The Melbourne Demons hit the West Coast Eagles with a scorching third quarter, using their big-bodied midfielders to tackle and pressure the younger Eagles out of the game. The Eagles were forced to make seven team changes due the injury carnage sustained against Fremantle the week before; and their inexperienced replacements gave it everything they could - and more - until half time. Harassment from the willing Eagles at the fall of the ball worried the Demons out of their usual game style early in the match.
A pleasant Friday evening welcomed the 62,162 crowd to the MCG for tonight's Second Semi Final. Before the first bounce the official business for the night got underway. With all players, official and match day staff lined up on the ground, the Welcome To Country, a minute's silence was observed for Queen Elizabeth II following her death this morning and the lowering of the stadium lights, God Save the King was played. Delta Goodrem sung Advance Australia Fair accompanied by guitar in the minutes leading up to the start of the match. Just to top it off a little bit of ACDC's Thunderstruck rolled up to the bounce.
Big forward Joe Daniher was a late out today, for family reasons. His loss up forward would mean all the focus was on Hipwood and less options up forward for the Lions who had three goals kicked by the big man in the previous game. The Demons dominated early and led the Brisbane to the ball and in all the statistical categories. Ed Langdon, unguarded in the pocket, kicked the first goal of match after five and half minutes, from 35 meters out with the set shot. Melbourne had more early chances as they had the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. The usual suspects in the middle for Melbourne led the way with Oliver and Petracca up and about early.
After a month of indifferent form, the Melbourne Demons demolished the Fremantle Dockers on a damp and windy night at Optus Stadium. The Demons were hot from the opening bounce, contesting and tackling to put the Dockers under pressure. Luke Darcy was strong in the ruck for Fremantle, opposed to Luke Jackson and later Max Gawn, Darcy controlled the early taps but it was Christian Petracca and Todd Viney who won clearances for Melbourne. The Demons got away to an early lead with small forwards, Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo booting two goals and the mobile Bayley Fritsch adding one. The Dockers were rushed into poor plays by the ferocity of the Demon pressure around the ball. Halfway through the first quarter the Dockers recovered from the early onslaught and pushed forward to register goals from the pacy Michael Frederick and the skill of Michael Walters. Under pressure Fremantle turned the ball over too easily by hand and foot and Melbourne players found space in groups of two or three, to punish the poor defensive work of the Docker midfielders. Fritsch added another goal to give the Demons a useful lead by the first break.
Finals matches between the Demons and Bulldogs have been sparse over the years. Of course, the Demons are well ahead of the Bulldogs with 12 premierships to two. The first finals match was a semi-final in 1946 which Melbourne won 17.18 (120) to 15.12 (102). They played a Preliminary Final in 1961. The Bulldogs won it 13.7 (85) to 8.10 (58). In between those two matches was the 1954 Grand Final - the only Grand Final between the Demons and Bulldogs until now. The Bulldogs prevailed 15.12 (102) to 7.9 (51) for their first premiership since entering the competition in 1925. The Demons went on to appear in four more Grand Finals since 1954, winning two against Collingwood in 1960 and 1964 and losing two against Hawthorn in 1988 and Essendon in 2000.
In the final game for round one of 2020, the West Coast Eagles showed why they would be considered one of the favorites to win the competition this year. (Ed. note: the AFL has suspended the season until at least May 31st.) The home team enjoyed the warm day (88º F. ), but it was their team structure and discipline which cooked the visitors. Melbourne started the game determined to show they are a better team than results from last year suggested. However, it was their delivery into their attacking zone that demonstrated they had learned nothing over the summer break. By quarter time, the Eagles were up five-zero in goals and it was already clear that Melbourne lack the structure of the home side.
Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats (MCG)
State of Play:
This is a battle between two differing line-ups: the finals hardened Cats and the young enthusiastic Demons. After a disastrous end to 2017, Melbourne finished strongly this season to book their finals berth for the first time in 12 years. By contrast, Geelong has missed the finals only once in the same 12 year period. The contrast continues with the Cats playing two easy beats in Gold Coast and Fremantle to complete the minor round, winning both games by over 100 points each.
In a prelude to the spring conditions awaiting in September, the final Sunday afternoon home and away match at the MCG for 2018 got underway in sunny conditions. The Demons were wearing their commemorative 160-year jumper and the Giants in their white away jumper. While not quite do-or-die with both teams assured a spot in the final eight, today’s result would determine who and where they would play in week one of the finals. A win to Melbourne would mean a home final at the MCG against Geelong, a loss would mean an away match in Sydney. A win to GWS would mean a home final in Sydney and a loss an away final against the Swans at the SCG.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
With three rounds in the books, incredibly Port Adelaide remains as the only undefeated team, underlying what shapes up as one of the closest races for the top eight in recent memory. The Power had an almighty scare at home as they scraped in by just five points over a rapidly improving Brisbane Lions. In the match of the round, crosstown rivals the Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants battled it out at the SCG,