2020. This year, Melbourne has lost to the five teams in the competition that have a superior percentage and, of the teams above it on the ladder, it has yet to play against St Kilda. The Saints are coming soon but in the meantime, the Demons face a major challenge in the big eight point game against the Western Bulldogs who were catapulted into form by the hapless Crows at the weekend. The importance of a win this week simply cannot be underestimated as it would virtually see off a major competitor in the quest for a finals place. In the run up to finals, you must win the games where you have the control of your own destiny. This is therefore, where the team has to address and fulfill Glenn Bartlett’s call to arms from the early days of the frenzy. For their game against the Bulldogs, Melbourne faces the strongest midfield it has come against since the games against Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Led by Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore and with an up and coming ruckman in Tim English, this is as tough an on-ball division as you can meet. And with Aaron Naughton back at full forward, the Doggies’ attack looks so much more assured than it was just a few weeks ago. The teams look evenly matched and there’s no doubt, that the Western Bulldogs present a formidable opposition that will be desperate to win. This is Melbourne’s big moment. The team has won three nice games in a row, each by more than fifty points but this week will be different. I’m banking on superior fitness and the momentum built up during the weeks frenzy to continue to give them victory, but only just. Melbourne by 5 points. THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 22 August 2020 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Western Bulldogs 77 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw At Metricon Stadium Western Bulldogs 0 wins Melbourne 0 wins Last Five Meetings Western Bulldogs 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches Beveridge 1 win Goodwin 3 wins MEDIA TV – Fox Footy Channel live at 1.30pm Radio – Triple M 3AW SEN ABC 774 AFL Nation THE LAST TIME THEY MET Western Bulldogs 10.14.74 defeated Melbourne 9.12.66 at Marvel Stadium in Round 17, 2019 The teams slugged it out until well into the final quarter when Bayley Fritsch was awarded a free kick close to goal with minutes to go. A goal would have put the Dees 2 points in arrears with enough time to turn the result around. However, Fritsch played on and his snap for goal just missed. The Bulldogs had their eyes on the finals and they managed to hold on for a vital win. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS FB Easton Wood Alex Keath Caleb Daniel HB Bailey Williams Ryan Gardner Hayden Crozier C Bailey Smith Jack Macrae Lachie Hunter HF Toby McLean Josh Bruce Mitch Wallis FF Tom Liberatore Aaron Naughton Ben Cavarra FOL Tim English Marcus Bontempelli Josh Dunkley I/C Jason Johannisen Patrick Lipinski Ed Richards Laitham Vandermeer, EM Tory Dickson Riley Garcia Roarke Smith Lewis Young IN Josh Bruce Hayden Crozier Jason Johannisen Laitham Vandermeer OUT Bailey Dale (omitted) Sam Lloyd (omitted) Roarke Smith (managed) Rhylee West (groin) MELBOURNE FB Jay Lockhart Steven May Jake Lever HB Christian Salem Adam Tomlinson Michael Hibberd C Ed Langdon Jack Viney James Harmes HF Nathan Jones Sam Weideman Christian Petracca FF Kysaiah Pickett Tom McDonald Bayley Fritsch FOL Braydon Preuss Jake Melksham Clayton Oliver I/C Angus Brayshaw Charlie Spargo Tom Sparrow Aaron vandenBerg EMG Mitch Brown Mitch Hannan Trent Rivers Joel Smith NO CHANGE Injury/Suspension List: Round 13 Max Gawn (knee) – test Braydon Preuss (hip) - test Alex Neal-Bullen (suspension) – 2 matches Luke Jackson (hamstring) – 4 - 6 weeks Marty Hore (toe and quad) – indefinite Harry Petty (groin) – indefinite Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – indefinite Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season
  7. The Western Bulldogs are currently crushing winless Adelaide at Metricon Stadium, the scene of their clash with Melbourne this coming Saturday. The Doggies won the day late last year at Marvel Stadium in a close match up with the team listed below. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B Jason Johannisen Jackson Trengove Hayden Crozier HB Taylor Duryea Zaine Cordy Easton Wood C Lachie Hunter Bailey Smith Patrick Lipinski HF Matthew Suckling Josh Schache Sam Lloyd F Aaron Naughton Marcus Bontempelli Tory Dickson FOLL Tim English Josh Dunkley Jack Macrae I/C Toby McLean Ed Richards Roarke Smith Bailey Williams EMG Bailey Dale Dale Morris Rhylee West Lachie Young NO CHANGE MELBOURNE B Jake Lever Steven May Neville Jetta HB Michael Hibberd Sam Frost Christian Salem C Jayden Hunt Jordan Lewis Nathan Jones HF James Harmes Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch F Mitch Hannan Braydon Preuss Angus Brayshaw FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Clayton Oliver I/C Kyle Dunkley Jay Lockhart Alex Neal-Bullen Harrison Petty EMG: Jay Kennedy Harris Oscar McDonald Corey Wagner Josh Wagner IN Max Gawn Neville Jetta Jake Lever Oscar McDonald Corey Wagner Josh Wagner OUT Marty Hore (collarbone) Tom McDonald (knee) Sam Weideman (calf)
  8. After witnessing the winning performances in this round of two other clubs heavily affected by injuries - Collingwood and Essendon - all I can say is the time for making excuses is well and truly over.
