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Melbourne Football Club

Round 9 Recap: A chance goes begging

RD 9 | Jumper Presentation | Oskar Baker Watch as Oskar Baker receives his jumper in an emotional speech from his dad.

Summary

EXTERNALLY, the undermanned Demons were given little hope, flying to Perth and tackling the minor premiers.

But Melbourne took it right up to the Eagles and was arguably the better side on the night.

Despite playing the game on their terms, the Demons missed some golden opportunities to score, leaving West Coast in the game and allowing the home team to swoop late to pinch a 16-point win.

 

The numbers

DISPOSALS: Harmes 30, Oliver 29, Jones 21, Brayshaw, Hunt, Viney 19

GOALS: Garlett 3, Hunt, Petracca 2, Jones, Smith

The Return

Much was made of Melbourne’s return to enemy territory – the venue which inflicted such pain in last year’s horror Preliminary Final outing.

But there appeared to be no Optus Stadium scars for the red and blue, playing with spirit and freedom on Friday night.

Just 12 of the Demons’ 22 from that clash last season played in Round 9, with some fresh faces travelling to Perth and performing in front of 51,162 people on the big stage.

Baker’s dream

Oskar Baker has always dreamed of playing in the AFL, and on Friday night, he did just that.

The 20-year-old speedster had 10 disposals and showed glimpses of class against the Eagles, but it was a pre-game moment that made his night so special.

Baker’s father, Lee, presented him with his red and blue guernsey and delivered an emotional speech which had the room close to tears. Watch Lee’s inspiring words in the video above.

The Melbourne way

The Demons headed into Round 9 with back-to-back victories under their belt but hadn’t necessarily been playing games on their terms.

On Friday night, for the first time this season, Melbourne played with the flare it showed in 2018, and put on a performance to fill its fans with hope.

The red and blue were plus 17 in contested possessions against the Eagles and plus 15 for inside 50s, controlling the majority of the contest, despite falling short.

 

Wayward and wasteful

With plenty of opportunities to score, the Dees butchered the ball in front of goal and ultimately cost themselves the four points.

Melbourne kicked a measly 9.15, wasting its chances and keeping the Eagles in the game.

If the Demons had converted their opportunities in front of the sticks early, the contest may have been over by three quarter-time.

Concussion chaos

First it was Alex Neal-Bullen. Then went Tim Smith. And finally, Christian Salem.

Three Demons succumbed to concussion in the second half of Friday night’s game, all being ruled out of the latter stages of the match.

 

Smith's injury came after a crunching tackle from Lewis Jetta which saw the Eagle handed a one-match ban from the Match Review Officer.

But the incident proved to be a big turning point in the game, with the Dees leading by six points and Smith penalised for holding the ball.

 

Final quarter fadeout

While the Dees were beginning to run out of legs with just one fit player on the bench, West Coast turned a 12-point three quarter-time deficit into a win with a six-goal final term.

Melbourne began to tire and made some costly mistakes, as the Eagles took seven intercept marks and booted five goals from turnovers in the last term.

West Coast also got on top of the game on the outside, with 12 uncontested marks in the final period as it stormed home to the delight of a boisterous home crowd.

A word from Goody

“That obviously feels like one that got away,” Simon Goodwin told Melbourne Media post-game.

“We had our chances – our accuracy in the game really hurt us badly. We had some great opportunities but I’m sure when you were watching it you would’ve seen us playing a brand of footy that we’re working towards.”

Looking ahead

Round 10 v Greater Western Sydney @ MCG – Sunday, 26 May, 1:10pm AEST

After two weeks on the road, the Demons will enjoy a nine-day break before heading home to the MCG to face the Giants on Sunday.