The Skin Of Their Teeth

June 20, 2020 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 2 – Carlton Vs Melbourne – The Skin Of Their Teeth

Liam Chambers

First the good news. Q1 was about as good a quarter as Melbourne have ever played. Within the first minute the Dees were inside 50. Alex Neal-Bullen got the ball to Bailey Fritsch who slotted the first goal. Four minutes later Christian Petracca gets the second from thirty metres out in front of goal. Then it’s Neal-Bullen’s turn after a nice mark, courtesy of a Max Gawn kick. At the halfway mark, Melbourne were dominating with ten inside 50s to nil.

Debutant Trent Rivers was splendid, showing great control and vision. Even when Carlton’s ventured inside 50, the Dees dealt with them easily and efficiently. The fourth and fifth goals went to the energetic Jayden Hunt. Max Gawn was dominating the hit outs. All in all a masterclass performance by the Demons.

Q2 started with a Blues side more determined to staunch the flow and reverse the one side nature of the game. Melbourne held on but were noticeably less dominate. Then at the midway point, Tom McDonald got the footy to Jayden Hunt who slotted his hat trick. Shortly after that, Neal-Bullen kicked a messy but effective goal to put Melbourne forty two points in front.

Now the Dees were in the driver’s seat and should have put the game beyond Carlton’s reach. Instead they threw the Blues a lifeline. With ninety seconds to go, first David Cunningham, then Darcy Lang found the back of the net to reduce the margin to twenty nine points and give them a sense of belief going into the second half.

From the start of the second half, Carlton relentlessly piled the pressure on Melbourne. The Dees were unable to to control the game and even though the held the lead, all the momentum was with the Blues. The few chances presented to Melbourne went begging and that old familiar feeling was back. The Demon faithfully had been here too many times before but we hung on for dear life; needing to believe that we could not surrender a game that seemed a near certainty just half an hour before.

The Blues just kept going though and first Levi Casboult then Mitch McGovern scored to get within spitting distance of the Dees. Finally, a long kick from Petracca on the edge of inside 50 sailed towards goal and a fortunate bounce saw the Dees notch up their eight goal. In hindsight, this proved to be the match winner for Melbourne.

With the score 53-31 at the start of the final quarter, the Dees were ruing not putting Carlton to the sword when they had a forty two point lead. This regret was compounded when Michael Gibbons kick the blues fifth. After a few near misses, the great Eddie Betts finally got his first goal since returning to Carlton. Celebrations for Carlton meant Melbourne had to now preserve a wafer thin lead made worse when Captain Patrick Cripps reduced the margin to a single goal. The change in fortunes was summed up by Bailey Fritsch’s miss in front of goal in the dying minutes. However, Melbourne hung on to win by the narrowest of margins.

It was a disappointing performance from the Dees considering our early dominance. However, I can live with disappointment. I grew up in Ireland and was constantly disappointed by our performance in all International codes.
So it’s not the disappointment, it’s the frustration. The frustration of a team so obviously talented and fit. A team that knows what needs to be done but so often fails to do it. I know that sounds harsh and I’m not on the field dealing with the immense pressure of the game played at this level. But every team faces that pressure and Melbourne have been guilty of capitulation too often.

We proved what we can achieve when we made the preliminary finals in 2018. However, we’ve made a habit of being hunted down. When the opposition changes tactics in an attempt to win the game, why does Melbourne not have a contingency plan? If there is a plan, why do we struggle to implement it?

I saw an interview with Max Gawn last night and he indicated that the terminology used at half time and the final quarter break was perhaps lacking in clarity. Max said that they were now reviewing their terminology.
A failure to communicate at this level of a professional sport is surprising. I really hope that this problem is rectified urgently. If not, we may struggle to find a winning formula this season. I know a win is a win but the Round 2 result was too close for comfort.

On a lighter note, congratulations to Neville Jetta on his 150th game for the Dees! Also welcome to the three debutants Harley Bennell, Trent Rivers and Luke Jackson.

Go The Mighty Dees!!!


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