  9. There was so much hype proliferating about Melbourne’s prospects for season 2019 a mere four months ago, that one could be forgiven for thinking anyone contemplating the prospect of a bottom four finish for the Demons at the time was barking mad. That however, is the prospect that they face at the moment and a loss to the Bulldogs on Sunday would make it a virtual certainty. The club’s downward spiral after several years of moving steadily on an upward trajectory has been well documented if not well understood. The factors leading to its demise have also been discussed and debated ever since the opening round debacle on the MCG at the hands of Port Adelaide. I don’t propose to go into them here except to bring up the element of continuity. One of the main ingredients in successful teams in our competition is the ability to achieve coherence in play from week to week meaning that teams that have changes forced upon them on a regular basis both between and within games will ultimately fail. This has been the lot of the Melbourne Football Club in 2019 and when we look at that injury list we can get an understanding of the disaster of a season that has confronted the team. The silver lining in the future may well be that a number of individuals who might not otherwise have received their opportunity as early as they have done this year but the fact remains that the continuity that can ensure that teams play well to their game plan has not been in place this season. And so on to Marvel Stadium against the Western Bulldogs who have been almost as flakey as the Demons this year. The two sides look evenly matched on the ground that Melbourne is visiting for the first time this year. It’s also a ground at which they have enjoyed recent success against their opposition and though the Dogs have struck a rare vein of form beating ladder leaders Geelong and finals aspirant Port Adelaide in Adelaide after coming close to victory over Collingwood, I’m not convinced about them. The tightness of the stadium strikes me as suiting Melbourne’s style of play far better than the MCG these days. Who knows, they might even discover ways of kicking goals from 35 metres out on a ground of this configuration given that they still have the ability to win the midfield clearances and get the ball inside their forward fifty metre arc. They simply need to finish things off. I’ve been clamouring all year for more of the Maxy/Preuss combination but my pleas have, until now, fallen on deaf ears. It might now be forced heavily upon the selectors by virtue to injuries to the likes of Tom McDonald and Tim Smith (strangely, the latter isn’t even on the club’s injury list but he missed last week and was with the rehab group at training this week) which, together with Preuss’ form against the Blues, makes him a big chance to play up forward on Maxy’s return. In his previous games in that role he kicked two goals in both matches. When he’s up there in the forward line, his teammates stand taller. So you can call me barking mad but I can see an upset brewing and accordingly, I’m tipping the Demons to get the better of the Bulldogs on Sunday and win by 25 points. THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, Sunday 14 July, 2019 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall Western Bulldogs 76 wins Melbourne 88 wins 1 draw At Marvel Stadium Western Bulldogs 9 wins Melbourne 8 wins Last Five Meetings Western Bulldogs 2 wins Melbourne 3 wins The Coaches Beveridge 0 wins Goodwin 3 wins MEDIA TV – Channel 7 Fox Sports3 live at 3.00pm Radio – TBA THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 18.11.119 defeated Western Bulldogs 10.9.69 at the MCG, Round 17, 2018 The Doggies provided tough opposition until the main break but in the last half, Max Gawn put on a clinic in the ruck and gave his midfield an armchair ride as the team coasted to a 50 point victory. The Bulldogs however, did badly miss their hero, Marcus Bontempelli. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B Jason Johannisen Jackson Trengove Hayden Crozier HB Taylor Duryea Zaine Cordy Easton Wood C Lachie Hunter Bailey Smith Patrick Lipinski HF Matthew Suckling Josh Schache Sam Lloyd F Aaron Naughton Marcus Bontempelli Tory Dickson FOLL Tim English Josh Dunkley Jack Macrae I/C Toby McLean Ed Richards Roarke Smith Bailey Williams EMG Bailey Dale Dale Morris Rhylee West Lachie Young NO CHANGE MELBOURNE B Jake Lever Steven May Neville Jetta HB Michael Hibberd Sam Frost Christian Salem C Jayden Hunt Jordan Lewis Nathan Jones HF James Harmes Christian Petracca Bayley Fritsch F Mitch Hannan Braydon Preuss Angus Brayshaw FOLL Max Gawn Jack Viney Clayton Oliver I/C Kyle Dunkley Jay Lockhart Alex Neal-Bullen Harrison Petty EMG: Jay Kennedy Harris Oscar McDonald Corey Wagner Josh Wagner IN Max Gawn Neville Jetta Jake Lever Oscar McDonald Corey Wagner Josh Wagner OUT Marty Hore (collarbone) Tom McDonald (knee) Sam Weideman (calf) Injury List: Round 17 Jake Lever (knee) – available Neville Jetta (knee) – available Max Gawn (ankle) – test Harry Petty (concussion) – test Marty Hore (collarbone) – 2-4 weeks Billy Stretch (foot) – 3-4 weeks Jake Melksham (foot) – 4-5 weeks Tom Sparrow (knee) – 4-5 weeks Tom McDonald (knee) – TBC Kade Kolodjashnij (head) – TBC Aaron vandenBerg (foot) – TBC Jeff Garlett (shoulder) – season Joel Smith (groin) – season Aaron Nietschke (knee) – season Guy Walker (shoulder) – indefinite
  10. We disposed of them easily twice last year but now, it's complicated ... THE TEAMS  MELBOURNE B Michael Hibberd, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta HB Bernie Vince, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis C Tom McDonald, Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones HF Christian Petracca, Jesse Hogan, Angus Brayshaw F Jeff Garlett, Bayley Fritsch, Jay Kennedy Harris Foll Max Gawn, Mitch Hannan, James Harmes I/C Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem, Charlie Spargo Emg Cameron Pedersen, Dom Tyson, Sam Weideman In Jay Kennedy Harris, Mitch Hannan, Bernie Vince Out Joel Smith (hip), Billy Stretch (toe), Jack Viney (toe) WESTERN BULLDOGS B Marcus Adams, Jackson Trengove, Roarke Smith HB Dale Morris, Zaine Cordy, Jason Johannisen C Patrick Lipinski, Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter HF Ed Richards, Josh Schache, Josh Dunkley F Luke Dahlhaus, Aaron Naughton, Billy Gowers Foll Jordan Roughead, Toby McLean, Mitch Wallis I/C Shane Biggs, Caleb Daniel, Mitch Honeychurch, Brad Lynch Emg Tom Campbell, Fergus Greene, Fletcher Roberts, Lewis Young In Mitch Honeychurch, Jack Macrae, Jordan Roughead Out Marcus Bontempelli (appendix), Tom Boyd (hamstring), Hayden Crozier (hamstring)
  11. It was a dirty day, especially with Lever doing down, but good sides win games when things aren't going their way. We did that today and showed real maturity after it took us 15 minutes to get going. The big one for me was our back line. With Lever going down it left us with just Oscar as a tall defender, and we still kept them to a low score while also doing some wonderful things across half back. Jetta was immense, Hibberd did some good things, Lewis and Vince provided calm heads and even Harmes patrolled across there once Lever went down. It's becoming a real strength of our side. Our mids were smashed in the clearances, which was really surprising. But on the flip side they worked their backsides off once we went 3 goals down and helped to turn things around. Oliver and Gus, in particular, were fantastic. And then you have Hogan and Macca who both kicked bags and showed how awesome they can be together for a long, long time. Awesome stuff. Special mention to Bayley Fritsch as well. What a pick up this kid is. When we traded Watts for the pick we took him with we clearly knew what we were doing. 26 touches and 14 marks is a day out and he just keeps getting better and better. We are 8-3 and playing great footy. We now get an 8 day break and hopefully Lever isn't too badly injured and won't need to spend too much time on the sidelines. Bring on the Filth and our 7th win in a row!!
