Gawn In 60 Seconds

March 30, 2018 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Gawn in 60 seconds, Round 1 Melbourne Vs Geelong, AFL Season start, Dees are fit and fighting, Petracca, Oliver, Hogan, Gawny

Liam Chambers – our correspondent in Coffs Harbour

Another AFL Season starts and with it all the expectations of the fans. Melbourne have shown pre season that they are a team to be reckoned with. On a sunny afternoon at the hallowed grounds of the MCG, they would face a formidable foe in Geelong. Although missing their star player in Patrick Dangerfield, the second coming of Gary would ensure this would be a very tough test indeed for the Demons.

Although the Dees were missing Jack Viney & Tom McDonald through injury our lads were fit & ready to rumble. Within the first 2 minutes Jayden Hunt lobbed the ball from outside the 50 where a superb mark by new recruit Bayley Fritsch sealed the opening goal. Unfortunately 90 seconds later new Geelong signing Esava Ratugolea did the same at the other end; Jake Lever was going to have a busy afternoon keeping the Fijian at bay.

This was a free flowing game & the goals just kept on coming. The Dee’s second came from Jesse Hogan who steadied himself in front of goal to score. Geelong’s Daniel Menzel made the most of a half opportunity to kick their second. Halfway through the quarter with the scores even, Melbourne piled on the pressure but it was the Cats who scored next. Another new signing Brandon Parfitt scored on debut. However Neal-Bullen’s shot out of nowhere was the perfect answer. Then Ablett put himself in perfect position just inside 50m to score for his new old club. A great run of play by the Dees got the ball to Jesse who slotted in from 45m before Cam Pederson marked beautifully; cradling the ball like a new born baby then stepping up and adding to the Demon’s tally. 

The chances continued but Ablett’s next attempt was scuttled by Lever for a behind. That it was a free flowing quarter was brought home to the Dees when Menzel marked & quickly passed to Parsons who was already running towards goal, easily picking up his own mark and scoring. Again in reply, Pederson scores at the other end. Suddenly Ablett had the ball in a good position but didn’t see Jeff Garlett until he was looking at the MCG from a different angle. His tendency to hold onto the ball for a few seconds longer than normal would be exploited by the Dees a few times during the afternoon. The quarter ended with Melbourne leading 37-33.

Three minutes into the second quarter, Harmes gets the ball to Oliver who kicks cleanly from just inside 50 giving the Demons a perfect start. Then Jordan Lewis gave away a 50m penalty to Parfitt who luckily missed for a behind. The joy was short lived though as Menzel took a mark that sailed over the head of Hibberd. He didn’t waste the opportunity to score from right in front of goal. Then when Kelly kicked a clever goal in heavy traffic & it seemed to be all Geelong. A great kick from Gawn to Vince was taken too quickly & missed for a behind before a valiant attempt by Garlett resulted in another behind. At the other end, Zac Smith used his height to great advantage, marking in front of goal, then scoring easily. Garlett made up for his earlier miss by marking & scoring well from 45m out before Guthrie hit back for the Cats. Jayden Hunt’s shot at goal hit the post & we all felt his frustration especially when Menzel kicked to Ablett who cleverly passed to Murdoch to score into an open goal.

The half time score left the Dees trailing by 27 points at 53–80. We needed to fight back straight away at the start of the second half & Max Gawn delivered. Max was held in the ruck and given a free kick; then in his cool, calm & collected way he slotted the ball between the uprights from 45m out. Go Gawny! The third quarter was looking to be a lower scoring affair with Murdoch hitting the post then Harmes missing at the other end.

Nearly halfway through, Mitch Hannan decided to add his name to the score sheet with a tasty kick on the run after receiving a tidy pass from Petracca. Unfortunately Petracca’s own effort a couple of minutes later was definitely a missed opportunity. Then Neal-Bullen kicked towards goal and a lucky bounce ensured a goal to bring the Dees back into the game.

If Melbourne didn’t know to never to give Menzel a half opportunity, they knew if after he used it to score his 3rd and the Cat’s 12th. Petracca, having been involved in Hannan’s earlier goal, decided he wanted one for himself. Somehow he stumbled and fumbled his way to picking up the ball and score in front of goal. He was unable to replicate his attempt a couple of minutes later when his scoring chance went begging. Still at 81–88, the Dees were in a very competitive position compared to half time.

The last quarter was going to be a test of nerves. Menzel opened the scoring with his fourth and the Cat’s thirteenth goal. Jeff Garlett soccer kicked the ball in a tight situation but only managed a behind. He next move was brilliant, marking well and his ensuing tactical kick to Hogan was despatched clinically. We were now officially in nail biting territory for Demon fans. The goal scorer extraordinaire for Geelong, Menzel missed a sitter, then a more difficult attempt a minute later. It looked like the Cats had a case of the jitters too.

The last ten minutes were all behinds. The Dees piled on the pressure but couldn’t seem to get that vital goal. Gawn’s attempt with three minutes to go resulted in a behind. Then Oliver marked but played on straight away much to Simon Goodwin’s frustration in the Coaches box. Petracca had a chance but again looked like he rushed it when a calmness was called for. With the Dees trailing by four points, we threw everything at the Cats. I think I saw Nathan Jones with a small kitchen sink at one stage but it was all to no avail. Then with only a minute to go a moment of madness seized Tuohy as he kicked the ball out of bounds. Melbourne’s ensuing free was marked spectacularly by the hero of the hour Gawn with less than 60 seconds to go.

Now what happened next will be remembered by Demon fans for years to come but it will not be a pleasant memory. I went online last night to re watch the last 2 minutes of the game. Part of my irrational mind wanted to believe that we had seen the game in an alternative universe and when I viewed it again Max would actually score. I wish I could tell you that’s what happened but in reality, he really did miss.

Melbourne had played so well and really deserved it for all their efforts, especially in the third quarter but it was not to be. Nobody can blame Max for what happened but he will be feeling like he let the team and the fans down. The distance doesn’t favour him and his passed stats tell the story. Speaking of stats: “data from the past five seasons reveals the average footballer, under average pressure, kicks the Gawn shot 83 per cent of the time”. He could possibly have passed to another player but in the crowded area in front of goal his chances were slim that it would be marked by a Melbourne player.

Then the critics would have cried “why didn’t he take the shot himself?” I truly believe that Gawny has the strength of character to put this mishap behind him and come back playing even better next week. When I forced myself to re-watch the game today and in spite of the result I realised that Melbourne played as good as I’ve seen them play in the last four seasons. Geelong are a terrific side and I wouldn’t want to bet against them finishing in the top four again.

The Dees are fit and fighting. The new recruits are settling in well and the developing and older players like Petracca, Oliver, Hogan, Garlett just continue to get better. Nine Dees players scored against Geelong on Sunday; that’s got to be good for our future games in 2018. We play the Lions in Brisbane next week, then North Melbourne (who beat us twice last year). Melbourne bring their best game to the big sides but we need to make sure we win against less fancied opponents too. Then we’ll certainly be playing finals come September.


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