The Melbourne football club have won their first game of the 2019 AFL season by defeating the Sydney Swans by 22 points. The loss was all the more disappointing for Sydney who had more of the ball (disposals 369 /343), had plenty of goal scoring opportunities in the first half, but were unable to cash in on the scoreboard. Melbourne were super impressive as they readjusted, defended staunchly and were able to find their way back into the game. Co-skipper Nathan Jones led by example at the contest and by kicking vital clutch goals. The signs for Sydney are troublesome. Yet another another home game loss and the SCG is not the fortress it once was. Since 2018, the Swans are losing more games now, (9 losses, 5 wins) with the team song not being sung in victory for a long 8 months. The signs are that the golden era of Sydney making the finals is under serious threat, even at this early stage of the season.
In a pretty even first half, Sydney were able to gain the upper hand and built a 20+ point lead midway through the second quarter. The Swans blew many goal scoring chances with wayward shots on goal which kept the door open for Melbourne. The game narrative took a turn for the worse for the Swans when the Demons began to score consecutive goals. Up stepped Nathan Jones who booted quick consecutive goals, then followed a superb pocket snap from Jake Melksham and Melbourne were right back in the game.
In a similar fashion to the Crows game a couple of weeks ago, Sydney struggled to gain any momentum up forward. It looked as if Lance Franklin was left to carry all of the work and the ball wasn’t delivered well enough into the forward 50 metre area. Long bombs and spilled marks were readily snapped up and cleared by an eager Melbourne defense. The Melbourne midfield put the Sydney back line under plenty of pressure and Sydney defenders in Jake Lloyd and Dane Rampe tried in vain to repel the attacks.
In the final term, Melbourne took control of the game and never let the Swans threaten. In the ruck Max Gawn and Braydon Preuss absolutely dominated an insipid Sydney ruck department. The hit out stat was damning with the Dees posting 73 hit outs to Sydney’s 13. Oliver Florent and Harry Cunningham worked hard in the midfield, but it was all too little as the fast finishing Demons grabbed a hold of the game and never let it slip out of their grasp, wining by 22 points.
A delighted Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin sung praises of his defense which had been under lot of criticism during the past week “Our intent early, was certainly there. As the game wore on I thought we were really sound “. John Longmire who celebrated his 200th game as Sydney coach lamented the wasted opportunities “The first half we played some good footy, The second quarter we kicked a few points (3.6) when we had the opportunities to kick goals. But in the second half we just got smacked around the ball”.
Next week, Melbourne 16th, (1-3) face St-Kilda 5th, (3-1) on Saturday afternoon at the MCG, whilst Sydney 15th, (1-3) journey to Melbourne to play the Richmond Tigers 13th, (2-2) on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium at the Docklands.
SYDNEY 5.4 8.10 9.11 11.12 (78)
MELBOURNE 3.2 8.4 12.7 15.10 (100)
Sydney: Florent 2, Dawson 2, Jack 2, Sinclair, Z. Jones, Heeney, Franklin, Ronke
Melbourne: N. Jones 3, Preuss 2, Petracca 2, Hunt 2, Harmes, Melksham, T. McDonald, Weideman, Brayshaw, Viney
Sydney: Lloyd, Florent, Rampe, Jones, Aliir
Melbourne: N. Jones, Gawn, Oliver, Harmes, Pruest
Melbourne: Braydon Preuss (shoulder), Oscar McDonald (concussion), Neville Jetta (knee soreness) replaced in selected side by Marty Hore, Jay Lockhart (back spasm) replaced in selected side by Charlie Spargo
Umpires: Brett Rosebury, Andrew Stephens, Brent Wallace
Official crowd: 26,669 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Moore Park, Sydney Australia