MATT Burgan looks at the stories, stats and surprises in his new weekly column
Two missed opportunities, on the back of a couple of wins to start the season, have been Melbourne’s story so far in 2017. For the fourth time this year, the Demons had more scoring shots than their opponent (29 to Fremantle’s 26), but like the result against the Cats in round three, Melbourne failed to take home the four points. Melbourne’s two-point loss to Freo on Easter Saturday was largely due to its poor third term, when it squandered a 21-point half-time lead and booted three behinds to 7.4. This gave Freo a 22-point lead entering the final stanza. Although the Dees won the final term by 20 points, it wasn’t enough to secure a third win for the season.
Melbourne lost its third quarter by 43 points – a remarkable statistic, considering it won the second quarter by 24 points and the last term by 20 points. The Dees narrowly lost their opening quarter by three points, but again, inaccuracy cost them in the first term with 2.5 to 3.2.
Midfielder Dom Tyson had a game-high 28 disposals, with teammate Clayton Oliver the next best with 26 touches. Fremantle’s Lachie Weller was his side’s highest ball-winner with 27.
594 – Was the amount of days in between Jake Spencer’s last game for Melbourne in round 22, 2015 – coincidentally against Fremantle at Domain Stadium – and this weekend. It was Spencer’s 37th AFL game since he made his debut in round one, 2009 against North Melbourne at the MCG. Spencer and Neville Jetta made their AFL debut that day, meaning Nathan Jones and Colin Garland are the only 2017-listed Melbourne players to have been on the club’s list longer than Spencer and Jetta.
Did you know …
It was the biggest crowd for a Melbourne and Fremantle clash at the MCG? Saturday’s crowd of 27,829, eclipsed the previous best of 23,368 in round seven, 2006 by 4,461. The best attendance between the two teams was the second semi-final at Subiaco in 2006, when 42,505 were there for Melbourne’s most recent finals match.
3 votes: Jeff Garlett
Garlett shone in his 150th, booting three goals to give him 10 for the season to continue leading the club’s goalkicking. He booted two in the second term – his second gave Melbourne a 27-point lead, its biggest for the match – and his third put his side within three points. His tackling – he had an equal game-high eight – and pressure were highlights.
2 votes: Clayton Oliver
The youngster continued his fine season. He had a match-best 10 clearances and an equal game-high 17 contested possessions. The 17-gamer has now notched up 125 disposals at an average of 31.25 per game this season. Oliver has arguably been Melbourne’s best player in 2017.
1 vote: Jake Spencer
Given his time out of the side and the fact he was up against Aaron Sandilands, one of the all-time great ruckmen, Spencer should be applauded for his game. He didn’t win the hit outs, but kicked two goals and had 13 disposals – one fewer than Sandilands. Interestingly, his game was rated better than Sandilands, according to Champion Data.
Apologies to …
Christian Salem, James Harmes and Sam Frost who all could’ve gained a vote.
Good to see …
Sam Frost return after he was sidelined for six weeks – from the first JLT Community Series match until round one – due to a toe injury. He played two VFL practice matches with Casey Demons, before his recall on the weekend. Frost’s fantastic gather and kick across the ground to Jack Watts early in the first term reinforced the type of play he possesses.
Oppo’s best: Lachie Neale
Influential in Fremantle’s win, winning 12 of his 22 disposals and kicking two of his four goals in the third term, when the visitors set up their victory. Neale’s contested and uncontested work, plus his tackling were critical when Fremantle upped the ante. An outstanding and integral part of Fremantle’s make-up.
Matty Goodrope’s pic of the day
The engine room: our mids at half-time (Photo: Matthew Goodrope)
Instagram of the day
Tweet of the day
Video of the day
In the mix
Jesse Hogan is set to return after serving a two-match suspension, although Jordan Lewis has one more week to serve. Michael Hibberd impressed for Casey on Easter Monday – his first game since Melbourne’s second JLT Community Series match. Angus Brayshaw is likely to come into contention and Jack Trengove, who was an emergency last round, shone for Casey and could play his first game for 2017. Cameron Pedersen was another outstanding performer for Casey and will be pushing his claims.
For the third year in a row, Melbourne will play Richmond on ANZAC Eve. Aside from the fact that the red and blue has taken the points both times, it has quickly become an outstanding and moving occasion – a first-class fixture on the AFL calendar. From a football perspective, it looms as a cracker. Melbourne has had the edge over Richmond in its past three encounters and the Tigers have yet to lose a game after four rounds. Melbourne will be desperate to atone for the past two weeks, making it a must-see game.
In the press box …
A member of the media throng – still to be identified – was far from impressed, when he was seen arriving late, only to have missed out on a sausage roll from the pie warmer. He then muttered a few words, gave an unnecessary greasy to a younger member of the media nearby, who had simply waited their turn and grabbed the final two sausage rolls when no-one else was around.
In the rooms ...
The silence was evident in the rooms post-match, when the coaches and players walked in after the loss. The players sat down briefly in chairs – with not a word uttered – before they were called into their post-match meeting with coach Simon Goodwin. It wasn’t one for celebrations on this occasion.
Song to sum up match
Shattered, Rolling Stones
Simon Says …
“We’re disappointed as a footy club and we've got to be better than that, but we’re two [wins] and two [losses]. We’re starting to play [with] a little more consistently and as time goes on, we need to learn and grow to become a better team, and with that will come better results – it's pretty simple.” – Simon Goodwin