Carbon copy (Almost)

March 25, 2022 by
Filed under: AFLM 

AFLM – Round 1 – Melbourne V Western Bulldogs

Liam Chambers

With Melbourne missing four of their premiership back lineup, the Grand Final replay was going to be challenging. It gave other Dees a chance to savour some of last years’ triumph though.

One who didn’t miss out in September was Ed Langdon and he definitely didn’t miss when he opened the scoring for the premiers. Another was Ben Brown who was happy to kick the Dees’ second from a contested mark to the left of goal. Jack Viney was the beneficiary of an Ed Langdon centred kick to make it three in a row.

Jake Bowey lived every aspiring Demon’s dream when he played a Grand Final after only six top flight games. He then added a cherry to the sundae with a perfectly targeted kick to score his debut Dees’ goal at the MCG.

Last year the Dogs launched a spectacular comeback in the second quarter; this time, with a minute to go in the first term, Hayden Crozier launched a 50m kick to put the Bulldogs on the board. Then a dubious frontal challenge call, right on the siren, gave Cody Weightman the chance to double their goal tally.

The Dogs continued on their merry way after quarter time with Aaron Naughton bending one from 40m to close the gap to eight points. It was four in a row when Bailey Dale chipped one from the pocket. Naughton then got number two and gave his team the lead for the first time.

Adam Treloar added to the pain with a snap on the edge of the goal square. Then, when Aaron Naughton was given too much space, he punished the defence with his third of the quarter. Fittingly for a rampaging reversal of play, it was ex Demon Mitch Hannan who twisted the knife to give the Dogs a twenty two point advantage.

Melbourne desperately needed a circuit breaker to arrest the Dog’s dominance. They got it when big Tom McDonald displayed some fancy footwork and creative kicking. Big Ben Brown took the mark on the 50m line and using his trademark long run up, the key forward kicked his second to start the tide turning. The tide started flowing quickly when Kysaiah Pickett found Christian Petracca in the pocket. That was all the Norm Smith medalist required to wind back the margin further.

The second half started in the same vein when Ben Brown weaved his magic to spin the ball off the outside of his right boot. Then the hero of the GF, Bayley Fritsch took an uncontested mark 40m out and gave Melbourne back the lead. It was back to back for the Fridge Magnet when he took advantage of a dropped mark to run, turn and snap from 30m directly in front. Not to be out slicked, Luke Jackson took a contested mark just inside 50 and kicked a set shot that never looked in doubt.

With a three goal buffer going into the last quarter, the Dees looked confident and in control.

They were quickly shaken out of their comfort zone as arch nemesis, Marcus Bontempelli, took advantage of a loose ball to shorten the Dogs’ lease to a mere 10 points. When Aaron Naughton marked and converted from 40m, the Dogs were well and truly snapping at Melbourne’s heels.

In time of great need, great leaders step up to the plate. As Max Gawn launched his set shot from 55m, the ball flew like a heat seeking missile and arched perfectly through the uprights to put the Dees back in control. Clearly rattled, the Bulldogs struggled to hit back. A turnover allowed Alex Neal-Bullen to gather the ball and hand pass to Fritsch whose subsequent kick was plucked out of the air by James Harmes, just outside the goal square.

It was now back to a three goal game with the clock ticking. At two minutes to go, Tracca sprinkled some more magic dust when he received the ball from a stoppage and snapped his second. Unfortunately after the bounce, the Bulldogs were able to make it to inside 50 and Adam Treloar kicked a rocket from the line and watched his shot sail through.

The Dees still had one more surprise left though, with Kysaiah Pickett on the receiving end of a Neal-Bullen kick. Lining up, 40m from goal, Kozzie had no problem adding his name to the scoreboard.

The Demons head north to Metricon Stadium for Round 2 where they’ll face off against Gold Coast. It will be interesting to see how Melbourne play against one of last season’s under preforming teams. The Sun’s stellar display against West Coast last weekend will mean the Dees take nothing for granted.

It was heartwarming to see the MCG lineup of Melbourne greats prior to the opening game of 2022. Those legends have been waiting a long time but finally the new era has begun.
Conversely it was sad to see the brilliant Christian Salem sidelined with a knee injury. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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