Finals Week 1- Elimination Final: Melbourne v Geelong

Melbourne-Geelong Match Preview

Declan Dempsey-Young

 

The first game of the 2018 finals series is done and dusted, and if there’s one thing we have learnt, it’s that Richmond are the team to beat this September. However, the team who is victorious in the do or die elimination final may announce themselves as one of Richmond’s biggest contenders for the flag.

 

Melbourne go into this game with little to no finals experience under their belt, being the first time since 2006 that the side has made it to September. Amazingly, Nathan Jones is the only current Melbourne player who has played in a final for the dees, with Lewis, Melksham and Hibberd being the only other players on their list who have played finals footy before. Despite this, Melbourne go into this game as favourites, with many people even tipping them to go as far as the Grand Final. This is as a result of the Demon’s excellent form, outlasting the Eagles away from home and dismantling the Giants in their final two matches of the home and away season to seal their spot in the 8.

 

Geelong has had a far easier run home than their opponents, having 2 training drills against Gold Coast and Fremantle at the Cattery to close out their season, winning both of those matches by over 100 points. This has made it difficult to judge how good the Cat’s form actually is, but it must be said that winning by over 100 points two weeks in a row against any opposition is an impressive feat.

 

Melbourne make two changes for this affair, with midfield bull Jack Viney and lively forward Mitch Hannan both making returns in the place of Dean Kent and Jay Kennedy-Harris. Geelong have made no changes for this match, however I certainly wouldn’t put it past Chris Scott to make a late change, something he seems to do every week these days. There has been plenty of doubt all week about whether Viney would get the green light for this game, but it is without a doubt a massive inclusion for the demons, especially considering the strength of Geelong’s midfield. Mitch Hannan was also very impressive in their win against West Coast on the road, however he has the tendency to be quite inconsistent, and the output that Melbourne can get out of him and the rest of their small forwards will go a long way in determining the result of this game.

 

What Melbourne need to do to win:

 

Shake off their mental demons. Melbourne’s worst enemy can be themselves at times. Managing to miss out on the finals last year was nothing short of utter devastation, whilst managing to lose to the Cats by under a goal twice this season will make the mental preparation for this game even more of a challenge. There was a clear feeling of sheer relief after getting the job done against the Eagles a fortnight ago, a feeling that translated over into their performance against GWS the following week, where the Dees seemed to play with a sense of freedom. Melbourne need to play with that same freedom against the cats and need to start the game strong. If the Dees get off to a slow, shaky start, the Cats will no doubt get the jump on them, as the cats are arguably the best team in the competition at scoring in quick succession. Not letting the occasion get the better of them and taking the game on from start to finish will be key in ensuring the demons get over the line.

 

 What Geelong need to win:

 

Get their star mids involved. There has been much debate about whether the Danger-Selwood-Ablett combination has lived up to expectations, and with Harmes being likely to get the run-with job on Dangerfield, it might have to be Selwood and Ablett who step up to the plate for this game. Selwood has had a relatively average season by his standards and Ablett has had the tendency to disappear in games this year. Having said that, if Selwood and Ablett can both be up and about and get involved, it will set up a foundation for players like Duncan, Kelly and Menegola to build upon. This is why it is crucial for Geelong’s chances that their two superstar mids bring their best A-game for this match.

 

Key player for Melbourne:  

 

Max Gawn: Gawn has had one of the best seasons for a ruckman that the competition has ever seen, winning over 1000 hitouts in the home and away season alone. It is always a difficult task to keep the big man down, a task that has been made even more difficult for the cats due to their main ruck Rhys Stanley going down with a calf injury and Zac Smith being out of favour almost all season. This leaves third-gamer Ryan Abbott with the massive challenge of matching up against the All-Australian ruckman. It goes without saying that Gawn is going to be winning a majority of the hitouts, so the Geelong mids have to ensure that this doesn’t translate into stoppage dominance for Melbourne. If Gawn can get Melbourne on top in the clearance battle, it will make it all the more difficult for the Demons to be beaten.

 

 Key player for Geelong:

 

Tom Hawkins: As discussed before, it is important that Geelong’s star mids have big games, however it is arguably more important that Tom Hawkins has a big night out. The Tomahawk has been the spearhead of Geelong’s forwardline all season, with his best game of the season coming against the Demons, where he booted 7 goals, including 4 in Geelong’s final quarter surge. Sam Frost will likely get the job on the big man, someone who is not exactly a household name, but can certainly hold his own against the best forwards in the competition. If Hawkins is successfully kept quiet by Frost, a Geelong win would be highly unlikely, but if Hawkins is let off the chain, he will have a big say in the outcome of this match.

 

Summary:

 

It is very difficult to split these two teams, as they both have plenty of valid reasons to why they can come out on top in this game. Melbourne are starting to form into a formidable outfit, but with a lack of finals experience and the fear of the unknown that comes with that, I think that the class of Geelong and their ability in knowing how to win big games will be what split these two sides. Whatever the result, this match will almost certainly be a close-fought affair.

 

Prediction:Geelong by 4 points

 

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Comments

  1. george smith says:

    Well that was interesting. Normally a dominant first quarter like that would see a team home and hosed. If a team is four goals up midway through the last quarter then game over. But finals are different.

    What seemed like an easy victory was always in doubt until the end. Moggies had their chances in the third quarter but stuffed them as did the Demons. Demons can get better, but so can their opponents in the next two weeks…

  2. Handbags.

    Do Geelong fans wonder about Chris Scott & his finals record. After a superb 2011, Geelong have a serious finals problem. Are they not able to play the G ?

    Glen!

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