  12. THE FUGAZI GETS LOUDER by George on The Outer While Melbourne hardly played its best brand of football against the Western Bulldogs, in the end an eight goal win and another boost to percentage has done nothing to quell the fugazi (noise) around the club. After a fifth successive win at Docklands where not a solitary victory was recorded from 2008 to 2015 and with six consecutive wins under the their belts, it is not surprising that the Demon bandwagon is truly up and running. And while the coach and players are trying to keep “a Lid” on it, as we have only reached the half way point of a long, long season, these wins are making a finals appearance this year more of a certainty. The toll that the season and competition takes was shown in no uncertain terms today, when Jake Lever went down with what looks like a season ending knee injury. Others, in Jake Melksham and Tim Smith copped a battering during the game, and will be truly grateful for the nine-day break until the next match. And after the injury losses that befell the club last season, we are too familiar with the cost of losing talented players. Perhaps the grinding nature of the season to date was also showing up in the first quarter as Melbourne just looked tired and out of sorts after their complete demolition of Adelaide the previous week. The Dogs led at quarter time, thereby ending Melbourne’s streak of winning quarters, but it is the result at the end of the game that matters, and the Demons regained some of their composure and simply steamrolled the opposition to run out 49 point winners. With the early loss of Lever, the backs had to regroup, and that they certainly did. Neville Jetta in a tribute to the Douglas Nicholls Round, played an absolute blinder across half-back with 24 touches, 9 marks and 11 contested possessions. Time and time again, it was Neville or nothing and each time he beat his and other opponents to repel the Dogs forward thrusts. He was ably assisted by Michael Hibberd and Oscar McDonald who are proving to be equally solid “impassables” in defence. In the middle Max Gawn got on top after a slow start in the ruck and finished with an incredible 57 hitouts. While the Dogs continued to win clearances, they were always under pressure, while the Demons were cleaner and more methodical with their work at the stoppages. The result: after ¼ time, the Demons kicked 13 goals to a mere four from the Bulldogs. The mids had a field day, but not just in the middle as 14 Melbourne players had 19 or more disposals in the game. They were getting bucketloads of the ball, none more so than Angus Brayshaw and Clarrie Oliver with 39 and 38 touches respectively. It is a sign of the progression of this side, that we hardly notice the 26 and 22 touches from Jones and Viney, something which would have topped the tally sheet not that long ago. Up forward the tag team of Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald cut the opposition defence to pieces again, posting nine goals between them - more than the Dogs total score. Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen and Mitch Hannan continue to be live-wires on the edges and provide those critical links to the forwards. Fritsch has been a revelation and 14 marks in this game as a first year player has cemented his spot in the short term, and longer probably. The Fugazi continues, and you expect there to be plenty of it in the lead up to the QB game against the Pies, who make plenty of their own fugazi, even when they are rubbish. For the Demons, they can do no more than to continue to do what they are doing at the moment, which is to defeat whoever is drawn to play them aeach week. Melbourne 2.1.13 7.4.46 11.7.73 15.10.100 Western Bulldogs 3.3.21 4.6.30 6.8.44 7.9.51 Goals Melbourne Hogan 5 T McDonald 4 Brayshaw Fritsch Hannan Jones Neal-Bullen Petracca Western Bulldogs Bontempelli 2 Gowers Honeychurch Roughead Schache Suckling Best Melbourne Brayshaw Jetta Hogan Gawn T McDonald Oliver Western Bulldogs Bontempelli Hunter McLean Suckling Macrae Morris Injuries Melbourne Lever (knee) Melksham (ankle) T Smith (neck) Western Bulldogs Dickson (hamstring) Reports Nil Umpires Chamberlain, Hay, Wallace Official crowd 28,485 at Etihad Stadium
  13. While Melbourne hardly played its best brand of football against the Western Bulldogs, in the end an eight goal win and another boost to percentage has done nothing to quell the fugazi (noise) around the club. After a fifth successive win at Docklands where not a solitary victory was recorded from 2008 to 2015 and with six consecutive wins under the their belts, it is not surprising that the Demon bandwagon is truly up and running. And while the coach and players are trying to keep “a Lid” on it, as we have only reached the half way point of a long, long season, these wins are making a finals appearance this year more of a certainty. The toll that the season and competition takes was shown in no uncertain terms today, when Jake Lever went down with what looks like a season ending knee injury. Others, in Jake Melksham and Tim Smith copped a battering during the game, and will be truly grateful for the nine-day break until the next match. And after the injury losses that befell the club last season, we are too familiar with the cost of losing talented players. Perhaps the grinding nature of the season to date was also showing up in the first quarter as Melbourne just looked tired and out of sorts after their complete demolition of Adelaide the previous week. The Dogs led at quarter time, thereby ending Melbourne’s streak of winning quarters, but it is the result at the end of the game that matters, and the Demons regained some of their composure and simply steamrolled the opposition to run out 49 point winners. With the early loss of Lever, the backs had to regroup, and that they certainly did. Neville Jetta in a tribute to the Douglas Nicholls Round, played an absolute blinder across half-back with 24 touches, 9 marks and 11 contested possessions. Time and time again, it was Neville or nothing and each time he beat his and other opponents to repel the Dogs forward thrusts. He was ably assisted by Michael Hibberd and Oscar McDonald who are proving to be equally solid “impassables” in defence. In the middle Max Gawn got on top after a slow start in the ruck and finished with an incredible 57 hitouts. While the Dogs continued to win clearances, they were always under pressure, while the Demons were cleaner and more methodical with their work at the stoppages. The result: after ¼ time, the Demons kicked 13 goals to a mere four from the Bulldogs. The mids had a field day, but not just in the middle as 14 Melbourne players had 19 or more disposals in the game. They were getting bucketloads of the ball, none more so than Angus Brayshaw and Clarrie Oliver with 39 and 38 touches respectively. It is a sign of the progression of this side, that we hardly notice the 26 and 22 touches from Jones and Viney, something which would have topped the tally sheet not that long ago. Up forward the tag team of Jesse Hogan and Tom McDonald cut the opposition defence to pieces again, posting nine goals between them - more than the Dogs total score. Bayley Fritsch, Alex Neal-Bullen and Mitch Hannan continue to be live-wires on the edges and provide those critical links to the forwards. Fritsch has been a revelation and 14 marks in this game as a first year player has cemented his spot in the short term, and longer probably. The Fugazi continues, and you expect there to be plenty of it in the lead up to the QB game against the Pies, who make plenty of their own fugazi, even when they are rubbish. For the Demons, they can do no more than to continue to do what they are doing at the moment, which is to defeat whoever is drawn to play them aeach week. Melbourne 2.1.13 7.4.46 11.7.73 15.10.100 Western Bulldogs 3.3.21 4.6.30 6.8.44 7.9.51 Goals Melbourne Hogan 5 T McDonald 4 Brayshaw Fritsch Hannan Jones Neal-Bullen Petracca Western Bulldogs Bontempelli 2 Gowers Honeychurch Roughead Schache Suckling Best Melbourne Brayshaw Jetta Hogan Gawn T McDonald Oliver Western Bulldogs Bontempelli Hunter McLean Suckling Macrae Morris Injuries Melbourne Lever (knee) Melksham (ankle) T Smith (neck) Western Bulldogs Dickson (hamstring) Reports Nil Umpires Chamberlain, Hay, Wallace Official crowd 28,485 at Etihad Stadium
  14. Up bright and early and can see Etihad (or whatever it's called now) from our hotel. Wandered down to the Woolshed last night for some over priced craft beer (don't they sell VB in the city anymore) but will go there again today anyway. I think Bulldogs are about 3 months early as they are going to need an effort of marvel proportions to win this one. Dee's by 15... Goals. Jonesey will tear it up.
