AFL Round 4 – Melbourne v GWS Giants: Melbourne pulls its finger out

By Ciannon Cazaly

Wind conditions at the MCG are almost always described as gusty, but an isolated gale warning might have been appropriate at the ground on Sunday afternoon as the collected 20,000 Melbourne fans in attendance breathed an audible sigh of relief at the final siren.

It was one of the most unconvincing 41 point wins I have witnessed as a football fan. This was one of the few opportunities for either side to win this year and despite the final scoreline few would call it a resounding success for Melbourne.

The first half played out the way most had expected. Melbourne looked to have the game under control. Jeremy Howe took yet another beautiful hanger (this time from a messy GWS kick-in) and slotted a goal. The quality of the football was poor and GWS were a skerrick ahead on the scoreboard, but it wasn’t quite panic stations yet.

Setanta O’hAilpen was, frankly, a joy to watch. In his first game back after a long-term knee injury he spent much of the game camped out in the goal square and with a combination of luck and opponent error kicked five goals. His celebrations, especially his first in the early minutes of the game, revealed him to be perhaps the only man on the ground who was genuinely thrilled to be there.

Then the third quarter happened. GWS ran and ran and tackled and ran while Melbourne stood still and ball-watched. At the three quarter time siren GWS were 19 points in front and there was more uncomfortable murmuring than applause from the assembled crowd. While many Melbourne supporters had talked down Melbourne’s prospects all week they were now facing the reality of another loss. I felt sick.

Jack Watts, quite reasonably, became the target for much fan anger and disappointment. Many of his boosters saw little to make them happy in his performance and if the views of many in my Twitter feed are any indication, there are few still willing to defend him.

I am, truthfully, not entirely sure what happened in the fourth quarter, and I am not sure anyone else at the ground knows either. The GWS side went quiet providing the opportunity Melbourne needed to (to use a technical term) pull their finger out.

Nathan Jones – who was Melbourne’s best player all game and has been all year – kicked an early goal and then Jeremy Howe and Michael Evans suddenly started adding them on. Max Gawn got in on the action, reaching effortlessly over two defenders in the goal square to take a mark. He kicked two in the quarter and his cult hero status is all but assured. Substitute Aaron Davey added another two, Jack Trengove another and, all together, Melbourne kicked a record-breaking 12.2 in the final term. It was mystifying –  a relief , but still mystifying.

O’hAilpen isn’t going to provide a goal-kicking highlights reel each week, and at 30 isn’t exactly the future of the club, but that future still looks pretty bright. The third quarter revealed GWS to be a team, full of skills and speed with a free flowing style of play. It’s only a matter of time before this tight-knit group of players develop the physical strength and decision-making experience to win more than they lose. Scully and Greene were both standouts. Scully will likely receive boos from the Melbourne fans his entire career, but as consolation he will probably also receive a Browlow and Premiership medal in that career too.

The future is far less certain for Melbourne. The Melbourne faithful will take the win, and enjoy it, because who knows when the next one might come along.

Melbourne 4.5 7.7 10.10 22.12 (144)

Greater Western Sydney 3.3 8.8 13.11 15.13 (103)

GOALS

Melbourne: Howe 4, Evans 3, Byrnes 3, Davey 2, Pedersen 2, Gawn 2, Sylvia, Trengove, Clark, Jamar, Jones, Bail.

Greater Western Sydney: O’hAilpin 5, Palmer 2, Treloar, Ward, Shiel, Cameron, Giles, Sumner, Greene, Scully.

Best

Melbourne: Jones, Howe, Evans, Gawn, Grimes,

Greater Western Sydney: Scully, O’hAilpen, Greene, Cameron

Umpires: Margetts, Harris, Bannister

Official crowd: 20, 018

 

Our Votes: 3 Jones (M), 2 Howe (M), 1 Scully (GWS)

Comments

  1. Lord Bogan says:

    Enjoy Ciannon.

    You might not see another 12 goal last quarter for 155 years!

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