Dockers clash firming as must-win game for Melbourne


Written by Liam Clarkson (@liamclarkson97) on 12 April 2017   

Disappointment is the resounding emotion after Melbourne’s loss to Geelong.

Perhaps 29 points is an inaccurate reflection of the closeness of the contest up until the fourth quarter, but the Demons have only themselves to blame.

The behind count in their score of 13.19.97 sticks out like a sore thumb. The lack of accuracy will sting, as it proved to be the difference in an otherwise even game.

Jesse Hogan’s suspension also left Dees fans cursing his absence, as his presence would have given them another much-needed option in the forward-50.

The defence also had much to answer for, however, particularly when it came to marking Tom Hawkins. The full-forward’s solo score of 5.0 was a testament to the Demons’ failure to handle an obvious danger to the scoreboard.

The Dees’ failure to handle their opponent’s stars was obvious from the get-go, as the Cats skipped out to an early three-goal lead.

Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood combined for 36 and 37 disposals respectively, a count that proved too high for the Dees when it counted in the key contests.

Giving Geelong’s big names too much time and space and losing Max Gawn before half-time was the undoing of Melbourne’s previously unbeaten record.

Gawn’s three-month absence will now be a defining feature of this season. If the Dees can handle his absence relatively comfortably through the guts of the season, they will be a team held in high regard for their resolve and tenacity. If not, it is likely that another year will be spent watching September on the couch.

Simon Goodwin must now lift his team from the disappointment of last weekend and turn their attention to a revitalised Fremantle this Saturday afternoon.

The Dockers were outstanding in their defeat of the Bulldogs, vindicating Ross Lyon’s decision to make six changes to the side embarrassed by Port Adelaide.

Fremantle will likely be a different side at the MCG compared to their comfortable home in Perth, but momentum is a powerful thing, and they will have it after upsetting the premiers.

The Bulldogs underestimated the Dockers badly, which left them playing catch-up football for much of the game before the total ambush they received in the final quarter.

Goodwin is too smart a coach to not learn from this and will have his troops fired up for this clash, especially given that these are the wins they simply must bank to make finals.

The Demons are undoubtedly the stronger side on paper and will do the job if their heads are in the right space.

Jack Watts is my player to watch after his good work in the ruck against Geelong. He is the player who must deliver consistency to ascend to the next level, and this relatively straightforward match is the perfect platform for him to shine.

I will be heading down to Melbourne for this game, so I’ll observe what I can from the Ponsford stand before reporting back on either a confidence-restoring win or a gut-wrenching loss for those in red and blue.

I know enough about Melbourne to know that none of their games is straightforward, which at least guarantees an entertaining match.

I for one, cannot wait.


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