MATT Burgan looks at the stories, stats and surprises in his new weekly column
Wins over Geelong have been rare in recent times – before round three, Melbourne had won just once in its past 12 encounters. So, to say that the Demons really should’ve defeated the Cats on Saturday might border on arrogance, but given Melbourne had six more scoring shots than Geelong – 32 to 26 – underlines the story of the match: it was a missed opportunity. The red and blue quite simply was wasteful in front of goal, allowing the Cats to capitalise and gain the four points.
Melbourne’s inaccuracy on the scoreboard was never more evident than during the second and third terms, when it had 23 scoring shots to nine or 10.13 to 9.0. Therein lies the story.
Co-captain Nathan Jones continued his fine start to the season with an equal game-high 36 disposals – along with Geelong Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield.
19 – The number of behinds Melbourne kicked for the match; Geelong booted six. In the wash-up, the Cats booted seven more majors than Melbourne, which resulted in the almost five-goal victory. The last time the Dees kicked at least 19 behinds in a match was against Gold Coast Suns in round four, 2011, when Mark Neeld was coach. On that day, Melbourne kicked 23.21 to 9.15 and won by 90 points at the Gabba.
Games: Geelong (2279) v Melbourne (1492)
Goals: Geelong (1617) v Melbourne (913)
Average age: Geelong (26 years, 57 days) v Melbourne (23 years, 317 days)
Did you know …
Tim Smith became the 1333rd player to play for Melbourne after he made his AFL debut against Geelong. He was the fifth player to play their first game for the club this year. It was a fine effort by the 26-year-old who fought hard to find a place on an AFL list and was drafted as a rookie from Casey last November. He kicked a goal on debut.
3 votes: Nathan Jones
The three-time Melbourne best and fairest winner once again gave his all – highlighted by his 633 metres gained. His third term, when he won 13 disposals, was particularly eve-catching. He has averaged 30.50 possessions per match in the first three rounds and has been Melbourne’s most consistent performer, along with Clayton Oliver.
2 votes: Jack Watts
Watts played a fine game, largely in the ruck when Max Gawn went off before half-time with a hamstring injury. Although he kicked two goals – the first and last of the second term, the latter a long-bomb beauty – it was Watts’ effort to compete in the ruck, where he gave away significant size that impressed. He also finished with 23 disposals.
1 vote: Jayden Hunt
Hunt’s zip and dash seemingly gets better each week – for example, he achieved a match-high 744 metres gained. He had a career-best 30 disposals, plus a game-high 10 intercepts and nine marks. Hunt’s ability to rebound (five) and drive the ball inside 50 (four) were highlights – not bad for a 22-game player.
Apologies to …
Billy Stretch, Alex Neal-Bullen and Clayton Oliver, who all could’ve gained a vote.
Good to see …
Dean Kent back in the side after a pre-season back injury interrupted his start to the premiership season. The powerful, long-kicking left-footer booted two goals – he could’ve kicked more, having posted three behinds – while he had a hand in two scoring assists. He also finished with 23 disposals to reinforce his importance to the side.
Oppo’s best: Patrick Dangerfield
The superstar Cat turned it on in the last quarter with 12 disposals to help his side to victory. Although he had ‘just’ five touches in the first term, Dangerfield upped the ante after quarter time. He finished with nine clearances – an equal game-high with teammate Joel Selwood – and booted three goals to be Geelong’s best.
Matty Goodrope’s pic of the day
Simon Goodwin speaks to the players at quarter time (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)
Instagram of the day
Tweet of the day
Video of the day
In the mix
Another forced change will take place for round four, with 2016 All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn set to miss an extended period, due to a hamstring injury. This means big Jake Spencer looks set to play his first AFL match since 2015, given he is the logical ruck replacement. Gawn’s absence adds to the suspension of Jesse Hogan (out for one more week) and Jordan Lewis (sidelined for two more matches). Angus Brayshaw had 24 disposals for Casey and is likely to come back into contention.
Melbourne is back home at the MCG for the second time this season, hosting Fremantle, which won its first game against the Western Bulldogs at Domain Stadium last Saturday night. The fact that Freo came off an 89-point loss and then beat the reigning premiers adds some intrigue to this contest. Yet, remarkably, the Dockers have won just two of their past 12 matches – both against the Bulldogs in round 23 last year and last round. Melbourne broke its seven-game losing streak against Freo in Darwin last year and will start as favourites again.
Heard in the press box …
A much-loved and well-known comedian clapping and cheering the red and blue on at the back of the box. And he was pretty happy when Alex Neal-Bullen kicked a goal in the third quarter – after it went to video review! This British-born Irishman, now living in Melbourne, gave his supporting a good craic! Oh, and special mention to The Age journo Rohan Connolly, whose love of music extended to the post-match media conference, when his phone rang, blasting 1975 tune Anthem by Canadian prog rock band Rush!
Saw in the rooms ...
Bernie Vince nursing a bloody – literally – sore toe. Not for the faint-hearted or those who are squeamish, the 2015 best and fairest winner was seen hobbling after the match with an entire toenail missing from his big toe. It was yet another reminder of what the players put their bodies through in the pursuit of victory.
Song to sum up match
Missed Opportunity, Hall and Oates
Simon Says …
“I thought we played well enough to win the game, but ultimately Geelong deserved to win the game.” – Simon Goodwin