Dees Start As They Mean To Continue

March 24, 2021 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 1 – Melbourne vs Fremantle

Liam Chambers

Round 1 last year and the Dees went to Perth and lost. Round 1 this year and Perth came to us and we won. I vote we never go to Perth again.

Fremantle jumped out of the box straightaway and applied the pressure in the opening minutes. Melbourne’s defence was tested and a few free kicks were given away early, with some scrambling to break away from our defensive 50. When the Dees got up the other end, they made some attempts on goal. Christian Petracca got himself into a good position to score the opener but unfortunately found the post.Tom McDonald also had a chance a few minutes later but put it wide.

May and Lever were looking strong in defence, frustrating the Dockers efforts to rack up the points. It was Kysaiah Pickett though who finally nailed it after marking a great kick from Charlie Spargo. His set shot from 35m to the left of goal was low but sailed over Freo’s defenders. Within a minute, Ed Langdon had doubled the advantage after the centre bounce when a driving kick from James Harmes sailed into the inside 50. Langdon was able to gather the ball and blast it off the outside of his boot for goal number two.

Petracca set up the third when his bouncing kick into the goal square was tapped in by Bailey Fritsch. Not sure how to describe the kick other than it may owe something to the martial arts. With their confidence up, the Dees were dominating and keeping Fremantle inside their defensive 50. The pressure paying off when new kid James Jordan got the ball to Petracca who scored from a 35m set shot. This time the post didn’t get in the way.

The second term got off to a great start when Jordan scored his debut goal in his debut game; never a bad stat to boast about. Then Melbourne were let off the hook when Liam Henry missed from a set shot in front of goal. Not so a few minutes later when Sam Switkowski launched a kick from 30m to secure the Dockers first goal of the afternoon. When Henry got a second opportunity in front of goal, he didn’t miss and reduced Melbourne’s lead to 17 points.

Then Freo rushed to take advantage of their turnaround in fortune but the Dees were up for the fight. Fritsch set shot from 40m was grabbed by Tom McDonald who was standing next to the upright. He hooked it to score his first goal. Fremantle had a few further chances but eventually took advantage of a gap in defence when Lachie Schultz was able to weave through and shoot from 20m in front of goal.

The Dees struck back a minute later when a series of fumbles from both sides ended when James Harmes got the ball back in the goal square and scored giving Melbourne a 48-26 half time lead.

Tom McDonald almost got his second goal at the start of the third quarter but his 20m set shot hit the post. Unfortunately Matt Taberner didn’t miss with a goal taken from a difficulty angle and neither did Connor Blakely when his 40m set shot also found the target. With Fremantle dominating the centre bounce, Melbourne wasn’t adapting their game to counter the pressure on our defence.

Luckily though our forwards were able to keep notching up the goals. Charlie Spargo found Bailey Fritsch in a good position and Fritsch was able to place a well kicked ball through the uprights. Melbourne upped the pressure and tackling after that with James Jordan playing well and looking like a good pick for the future.

Jake Lever, along with Steven May was having a great game. When he took an intercepted mark and was also awarded a penalty, he looked a shoo in to add to the score sheet. The fans can’t be too disappointed though; I’m happy seeing Lever preventing the opposition from scoring. If he can score the occasional six pointer that’s a bonus.

Kysaiah Pickett is looking really fit and maturing as a player. When he was awarded an advantage, his run and kick to Fritsch was beautifully executed. Fritsch’s kick inside 50 bounced around a bit before Jordan got the ball to Spargo who tapped it in from the goal square.

Unfortunately Melbourne then conceded a goal from the centre bounce which has been their Achilles heel for a few seasons now. The Demon fans get a little nervous when the opposition gets the advantage from the hitout in those circumstances. With the three quarter time score at 62-45, the Dees still had a bit to do keep the Dockers at bay.

At the start of the last term, Freo had a few missed opportunities and their pressure made Melbourne look a bit indecisive and lacking momentum. The Dockers kept peppering the goal and preventing the Dees from escaping their defensive 50. When they did break free though and made to their own 50, there was a mad minute where the play was going in all direction. Eventually Petracca kicked a bouncer through the traffic to settle Demon nerves.

Now Melbourne raised the pressure with Pickett firing up with some Freo players on the sideline. Tom McDonald got his chance for his second when he was awarded a free. It was a difficult set shot from 45m to the left of goal but that’s the way Tom likes it. The big man has a point to prove and he proved it in style extending the lead to 29 points. Luke Jackson was also having a good game but his accuracy in front of goal was letting him down.

By now fatigue was setting in. After a compressed season last year with shorter games, it may take a few rounds before all the players are 100percent match fit. Sadly, Fremantle’s Matt Taberner was still full of beans and scored his second from a tight angled set shot. Despite Max Gawn’s protestations that he had touched the ball, the goal stood. Then to rub it in, Taberner got his hat trick from a 45m kick.

It was a game of good and bad for the Dees. Our defence is in great hands with May and Lever creating a virtual brick wall at the back. Tom McDonald is fighting fit and the midfield looks tight. There are concerns about centre bounces and stoppages which the coaching staff will be looking to fix but overall, we could be forgiven for dreaming about playing finals in September.

Interesting stat, this is Melbourne first Round 1 win since 2017. Next week we face St Kilda who had a greatly improved season in 2020 but I fancy our chances.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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