Mark Neeld will be without senior players Jack Grimes and Mitch Clark for over a month. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au
Last Three Matches
Round 19, 2012 – Melbourne Demons 108 d Gold Coast Suns 66 (MCG)
Round 23, 2011 – Melbourne Demons 112 d Gold Coast Suns 82 (MCG)
Round 4, 2011 – Melbourne Demons 159 d Gold Coast Suns 69 (‘Gabba)
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Fremantle was there for the taking last weekend, but as coach Guy McKenna surmised post-match, his team wasn’t short on effort, but there was a distinct lack of poise shown by the vast majority of his team at crucial times. The Suns had every bit as much ball as the undermanned Dockers, but simple mistakes both with the Sherrin in hand and also in defence prevented them from making any sort of charge after Freo set up a 19-point lead at the first change .
Melbourne was alright against Carlton, considering the match was over at quarter time . At least the Demons’ 0.3 was better than the two points mustered by the Suns in the first term against the Dockers. The 61-point margin at the end of the game is what was expected in yet another mismatch. The really devastating news was the long-term loss of co-captain Jack Grimes to a broken collarbone.
The Dees have easily accounted for the Suns all three times they’ve met, but two of the players who have dominated those games – Grimes and recently retired Brad Green – won’t be there on Sunday. Green kicked 11 goals in his three matches against the Suns, but with Mitch Clark still out for a substantial amount of time with a foot injury, the Demons lack a dominating forward. It will be left to former Magpie Chris Dawes, in his first game in Melbourne colours, to shoulder the load up forward.
(Demons) Matt Jones – He’s an electrician by trade, and Matt Jones has been one of the few sparks in the Demons line-up this season. He spent most of his career in the Eastern Football League and only had one year in the VFL before Melbourne picked him up at No. 52 in last year’s draft as a mature-age player. The 25-year-old can play inside and out, and apart from Nathan Jones, he has been the Dees’ most consistent midfielder. He had 27 touches and kicked his first AFL goal last week against Carlton and appears to be growing in confidence week-by-week.
(Suns) Greg Broughton – Both of these teams have a bad habit of breaking down across half-forward, and one area the Suns were particularly good last week was their rebound from the back half. Jarrad Harbrow was the stand out, but former Docker Greg Broughton also had his best game in a Gold Coast uniform in front of Ross Lyon, the man who let him go at the end of 2012. He’s certainly not flawless as a defender, but he is a ball-winner at the back and generally uses it well. If he and Harbrow can continue to move the ball quickly, then the Suns will get a lot more chances up the ground than they did against a well-structured Freo side.
On paper, you would probably say the Suns have more talent. The big concern for them is their performances in Victoria have been awful since they entered the competition in 2011. The 30-point loss to Melbourne at the end of that first season is the closest they’ve come to victory in the Garden State. The form line looked in Gold Coast’s favour when they easily beat GWS just a week after the Giants only lost to Melbourne after a fourth quarter meltdown. Their skills against Fremantle were appalling, at times, and Guy McKenna will really need to pick his team up for this one. Gary Ablett Jnr and Harley Bennell were a two-man show last clash between these teams, and unless they get some help this time, Melbourne will join the Suns on two wins for the season. Demons by 17
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