  15. THAT'S LIFE by Whispering Jack The fortunes of the Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs Football Clubs intersected when the two sides met in June last year at Etihad Stadium. The Demons were finally and slowly emerging from years of deprivation and suffering in the competition's lower depths while the Bulldogs were rapidly descending from the dizzy heights of the previous year's unexpected September glory. Despite the fact that both sides seemed to be heading in different directions, the outcome was still a shock to all, with the hitherto inconsistent Melbourne combination dominating throughout and, perhaps in a portent of things to come, winning all four quarters. We thought we had made it. We almost had it all but it turned out, that the hopes of a top four placing or even a finals finish were to prove premature, perhaps because the Demons were experiencing a "That's Life" moment as described in the Frank Sinatra hit song. They were riding high during that particular month and they were cut down in the next one but you could mount an argument that it all began with what was otherwise a very happy afternoon at Etihad for Melbourne fans. The victory however, was soured in the final quarter when co-captain Nathan Jones (quad) and Jack Watts (hamstring tightness) were both taken off as a precaution for assessment during the coming week. In the end, both missed the next month and they were joined on the sidelines in the weeks to come by a number of others including the team’s other skipper, Jack Viney. Melbourne went on to record a great victory over the Eagles on the following Saturday but the number of consecutive six day breaks, the injuries and a controversial suspension to Tomas Bugg in the next game against the Swans, all took their toll. The weakened team found themselves flat on their faces and, despite attempts to pick themselves up and get back in the race, the tiring Demons were floundering. Despite the fact that they were perilously close to making the finals for the first time in over a decade, they simply rolled themselves up in a big ball and died at the last hurdle. Poets, dreamers, philosophers and crooners like Frank might well ask whether the experience of a "That's Life" moment last year was a sign for the club and supporters that it was too soon to be thinking of premierships; that had the Demons fallen into the top eight, they might well have suffered the same fate as their replacement Essendon, which was bundled out in humiliation at the hands of the Swans by 80 points in the Elimination Final. The club has bounced back and we now find it again challenging for the finals and a top four finish even more strongly but this time, the team is much better equipped with greater depth, class, durability and experience than it had at this time last year. Just as the great Sinatra was able overcome and recover from extended periods of failure in his career, the time is now right for the Melbourne Football Club. That's life! THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, Saturday 2 June, 2018 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Western Bulldogs 76 wins Melbourne 86 wins 1 draw At Etihad Stadium: Western Bulldogs 9 wins Melbourne 7 wins Last Five Meetings: Western Bulldogs 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches: Beveridge 0 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Live at 1.30pm Radio - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 17.11.113 defeated Western Bulldogs 8.8.56 at Etihad Stadium, Round 13, 2017 Melbourne smashed the reigning premiers by 57 points to move to fifth place on the AFL ladder. It was a spiteful encounter fueled before the game when Tomas Bugg controversially taunted Bulldog Jason Johannisen on social media. The ploy worked as the Demons took advantage of a hesitant opponent to record a comfortable win and stamp their credentials for a place in the finals. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B: Matthew Suckling, Jackson Trengove, Ed Richards HB: Bailey Williams, Dale Morris, Easton Wood C : Jason Johannisen, Lachie Hunter, Patrick Lipinski HF: Caleb Daniel, Josh Schache, Tory Dickson F: Luke Dahlhaus, Marcus Bontempelli, Billy Gowers Foll: Tom Boyd, Toby McLean, Jack Macrae I/C: Hayden Crozier, Mitch Honeychurch, Jordan Roughead, Roarke Smith Emg: Tom Campbell, Lin Jong, Lukas Webb, Lewis Young In: Mitch Honeychurch, Dale Morris Out: Zaine Cordy (concussion), Bailey Dale (foot) MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Angus Brayshaw, Jake Lever, Jordan Lewis C : Bernie Vince, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones HF: James Harmes, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham F: Tim Smith, Tom McDonald, Christian Petracca Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Charlie Spargo Emg: Tom Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Tom Bugg, Joel Smith, Billy Stretch NO CHANGE THE PARADOX The paradox about a game in which Melbourne starts as clear favourite is the fact that the Western Bulldogs will take the field with more than half a team comprised of premiership players while their counterparts have just one, and only a handful have even been a part of finals football. Co-captain Nathan Jones, who will be playing in his 250th match, is the only current team member to have tasted the finals experience as a Demon. That we have to go back in time only 20 months to the time when the Western Bulldogs stormed their way to the flag, is testament to the fickleness of our sport. They were on top one day and twelve months later, they finished in the bottom half of the ladder. Today, with almost half the season gone, they occupy a place in the bottom six with a percentage south of 80. And yet, the Doggies still have some of the game’s elite within their ranks. The in-form Jack Macrae is at the head of many of the media’s best player rankings, Marcus Bontempelli is regarded among the game’s top shelf while it was not long ago that the likes of Luke Dahlhaus, Lachlan Hunter, Jason Johannisen and Easton Wood were the toast of the town. Despite their past two defeats at the hands of top eight sides, they did win three games on the trot in rounds six to eight. The problem for the Bulldogs is that they have lost enough of the keys to the premiership success through retirement, injury or