The Dees Are Back!
After a stuttering start to the 2019 AFL season, Melbourne finally showed Australia what they used to do, play winning footy. The SCG hasn’t been too kind to the Melbourne Football club in recent years. Whenever they have been in the Emerald City, they just went through the motions of a road game copping some nasty beltings along the way. On Thursday they notched up their first win at the SCG in 14 years with a purposeful, focused effort. After a slow start, the Demons really grabbed a hold of this game and never looked back. Midway through the second term Nathan Jones was unbelievable. Two consecutive goals got his team back into it. Their defensive structures looked strong, the Jack Viney / Clayton Oliver / James Harmes led midfield was sharp. Throw in tall forward / ruckman Braydon Preuss who kicked two very handy goals in the first term. There was plenty to like about this effort and the ramifications. If Melbourne can maintain and build on this team dynamic they will go places come September.
No “Stuffet” but Buffet!
Demons midfielder James Harmes was all smiles in the sheds after the game. He told me it had been a pretty tough couple of weeks dealing with all the criticisms and summations that Melbourne were one-hit wonders re: finals. In Harmes’s mind nothing could be further from the truth. He thinks this team can be a major threat in the competition if they just continue to work hard on what they are good at. His game numbers were solid with 19 disposals and a goal. His presence around the midfield was invaluable during the game. Oddly enough, it was James’s first game at the SCG and what a way to celebrate with a great win. During the week it was disclosed on the Melbourne website, one of James’s highlights on a road trip was the buffets served up to the team. He jokingly told us the buffet, not stuffet, was something he looked forward to when on the road.He said the buffet was pretty decent here in Sydney. Kudos to James, another Harmes (AKA Wayne) involved in footy is good to see!
Much better this week from the Melbourne defense
The pundits were scathing last week of the Melbourne defensive effort against Essendon. Players were choosing wrong options with regards to their opponents, they gave away too much space and let their man run free. On Thursday night, the backline structures was sound. Granted that the SCG is a compact set up, Melbourne still stuck to the principle of staying close to their opponent. They also trickled down a spare player and they really held a tight clearing line at the back.Consider the following photo (below) of the Melbourne defensive structure early in the game. 12-9 opponents in Melbourne’s favour, plenty of tight lines. Initially things didn’t go right for the Dees backs with spoiled marks bouncing the Swans way. The Melbourne defense kept their nerve, held tight to this type of formation and made life extremely difficult for Sydney. Kudos has to go to the Melbourne coaching staff for the effective readjustments they made in shutting shut down the Swans forwards.
One dimensional Swans
This game looked so much like the Adelaide loss of a couple of weeks ago. Early on Sydney were able to rove the packs and crumb goals, but as soon as they were manned up and pressure was applied in their midfield, scoring became a tough task. Throw in abysmal hit out numbers in the ruck (73-13) It tells you something. You have to get the ball from the ruck to begin a drive / chain. Max Gawn & Braydon Preuss had a night out. Callum Sinclair was virtually unnoticeable and he must lift his game. The one glaring error made by Sydney was the habit of bombing the ball high into the 50 metre zone. Sam Reid struggled, Lance Franklin kept presenting tirelessly but was given zero support from his fellow forwards. Too one dimensional up forward and the Swans braintrust have to come up with a solution strategically, otherwise sides will apply a similar game plan that the Crows and Demons used so effectively in the past two games.