Dees’ result perfect remedy for the Blues

August 19, 2022 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 22 – Melbourne V Carlton

Liam Chambers

It was a must win game if we had any chance of finishing in the top four. Carlton’s position was even more precarious; win and they would play finals for the first time since 2013. Lose and they would have to do it all again next week and do it against one of the two most in form teams of the moment.

If Melbourne had any sympathy for their opponents, they certainly didn’t show it in the first ten minutes. Their pressure was intense, forcing errors from the Blues early on. Then a moment of individual brilliance from Christian Petracca, in which he kicked the ball 60m and found Jake Melksham in the pocket to the left of goal. Melksham launched a kick round the corner and the Demons were on the scoreboard.

It was a low scoring first quarter with Carlton taking until the last minute to score a major, courtesy of a Harry McKay set shot.

The Dees were again dominating inside 50s but lacking the killer blow when it came to finishing. Luckily Carlton had a similar problem down the other end. Then Kysaiah Pickett’s tackle on Liam Stocker was rewarded and he hammered a goal from the 50m line. A few minutes later and Harry McKay found himself unattended and running to inside 50, where he took a mark and chipped the ball from the goal square. All level at fifteen points a piece.

The second term was proving to be as low scoring as it’s predecessor until the wily Jake Melksham again found a way to confound the Blues’ defence with his 30m snap as he emerged from the stoppage pack in front of goal. Less than a minute later Zac Fisher launched one from the left hand pocket to keep the contest tight.

The quarter still had one last surprise up it’s sleeve when Jack Newnes deliberately bumped into Tom Sparrow after he kicked the ball to Bayley Fritsch, who marked just before the siren. It must go down as one of the most bizarre scenes in the modern game as Melbourne and Carlton went for each other in the background while Bayley Fritsch lined up to take his set shot. The high scoring Fritsch wasn’t put off by the melee behind him and the Dees went in eight points up at half time.

The fight certainly didn’t do Max Gawn any harm. When he marked the ball 40m in front of goal, he thought about playing on but was discouraged by Angus Brayshaw. Perhaps it was Brayshaw’s Mr Miyagi moment “be the ball Max”. Whatever he said, the captain went back and kicked it straight through the uprights. Jack Silvagni brought it back to five points when he crumbed the ball and watched it bounce across the line.

After Melbourne won the hitout, Clayton Oliver was straight after the bouncing ball, controlling it enough to launch a driving kick towards the square, where Jake Melksham collected the tapped down ball, ran and turned to kick his hat trick.

Two minutes later Harry McKay also had three when his set shot from the 50m line made the distance. The margin returned to five. Then Carlton made it back to back goals when Corey Durdin managed to recover after stumbling just outside the square while collecting the loose ball. It was looking a bit grim when Jack Martin took a mark 30m out and didn’t make any mistakes with his finishing. It was an impressive turnaround for the Blues after converting an eleven point deficit into a seven point advantage.

Carlton were hanging on to their lead with the Dees only managing a few minor scores during the next ten minutes. Then Clayton Oliver showed his speed again when he crumbed the ball in the pocket before hand passing to his soul brother Petracca. The big midfielder didn’t hesitate as he launched off the outside of his left boot to put Melbourne back in front.

I must make honourable mention of Jake Melksham who was somehow able to mark James Jordan’s kick while simultaneously falling flat on his back. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to convert.

It was a slim margin as the teams went into the last quarter. We have lost the final term in all of our six defeats this season. No one could blame Demon fans for feeling somewhat paranoid as the siren sounded for second last time.

Both sides were obviously feeling the pressure of the occasion as it took ten minutes for the first goal of the term. Unfortunately the scorer was Jack Martin after he was deemed tripped in the goal square. The Dees hit back immediately with the midfield combining perfectly, allowing Max Gawn to kick the ball to Ben Brown in front of goal. Brown’s mark was knocked away but he subsequently got a boot to it where it sailed towards goal. Jake Melksham got a hand on it before Ed Langdon collected the falling sherrin and just managed to kick it over the goal line.

There was another change of lead with Jack Martin’s desperate attempt just shy of the square while having his guernsey stretched at the same time. Then the Blues stretched their advantage to seven points with seven minutes to go but there was still plenty of time for either side to prevail. It had taken all night but Ben Brown finally found the gap between the uprights to make it a one point game.

When Charlie Curnow took a mark 25m out with three minutes remaining, there was much gnashing of teeth from the red and the blue. Curnow’s goal looked to have locked it up for the visitors but they reckoned without Jake Melksham who was having the night of his life. His contested mark on the edge of the square was unbelievably good, taken under extreme pressure. He didn’t need it, but Carlton gifted him a 50m penalty and Melksham had four.

The goal hero was involved again with less than thirty seconds to go. Jayden Hunt kicked a long ball to the pack in front of goal where Ben Brown tapped it down. Melksham was able to collect at ground level and roll over, getting a hand ball away to Kysaiah Pickett. The small forward was living every footballer’s dream as he gathered the ball and got a kick away while falling back to earth. The sherrin sailed through with fifteen seconds left on the clock.

After experiencing those close losses in recent weeks, every Melbourne fan in the country would have been staring in shock at their TV screen wondering if they were still awake. The pandemonium from the red and blue spectators in the stands was incredible. Never has the term “snatched victory from the jaws of defeat” seemed so relevant. I had a fleeting moment of empathy for Carlton but it quickly passed.

With positions two to five on the ladder only separated by percentage, our visit to the Gabba in Round 23 is hugely important. Win and we may secure second spot, third at the worst. Lose and we could end up in sixth place with a potential elimination game against the Tigers. I know which one I prefer.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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