loss of form and have been unable to fill the void in class. As a consequence, their team appears unbalanced, inexperienced and down in confidence. In short, they are a long way from being capable of replicating the magic of September, 2016. Going back to those very recent heady days, it would have been unthinkable to consider them as being vulnerable to Melbourne in any game played at where the Bulldogs were lords and masters. These days however, the ground is a veritable fortress for the Demons who shook off the gloom of consecutive losses to Hawthorn and Richmond earlier this year to beat Essendon and St Kilda at the beginning of their current winning streak. They have won four games in a row at Etihad Stadium, a place which was not long ago viewed by their fans with shock, fear and awe. But it’s a different Melbourne these days. On the back of its current winning streak, it has established an unenviable record - it leads the competition in percentage, it’s the highest scoring team, number one for inside 50s and marks inside that area and most importantly, is the winner of the contested possession count. Add the dominance of ruckman Max Gawn and the fact that Jack Viney is finding his feet (and pardon the pun) after his long stint out with injury, it’s hard tipping against the Demons who could only lose if they start bathing in the glory of the complimentary publicity they’ve been receiving of late. With co-captain Nathan Jones leading then out for his 250th game reminding them of how much effort is required for a downtrodden side to lift itself back up to get in the race, I expect the team to be well grounded and up to the task of making it six in a row. Melbourne by 51 points
  16. The fortunes of the Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs Football Clubs intersected when the two sides met in June last year at Etihad Stadium. The Demons were finally and slowly emerging from years of deprivation and suffering in the competition's lower depths while the Bulldogs were rapidly descending from the dizzy heights of the previous year's unexpected September glory. Despite the fact that both sides seemed to be heading in different directions, the outcome was still a shock to all, with the hitherto inconsistent Melbourne combination dominating throughout and, perhaps in a portent of things to come, winning all four quarters. We thought we had made it. We almost had it all but it turned out, that the hopes of a top four placing or even a finals finish were to prove premature, perhaps because the Demons were experiencing a "That's Life" moment as described in the Frank Sinatra hit song. They were riding high during that particular month and they were cut down in the next one but you could mount an argument that it all began with what was otherwise a very happy afternoon at Etihad for Melbourne fans. The victory however, was soured in the final quarter when co-captain Nathan Jones (quad) and Jack Watts (hamstring tightness) were both taken off as a precaution for assessment during the coming week. In the end, both missed the next month and they were joined on the sidelines in the weeks to come by a number of others including the team’s other skipper, Jack Viney. Melbourne went on to record a great victory over the Eagles on the following Saturday but the number of consecutive six day breaks, the injuries and a controversial suspension to Tomas Bugg in the next game against the Swans, all took their toll. The weakened team found themselves flat on their faces and, despite attempts to pick themselves up and get back in the race, the tiring Demons were floundering. Despite the fact that they were perilously close to making the finals for the first time in over a decade, they simply rolled themselves up in a big ball and died at the last hurdle. Poets, dreamers, philosophers and crooners like Frank might well ask whether the experience of a "That's Life" moment last year was a sign for the club and supporters that it was too soon to be thinking of premierships; that had the Demons fallen into the top eight, they might well have suffered the same fate as their replacement Essendon, which was bundled out in humiliation at the hands of the Swans by 80 points in the Elimination Final. The club has bounced back and we now find it again challenging for the finals and a top four finish even more strongly but this time, the team is much better equipped with greater depth, class, durability and experience than it had at this time last year. Just as the great Sinatra was able overcome and recover from extended periods of failure in his career, the time is now right for the Melbourne Football Club. That's life! *** Scroll Down for Whispering Jack's Prediction *** THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, Saturday 2 June, 2018 at 1.45pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Western Bulldogs 76 wins Melbourne 86 wins 1 draw At Etihad Stadium: Western Bulldogs 9 wins Melbourne 7 wins Last Five Meetings: Western Bulldogs 3 wins Melbourne 2 wins The Coaches: Beveridge 0 wins Goodwin 1 win MEDIA TV - Fox Sports Live at 1.30pm Radio - Triple M 3AW ABC ABC Grandstand THE LAST TIME THEY MET Melbourne 17.11.113 defeated Western Bulldogs 8.8.56 at Etihad Stadium, Round 13, 2017 Melbourne smashed the reigning premiers by 57 points to move to fifth place on the AFL ladder. It was a spiteful encounter fueled before the game when Tomas Bugg controversially taunted Bulldog Jason Johannisen on social media. The ploy worked as the Demons took advantage of a hesitant opponent to record a comfortable win and stamp their credentials for a place in the finals. