AFL Strugglers Search For First Win

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Wayne Ludbey/Herald Sun
Jack Watts makes his return against GWS. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Wayne Ludbey/Herald Sun
Last Two Meetings

Round 21, 2012 – Melbourne Demons 84 d GWS Giants 59
Round 13, 2012 – Melbourne Demons 135 d GWS Giants 57


Form

     Rd 1       Rd 2       Rd 3   
Melbourne 

 L

 L

 L

GWS Giants

 L

 L

 L


Rarely before has an early season clash between the bottom two teams on the ladder garnered so much attention. Given the basket case Melbourne is at the moment and the expected growing paints GWS is going through, there is plenty of chat already that this match will decide which team ends up with the dreaded wooden spoon.

At least the Demons can say they were competitive against West Coast for a half of football last weekend. Two of Melbourne’s top three ball-winners against the Eagles were Matt Jones and Dean Terlich – players who have appeared in AFL five games between them – which says a lot about where the Dees are right now. They’re short on experience, and in general, short on talent, too. Coach Mark Neeld isn’t getting enough out of some of his senior players like Mark Jamar and James Frawley, and until he does, Melbourne won’t even be competitive against the better sides. After his dumping for the Eagles match, backman Jack Watts has been listed to start despite not playing in the VFL last weekend.

Despite some good efforts to start the season, GWS is hardly in that category. There were promising signs in patches against Sydney and Port Adelaide, but it was disappointing to see the Giants shutout in the first quarter against St Kilda last weekend. There was devastating news for former top draft pick Jonathon Patton who will miss the rest of the season after injury his knee against the Saints, while ruckman Dean Brogan copped a three-week ban for a high bump on St Kilda’s Jack Newnes. Setanta O’hAilpin makes his return from a year-long absence following a knee reconstruction, while former Freo midfielder Rhys Palmer is one of a host of ins for the Giants.


Key Men

(Demons) Nathan Jones – In last season’s Brownlow Medal count, Nathan Jones picked up 14 votes playing in a miserable side, good enough to tie with the likes of Nathan Fyfe, Joel Selwood and Brent Stanton. With Brent Moloney on the outer (and now in Lions colours), Jones was by far and away Melbourne’s best on-baller, winning the Dees’ Best and Fairest Award. In a side getting smashed every week, he has again started 2013 in solid fashion. It would help if he and young gun Todd Viney could get some help in the middle, though.

(Giants) Toby Greene – The term ‘ball magnet’ was thought up for players like Toby Greene . In his debut season he cracked the 30-possession mark nine times, which was a phenomenal effort for an 18-year-old. If the rest of the AFL didn’t know about him before last season, they certainly do now, and the Swans, Power and Saints have certainly found a way to put the clamps on him in the first three rounds. While the likes of Stephen Coniglio and Dylan Shiel appear to be improving in their sophomore season, Greene isn’t having anywhere near the same impact, and the Giants need more out of him if they’re to threaten the win column any time soon.


Prediction

The average score in Demons matches this year is 58-165 and in Giants games 74-127. It’s not pretty reading for either team, but it would be hard to argue the Giants haven’t been more impressive in their three games so far. In their first season GWS was generally competitive at home, but in Victoria throughout 2012 they lost all five matches by an average of exactly 100 points . One of those results came against Melbourne in round 13 when the Dees scored their biggest win of the year by 78 points . It was only one of four wins by the Demons all season and they also got over GWS at Manuka Oval by 25 points in round 21. As awful as they’ve been, a little more experience and the home ground advantage should see Mark Neeld register his first victory of the season. Demons by 18 points  

Click here to bet on AFL Round 4 Matches