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Enemy Analysis: Melbourne

Josh Gabelich  August 11, 2017 9:10 AM

AFL 2017 Round 18 - Melbourne v Port Adelaide

St Kilda will have spent plenty of time this week looking how to stop 2016 All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn.

Media Watch

Lewis pumped for Demons’ crunch game against St Kilda
The Age
August 9

Melbourne veteran Jordan Lewis is bullish about the Demons doing some damage in the AFL finals - provided they make it.

Sunday's clash with St Kilda at the MCG is a classic eight-point match for the two emerging teams.

Melbourne are 10th and St Kilda are 11th, with only percentage separating them from eighth-placed Essendon three weeks from the finals.

"We've shown this year that no matter who we come up against, if we perform the way we want to perform, we can beat anyone," Lewis said.

Injured Demons spearhead back running
afl.com.au, Ben Guthrie
August 8

JESSE Hogan was back running at Melbourne training on Tuesday after having recent surgery to repair a broken collarbone. 

The Demons star forward went under the knife to have a plate inserted into his collarbone a little more than a week ago, continuing a frustrating season for the 22-year-old. 

Hogan injured his collarbone against North Melbourne in round 19 when he was collected with a bump by Roo Luke McDonald.

Melbourne expects he may be able to return in around 3-4 weeks, if his rehab program all goes to plan. 

Of course, whether Melbourne, which sits in 10th place on the ladder with three matches remaining, makes finals will also determine its plan for Hogan.

Demons are not ready to win flag
Herald Sun, Matthew Lloyd
August 4

WIN, loss, win, loss, win, loss.

That is Melbourne’s form line since its heroic victory on the road against West Coast back in Round 14.

That day was also Melbourne’s fourth win in a row — the Eagles in Perth, Gold Coast in Alice Springs, Collingwood on the Queen’s Birthday Monday and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad.

It was a month of football that had some scribes declaring that Melbourne was capable of winning this year’s premiership.

I was not one of those. It is very rare for a team to finish outside the top eight then win the flag in consecutive seasons.

The Bulldogs may have won before their time last year, but at least they got a taste of September action in 2015 when they lost an elimination final thriller to Adelaide at the MCG by seven points.

Medical Report

Colin Garland (knee) season
Jesse Hogan (collarbone) indefinite
Dean Kent (shoulder) 3-4 weeks
Pat McKenna (hamstring) season
Christian Salem (ankle) test
Joel Smith (tibia) season
Jake Spencer (ribs) TBC
Aaron vandenBerg (heel) season
Mitch White (hamstring) 4-6 weeks

Fresh Faces

Since making his first appearance in the red and blue in Round 5, former Essendon rebounding defender Michael Hibberd has been a revelation down back for the Demons this year and could even be an All-Australian. Hibberd has been joined by another former Bomber in Jake Melksam, with the pair making an impact in their first season at AAMI Park after serving a 12 month suspension for their involvement in the WADA saga. Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis has also been an inspired recruit this year, averaging 26.4 disposals from 16 games. Simon Goodwin introduced former NBL basketballer turned Category B rookie Corey Maynard in the nation’s capital last weekend after strong form at Casey. Much like Adelaide’s Hugh Greenwood, who has travelled a similar route to the AFL, the 25-year-old made an impact first up, collecting 18 disposals, seven tackles and four inside 50s.

Star

It’s hard to believe that Clayton Oliver is only in his second year of league football. The 20-year-old hard nut has produced a brilliant year to emerge as one of the best young midfielders in the game, already vindicating Melbourne’s decision to bank their precious No. 4 pick on him at the end of 2015. Oliver is averaging 29.8 disposals (No. 11 in the AFL), 15.9 contested possessions (No. 2), 7.3 tackles (No. 8) and 6.7 clearances (No. 9). The former Morrish Medallist adds an even harder edge to a midfield that already comprises co-captain’s Jack Viney and Nathan Jones.

Stats that matter

Champion Data may have rated Melbourne’s midfield as the worst ahead of this season, but that has been far from the case in 2017.  With Oliver, Jones, Viney, Dom Tyson, Bernie Vince and Jordan Lewis at the coal face, the Demons have been a difficult team to counter. Melbourne is ranked No. 2 for disposals differential (+29.9) and disposals (405.1), on the back of their high handball game, where they are ranked No. 1 for handballs (196.3).

Team

B: M. Hibberd, O. McDonald, N. Jetta
HB: B. Vince, C. Pedersen, J. Hunt
C: N. Jones, C. Oliver, J. Lewis
HF: C. Petracca, T. McDonald, J. Melksam
F: J. Garlett, M. Hannan, A. Neal-Bullen
R: M. Gawn, D. Tyson, J. Viney
Interchange from: J. Watts, A. Brayshaw, B. Stretch, S. Weideman, J. Wagner, J. Harmes, C. Maynard

IN: M. Hannan, A. Brayshaw, B. Stretch, S. Weideman, J. Wagner
OUT: S. Frost (omitted), C. Salem (omitted)