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B: Matthew Suckling, Jackson Trengove, Ed Richards HB: Bailey Williams, Dale Morris, Easton Wood C : Jason Johannisen, Lachie Hunter, Patrick Lipinski HF: Caleb Daniel, Josh Schache, Tory Dickson F: Luke Dahlhaus, Marcus Bontempelli, Billy Gowers Foll: Tom Boyd, Toby McLean, Jack Macrae I/C: Hayden Crozier, Mitch Honeychurch, Jordan Roughead, Roarke Smith Emg: Tom Campbell, Lin Jong, Lukas Webb, Lewis Young In: Mitch Honeychurch, Dale Morris Out: Zaine Cordy (concussion), Bailey Dale (foot) MELBOURNE B: Michael Hibberd, Oscar McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Angus Brayshaw, Jake Lever, Jordan Lewis C : Bernie Vince, Jack Viney, Nathan Jones HF: James Harmes, Jesse Hogan, Jake Melksham F: Tim Smith, Tom McDonald, Christian Petracca Foll: Max Gawn, Christian Salem, Clayton Oliver I/C: Bayley Fritsch, Mitch Hannan, Alex Neal-Bullen, Charlie Spargo Emg: Tom Bugg, Cameron Pedersen, Joel Smith, Billy Stretch NO CHANGE THE PARADOX The paradox about a game in which Melbourne starts as clear favourite is the fact that the Western Bulldogs will take the field with more than half a team comprised of premiership players while their counterparts have just one, and only a handful have even been a part of finals football. Co-captain Nathan Jones, who will be playing in his 250th match, is the only current team member to have tasted the finals experience as a Demon. That we have to go back in time only 20 months to the time when the Western Bulldogs stormed their way to the flag, is testament to the fickleness of our sport. They were on top one day and twelve months later, they finished in the bottom half of the ladder. Today, with almost half the season gone, they occupy a place in the bottom six with a percentage south of 80. And yet, the Doggies still have some of the game’s elite within their ranks. The in-form Jack Macrae is at the head of many of the media’s best player rankings, Marcus Bontempelli is regarded among the game’s top shelf while it was not long ago that the likes of Luke Dahlhaus, Lachlan Hunter, Jason Johannisen and Easton Wood were the toast of the town. Despite their past two defeats at the hands of top eight sides, they did win three games on the trot in rounds six to eight. The problem for the Bulldogs is that they have lost enough of the keys to the premiership success through retirement, injury or loss of form and have been unable to fill the void in class. As a consequence, their team appears unbalanced, inexperienced and down in confidence. In short, they are a long way from being capable of replicating the magic of September, 2016. Going back to those very recent heady days, it would have been unthinkable to consider them as being vulnerable to Melbourne in any game played at where the Bulldogs were lords and masters. These days however, the ground is a veritable fortress for the Demons who shook off the gloom of consecutive losses to Hawthorn and Richmond earlier this year to beat Essendon and St Kilda at the beginning of their current winning streak. They have won four games in a row at Etihad Stadium, a place which was not long ago viewed by their fans with shock, fear and awe. But it’s a different Melbourne these days. On the back of its current winning streak, it has established an unenviable record - it leads the competition in percentage, it’s the highest scoring team, number one for inside 50s and marks inside that area and most importantly, is the winner of the contested possession count. Add the dominance of ruckman Max Gawn and the fact that Jack Viney is finding his feet (and pardon the pun) after his long stint out with injury, it’s hard tipping against the Demons who could only lose if they start bathing in the glory of the complimentary publicity they’ve been receiving of late. With co-captain Nathan Jones leading then out for his 250th game reminding them of how much effort is required for a downtrodden side to lift itself back up to get in the race, I expect the team to be well grounded and up to the task of making it six in a row. Melbourne by 51 points
  17. There is a quote that is often misattributed to Albert Einstein which goes along these lines: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” meaning that if you always follow an unsuccessful pattern, you will inevitably always fail. It turns out that Einstein never said it but whoever did, perfectly encapsulated the 2018 campaign of the Melbourne women's team. Since after the opening round, the Demons have been shooting themselves in the foot with strong starting quarters followed by poor kicking for goal and performances that were punctuated by hesitancy and indecisive play, some absolute howlers (missing after running into open goals has been a special) that ultimately cost them a grand final place. Against the Bulldogs, the same mad pattern was there for all to see although this time, they had first use of the breeze after captain Daisy Pearce won the toss so they were always likely to hold a lead at the end of the opening term. And so it was, that Melbourne controlled the ball for much of the term when kicking to the southern end. As usual they had a lopsided inside 50 advantage of 11 to 2, but all they had to show for the dominance was a seven point lead thanks to a solitary Richelle Cranston goal. After the break, the Bulldogs showed the Demons how things should be done properly by going on the attack and, after a couple of early behinds, the goals came regularly - they snagged three goals in the first 12 minutes and though the visitors came back with a goal to Karen Paxman in a rare foray forward, it would have taken a genius like Einstein to get them across the line from there. Katherine Smith’s snapped goal just three minutes into the the third term offered some hope but those insane Demons lapsed into their pattern of wastefulness. They kept the Doggies scoreless for what is often known as “the premiership quarter” but they managed only one goal from seven scoring shots with their second use of the breeze. It was the old familiar pattern from that game in Fremantle. No urgency and no desire to go in for the kill but rather, a slow approach that gave opposition defenders the chance to apply that little bit of extra pressure when going for goal. They tried hard to stem the flow in the last and even tantalised the fans by regaining the lead with Kate Hore’s diving mark and goal but, as fate would have it, the Bulldogs’ Brooke Lochland kicked accurately for the winning goal with less than a minute and a half left to play. The pattern had been followed: the season was over. Melbourne 1.1.7 2.1.13 3.7.25 4.7.31 Western Bulldogs 0.0.0 3.2.20 3.2.20 5.3.33 Goals Melbourne Cranston Hore Paxman Smith Western Bulldogs Berry Brennan Conti Kearney Lochland Best Melbourne Paxman Smith L Pearce Downie O'Dea, Jakobsson Western Bulldogs Kearney Blackburn Bruton Spark, Conti Birch Injuries Melbourne Lampard (knee) Western Bulldogs Nil Umpires Mirable, Dore, Johanson Official crowd 7,593 at VU Whitten Oval
