Melbourne’s stevedores offload Dockers

August 4, 2022 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 20 – Fremantle V Melbourne

Liam Chambers

They say that a week is a long time in football and conclusively, there’s been a 100% turnaround in the Dees’ performance. Round 20 was arguably our best display of 2022.

From the start you could sense the difference in the Demons. They were chasing every ball and applying unrelenting pressure to the Dockers. Melbourne’s hand passing was impressive but most importantly they were playing as a team in a way we’ve rarely seen this year. Their great strength last season was the philosophy of team first, individuals second. That tenet has been re-stamped into each player’s DNA and it showed in their attitude.

We were dominating play and spending most of the first ten minutes in our forward 50. Somewhere over the last couple of seasons, the Dees have adapted well to playing in wet conditions; something Freo still struggle to master. It was only a matter of time before Melbourne scored and it came via a perfectly place kick from Christian Petracca which was marked by Kysaiah Pickett. The set shot was a straightforward kick from 20m in front.

After the goal, the Demons looked comfortably in control. The belief was back. The trials and tribulations of the past three months were behind them and there was a renewed focus. You can argue about the catalyst that brought about this change; conceding 110 points to the Dogs last week, the mid week evaluation of recent performances, even Angus Brayshaw resigning for six more years. Perhaps a combination of all three mixed together with some other unknown variables. Whatever the reason, the change was palpable.

As if on cue, Bayley Fritsch showed his versatility and talent by picking up the tapped down ball, then running around the Dockers’ defence and striking off his left boot to score form 25m out. Then after winning the hitout, Melbourne again proceeded towards goal. Inside 50, they pounced and tackled, giving Fremantle no opportunity to get the ball out and creating a stoppage in front of goal. Charlie Spargo crumbed the ball and got a kick away before Freo had a chance to fully react. The review showed the ball hadn’t been touched and Melbourne was three goals to the good.

Although the Dees have had good first terms in recent games, this time it was different. This was total domination and there was little their opponents could do to arrest the onslaught. When the Dockers made it into our defensive 50 we didn’t concede an inch. Their forays were fought off with determination. There was a confidence that we could handle whatever Fremantle could throw at us.

When you sling enough mud, some will eventually stick and so it was when Freo finally scored with three minutes to go. Michael Frederick was awarded a free to the right of the square and went back to kick the set shot. Then Michael Walters slammed through a goal after collecting the ground ball 20m out.

Melbourne took it in their stride. With a minute to go, Jayden Hunt kicked a long ball to Fritsch inside 50, where the forward missed the mark but controlled the sherrin, running on before tapping in his second.

The Dees’ first goal after the break just epitomised the rediscovered team spirit. Jack Viney one handedly picked up the bouncing ball, spun around, charged through Andrew Brayshaw before passing to Tom Sparrow who passed to Ed Langdon. The wing-man took off at speed, getting the kick away where it sailed inside 50, was tapped down then collected by James Jordan who chipped it through the posts.

When Max Gawn took a mark deep in the pocket, he spotted the aforementioned Ed Langdon in a better position just inside the 50m line. Taking the Freo defence by surprise Gawn kicked to Langdon who took the mark and kicked long and accurately to put the Dees ahead by 26 points.

Both sides had chances after that but were unable to capitalise. Then as half time was closing in, Jake Melksham proved again why he’s back in the side. Another stoppage enabled Clayton Oliver to flick the ball up, literally from ground level, to the waiting Melksham. The veteran forward found enough space to get around the defence and snap from 30m. Michael Walters got one back just before the siren but the Dees still led by a healthy 27 points.

Melbourne continued in the same vein at the start of the second half. Their pressure, if anything, intensified. Freo was basically locked into their defensive 50. Eventually they got out but no matter how hard they fought, the Dockers were still having difficulties penetrating the Dees’ defence. Then they got a desperately needed break when Griffin Logue was able to control the ground ball on the edge of the square and tap in a goal.

Fremantle had closed the gap but could they to back it up and seriously threaten the Demons? That question was answered quickly when Angus Brayshaw’s kick to space was marked by Bayley Fritsch deep in the pocket. Fritsch’s 50m kick, from a tight angle was perfect.

Max Gawn again won the hitout and kicked the ball to inside 50. Charlie Spargo ended up with possession. His 40m kick didn’t quite have the distance but was incredibly marked by Sam Weideman right on the edge of the goal square. Weideman went back a couple of metres and stretched the advantage to 34 points.

The Dockers continued to apply pressure but couldn’t get any reward for all their efforts. Frustratingly for the home fans, it was Melbourne who got the next major when Charlie Spargo was awarded a free on the boundary line to the right of goal. His round the corner kick sailed through, pushing the margin passed 40 points. To add to Freo’s woes, it started to rain again.

As the minutes ticked down in the last quarter, the situation was looking increasingly dire for Fremantle. Meanwhile Melbourne continued to push their opponents hard. There was no way we were getting run down this time.

Michael Frederick got one back with his round the corner kick but it was purely a consolation goal. Within a few minutes, Jake Melksham had marked the ball 30m out and hand passed to Kysaiah Pickett as he flew past into a scoring position. It was an easy stroll and tap into the open goal. Kozzie had his hat trick when when Fritsch kicked to the small forward as he again ran towards goal, marking on the edge of the square. Pickett sprinted around and kicked, ratcheting up the advantage to 46 points.

With the win, the Dees remain in second spot. It was arguably their best performance all season. It also showed the deep desire to win back to back flags. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Collingwood game in Round 21 is our most important so far this year.

If we win, we will have given ourselves a great chance to finish in the top two. It won’t be easy. The Pies have won their last ten games in a row. They’ve also beaten us in sixth of our last seven meetings. However, if we play with the same determination and team spirit we showed in Round 20, then I have no doubt that we will win!

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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