Victory But No Glory

October 2, 2020 by
Filed under: NSW Demons 

Round 18 – Essendon Vs Melbourne

Liam Chambers

We won the battle but lost the war. Even Max Gawn’s offer to take out a Dockers’ membership had no affect on the final top eight. Life is full of what ifs and if onlys but the truth is we are the ones in charge of our destiny; however much we wanted Fremantle to triumph. There’s an old saying “never grow a wishbone, where your backbone ought to be”.

Despite some wobbles along the way, there were promising signs for the Dees in 2020. Christian Petracca finally began to fulfil his potential. Congratulation on making the All Australian squad. Commiserations to Steven May, who was nominated but didn’t make the final cut. A travesty of justice. Both players were important in the Dees win against Essendon, alongside Jayden Hunt (returning to form) and Bailey Fritsch (managed to surprise the opposition when they least expected it).

With Mitch Brown continuing to mark well, his early attempt to convert didn’t make the distance. Similarly Bailey Fritsch’s effort a few minutes later missed the target. Jayden Laverde got the first goal for the Bombers. Then another Jayden (Hunt) replied almost immediately. Finding a pathway to inside 50, he launched a forty metre kick for the Dees’ opener. Melbourne continued to display patience, building up to a good position and getting the ball to Fritsch. Another great grab inside 50 but again, one he was unable to convert.

When, right on quarter time, Jake Stringer took a mark from a driving midfield kick, Simon Goodwin thought about leaving the Coaches box. Instead he turned around, waited and watched through his fingers as Stringer kicked Essendon’s second after the siren.

Back from the break, the Dees continued their patient build up, sticking to the plan and not panicking. They strung some nice moves together via Joel Smith, Fritsch, Sam Weiderman and finally to Petracca just inside 50. Tracca briefly thought about taking the shot before spotting and kicking to Alex Neal-Bullen in the pocket. Neal-Bullen took his time to catch his breath before bending back a great shot on goal.

The pace picked up after that and it was third time lucky for Fritsch, marking near the goal after being left unattended. Melbourne’s fourth goal was a display of extreme team politeness when Petracca launched the ball inside 50 to Charlie Spargo. Spargo passed to Weiderman who decided Hunt was a better option as he ran towards the goal square. Hunt took the gift and ran in his second.

When Neal-Bullen took a hospital pass from Petracca, he was lucky not to be crushed between two Bombers. Managing to slip through at the last second, he bullet kicked his second goal from forty metres out. Encouraged by his team’s goal kicking display, Simon Goodwin took an early trip to the sideline in what looked like being a big payday for the Demons. Goody wouldn’t have been disappointed to see Clayton Oliver’s kick and Petracca’s accurate mark on the inside 50 line. Tracca’s ensuing shot from sixty metres was outstanding.

Essendon needed to claw their way back but Max Gawn wasn’t going to make it easy for them as he continued to dominate in the ruck. Even though Melbourne maintained control of the game, they struggled to put it beyond the Bombers’ reach. Finally Kysaiah Pickett was able to weave some magic with a nice pick up and pass to Hunt, setting up a shot from just outside 50 to record his hat trick. It looked a case of signed, sealed and delivered for Melbourne.

Then just before three quarter time, having absorbed all the Dees’ pressure, Essendon got the ball up the ground and into the waiting hands of James Stewart, twenty five metres from goal. Having left the door opened a chink, Melbourne gave their opponents a small glimmer of hope. That hope needed to be stuffed out in the first few minutes of the last term but instead the Bombers decided to make a game of it. When James Stewart got back to back goals, he reduced the margin to twenty one points.

With renewed confidence, Essendon piled on the pressure, forcing errors from the Dees. Initially their efforts only resulted in minors scores. Then Joe Daniher, who up to that point was only a glorified spectator, began to look decidedly more confident. Melbourne’s defence held up well though and when Hunt got a fourth against the run of play, it again looked all sewn up.

The Bombers weren’t finished though and Devon Smith restored the margin. Another twist and James Stewart again marks in front of goal. Three minutes to go and Dylan Sheil kicks another from forty five metres. Suddenly it was a seven point game. Nobody in red and blue wanted to lose this vital game, least of all by a few points right on the siren.

Cue the cavalry. In the midst of a desperate confusion, Jake Melksham collected a spilled ball and kicked to an unmarked Fritsch, who ran towards goal, easing the pressure that threatened to derail the Dees’ season. Melbourne then launched an outright attack to maintain the momentum.

Mitch Brown was awarded a fifty metre set shot and used his time wisely before kicking. The ball dropped lower as it approached goal but was tapped back into the field rather than over the line. Fritsch didn’t waste the opportunity and snapped it back for another goal. With a three goal margin, the Bombers were out of options and the Dees gave themselves a chance to play finals.

We know now that the other result didn’t go our way but we can take heart and continue to rebuild.

Go the Mighty Dees and bring on 2021!!!


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