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The China Diaries - Day 8

Matt Burgan  October 17, 2010 2:39 PM

Match day had arrived and it would be an historic day for the AFL and the club.

The Demons were set to play the Brisbane Lions in the Kaspersky Cup: Shanghai Showdown at Jiangwan Stadium - the first match played in China.

The group arrived at the impressive venue around midday.

As the players prepared, many of the staff washed down a quick pie, as the Melbourne officials, headed by vice-president Don McLardy and chief executive Cameron Schwab, undertook formal duties.

The crowd soon started arriving, with a blend of Australian-based supporters, expatriates and locals in attendance.

The Melbourne staff/touring party then congregated at the top of the concrete terrace stand on the wing. In fact, the entire ground was concrete terrace.

The match got underway at 2.10 pm, and early on the Demons were sluggish.

The Demons bounced back in the second term, but when the Lions kicked five goals to two in the third quarter, we trailed by 26 points entering the final change.

But, early in the final term, there was a momentum swing.

And when ruckman Jake Spencer kicked a fine goal on the run from 50 metres, it sparked a revival.

The game was on.

Quick goals from Jamie Bennell and Colin Sylvia followed, before it became the Liam Jurrah show.

LJ kicked the last three goals of the match and took two hangers - his last bringing the crowd to its feet.

His effort to kick his fifth on the siren gave Melbourne a memorable five-point lead.

Other pleasing aspects for Melbourne were the form of Clint Bartram, Michael Newton and Sylvia.

The final score: Demons 12.12 (84) defeated the Lions 11.13 (79).

Post-match, it was full of excitement and enthusiasm in the Melbourne camp. The win only added to the trip.

After leaving the ground and stopping off quickly at the hotel, the team and Melbourne supporter group gathered at Mesa Manifesto for a great buffet dinner and evening.

Schwab spoke at the dinner and reflected on ‘the moment’ - both the day and the trip.

With an early start set for Monday, many retreated back to the hotel following dinner, while a few continued to experience the Shanghai nightlife.