Round 14 – West Coast v Melbourne: Do you dare to dream?

It’s been a while since it’s been said, but it might turn into gusto soon. The Dees might be premiership contenders.

 

What a rollercoaster of emotions Saturday night was. Both sides looked like kicking away. Both sides showed necessary toughness at the contest when it was required. Both sides endured controversy.

 

But only one side could win.

 

Thankfully, it was Melbourne.

 

The Dees hadn’t won at Domain Stadium since 2004 – and hadn’t beaten the Eagles there since 2002. In fact, as a whole, the Demons hadn’t beaten the Eagles since 2009. But, with the new Perth Stadium imminent, this was the Demons’ final chance to win here.

 

Drew Petrie kicked the first goal within the first 45 seconds. Death, taxes, and North Melbourne players turning it on against Melbourne.

 

But these Demons are a different breed. One that, despite consecutive six-day breaks, was ready to take it right up to the Eagles. And they succeeded with the next three goals. Jack Viney was the main man at the bottom of the pack, having an enormous first quarter capped off with a good goal, while Billy Stretch – the man tasked with filling the massive void left by Nathan Jones’ quad injury – also chimed in with a timely goal.

 

Significantly, the Demons’ lead was never more than nine or 10 points. That the Dees were able to meet West Coast’s every challenge was even more significant. For such a young side, it was character building. The Eagles asked plenty of questions in the second, but for every goal they kicked, the Demons were right there to answer in kind. Mitch Hannan has been a brilliant pick-up for the Dees this season, and matched it with a brilliant snap around the body. Tomas Bugg and Tom McDonald – an unlikely forward duo as any you’ve ever heard of in season 2017 – also started to chip in with goals.

 

Yet the biggest story out of this game came out of the half-time handbags. It mainly involved Clayton Oliver and Will Schofield. Only one person knows how hard Will Schofield actually elbowed Oliver – Oliver himself – yet the incident itself earned the wrath, and countless social media takes – of the wider AFL community.

 

That’s a story in itself. In the meantime, both sides went out to have a crack at putting the game away in the premiership quarter. Firstly, Melbourne had a crack, with two Tom McDonald goals helping the Dees establish a 10-point cushion. Equally so, West Coast made their move, with four goals out of five to end the quarter, with Jeremy McGovern, Mark Hutchings and Andrew Gaff among those to chip in. That helped West Coast establish an eight-point break at the final change.

 

When Hutchings kicked a great goal to start the final quarter, it signalled one of those familiar “well, we gave it a massive crack” feelings from countless trips to Perth over the years. But not for these Demons.

 

They fought back. Twice.

 

The first comeback saw Christian Petracca and James Harmes kick important goals to reduce the margin to just two points. But that mini-comeback was (almost) snuffed out by Josh Hill and McGovern. Lewis Jetta also had a shot at ending the game, yet missed.

 

The Dees next comeback was even better than the first.

 

Cameron Pedersen took a great pack mark, further signalling his new-found confidence since he came into the side, almost unexpectedly, being third in line behind the returning Max Gawn and Jake Spencer. Yet his irresistible form meant he could cash in up forward. His goal sparked the Demons back into it, and then it was McDonald stamping his authority on an unforgettable night.

 

His career high fourth goal of the night brought the Dees back into it. His fifth sparked delirium among Melbourne-mad households around the country – an act that typified the game itself – McDonald meeting the physical challenge of McGovern, throwing the ball onto his boot in hope, and getting the desired result.

 

The Dees held on.

 

Unbelievably, they now sit 8-5, with a genuine chance of playing finals. Sure, they still need to do a lot of work to ensure that it happens, but there’s nothing like a little bit of hope, is there?

 

About Michael Thompson

One of a rapidly diminishing few Melbourne Football Club diehards remaining. Studying Sports Management at La Trobe University but still hoping for a Sports Journalism role someday. Also a writer for the Mernda Football Club.

Comments

  1. Good game Friday night (through gritted teeth). We only got back into the game when Gawn had long breaks in the 3rd quarter. His palming of the ball to advantage is AFL best. TMcDonald is strong. tall. quick and a good kick. I would be looking for another spot for JesseH when he is fit again. Since the Adelaide game I have been really taken with your Dees. I reckon Roos recruited for physical type and then taught them footy. Lots of 6’2″ storm troopers that run like the wind. Exciting times for Dees fans.
    Petracca had an off night but still contributed. When you get players back I would be dropping Jordan Lewis. Says something about your depth. If Lewis was any slower he’d be Matt Priddis.
    Bernie Vince plays a good on field general role. It was noticeable that when you got 15 points down in the last quarter – he was the one directing the defence to spread the ball wide and run. In the end you beat us on the outside with run and quick ball movement.
    I enjoyed it – except for the result.

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