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The team review: round 17

Matt Burgan  July 17, 2017 11:59 AM

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Summary

Against the top-of-the-table Adelaide, and with several key personnel missing, Melbourne entered round 17 facing arguably its toughest test so far this year. To end up losing by 46 points – its biggest loss of the season – was frustrating and disappointing, but in the circumstances, hardly disastrous. No doubt, the likes of Nathan Jones, Jack Viney, Dom Tyson, Jack Watts, Christian Salem, Aaron vandenBerg and Angus Brayshaw would’ve helped considerably, and it was telling to note that Melbourne had 13 players from its 2017 list unavailable on the weekend – equal most for a round this season, along with round 16. Having scrapped home against a plucky Carlton last week, it was always going to be a challenge against Adelaide, which had lost just four games in 2017. It proved to be the case. 

The stat

Melbourne had more inside 50s than Adelaide (55 to 52), but only had 20 scores to 31. Remarkably, the Demons had more inside 50s in the first quarter (19 to 14), when the Crows kicked 7.2 to 1.3. Consequently, the Dees lost the opening term by 35 points and were on the backfoot from that point.

Leather poisoning

Jordan Lewis had a team-high 33 disposals, as Crow Rory Laird finished with a game-best 34 touches.

The number

Five multiple goalkickers were part of Adelaide’s nine goalscorers, whereas Melbourne had just one, Jake Melksham, who booted three majors. The Crows had 13 of their 17 goals come from five players: Taylor Walker (four), Tom Lynch (three), David Mackay (two), Mitch McGovern (two) and Eddie Betts (two).

Experience differential

Games: Adelaide (2251) v Melbourne (1656)

Goals: Adelaide (1855) v Melbourne (1052)

Average age: Adelaide (25 years, 215 days) v Melbourne (24 years, 211 days)

Did you know …

It was the fourth highest attended game at TIO Stadium – and the best for a Melbourne game in seven outings. The crowd of 12,104 was also the highest since 2005, well before the ground was redeveloped with the Michael Long Stand.

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3 votes: Jordan Lewis

Difficult to give the votes this week, with several players jostling for position and no clear-cut winners on a tough night. But Lewis produced possibly his best game for the club so far on the weekend. He used the ball well, provided plenty of pressure and was involved in several scoring chains. He won six clearances and gave his side a chance when it made a second half comeback.

2 votes: Jayden Hunt

Like Lewis, Hunt had one of his best performances for the season. He played a big hand in Melbourne’s third term comeback when he won nine of his 27 disposals and kicked one of the goals of the year – a torpedo from well outside 60 metres after the three quarter-time siren. His kick would’ve made Malcolm Blight proud. Hunt's dash was again on show – he covered 733 metres.

1 vote: Michael Hibberd

No question Hibberd has played better games for Melbourne this year, but his ability to keep persisting and driving his side couldn't be questioned. He covered 779 metres – easily a match-high – and had a game-best 11 intercept marks. Finished with 32 disposals and once again reinforced why he has been one of the recruits of the season. 

Submit your 3-2-1 votes to the Hertz Fans’ MVP

Apologies to …

Alex Neal-Bullen, Jay Kennedy-Harris and Jake Melksham who all could’ve gained a vote.

Good to see …

Jay Kennedy-Harris produce some strong form upon his return to the side. He finished with a career-best 28 disposals in his 26th AFL game – and his fourth for the season. Looked like a different player compared to earlier in the year, yet his form for Casey in recent weeks has been excellent, which included a couple of 40-plus disposal performances.

Oppo’s best: Taylor Walker

Although Rory Laird was unlucky not to get the nod, the captain stood tall in the last quarter when Melbourne made a second half comeback, booting two goals to finish with four for the match. Walker was involved in a match-high 12 scores and led from the front. Although he missed a few opportunities in front of goal – he also booted four behinds – he continually threatened.

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Matty Goodrope’s pic of the day

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Simon Goodwin pre-match on TIO Stadium

Tweet of the round:

Video of the round:



Instagram of the round:

Ben Mathews, @angus_brayshaw10 and @maxygawn take a moment pre-match in the rooms. #raisehell #afldeescrows

A post shared by Melbourne Football Club (@melbournefc) on

In the mix

With Dean Kent (shoulder) likely to be sidelined, another forced change looms. But the good news is that coach Simon Goodwin confirmed post-match that Dom Tyson (knee) and Jack Watts (hamstring) would return for round 18. And Jack Viney could make a stunning return from a foot injury. Viney has missed just two matches with his plantar fascia injury, but amazingly is a realistic chance. There could be some other changes made, with carryover emergency Billy Stretch likely to be around the mark. Former co-captain Jack Trengove, young tall Sam Weideman are ball-winner Ben Kennedy will again be in the mix. Yet-to-debut duo Dion Johnstone and Corey Maynard could be smokies for a call-up.

Next round

Melbourne completes the South Australian double this Saturday, when it hosts Port Adelaide at the MCG in the traditional 2.10pm timeslot. And just like it did against Adelaide on the weekend, the Demons face another top four team, with the somewhat underrated Power (10 wins from 16 games) in fourth position. Melbourne snapped a seven-game losing streak against Port Adelaide in round 21 last year, when it recorded an excellent 40-point win at Adelaide Oval. But again, it’s another critical game for both teams, especially with Melbourne slipping to seventh on the ladder. With several sides still jostling to make the eight, the run home remains an intriguing contest, and this will be another game that will shape September.  

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In the press box …

Footy in the NT is a great experience and the atmosphere in Darwin couldn’t be questioned. Even in the media centre, there were some quirks and differences. The media room is normally an office and a massive photo copier/scanner had to be moved given it was obscuring the view of several journos. Had local NT News identity, Grey Morris, not used his muscles and come to the rescue of moving it – with a little help from his friends – there may not have been many footy match reports covered! P.S. Big thumbs up to the cater who made the triangle sandwiches!

In the rooms ...

The Michael Long Centre is an impressive facility – and addition to TIO Stadium in recent years. But post-match, there were some tired and disappointed Melbourne players in the rooms. Dean Kent nursed his shoulder injury in a sling, as several red and blue supporters watched the players warm down. It wasn't quite the scenes of recent on the road victories in Adelaide and Perth. 

Song to sum up match

A slight change this week. We’ll switch Depeche Mode’s Barrel of a Gun to Barrel from a Gun after Jayden Hunt’s mammoth kick!

Simon Says …

"To the Crows' credit, I thought they were very good around the footy and I thought they were more desperate than us in those areas and more efficient than us. We had some opportunities to work our way back into the game, but we didn't take them, so we weren't good enough to get back into that position." – Simon Goodwin