Dees Unpack A Case Of The Blues

May 21, 2021 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 9 – Melbourne V Carlton

Liam Chambers

Every game so far this season we’ve seen Melbourne adapt to the circumstances. I remember reading about Game Theory in Uni many years ago and the parallels are striking. I don’t know if Simon Goodwin has been studying John Nash’s work or whether the players have just clicked naturally but it’s working. The implicit trust that everyone working together improves the outcome for the whole team is on show week after week. The cooperation is reaping benefits and it’s a sight to gladden the hearts of Demon fans.

I have to admit I didn’t know that each time Melbourne has won the first nine games, they’ve gone on to win the Grand Final. The crowd at the MCG was eerily quite for the first half. It was as if they felt that too much noise would break the spell and ruin our chance for glory.

It started well though with Bailey Fritsch marking 35m out and scoring from the set shot. An error in the Dees’ defence saw the ball pass over the heads of the players bunched together reaching for the mark, allowing Matthew Owies the chance to run behind the pack and scramble through to score. Then the legendary Eddie Betts poached the ball in mid air as Jayden Hunt tried to kick it out of defence. Betts didn’t waste the opportunity.

Melbourne had some decent chances but were unable to connect. A long kick up the field from Ed Langdon bounced nicely for Hunt who got it to Charlie Spargo inside 50. Unfortunately Charlie’s shot bounced off the woodwork. Max Gawn managed to intercept the ball on the way to goal guru Ben Brown. BB had a second chance a minute later when he marked on the 50m line but he put it just wide. Marc Pittonet was awarded a 50m penalty for one of those confusing infringements and kicked number three for the Blues.

After some good boundary line passing, the Dees managed something out of nothing with Alex Neal-Bullen taking a mark 40m out from a well placed Ed Langdon kick. Again, good team work. Then the wonderfully composed Christian Salem delivered an impressive kick to Neal-Bullen who threaded it through to the goal square where the forwards got in each other’s way. Luckily Clayton Oliver collected the ball as he ran passed and booted in number three for Melbourne. Sam Weideman’s kick to Tom McDonald was marked 30m in front of goal and converted after the siren sounded.

Carlton applied some intense pressure at the start of the second term but the Dees soaked it up and headed back towards their forward half where McDonald targeted Bailey Fritsch. It was a case of karma when Fritsch was awarded a 50m penalty after Kade Chandler played the same trick that got him penalised in the first quarter. Eddie Betts weaved some more magic but his brilliant manipulation in front of goal fell just short. Levi Casboult did manage to put Carlton back on the scoreboard though when he marked from 25m in front of goal.

Tom McDonald is having the season of his career. His difficult angled kick from the pocket was perfect. When Kysaiah Pickett’s not setting up scoring opportunities, he setting up other players for scoring opportunities. His vision and skill in picking out McDonald was pure genius. T Mac was able to run through an open inside 50 to score his third.

Carlton again piled on the pressure but Steven May and the other key defenders were too good. Eventually, the Blues’ insistent drive paid off and Liam Stocker snapped one through to stay in touch with Melbourne. Carlton upped ante and had the Dees scrambling before Harry McKay (carrying a shoulder injury) marked the ball 25m out and kicked around the corner to reduce the margin to seven points. Melbourne was able to redress the balance after a Clayton Oliver kick was marked by Jayden Hunt who converted from the set shot.

Oliver was also involve in the Dees’ first goal of the second half when Pickett spun almost 360 degrees before kicking the ball to the midfield who booted it on to Ed Langdon who scored from the set shot. With the rain coming down, Melbourne appeared to be controlling the play better. Neal-Bullen got a surprise uncontested ball and basically walked into the open goal.
The Blues didn’t concede too easily though and kept pressing although they were unable to hit the target.

Melbourne got their third unanswered goal when Bailey Fritsch slipped a mark in the wet conditions but was able to collect the ball and snap it through the uprights. Harry McKay got his second after being awarded a 50m penalty and kicked from point blank range. Then he got a more impressive goal when his kick from the 50m line sailed through. You could say he had the long and short of it within a minute.

While Kysaiah Pickett is a great play maker, his goals can also be impressive. He must have been inspired by Eddie Betts when he ran around the traffic to beautifully control the ball along the ground and score from 30m out. Sam Weideman had a chance to score on his return to the top flight but his shot after the siren just veered wide. Charlie Spargo is an opportunistic goal scorer and when the ball was kept in by Weideman near the goal square, Charlie seized his chance to kick his sixth of the season.

So far this year Melbourne haven’t lost a final quarter but when Carlton clawed back two late goals the sides were thirteen points apiece so it was a close run thing. All in all it was a business like performance from the Dees. They did as much as they had to and had enough in reserve if it was required.

They travel to Adelaide in Round 10 to take on the Crows. Again, Melbourne won’t be taking anything for granted but they’ll have one eye on the following Friday night when they take on probably the best side in the competition. The Bulldogs are looking formidable and it will be interesting to see how or if the Dees’ change their game to suit the circumstances.

There will still be the naysayers but there’s a belief and confidence that hasn’t been in the side for a long time.

Go The Mighty Dees!!!


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