Demons Get a Reprieve from The Blues

June 6, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 
Christian Petracca Round 12 Demons v Carlton 02 June 2023

Round 12 – Melbourne V Carlton

Liam Chambers

The Dees headed into Round 12 having suffered back to back losses; but were firm favourites against a Blues’ side who had only secured one victory in seven outings.

Carlton are a good side going through a prolonged slump and Melbourne would be well aware that slumps can end abruptly. Hawthorn anyone?

It remains a mystery why the Demons are underperforming. One reason may be a bit of the self-doubt that plagued us prior to the 2021 season, slowly seeping back into our psyche post Grand Final? Having said that, if we regain that belief, we will be unbeatable again.

It was a strong start with Melbourne kicking the first major. Christian Petracca’s set shot from 50m left his boot perfectly and wasn’t going anywhere except through the uprights.

Carlton’s reply came from a player struggling with his own doubts. However Harry McKay quelled his inner demons to snap through an around the corner kick from the pocket.

Brodie Grundy had a set shot from beyond the 50m arc that landed in the square where Alex Neal-Bullen was waiting to pounce. His gather, turn and snap was perfect, and the Dees were ahead again.

Melbourne’s third was a symphony of chaos from one end of the ground to the other. It started with Angus Brayshaw, involved Lachie Hunter ducking and weaving, then Jacob van Rooyen passing and receiving, then passing again. Charlie Spargo was waiting inside 50 where he managed a hand pass to Kysaiah Pickett who snapped the ball between two Blues’ players and found the back of the net. Happy birthday Kozzie!

With Carlton fighting for their season, they had a greater incentive to increase the pressure on their opponents. How Melbourne responded in the second quarter would be crucial to their own prospects. 

The Dees were dominant in their forward half early on but their accuracy in front of goal was letting them down. It wasn’t until Charlie Spargo was awarded a free kick from 30m that Melbourne got the first of the term.

Harry McKay looked to have dislodged the monkey when he scored his second with another around the corner set shot.

It was a low scoring quarter with neither team able to fully control the play. The Dees looked the better side but couldn’t make the Blues pay.

Then folk hero van Rooyen took an uncontested mark inside 50 from a well-placed Spargo kick. His set shot from the arc was well executed and stretched the lead out to twenty points.

The Demons would have been happy to be nineteen points ahead going into the second half but also aware that their play was messy and lacking composure at times. Thankfully, so were Carlton’s efforts. How the teams had used halftime break to reset would prove crucial.

The Blues latched onto the ball after the centre clearance bounce and were off, with Adam Cerra launching the sherrin down the ground. Harry McKay marked, then ran on and kicked from 60m. The ball landed in the goal square and bounced across the line.

Jake Bowey made a brilliant tackle on Sam Walsh to earn himself a 50m set shot. His kick had the journey but just veered to the left. I may be mistaken but that could be Bowey’s first minor score from a set shot?

With over half the quarter gone, the Dees had yet to kick a six pointer. Then Bailey Fritsch marked the ball two metres from the goal line. Fritsch had missed his four previous set shots on the day, but he definitely didn’t miss the fifth.

Melbourne had the momentum now but just couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. Then with five minutes to go, Bowey copped it from all angles while going for a mark. He didn’t look too good and was subbed off; possibly but hopefully not missing the Collingwood game.

Then a Carlton player who wasn’t Harry McKay scored the visitor’s fourth when Blake Acres took a mark and kicked the 30m set shot from the pocket.

The Blues won the subsequent clearance and got the ball to inside 50 where Charlie Curnow took an uncontested mark. The season’s leading goal kicker had no problems converting, giving Carlton back to back majors.

Melbourne’s reply was swift. It looked like the Blues were heading for three in a row but Steven May controlled the ball in defence and the Dees went end to end. Fritsch got his second when he dribbled the ball in from 15m.

The margin was back to seventeen points and that’s the way it stayed until three quarter time.

Five minutes into the final term, and against the run of play, Carlton pulled one back courtesy of Zac Fisher. His 40m set shot floated through and narrowed the margin to eleven points.

Melbourne continued to dominate, locking the Blues in their defensive half but the goals stubbornly refused to materialise. Carlton were besieged at times but they somehow managed to fend off the Dees.

Despite Melbourne going inside 50 a total of ten times, they couldn’t hammer home their advantage.

Then, at the halfway stage, up steps Captain Max Gawn. Despite having an ordinary night, he proceeded to mark the ball on the 50m line. Even more remarkably, he decides to attempt the 55m set shot. Best of all though, he actually kicked the goal!

Carlton won the clearance and booted the ball to inside 50 where Harry McKay again took the mark. He then inexplicitly decided to attempt another around the corner kick from a distance of 40m; much to the relief of the Demon fans. The ball dropped short, and Melbourne dodged a bullet.

A minute later and Matthew Cottrell marked the ball in a similar position. He opted for the more straightforward method, but it missed to the left.

There were a few more chances to add to the tallies but there were no more goals.

Round thirteen has been unlucky for Melbourne in recent years. It doesn’t help that the Pies are in tremendous form. However the Big Freeze is a great event and a great cause and don’t forget that the Demons have a habit of causing an upset when they’re labelled the underdog.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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