Ah yes, the Melbourne faithful were left shattered again on Saturday afternoon after another lackluster quarter lost the young demons side the game. This was ultimately the same fate as the previous week against Geelong. The Demons were left without their star trio in Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan out due to suspension and Max Gawn, the All-Australian ruckman – out injured for 3 months. The loss of those 3 players who usually hold up the structure around the ground was felt heavily in the 3rd quarter where Fremantle came out firing. In doing so, the Dockers set up a match-winning lead. Poor performances from key players from Melbourne contributed to the loss with a poor showing from Bernie Vince, especially in the last two minutes where two miskicks ensured Fremantle held on to the win. Jack Viney continued his sluggish start in his first year as captain. Despite kicking a crucial goal to put the Demons ahead, Viney once again didn’t have an impact on the match and couldn’t stem the flow during the 3rd quarter. Jordan Lewis and his 4+ premiership experience was a huge loss. A steady set of hands in the 3rd could have been crucial, Jesse Hogan was sorely missed up forward with young and undersized Sam Weideman left to be the key forward for the demons. So what can Melbourne learn from a frustrating loss?
The team selection, now I am in support of Simon Goodwin and co giving games to young players, but as a Melbourne supporter who expects finals, this was a game we should have won. Leaving young Sam Weideman alone in the forward line against experienced defenders such as Michael Johnson was inexplicable. Weideman had one mark, five disposals and kicked a point late in the game, yet Melbourne had Cam Pedersen, an experienced player capable of playing forward and also helping Jake Spencer in the ruck (which gives Watts more time elsewhere) playing at Casey Demons on the weekend. Last year Pedersen averaged 14.1 disposals a game, 4.2 marks, 0.7 goals but also boasts a lot more experience than young Weideman. Next time we have a game we should be winning, Goodwin should not leave a young developing key forward to take the full responsibility himself, Cam Pedersen would have been a more suitable option to take the experienced Fremantle defenders.
Not playing 4 quarters
One-quarter is all it takes to lose a game, the first four rounds Melbourne has displayed one clear poor quarter in each of their matches, in round 1 Melbourne let St Kilda kick 6 goals to 2 in the first quarter, but then outscored St Kilda from the 2nd quarter onwards, 105 to 52. In round 2, Melbourne let a lowly Carlton side kick 3 goals to 1 in the 3rd quarter. This gave the Blues the lead heading into the last. Take out the 3rd quarter and Melbourne wins 79 to Carlton’s 44. In round 3 against Geelong, take out the poor last quarter, Melbourne (although they should have won the game if they were more accurate) was winning at three-quarter time 89 to Geelong’s 86, a 3-point lead. Once again against Fremantle, take out the 3rd quarter, and Melbourne win 95 to Fremantle’s 60. If Melbourne can put together a solid 4 quarter display, they can be anything. But as shown in recent weeks, good teams will make you pay for costly mistakes and lapses in concentration. As for a team with finals ambitions, Melbourne can no longer afford a poor quarter in their matches
Melbourne’s experienced players and leaders need to step up. When the game is on the line and you have one of the youngest, if not the youngest team in the AFL, the leaders and experienced players need to steady the ship. These losses could prove costly in Melbourne’s attempt at their first finals series since 2006.
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