Round 9 – Melbourne v Brisbane Lions: When The Dogs Are Away…

I don’t often find myself going to games that don’t involve my beloved Western Bulldogs, but since they’re out of town for the weekend, and since I’ve got no real plans on an early Sunday afternoon until work later on in the day, I thought it was a good idea to make the most of my MCC membership and go catch the Melbourne/Brisbane game at the MCG.

I went in a little bit earlier than most people would, to catch a glimpse of the women’s game, and despite missing the opening ten minutes of the game, I got a good look at women’s football, sitting in the front row of the Members Reserve. It was very weird going to watch a game of footy at the MCG with only about a couple of hundred people in attendance, but nonetheless, I was very impressed with what I saw. A six goal to nothing first quarter set the Melbourne girls up for a 71-point win over the Brisbane Lions.

Jess Cameron kicked six goals in a best-on-ground effort for the Dees; I found it absolutely astonishing when I heard that she is juggling her cricket and football nowadays whilst I was very impressed with the work of Maddie Boyd, who managed three goals of her own, as well as Ellie Blackburn and Daisy Pearce, who was in the thick of it as always.

Brisbane’s girls showed encouraging signs after quarter time and were as hard at the contest as Melbourne were. I was very impressed with Kate McCarthy’s game, who kicked two of the Lions’ three goals and conducted herself very well in an interview with Neroli Meadows from Fox Footy on the boundary line. With the AFL women’s league kicking off next year, I believe that Women’s Football has a very good future in store.

It was now 12pm, with about an hour to go before the game. Lunch time beckoned, a hot dog with chips and a bottle of coke could do no wrong on a day like today. Even the tunes echoing across the MCG when I returned to my seat were literally music to my ears. Roxanne by The Police, followed by Overkill by Men At Work and My Hero by Foo Fighters, it was almost heaven.

The hour had passed relatively quickly, and the game was underway, Jonathan Freeman looked dangerous in Brisbane’s forward line in the opening minute, but his shot from 25 metres out straight in front hits the post, and the Dees make them pay for it on the other end, with Jeff Garlett making the impossible shots look so damn easy. Ben Kennedy adds another goal shortly thereafter and the signs don’t look good for the Lions early, but Ben Keays, who is only in his fourth game of his young career kicks a steadier and along with debutant Rhys Mathieson, look like they will be genuine stars in years to come.

Back to the other end, Pearce Hanley rushes the ball over the goal line and gets pinged for a deliberate, gifting Nathan Jones his first goal of the afternoon, Hanley just had to do better on that occasion. The Dees start taking real control of this game, and if weren’t for misses from Christian Petracca and James Harmes, the game would’ve been over by quarter time, instead Ryan Lester puts one through to make it a ten-point game.

Earlier on in the day, I walked past Jesse Hogan and wished him good luck in his game today, following his horrible performance against the Doggies last week, but he looks to be on a mission today. Kicking the next two goals, one of them came from a Daniel Merrett deliberate out of bounds, which on first glance looked a clever disguise (but the umpire wasn’t fooled) and Hogan snapped truly from the boundary. The Dees were up by 21 points at the first break.

Jono Freeman starts the second term as he did in the first by taking a strong grab in the opening minute, but from a much tougher angle, he produces the same result – a minor score. Eight minutes have passed and after some back-and-forth footy with some horrendous skills, Jeff Garlett registers the first goal of the quarter in a three-on-two play in the forward 50. Freeman again takes an impressive contested mark just outside the goal-square and doesn’t miss on this occasion.

From there, Melbourne put their foot on the accelerator, kicking four goals in the next seven minutes. James Harmes gets his first goal, Jesse Hogan gets a Joe-The-Goose in the goal-square for his third, the former Docker Viv Michie kicks his first goal in AFL footy after being in the system for quite a few years and Jack Watts takes a good grab and converts from straight in front. All of a sudden 20 points becomes 44 points and it’s all about how much they’ll win by and how much percentage they will gain come the end of it.