  18. Going early I know but ... so are the Doggies' supporters ?
  19. BEST ON SHOW by the Oracle Once the dramatic events of the AFL's sensational Round 12 were done and dusted, all the talk of the town was about the dogs. The question as to whether the Western Bulldogs were experiencing a premiership hangover was one of the biggest discussion points in football. The young side that captured the hearts and the imagination of the football public with their fantastic exploits in 2016 were said to no longer be as hungry or as ruthless as they were back then. Some even suggested they were in danger of possibility dropping out of the top eight altogether. Which inevitably makes the encounter between Melbourne and the Bullies at Etihad Stadium this weekend a truly intriguing contest. For starters, despite the close scrutiny and the handwringing over some of their recent displays, Luke Beveridge's charges are starting as strong favourite, perhaps largely due to the gravitas generated from being the reigning premier or simply because of the expected return from injury of a trio of stars from last year's finals campaign - Tom Boyd, Dale Morris and Clay Smith along with the likely promotion of Tom Liberatore who starred when the teams met last year. For the Demons' part, they're coming into this game on a high after the pulsating come from behind victory over the Magpies, a win that was remarkable because they managed to overcome the fact that they lost the hit out count by a massive 14 to 65 and were out marked by 62 to 112. That sort of discrepancy suggests in simple terms that in order to win the game a massive effort was required at ground level and this in turn, creates another dilemma for coach Simon Goodwin who potentially has both of his twin 200cm towers available for selection. Will he change what has been an effective structure over the past few weeks to bring in one of those big men and what will he do to cater for the string of six day breaks and interstate trips coming up in the immediate future? In a season of topsy turvy results and unpredictability, it's hard to discern what team from either club will be on show at the weekend, or even from quarter to quarter within the match. Will the Demons continue the momentum of their push up the ladder, will the Bulldogs bite as they did last September or merely bark without impacting the result of the game. Which team will put its best on show? THE GAME Western Bulldogs v Melbourne at Etihad Stadium, Sunday 18 June, 2017 at 3.20pm HEAD TO HEAD Overall: Western Bulldogs 76 wins Melbourne 85 wins 1 draw At Etihad Stadium: Western Bulldogs 9 wins Melbourne 6 wins Last Five Meetings: Western Bulldogs 4 wins Melbourne 1 win The Coaches: Beveridge 0 wins Goodwin 0 wins MEDIA TV - Fox Footy Channel live at 3.00pm Radio - Triple M, 3AW, SEN, ABC, ABC Grandstand THE BETTING Western Bulldogs $1.50 to win Melbourne $2.60 to win THE LAST TIME THEY MET Western Bulldogs 17.12.114 defeated Melbourne 12.10.82 at Etihad Stadium, Round 8, 2016 The Bulldogs were at the top of their game while the young Demons were coming off a 73 point win away from home against the Suns and were momentarily in the top eight. However, they failed to match the relentless tackling of their opponents with the currently unloved Bulldog, Tom Liberatore, ironically leading the tackle count with 19. Jack Viney was the Demons' best. THE TEAMS WESTERN BULLDOGS B: Dale Morris, Zaine Cordy, Jason Johannisen HB: Shane Biggs, Easton Wood, Matthew Suckling C: Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae, Tory Dickson HF: Caleb Daniel, Tom Boyd, Toby McLean F: Lin Jong, Jake Stringer, Liam Picken FOLL: Jordan Roughead, Marcus Bontempelli, Mitch Wallis I/C: Luke Dahlhaus, Bailey Dale, Mitch Honeychurch, Tom Liberatore EMG: Tom Campbell, Lukas Webb, Bailey Williams IN: Tom Boyd, Zaine Cordy, Mitch Honeychurch, Tom Liberatore, Dale Morris OUT: Marcus Adams (foot), Matthew Boyd (omitted), Travis Cloke (soreness), Tim English (omitted) Fletcher Roberts (omitted) MELBOURNE B: Oscar McDonald, Tom McDonald, Neville Jetta HB: Michael Hibberd, Sam Frost, Bernie Vince C: Jayden Hunt, Jordan Lewis, Nathan Jones HF: Clayton Oliver, Jack Watts, Mitch Hannan F: Tom Bugg, Christian Petracca, Jeff Garlett FOLL: Cam Pedersen, Dom Tyson, Jack Viney I/C: James Harmes, Jake Melksham, Alex Neal-Bullen, Christian Salem EMG: Ben Kennedy, Jake Spencer, Sam Weideman NO CHANGE There's one thing you can't rely upon these days when trying to predict the outcome of AFL games and that's current form. If you could, then Melbourne would be an odds on favourite, having lost only once in the last month and a half while the Western Bulldogs have won only once since round 8 and are coming off a 46-point loss against Sydney. Their lacklustre form, an unsettled line up and their inability to match the pressure and intensity of 2016 are certainly worrying for their coach and supporters and yet, they remain well fancied to win this match against the Demons who go into the game with an unchanged team from Monday's Queens Birthday blockbuster win. Melbourne is seemingly on the up and up while the Dogs are likely to drop out of the top eight after this round if they lose this game - an extraordinary state of affairs for a reigning premier. The factor that turns everything on its head is ironically the one that is often used as a pointer to why a given team will lose and that's team stability. The Bulldogs go into the game with five changes which many suggest is counterproductive to winning especially against a team with "no change" posted against its name following team selection. However, in the unstable football climate of 2017, this doesn't quite stand up. Former skipper and 290 gamer, Matthew Boyd may well be the eighth Bulldog premiership player to be dropped this year, but they have some handy players coming back and primed to add the intensity the team's performances have been lacking during the past month or so. Young Libba was their match winner when the teams last met and the other inclusions add solidity to the side. And their young stars like Bontempelli, Stringer and McCrae are all due for big games. The Demons won't be easy to beat - they are a tough proposition this year - ranked in the top four for contested possessions and tackles and seventh for clearances. They do however, have a tendency towards inconsistency both during and between games and their slow starts are a worry. One theory concerning this trend is the lack of a tall ruckman which has hounded the club after early-season injuries to Max Gawn and Jake Spencer but the decision to shun the latter now that he's fit and available, suggests the Melbourne selectors disagree. They will be banking on the no ruck policy but I'm not sure that strategy works often enough in these unpredictable times. Western Bulldogs by 3 points.
  20. The train trip home following the Melbourne v Doggies match was almost deathly quiet. It was packed with Demon supporters, yet there was little exuberance following the win. Trouble is the fans had no idea what to do now that their team is sitting comfortably in the top eight (in fifth place to be precise), a full game and percentage clear. Their team had just beaten the reigning premier by almost ten goals; it had won its third game in succession and did that coming off a six-day break at a ground where until a little over twelve months ago, it had experienced a long unbroken string of failure. And this with its All Australian ruckman and a serious quality key forward out of action! Wadda we do? The MFCSS is strong, but there must now be the realisation that in season 2017 the Demons are the real deal. It is not too hard to think that but for the couple of close games lost when injury intervened, the team could be well be sitting on top of the AFL ladder! With much hype before the game about the aggressive approach the Demons were going to bring, it was to be quite frank, truly unexpected when that is exactly what Melbourne did. Right from the start (and not after incurring a four goal deficit, as has often been the case this year) the players were right in the faces of the Bulldogs. They were unable to get their swarming forward running going as they were pressured constantly into fumbles and turnovers. Surprisingly, Luke Beveridge failed to respond