Melbourne Unable To Harness Their Inner Demon

July 11, 2020 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 4 – Melbourne Vs Richmond

Liam Chambers

This week Victoria went back into lockdown after a short burst of optimism that coincided with the reopening of the economy. We can draw an analogy with Melbourne’s 2018 season and what’s happened since. The effort of the building the team over preceding years, culminated in the Dees reaching their first final in twelve seasons and heralded an new era of success for the Club. Then the disastrous 2019 campaign and the single win (by a single point) so far in 2020. It seems now the rebuilding process is starting again but someone forgot to provide the game blueprint.

The Tigers pounced early when the ball was turned over in our half and marked by Tom Lynch in front of goal. First blood to Richmond. Things improved when Christian Petracca got the ball on the 50m line and saw Hannan to the left of goal. Hannan duly marked the kick and got the bend right to even the score. Richmond continued to apply pressure but were unable to get the results. Then in one of the best displays of the game, Steven May kicked the ball to Michael Hibberd whose subsequent kick to the centre bounced nicely for James Harmes. Harmes passed to Petracca who kicked wide to Bailey Fritsch (good vision). Finally, Fritsch kicked to Jake Melksham in front of goal. Numero two to the Dees. Great end to end play.

One of the bright lights in defence this year has been Trent Rivers. He got Melbourne out of strife after some messy play in front of goal. Eventually though the Tigers were rewarded for their efforts when first Jack Higgins then Daniel Rioli found the space between the uprights to put Richmond back in front. In the dying second, Bailey Fritsch gave the Demon fans something to cheer about when he marked a beautifully weighted kick from Kysaiah Pickett. His 30m shot after the siren brought the score back to a respectable 19-20.

The Dees were let off early in Q2 when Jake Hart was unable to add to the Tigers tally of goals. Thank you ACR. Richmond were the beneficiaries of the new holding the ball rule when Tracca got pinged for not trying to release the sherrin. Despite his protests, Toby Nankervis took the free and got the Tiger’s fourth. Melbourne were turning the ball over a tad too much and it seemed our midfield were not all they could be. We were struggling to get into Richmond’s half.

Jack Riewoldt started to rediscover some of his lost mojo when he slotted the fifth for the Tigers. Hibberd was putting on some good plays. Unfortunately Clayton Oliver’s slump continued and he turned the ball over a few times during the match. Pickett had a chance to set up a goal but his kick went nowhere with no Demons inside 50. His attempted mark later would have been a classic had he succeeded. Great expectation of things to come.

Unfortunately, Richmond continued to add to the score sheet with Jason Castagna kicking their sixth. They were a bit lucky with their seventh after the in form Petracca was caught watching the ball instead of the player and allowed Kane Lambert to slip through and kick a goal on the run. We had a chance at the other end when Ed Langdon’s speed and accurate kick was unable to be marked inside 50. Bailey Fritsch had another chance to score in the last minute but missed badly. His record from set shots needs a bit more work.

Melbourne looked determined to make amends at the start of the second half. They needed to do something quickly as they were trailing Richmond 20-45. However, a kick inside 50 to the lone figure of Dustin Martin in front of goal had Hibberd madly scrambling to get back. Dusty never looked in any danger of missing the mark though and his goal was the fifth unanswered one for Richmond. After that we had a couple of lucky escapes. First Jack Riewoldt missed a sitter, then Tom Lynch had a brain freeze and kicked the ball into the post after he marked it three metres out from goal.

Just when it was looking like another goalless quarter for the Dees, Oliver got the ball to Gawn who marked it well and then kicked it on to Jake Melksham who was perfectly placed to score. It seemed our luck was turning, when for once it was Richmond turning over the ball. Fritsch got the mark and kicked to Aaron vandenBerg who cleverly tapped it on to Mitch Hannan to walk it in. As is often the case, Melbourne was caught basking in the glow of back to back goals and Kane Lambert snuck one in for Richmond almost immediately. Cue camera shot of Simon Goodwin mumbling to himself.

Frustratingly, a few times players had a chance to kick it to Pickett near the Tigers goal but declined. Just kick it to him and see what happens. It might just catch Richmond off guard. Again Trent Rivers showed some nice skills with a few good kicks as well as a creative vision. Melksham went off on a tangent near the end of the term when he could have passed the ball up the field. Then he gave away a 50m penalty after being tackled. Melbourne was thankful to be going in the last quarter only 29 points down.

Like Round 4, the Dees had it all to do in the last quarter. They threw themselves into it and eventually Petracca got the ball to Tom MacDonald who marked it thirty five metres out from goal. Though T Mac has been below par since his recovery from a broken leg, he didn’t make any mistakes this time. Still 23 points behind though. Bailey Fritsch had another set shot and was successful to further reduce the margin. It was still possible for the Dees to win but we needed a further three goals. However Tom Lynch spoiled the party with six minutes to go.

After that, the Tigers were reinvigorated and the Demons struggled. Even a third goal for Mitch Hannan was all too little too late. Tom Lynch put the final nail in the coffin with two minutes to go and ten seconds before the siren, Kane Lambert helped lower the casket into the ground, making the final score 51-73.

It’s been a hugely frustrating start to 2020 for the Demons. So many times our game is lacking the flexibility to out play the opposition. We desperately need a consistent goalscorer. We were the highest scoring side in the competition in 2018, now we’re the lowest. Jesse Hogan and Tom MacDonald scored 100 goals between them in 2018. Of course there’s no guarantee that Jesse would have played well last year if he’d stayed but Tom’s form slumped noticeably after Hogan’s departure. It’s like Lennon and McCartney. Once they broke up the Beatles, neither were as prolific again.

One interesting stat I read this week. Fifteen times since 2018, Melbourne have had more inside 50s than the opposition but have gone on to lose the game. The team average in the League is six times. Anyway, maybe relocating to Sydney will help the Dees. Without the relentless focus of the Melbourne media, they may recover some of their success from two years ago.

We play Gold Coast in Round 6. The Suns have lost their star player Matt Rowell to injury but will still be a tough team, having discovered a winning spirit since the restart of the season.

Finally, a shout out to Shaun from Coffs Harbour, a one time Dees’ aspirant. It always good to discover another Demons fan in these here parts.

Go the Mighty Dees!


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