We got the Power

July 23, 2022 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons 

and the Kozzie Pickett show

Round 18 – Melbourne V Port Adelaide

After last week’s disappointing loss to Geelong, Melbourne were looking for a win to steady the ship. Port Adelaide meanwhile would be fighting for a finals berth and wouldn’t be holding back. Definitely a case of survival of the fittest.

The Dees had a slow start with a few chances going begging. When we were getting inside 50, Port were defending well and getting the ball out quickly. Both sides seemed to be conserving energy in the 25 degree heat; which would feel almost tropical compared to the southern winter chill.

The opening goal was a long time coming but eventuated when Travis Boak took a handpass and found enough space to run and kick from 30m out. The next came much more quickly with key forward Todd Marshall marking and kicking from 45m.

Melbourne don’t get held goalless too often in opening quarters and they would have been hoping to rectify that quickly at the start of the second term. Instead it was the Port Adelaide’s ruck Jeremy Finlayson who took a mark inside 50 and went back to kick his side’s third. Neale Daniher, watching from the seats would have been quietly urging his beloved Demons to make the breakthrough.

It took a few more minutes but finally Melbourne had their first goal after Kysaiah Pickett received the ball in the right hand pocket. He did a 360 degree turn before kicking around the corner. It got the fans going and also fired up the players.

A minute and a messy build up later gave the Dees their second. Bayley Fritsch crumbed the ball close to the square and was just quick enough to turn and dribble it through. Melbourne’s prospects were looking brighter as they took on the Power with a vengeance, lifting their intensity. It paid dividends when Alex Neal-Bullen fought to keep possession and the ball from bouncing out of bounds. Jack Viney took the hand pass and punched the sherrin over his shoulder where Luke Jackson grabbed it and chipped in the Dees’ third to take the lead.

Unfortunately the advantage didn’t last long because Miles Bergman kicked a banana from the pocket. That lead was also fleeting as Port managed a turnover during an attempted clearance inside 50. Christian Petracca didn’t hesitate to kick to an unattended Fritsch, who just walked in his second.

It was becoming a game of goal tag when veteran Charlie Dixon marked the ball, before being awarded a 50m penalty plus a Logie for acting after Max Gawn gently tapped the ball from his grasp. Dixon didn’t waste his gifted opportunity.

The turf is different in Alice Spring as Pickett found out while chasing the ball as it headed for the boundary line. When it bounced back in, Kozzie took the Port defence by surprise, kicking another round the corner and sparking another change of lead. The Demon fans in the stands were getting their money’s worth.

After the energetic previous quarter, the second half start was a fairly pedestrian affair. That was until Connor Rozee was awarded a penalty on the 50m line and hit the target to put Port back on top. After that goal, the visitors starting surging, making the most of their momentum. However, they could only manage a few minor scores until Miles Bergman got another; this time from a 35m set shot.

Fortunately, the Dees were able to absorb Port’s dominance without suffering too much damage. Then right at the halfway mark, Melbourne made their move. They got up the ground to their forward 50 where Max Gawn tapped down the incoming ball. Pickett had run into the pocket but was unable to collect the ball with opposition players quickly closing in. Instead he kicked as the ball was bouncing up and watched it fly through the sticks.

A few minutes later Pickett had his fourth after been taken high in a tackle and accurately kicking a 40m set shot. Ben Brown was able to add to the tally when he marked Charlie Spargo’s kick 30m from the goal line.

After a quarter where Port Adelaide dominated for long periods, the Dees had managed to extend their lead to ten points. Now they needed to build on that score to seal victory. Melbourne’s first of the final term came from some clever creative play, starting with Toby Bedford’s kick along the boundary to Bayley Fritsch, who in turn kicked into the space in front of a goalward bound Jake Melksham. The recently returned Melksham collected the bouncing ball and ran on, hotly pursued by the Port defence but still managing to kick the goal from close quarters.

Ben Brown got his second from a set shot to make it five in a row for the Demons. With a handy twenty point lead, Melbourne still needed to be mindful of Port’s desperation to make the top eight. A loss for the Adelaide side would all but spell the end of their season. When Pickett kicked his unprecedented fifth of the game from just outside the 50m line, it did indeed look like curtains for the Power.

With the clock ticking uncaringly towards full time, Port needed to act quickly and precisely. Theoretically, there was still time but then the final nail was hammered in when Kozzie marked in the pocket and played on round the corner to claim his half dozen.

Port still didn’t sit back though and the Dees couldn’t afford to rest on their laurels as there was still life, so potentially still hope. This was underlined when Travis Boak got his second via a finish from 30m out. The margin was still twenty five points but there was almost ten minutes left to play.

Shortly after that goal, Todd Marshall also got his second when he marked the ball on the goal line. It was an easy conversion and the gap was down to nineteen points. The Dees needed to defend urgently and strongly but were unlucky when William Drew was paid a mark that appeared to have been touched. The midfielder kicked and scored from 45m.

Suddenly a Port comeback threat looked a realistic prospect with three minutes still left to play. There was some frantic toing and froing but Melbourne hung on and finished with a fourteen point margin. Port ate into our percentage in the final minutes but we ended up with an important win.

It’s a tough home run from here, starting with our Grand Final opponents from last season. We’re still not quite back to our best and the team spirit still needs some honing but we can raise our game and be in good position to finish near the top of the table. There’s a good chance the teams we play in the next month will be the same ones we face come finals times.

Kysaiah Pickett showed us the way in Alice Springs; lets grab the momentum and run!

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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