in any way from the box as he stuck with the same structures throughout the game. Melbourne had a wave of players coming off half-back at centre bounces, while the Bulldogs had either three or four players on the wing. Whichever side the ball came to the Dogs were always a man down. This situation was helped enormously by the great work done in the ruck by primarily Tom McDonald. While the Dogs won the hit out count by 61 to 19, the clearance number was an extraordinary 40 to 34 in the Demons' favour. Clayton Oliver continued his stellar year, and if you watch him carefully he is simply not entitled to get the ball as often as he does. But he is as tough as nails and just keeps on doing it. He then delivers to the runners and the Demons are away. What a contrast to 2 or 3 years ago when Nathan Jones battled manfully alone in the middle. Today with Oliver, Viney, Lewis and others we even saw Simon Goodwin “blooding” Mitch Hannan in the engine room as well. Tom Bugg did exactly what his name suggested and annoyed and pestered the Footscray players to the point where they gifted him a free kick after a Demon goal to score yet another. Not only that but he provided plenty of run and contested marking both up forward and around the ground. When the team plays this well, it is difficult to record the efforts of everyone. But Oscar McDonald was a standout in the backline with 23 disposals, 12 marks and 8 rebounds from defensive 50. Michael Hibberd was equally as unforgiving and stingy with 27 touches 11 marks and 5 rebound 50’s. A special mention to Neville Jetta who doesn’t worry the statisticians too much, but there should be a special stat for “thank goodness Neville was there”, because his spoiling and contesting is simply first rate and he is always where and when needed. There may be some injury concerns, not surprisingly given the brutal aspects that the Demons brought to the game, with Nathan Jones, Jack Watts and Jayden Hunt all taking a battering, but in the cases of Watts and Jones they were afforded the luxury of resting for virtually the whole last quarter. So wadda we do now? In years past, a follow-up game against West Coast in Perth after another six-day break would be a certain flogging. After this game and the style and emphatic display put on by the Demons, the expectations are surely higher. It is the chance to put another bogy to bed with a Perth win, but if it were to happen, then the rest of the competition will really sit up and take notice. And the Demon fans will really find their voices ... Melbourne 4.2.26 8.6.54 14.7.91 17.11.113 Western Bulldogs 0.1.1 3.3.21 6.5.41 8.8.56 Goals Melbourne Watts 3 Bugg Garlett Hannan T McDonald 2 Harmes Melksham Neal-Bullen Petracca Salem Tyson Western Bulldogs Bontempelli T Boyd Dahlhaus Daniel Dickson Liberatore Picken Roughead Best Melbourne Hibberd Oliver Watts T McDonald O McDonald Petracca Garlett Western Bulldogs Bontempelli Hunter Wallis Liberatore Daniel Changes Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Injuries Melbourne Jones (thigh) Watts (hamstring) Western Bulldogs Jong (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Umpires Foot, Rosebury, Hosking, Findlay Official crowd 33,667 at Etihad Stadium
  21. WADDA WE SING, WADDA WE DO? by George on the Outer The train trip home following the Melbourne v Doggies match was almost deathly quiet. It was packed with Demon supporters, yet there was little exuberance following the win. Trouble is the fans had no idea what to do now that their team is sitting comfortably in the top eight (in fifth place to be precise), a full game and percentage clear. Their team had just beaten the reigning premier by almost ten goals; it had won its third game in succession and did that coming off a six-day break at a ground where until a little over twelve months ago, it had experienced a long unbroken string of failure. And this with its All Australian ruckman and a serious quality key forward out of action! Wadda we do? The MFCSS is strong, but there must now be the realisation that in season 2017 the Demons are the real deal. It is not too hard to think that but for the couple of close games lost when injury intervened, the team could be well be sitting on top of the AFL ladder! With much hype before the game about the aggressive approach the Demons were going to bring, it was to be quite frank, truly unexpected when that is exactly what Melbourne did. Right from the start (and not after incurring a four goal deficit, as has often been the case this year) the players were right in the faces of the Bulldogs. They were unable to get their swarming forward running going as they were pressured constantly into fumbles and turnovers. Surprisingly, Luke Beveridge failed to respond in any way from the box as he stuck with the same structures throughout the game. Melbourne had a wave of players coming off half-back at centre bounces, while the Bulldogs had either three or four players on the wing. Whichever side the ball came to the Dogs were always a man down. This situation was helped enormously by the great work done in the ruck by primarily Tom McDonald. While the Dogs won the hit out count by 61 to 19, the clearance number was an extraordinary 40 to 34 in the Demons' favour. Clayton Oliver continued his stellar year, and if you watch him carefully he is simply not entitled to get the ball as often as he does. But he is as tough as nails and just keeps on doing it. He then delivers to the runners and the Demons are away. What a contrast to 2 or 3 years ago when Nathan Jones battled manfully alone in the middle. Today with Oliver, Viney, Lewis and others we even saw Simon Goodwin “blooding” Mitch Hannan in the engine room as well. Tom Bugg did exactly what his name suggested and annoyed and pestered the Footscray players to the point where they gifted him a free kick after a Demon goal to score yet another. Not only that but he provided plenty of run and contested marking both up forward and around the ground. When the team plays this well, it is difficult to record the efforts of everyone. But Oscar McDonald was a standout in the backline with 23 disposals, 12 marks and 8 rebounds from defensive 50. Michael Hibberd was equally as unforgiving and stingy with 27 touches 11 marks and 5 rebound 50’s. A special mention to Neville Jetta who doesn’t worry the statisticians too much, but there should be a special stat for “thank goodness Neville was there”, because his spoiling and contesting is simply first rate and he is always where and when needed. There may be some injury concerns, not surprisingly given the brutal aspects that the Demons brought to the game, with Nathan Jones, Jack Watts and Jayden Hunt all taking a battering, but in the cases of Watts and Jones they were afforded the luxury of resting for virtually the whole last quarter. So wadda we do now? In years past, a follow-up game against West Coast in Perth after another six-day break would be a certain flogging. After this game and the style and emphatic display put on by the Demons, the expectations are surely higher. It is the chance to put another bogy to bed with a Perth win, but if it were to happen, then the rest of the competition will really sit up and take notice. And the Demon fans will really find their voices ... Melbourne 4.2.26 8.6.54 14.7.91 17.11.113 Western Bulldogs 0.1.1 3.3.21 6.5.41 8.8.56 Goals Melbourne Watts 3 Bugg Garlett Hannan T McDonald 2 Harmes Melksham Neal-Bullen Petracca Salem Tyson Western Bulldogs Bontempelli T Boyd Dahlhaus Daniel Dickson Liberatore Picken Roughead Best Melbourne Hibberd Oliver Watts T McDonald O McDonald Petracca Garlett Western Bulldogs Bontempelli Hunter Wallis Liberatore Daniel Changes Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Injuries Melbourne Jones (thigh) Watts (hamstring) Western Bulldogs Jong (knee) Reports Melbourne Nil Western Bulldogs Nil Umpires Foot, Rosebury, Hosking, Findlay Official crowd 33,667 at Etihad Stadium
  22. A week ago Neale Daniher addressed the Melbourne team ahead of their game v Collingwood saying, "in a week's time you won't remember a thing I said". They went out and recorded a famous victory over Collingwood but now, a week later, let's remind ourselves and hope that they go out and do it again ...
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