Dees off centre in the Red Centre

July 7, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM 
Max Gawn leads a dejected Melbourne side off Traeger Park after the Melbourne Demons loss to GWS by 2 points.

Round 16 – Melbourne v GWS

Liam Chambers

It was a cold wet Sunday afternoon at Traeger Park in Alice Springs; unseasonably so according to the experts (and 4 degrees on the ground according to Gus and Gawny – ed). Our annual visits to the Northern Territory have been cut back to one game in recent years but the crowd that gathered in the chilly conditions for the contest were enthusiastic.

Melbourne were dominant in the opening ten minutes of the term but were unable to take advantage of their momentum. The sherrin was like a bar of soap, slipping from the players’ hands as they tried to mark and control the ball.

Again the Demons had no problems hitting to the left and right of the tall posts; it was the bit in the middle that proved to be the sticking point. Then our top goal scorer, Bailey Fritsch limped off the field to be replaced by Jake Melksham. Unfortunately, it looks like Fritsch will be out for the remainder of the regular season with the injury to his foot.

GWS had spent much of the quarter defending but when they got inside their forward 50, they looked dangerous. Callum Brown got the first goal of the match when he collected the ball from a stoppage and ran towards the square before turning and snapping.

The Dees continued to win the contested ball in the middle of the ground and at the back but were unable to make it count once they went inside 50.

The Giants’ defence was stopping everything Melbourne could throw at it.

Finally a piece of induvial creativity from Kysaiah Pickett saw him gather the tapped down ball, run on, drop it, then recover before kicking to Jake Melksham, who was 35m from goal.

Melksham converted perfectly to give Melbourne the lead.

The Dees had the chance to go a couple of goals up before the break but were unable to take full advantage and went to the break leading by only five points.

Melbourne had led inside 50s by 21-8 in the first term, as well as spending two thirds of the time in their forward half. The most worrying stat for the Demons though was their solitary goal for all that effort.

Q2 – slippin’ and a slidin’

It got worse at the start of the second quarter when Toby Greene was gifted a 50m penalty and casually chipped the ball in from 15m.

After the bounce, Melbourne upped the ante by piling on the pressure. It paid off quickly when Jake Bowey scooped up the ground and snapped from 35m to give his side a one goal lead.

The Dees were winning clearances by a wide margin and dominating contested position but were unable to make it count on the score board. The wet conditions were definitely not helping but we desperately needed to fix the lack of goals and quickly.

Up the other end the Giants launched the ball straight to the pack in front of goal. As soon as it was fisted away, Toby Greene was waiting to pounce, and he snapped it through for his second.

The half ended with the tied at twenty one points apiece.

Q3 – slip sliding away

The rain started to clear up after the break, but the goals didn’t eventuate for either side. That was until Xavier O’Halloran was awarded a free kick smack bang in the middle of the goal square. It was the easiest of kicks for the midfielder to restore the Giants’ lead.

It was a case of three in a row for GWS when their run through traffic resulted in Josh Kelly finishing the manoeuvre with a swiftly snapped kick, guiding the ball high and through the centre of the uprights.

Then it was three for the quarter when Isaac Cumming’s set shot from 50m had just enough distance and height to sail over the outstretched hands of the Melbourne players on the goal line.

The weather was again starting to look grim, and with it the outlook for the Demons to take back control of the game.

Fear not however, as Brodie Grundy’s initial tapped down from a stoppage was fed back, allowing him to get boot to ball and claw one back for Melbourne.

Less than a minute later, Kozzie Pickett got the biggest cheer of the afternoon when he marked and converted from a 30m set shot.

Having trailed by three goals at the halfway mark of the term, the Dees managed to launch a fightback and narrow the margin to four points by three quarter time.

Q4 – slippery little sucker

By the start of the fourth, the rain was seriously pouring down and showing no signs of abating.

Melbourne launched themselves at the Giants, knowing that they couldn’t afford to let the opposition dictate the terms as they did for most of the previous quarter.

The pressure paid off early on with Angus Brayshaw directing a well weighted kick to Ed Langdon in the pocket. The fast running midfielder duly marked and went back to take the kick. Ed has a knack for hitting the target when he is presented with a particularly difficult shot and this occasion was no exception. The Dees were back in front.

For most of the quarter, Melbourne had the lion’s share of the play, but the rain made marking a much more frustrating task. The kicks were going astray as well. Even Toby Greene missed the lot when he had a 45m set shot opportunity to take the lead.

The momentum was swinging to GWS, but the Dees managed to get themselves into scoring positions. Unfortunately, the space between the uprights continued to be disappointingly elusive.

Then when it looked like Melbourne might just hang on for a narrow victory, Josh Kelly popped up again to bomb the ball from 60m out. As if in slow motion, it landed on the goal line and flipped over to put the Giants ahead.


Post match – snakes and ladders

Another almost win for the Demons. We’ve now lost four of our last six games. Probably most concerning though is our low scoring record in recent matches. Since Round 12, our final scores are: 8 13, 8 18, 8 15 and 5 15. In relation to the GWS game there’s another interesting stat, as pointed out by Jon, our every watchful Report Editor; we had 73 inside 50s for those five goals. We’re so competitive in most other areas but we need to somehow fix the accuracy dilemma. We know it’s going to click at some stage, but we face the Saints at home in Round 17. Though they were caught napping by West Coast last week, we know how good they are at Marvel.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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