Not Quite A Century

May 6, 2023 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

Round 7 – Melbourne V North Melbourne

Liam Chambers

Remember a few short years ago when North Melbourne was guaranteed to take the wind out of our sails? To abruptly end any winning streak we managed to cobble together? Thankfully those days are over and lingering doubts vanquished.

We were the clear favourites on Saturday night and within a minute, Kade Chandler was on the board when he controlled the bouncing ball out of the square to claim his first. Bailey Fritsch continued his impressive record of kicking a goal in each of his last thirty five games when he effortlessly struck from 30m in front. Two minutes later and Fritsch had his second. This time from a 40m set shot.

When Kysaiah Pickett scores, he scores spectacularly well. His first was a curling kick from the 50m line which soared high and dipped behind the goal line for Melbourne’s fourth. A clearance win, and Jack Viney launched a kick to Tom Sparrow waiting just inside 50. Sparrow’s successful set shot meant the Demons had five goals inside ten minutes of play.

Melbourne’s dominance was interrupted by the tragic injury to Charlie Comben, who was stretchered off with a suspected broken leg, possibly ending his season. When play resumed, the Dees continued to deny North any points on the scoreboard; the Umpire adding to the Roos’ pain by awarding Brodie Grundy a 50m penalty. The Ruck slotted his 20m shot to extend the lead to thirty seven points.

Cameron Zurhaar managed to stem the onslaught when took a contested mark inside the goal square and kicked the visitors’ first. It was a brief respite though, because Bailey Fritsch claimed his hat trick when he marked in the pocket before kicking a high round the corner kick which was cleared by the score review. Kozzie Pickett had his second when he marked a bullet from Christian Petracca out of the centre. The small forward went back and kicked cleanly from 35m.

After being totally overrun in the first term, the question was how would North Melbourne adapt their game to avoid the same fate in the second quarter. The first few minutes didn’t look promising for the Roos and when Jaidyn Stephenson gave away a double 50m penalty, it was like shooting fish in a barrel for the lucky recipient Trent Rivers.

The perceived injustice seemed to momentarily fire up North but there was no reward for effort and the Dees slipped back into their comfortable dominance.

In contrast to the first quarter, Melbourne goals were thin on the ground for the first ten minutes. That changed when Kade Chandler kicked another; this time a 25m set shot from the pocket.

The Roos finally got a second when Nick Larkey took a handpass and kicked form 20m in front. Within a minute though, the Demons had stretched the lead back to fifty six points when Petracca marked 45m from goal and converted the set shot.

Alex Neal-Bullen typified the Dees’ fighting spirit when he crashed tackled a North Melbourne defender as he went to kick the ball from the goal square. The forward quickly scooped up the loose ball and tapped it across the line. Kozzie had another kick from just outside 50. His shot sailed towards goal and was guided through by Fritsch who protected the ball as it bounced across the line.

With a sixty six point lead, Melbourne needed to keep up the pressure and build on their score, ensuring a big percentage boost. It was a good start with Petracca running onto the loose ball from a stoppage and snapping from 10m to the right of goal. Jacob van Rooyen’s long kick was pinpoint accurate in picking out Bailey Fritsch inside 50. Fritsch almost took the mark but let it slip. He quickly recovered to gather, turn and slot his fourth.

To the relief of North fans, Nick Larkey was clean with his 35m set shot from deep in the pocket. Even better for the visiting faithful, was Cameron Zurhaar’s goal from a set shot directly in front.
The margin was back to the half time’s sixty six points. North Melbourne appeared to have achieved some late momentum, but the Dees continued to apply pressure on the Roos’ defensive 50.

JvR got his only goal when he took a diving mark from a Kade Chandler kick. He went back and did his usual ritual, raising the ball to eye level, measuring the kick, before running up and chipping the goal.

Melbourne started the final quarter with the same hunger they showed throughout the match. The players would have been keenly aware of the advantages a significant percentage boost would bring; especially at the end of a tight season. There was a couple of early chances, but it was the high performing Petracca who got the first, marking and scoring from 25m.

Jack Viney got one when he collected the ground ball from a stoppage, increasing the Demons’ lead to eighty five points. Then it was another goal for Chandler, ably assisted by Kozzie, when he marked the ball right next to the goal square.

Josh Schache kicked his first as a Demon when his set shot from 25m went through. There was much rejoicing with his teammates gathering around. He didn’t escape unscathed though. They do say a debut goal is better than a poke in the eye. Well, Schache seemed to have got both while being congratulated but he didn’t mind while he was being treated on the bench.

With the goal fest in full swing, the question was who would push the margin past one hundred. Of course it had to be Jake Bowey, the player who didn’t experience a Dees’ loss until his eighteenth game. Having reached the ton, would Melbourne be able to maintain the margin with less than seven minutes left on the clock? Brodie Grundy got it up to one hundred and eight with his second of the night but that’s as good as it got.

North seemed determined to salvage something from the night, even just denying the Dees a hundred plus victory. Zurhaar got his hat trick and pared it back to one hundred and two. Then Liam Sheils reduced it again with his set shot before Ben Cunnington brought it down to ninety, right on the siren.

A great result despite the late flurry from the Roos.

Next week we venture north to take on the Gold Coast Suns who’ve won back to back games for the first time this year. Melbourne will again be favourites but not complacent.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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