The Fall and Rise of The Red and The Blue

June 13, 2021 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 12 – Melbourne V Brisbane

Liam Chambers

Back in the 1980s when English football managers were interviewed and asked to comment on their team’s performance, they would invariably refer to the match as a game of two halves. It became a cliche and a catchphrase of the stereotypical manager. However, there’s no other way to describe the difference between Melbourne’s first and second half displays. It was like two parts of a play. In Act 1, Melbourne struggled to take control and Brisbane was able to dominate, preventing the Dees from playing their natural flowing, fast paced game. Act 2 was all Melbourne.

Bailey Fritsch did get the first goal but the Lions quickly hit back before big Max Gawn collected the ball from a Christian Petracca kick and booted it in from 25m. However, Joe Daniher took a superb mark on the 50m line a few minutes later and reined in the Dees’ lead to a single point. The tide turned further in the Lions’ favour when Zac Bailey took a handpass 30m out and kicked around the corner to put his team 6 points clear. A few minutes later Bailey took advantage of a tapped down ball in front of goal to soccer kick the ball over the line and double Brisbane’s advantage.

The Lions continued their winning ways in the second quarter courtesy of a Charlie Cameron goal within the first minute. However, Christian Petracca steadied the ship with a brilliantly placed set shot kick from the 50mline and kept the Dees in touch with their rivals. Brisbane though, continued to mount their attacks, putting major stress on Melbourne’s defence.

Eventually the Dees broke through and proceeded up the field where Bailey Fritsch collected the ball as he ran across the face of the goal square. He converted to give Melbourne back to back goals. Up the other end Eric Hipwood blocked Jake Lever, preventing him from going for the ball and allowing Lincoln McCarthy to effectively mark uncontested and score from the set shot. Keidean Coleman then stretched Brisbane’s lead to 20 points after his kick on goal was positively reviewed by ARC.

Luke Jackson, fast becoming an all round star for the Dees got an important goal after intercepting the bouncing ball and controlling it to kick from 20m out. Zac Bailey restored the Lions 20 point advantage after receiving a Dayne Zorko hand pass and running goalwards before kicking from 10m in front. For the remaining three minutes, Brisbane launched wave after wave of attacks inside Melbourne’s defensive 50. The back line held though and the Dees went in at the break relieved having limited the damage.

Reset has been Melbourne’s motto this season and Simon Goodwin would have been stressing the need for a change of tactic after the half time break. Brisbane had been controlling much more of the football with 167 disposals to the Dees’ 124.

The start of Act 2 showed the Dees looking more determined. They were setting the pace and pushing forward. When Tom McDonald, in the ruck, tapped the ball down to Clayton Oliver, he received it straight back before drop kicking it through the open goal. For the first time Brisbane looked hesitant going forward as Melbourne starting blocking their path. Then Harrison Petty took an intercept mark that gave the Dees a chance to charge through the middle of the ground and allowing Charlie Spargo to deliver a driving kick to McDonald. Unfortunately T Mac connected with the upright.

Suddenly Melbourne were looking in control and increasing the speed of the game. When Kysaiah Pickett snatched the ball out of the air beside the goal square and dribbled it through to the goal, he reduced the margin to 7 points. Up the other end, Dayne Zorko kept the pressure up when he swept up the loose ball after it was tapped down from a stoppage, then snapped it home. Almost immediately, Petracca got one back when he took a drive by possession of another tapped down ball and ran on to launch an inch perfect kick to the inside of the upright.

The Dees were now in full flight, playing their natural fluid game as they pushed deep into their forward half. Tom McDonald second effort was a pick up and driving kick from 40m to bring Melbourne within one point of the Lions. The Dees didn’t have it all their own way though as Zac Bailey collected the bouncing ball before outpacing his opponent to run inside 50 and claim his fourth of the night.

Melbourne’s response was instantaneous as Sam Weideman marked from a Clayton Oliver’s kick was dropped, allowing Kysaiah Pickett to scoop up the ball and snap it high through the uprights. Pickett had another chance in the last few minutes of the quarter but regrettably he hit the post with his set shot. However the point gave Melbourne the slimmest of leads heading into the final term.

After connecting with the upright on his previous attempt, Pickett didn’t miss with his kick at the start of Q4, notching up his hat trick. Melbourne next goal took awhile but it was worth the wait. After a series of handball passes, Alex Neal-Bullen’s kick towards the goal square was tapped down by McDonald, who thought about passing it to Petracca, before turning the full 360 degrees and booting through the goal. Tom Sparrow looked unlikely to score as he fumbled and dropped the ball a couple of times but he was able to launch a well targeted kick from the 50m line.

Now it was the Dees who were leading by 20 points and Brisbane looked stunned by the turnaround. With the clock ticking down, Melbourne kept their foot on the pedal and remained focused on pushing forward. Finally, they broke through again when Charlie Spargo got a hand pass to Neal-Bullen, who kicked it around the corner from 40m out. Charlie Cameron got a consolation and the Lions’ only goal of the quarter when he was awarded a free from 25m away.

Of all the wins this year, I’m sure this will be the one the lads will cherish the most. When they looked on the ropes at the end of the first half, they took a deep breath and came back and turned it around in empathetic style. They’re doing what we always knew they could do. In previous seasons, they would have been unable to pull it out of the fire but now they have the self belief, confidence and team spirit to beat anyone.

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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