But you’ve got to give some credit to the Lions for hanging in through it all, former Carlton player Tom Bell proceeds to kick the next couple of goals in quick succession to reduce the margin to 31 points, giving Lions fans a little bit of hope heading into half time, although it was nearly shattered when some brilliance on the boundary from Jeffy found Kennedy who’s snap at goal, bounced into the post, that was disappointing, that deserved a goal. A little scuffle at half-time was a good way to end the first half, and I’m hoping Brisbane show some of that fight in the second half.

Tom Bell kicks his third goal in the opening minute of the third term to bring the Lions to within 26 points, but their defence has been very leaky. There’s been too many Demon forwards hanging out the back looking for a cheap goal, they need to find some way to stop that if they were to consider themselves a huge chance. Christian Petracca snapped what looked like a wonderful goal, but it was overturned, with the umpires believing Dayne Zorko got a finger on it, but from what I could gather on the replays, it was pretty inconclusive.

It takes a long time for the next goal to be kicked, but Brisbane seem to have control of the play. Keays hooks one horribly in what should’ve been four in a row for the Lions, Dean Kent handballed one through the big sticks, thinking that there was a new rule in the game whilst he was out of the Melbourne line-up, Brisbane ruckman Trent West does what most ruckmen do when they have a shot, miss horribly, whilst Daniel Rich misses a shot from 50 that he would’ve made nine times out of ten.

Finally! We get one through former Port Adelaide player, now Demon Ben Newton, and that one will definitely hurt the Lions’ chances of a miraculous comeback. Petracca tries to snap around the body again, and misses, but Jesse Hogan doesn’t miss his snap at goal, putting through his fourth goal of the day. Brisbane continue to waste shots on goal through Jackson Paine and Stefan Martin, but young Billy Stretch again makes them pay on the other end, making it three in a row for the Demons and the margin is back to 42 points. It’s hard to see the Lions coming back now.

The fourth quarter starts, and I need to start making my way back home and back in to work. I catch the opening few minutes of the last term, with both sides missing shots on goal and start making my way to Richmond Station from there. My phone keeps me updated on the game up to the final siren. Lewis Taylor finally breaks Brisbane’s scoring drought, but Melbourne kick six of next eight to run out 63-point winners. James Harmes – who I believe is almost a deadset lookalike of Mister Ed) kicks three of those to take his tally to four for the day, whilst Jesse Hogan kicks his fifth of the day. I should’ve wished the Dogs good luck before they ventured over Western Sydney.

A lot of people question the stability of football in Queensland, and while I can’t speak for the Gold Coast Suns, because they are absolutely dreadful at the moment, I certainly think Brisbane is heading in the right direction. Their endeavour was there this afternoon, but as a whole, they lack skills and finesse. Tom Rockliff was sorely missed today, whilst Josh Schache didn’t do an awful job.

As for the Demons, I think they’re a lot closer to finals than everyone else thinks, they might not make it this year, but with guys like Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Clayton Oliver among others, their future is looking as good as it’s been in years.

Melbourne         5.6    10.7    13.10     19.17.131
Brisbane Lions  2.3    5.5      6.10       9.14.68

Melbourne: Hogan 5, Harmes 4, Garlett 2, Michie, Kent, Kennedy, Newton, Jones, Watts, Viney, Stretch
Brisbane Lions: Bell 3, Lester 2, Zorko, Taylor, Keays, Freeman

Melbourne: Hogan, Bugg, Stretch, Petracca, Jones, Oliver, Harmes
Brisbane Lions: Zorko, Rich, Robinson, Bell, Bastinac, Freeman

Umpies: Deboy, Findlay, Harris

Official crowd: 26,892

Votes: 3: J.Hogan (Melbourne) 2: T.Bugg (Melbourne) 1: B.Stretch (Melbourne)

About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.

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