Demons devour Pies

June 20, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM 

Round 13 – Melbourne V Collingwood

Liam Chambers

Christian Petracca and Jack Viney, round 13 2023

I think we can allow ourselves to dream again. The last few weeks have been testing and there’s no denying that we needed that win more than Collingwood did. The players knew it, Simon Goodwin knew it and the fans certainly knew it. We fought with a fury rarely seen since our 2021 Grand Final victory.

All the lads were impressive, but Jack Viney truly deserved the Man of the Match award. His indomitable spirit came to the fore once again when his club and his teammates needed it most. No barrier was impenetrable for him on the day.

We showed the rest of the competition that the Pies came be taken on at the own game and defeated. We swarmed, we tackled, we had numbers around the ball, and we eventually wore them down. The late last quarter comeback by Collingwood was down to the wire, but we held our nerve. Brilliant!

Q1 – patchy but in the game

It was on from the first bounce; neither side was holding back. Kozzie Pickett kicked the first point, but it was Patrick Lipinski who scored the first major, when he found just enough space in front of goal to quickly turn and snap.

Not quite the start the Dees wanted and the Pies were quick to continue pressuring Melbourne’s defence. At the back, Judd McVee is improving with every game, and he is superb as a last line guard, repeatedly getting the ball out safely.

Collingwood’s second came from a stoppage when Jack Crisp gathered the tap down, then ran on to snap from 20m.

After that the Demons made a few incursions into their forward 50 but the Pies got the ball out quickly, then went on a counterattack. Their end-to-end assaults eventually resulted a third goal. Harvey Harrison missed a mark inside 50 but was able to collect the loose ball and dribble it across the line.

At the halfway point of the term, Melbourne found themselves trailing by eighteen points. An act of composed desperation was urgently required. Luckily Jack Viney was in the mood to provide it.

The tenacious Midfielder marked the ball just outside 50, then ran on before kicking from the pocket, 40m out, while trusting himself to guide it through the uprights.

It’s no exaggeration to say that we needed that goal badly. It was inspirational and fired up his Demon teammates.
Now Melbourne was going forward more and creating opportunities while also denying the Pies the chance to play their preferred game.

Despite the change of momentum, we couldn’t seem to land that all important second goal.

The Dees would have been happy with their game in the latter part of the first quarter, especially after being under siege for most of the opening twenty minutes.

Q2 – defence, defence, defence

It was a case of more of the same at the start of the second. Melbourne continued applying the pressure to Collingwood’s defence and the reward came quickly, with Bailey Fritsch marking a well placed McVee kick 40m out. Fritsch had no problem splitting the middle and closing the gap to three points.

The Demons were messing very effectively with Collingwood’s game plan; tackling hard and getting players around the ball, then slowing down the flow when they had possession.

The only chink in Melbourne’s armour was their accuracy in front of goal. Fortunately the Pies couldn’t convert their chances either. 

Then Mason Cox was able to run into some free space 25m in front, marking the ball and kicking the set shot.

Cox went back to ruck for the centre bounce, but Max Gawn won the hitout before Tom Sparrow got hold of the ball and launched a mighty kick to inside 50. This time Fritsch ran out and marked the ball on his chest. He had no bother kicking his second of the quarter and it was back to four points.

It was game on again with both sides going at it hammer and tongs. Christian Petracca had a chance to give Melbourne the lead but his 50m set shot hit the post. It was a physically exhausting experience for players and fans alike as Collingwood ran hard towards goal and Melbourne fought valiantly in defence. The Dees’ tackling was magnificence, frustrating the Pies’ attempts to score.

They did break through eventually though when Bobby Hills’ set shot from the arc hit the target.

The margin might have been back to ten points, but the Demons were fired up. They were intent on keeping Collingwood contained inside 50 and pounced on every loose ball to deny the Pies an exit.

Tracca was at the top of his game and had another 50m set shot (he doesn’t get too many closer to goal) after the siren. It veered to the left but chipped another point off the Pies’ lead; now a very manageable eight.

Q3 – finally kicking goals as well as points

Melbourne continued to deny the Pies their preferred game, limiting their chances to break into open space and take off goalward. We were also successfully getting the ball inside 50.

We had a few chances early on, then Joel Smith took a brilliant, contested mark 20m from goal. His accurate set shot doubled his career goal tally, and the margin shrank to one point.

