I have just gotten home from watching football at the MCG and I am deflated. Twenty two thousand people attended the game between Melbourne and Fremantle. By the end none but the most die hard and inebriated Dees fan was excited.
Both teams gave very flawed performances. It was like watching a pre-season warm up game. You could see how the two teams were trying to play yet neither we are cohesive unit.
The difference was the scoreboard, which it should be. For that, both teams should be thankful. Many a game is decided by an umpiring decision or injury. This games result was due to the strengths of Melbourne outweighing the strengths of Fremantle.
Early In the Game
Both sides have great mid-fields and the result could have hinged on the contest in the middle. In the first quarter Fremantle were winning the ball on the ground with repeated entries into their forward 50. None resulted in a goal with only minor scores for the first quarter.
Melbourne ended the first quarter with four goals and a healthy 24 point lead. Kysaiah Pickett kicked the first goal after a string of behinds from both teams. Another three to the home side left the visitors in purple frustrated despite their mid-field dominance.
Dees Mark Defence
Marks inside 50 for the game were easily in Melbourne’s favour 19 to 7, Melbourne lead the way with 104 marks to 69. That two key defenders May and Lever were second and fourth in marks will explain where the game was won.
Melbournes defence was tight and competitive. They tackled well and were able to withstand the attacking pressure that Fremantle threw at them. A pressure that was undermined due to inaccurate kicking at goal.
Even though I was listening to the ABC coverage I was still unsure wether Fremantle did anything to address the problem. Yes Nat Fyfe and David Mundy spent time forward but nothing was gained by their presence.
Lloyd Meek debuted today for Fremantle in the Ruck, against Max Gawn. Big job for a first gamer and he did not look like a first gamer. Which is not just his size at 203cm and 109kg he put in a great effort in a position that is often crucial to winning the game.
For Melbourne the bright light shone from Kysiah Pickett. Pickett showed us he is a player to watch. Always sharking for the ball. Constantly in the right place at the right time. Then there was that attempted screamer.
If Aussie Rules has a moment of brilliance that shines brighter than any other it is the big mark. In the third quarter, as it was becoming obvious that Fremantle were not going to win, Pickett leapt. Pickett launched himself into the air and rode the shoulders of Fremantle’s Joel Hamling.
The whole crowd watching this young man catapult himself breathed in as one. For a game that was on the verge of lacklustre, here was the hope of one shining moment of brilliance. If the will of the crowd was enough Pickett would have grasped the ball aloft Hamlings shoulders.
It was not to be. Despite Picketts attempt at brilliance his timing was flawed and the ball passed him by. A moment of brilliance was not achieved and the umpire did what was required and gave a free kick to Hamling.
Despite a late charge by Fremantle in the last quarter it was not enough to get close. If you were going to judge these teams on one game the honest opinion is not favourable. Both showed they were far from polished finals aspirants.
Melbourne is waiting for the debut of former North Melbourne forward Ben Brown. It may be that this elevates their attack but they won this game because through defenders like May and Lever. If Fremantle had been more accurate and the scores closer who knows how Melbourne would have responded.
Fremantle are looking at injuries and the same song sheet, played on the same Fyfe as the last four years. Without Walters or Lobb Fremantle appear short in height and talent in attack. Both Pierce and Hamling were injured in this game adding to the list of injured Dockers.
I finishing writing this watching Brisbane and Sydney slug it out. Young players on both sides doing amazing things. Joe Daniher playing joyfully and eight kids from the Sydney academy being gladiators. If only the game at the ‘G was like this.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.