AFL Round 8: Melbourne v Bulldogs: Dees go close again

By Steve Healy
It was clear from the start that the Dees would put up a fight against the Dogs, but a fight isn’t enough when you come out to win games in front of your home crowd. Matthew Bate kicked the opener for the Demons, which came as a surprise due to his recent bad form.
Melbourne played the first quarter on their terms, with goals from Maric, Robbo and McLean putting the margin out to seventeen points. It was as good a start from the Dees as I’d seen in a long time.
The Bulldogs kicked two out of the next three but I was still convinced that the Demons had what it took to win.
The second quarter was close, with the Dees holding on to a three-point lead in a twelve-goal quarter. McLean, Moloney, Morton and Jones were dominating in the midfield, and chasing and tackling with intent. The only aspect of the game that the four above players need to work on is their decision-making and over-possessing.
I was frustrated that no one could shut down Akermanis. He kicked three for the quarter and kept the Bulldogs in the contest.
I was impressed by Jack Grimes, who was playing his second game for the year. Jack has spent a lot of time developing in the VFL over the last two years and it was good to see him in the Dees’ AFL team for the second week in a row.
Kyle Cheney had also been bought into the team after being omitted, and he had a convincing game back.
The margin was out to nine points early in the third term after Robbo received a free kick and booted a goal.  We hold our breath when the ball comes near Robbo, and it is great to see him back in good form.
The Dees dropped away a little during the third as the Bulldogs attacked and Melbourne fumbled. Lindsay Gilbee kicked one and the gap was twelve points at three-quarter time.
I didn’t want the Dees to fall short like they did last week against the Eagles. A game breaking performance was needed, but not many opportunities came early in the last term. A few wasted shots at goal from the Dogs kept the Demons in it, and Maric kicked a great handy goal to bridge the deficit to fifteen points. I had doubted Maric a couple of weeks ago after his shocking performance against Geelong, but he’s improved since.
For the second week in a row Colin Sylvia missed a decisive kick, but there was still plenty of time. Davey went forward and squeezed through his third goal for the season. Davey is a really exciting player to watch, and his 89 per cent kicking effectiveness (or thereabouts) proves it. He rarely misses a target and always finds ways to get the ball, and after a couple of below par seasons he is in career-best form.
A fifty-metre penalty against the Demons gave Matthew Boyd a goal, but there were still opportunities for Melbourne to win. Brad Miller missed a bread-and-butter set shot and Welsh kicked a goal at the city end. I said that there was still time to win.
Shane Valenti, who came back into the team after being elevated from the rookie list, popped up to kick a goal, followed by Bate’s fourth.
The half-full Members area stood up and cheered. “One-twenty left”, shouted a guy a few rows behind. I didn’t think we could win from here, but we had a recent history of comebacks at the Punt Road end: close wins against Fremantle and Brisbane last year.
The siren went, but I just wished we had won; it was nearly an identical scenario to last week. The Dees are now 1-7 and are looking more and more likely to fail to win four games and therefore pick up draft picks one and two, most likely Tom Scully and John Butcher. I’m not one for tanking; I’d much rather be in a 3-5 situation.
There were positive performances from the game, but when it goes down to the wire, you just have to beat the opposition. Good form is winning form.
A couple of days later I watched a tape of the 1998 qualifying final against Adelaide at the MCG. Players like Marcus Seecamp, Anthony Ingerson and Guy Rigoni were all running around, and it brought back memories. Jeff Farmer and David Neitz were kicking goal after goal and the delivery into the forward fifty was magnificent. Garry Lyon and Jim Stynes were still playing, along with a young Jeff White, who was jumping around and taking big marks and kicking goals from 55.
The Melbourne supporters were loud and happy. The old Olympic and Ponsford stands were standing proudly.
Melbourne won by eight goals. The whole game wasn’t recorded: there were about six minutes remaining in the second quarter when the tape began.
I was amazed how Adelaide went on to win the premiership after that loss. Melbourne went on to make the preliminary final that year, after getting the wooden spoon the year before.
The tape stopped after a 1998 news report, which featured several pointless stories. I need to watch more Demons games from that era.

Melbourne  5.2  10.3  11.4  15.7(97)
Western Bulldogs 3.3 9.6  12.10  15.14 (104)
Goals
Melbourne: Bate 4, Robertson 3, Maric 2, Sylvia, Petterd, Valenti, McLean, Jones, Davey.
Western Bulldogs: Akermanis 4, Welsh 3, Gilbee 2, Hahn, Cooney, Boyd, Addison, Johnson, Murphy.
Best
Melbourne: Moloney, Davey, Morton, McLean, Jones, Grimes, Bate, Cheney, Sylvia.
Western Bulldogs: Gilbee, Akermanis, Boyd, Welsh, Eagleton, Giansiracusa.
Umpires: Nicholls, Hay, McInerney.                       Crowd: 28,279 at the MCG.
My Votes: Gilbee (WB) 3, Moloney (M) 2, Davey (M) 1.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

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