Less than a minute later, the Demons had back-to-back goals when Bailey Fritsch collected the bouncing ball, before quickly turning and kicking from a tight angle to give Melbourne the lead. 

The Dees were in the driver’s seat, tackling and winning the ball, defending brilliantly as well as kicking and marking efficiently. The momentum was all going Melbourne’s way.

When Brodie Grundy marked 40m out, he had his second chance of the day to kick a goal against his old side. The Collingwood fans were booing at the top of their lungs, which is ironic considering Grundy never wanted to leave the club and was forced out. Still, it must have been sweetest feeling for the Ruck when his shot sailed through, giving the Dees a two-goal advantage.

I spent a few minutes looking at Beau McCreery’s goal. It was so close, but it sadly appears that he got his boot to it while the ball was still on the line.

Immediately after the bounce, the Pies threw everything at Melbourne’s defence, desperate to even the score before the break, but it stayed 47-41 at three quarter time.

Q4 – On top but is it enough in the last minute?

The Demons have won most of their fourth quarters this season. However Collingwood has won ten of their last thirteen games while trailing at three quarter time. Now there’s a statistic to chill the blood of most confident opponent. Melbourne would require all their mental strength to avoid capitulating at the final hurdle.

When Patrick Lipinski received a handball 25m in front and kicked a goal, Dees’ fans felt their anxiety levels go up a notch.

Then Melbourne missed two in a row, making it 4-9 from set shots for the game and adding to the already heightened tension. When Fritsch made it 10-4, smelling salts were being administered by concerned family members.

Collingwood players were also feeling the pressure as the Dees continued to deny them another goal.

Then a long high kick from Kozzie Pickett was marked three metres to the left of the goal square by Alex Neal-Bullen. When the Midfielder kicked around the corner to score, it was like releasing a pressure valve that was just about to blow.

Jacob van Rooyen added another layer to the buffer when he took an inside 50 mark from a perfectly place Viney kick that sailed fifty plus metres from the centre of the ground. The set shot from 35m swung to the right but floated back beautifully to stretch the lead out to sixteen points.

With less than five minutes to go and nineteen points ahead, Melbourne fans still had the champagne corks firmly lodged in the bottles. Collingwood only needed one goal to fire them up again. The entire MCG thought it would happen when Will Hoskin-Elliott marked 30m in front, but he kicked it wide. Then he had a second look at it but kicked wide again.

When Brody Mihocek was awarded a dubious 50m free kick, then missed, we almost felt safe with a sixteen-point advantage and only ninety seconds remaining on the clock. Anyone else but the Pies, and we would have been celebrating. Then with eighty seconds to go, Mihocek marked and converted. 

Melbourne won the subsequent hitout with fifty-five seconds to go but Collingwood managed to get hold of the ball and dashed towards goal.

There was a desperate clash of bodies chasing the sherrin only twenty metres from home. Then a stoppage and Nick Daicos had the ball. He ran, turned and snapped, reducing the margin to four points.

With twenty-six seconds left, the final centre bounce was up there with the most important moments in Melbourne’s history. Both sides surged and there was another ball up. This time Jack Viney got a touch to the tapped down ball before managing to connect with his boot and it was heading towards the Dees’ goal. By the time the sole Collingwood player got a touch, it was too far away, and with too little time left on the clock to matter.

It was a victory for the ages and one that won’t be forgotten by Melbourne fans. The Dees have shown that we are serious contenders. We still have to address aspects of our game, notably our accuracy in front of goal but we are in this competition.

Next – Geelong at Subsidy Stadium (ok, GMHBA)

Commentator Jason Dunstall made an interesting observation about practising the right things when it comes to goal kicking and not reinforcing bad habits. I suspect that the above the shoulder game has been having a greater impact on the Dees’ set shot precision in recent times. As Henry Ford said, “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right”.

Geelong may be struggling but they are notoriously difficult to beat at home and they still have two Coleman contenders in their ranks. Simon Goodwin is taking the squad down a day earlier to get the lads used to the idiosyncrasies of the GMHBA ground and that should help. Our biggest hurdle though may be having beaten the Premiership favourites, we let our guard down against the unfancied Premiership holders.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!

Neale Daniher walking through a guard of honour formed by players of Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG for Round 13


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