Demons Shoot For Two Straight

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Wayne Ludbey/Herald Sun
Jack Watts kicked four goals in the win over the Bulldogs. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com/Wayne Ludbey/Herald Sun
Last Five Matches

Round 8, 2012 – Sydney 138 d Melbourne 37 at SCG
Round 1, 2011 – Melbourne 84 drew Sydney 84 at MCG
Round 17, 2010 – Melbourne 142 d Sydney 69 at MCG
Round 17, 2009 – Sydney 68 d Melbourne 50 at Manuka Oval
Round 13, 2008 – Sydney 114 d Melbourne 74 at Manuka Oval


Form

     Rd 10       Rd 11       Rd 12       Rd 13       Rd 14   
Melbourne    L  L  B  L  W
Sydney   W  W  B  L  W

Neil Craig is now 1-1 as Melbourne coach after the heart-stopping three-point win over the Bulldogs, which is substantially better than what Mark Neeld produced over a season-and-a-half. One win hardly makes a compelling job application, though, and if the former Adelaide mentor is keen on pushing for the top job with the Demons then his side will have to substantially improve on what it has dished up against the rest of the competition this season.

After a breakthrough victory, the last thing you need is to back it up with a showdown against the reigning premier. Sydney bounced back from its disappointing loss to Port Adelaide with a hard-fought 22-point victory over Carlton is horrendous conditions at the SCG last Friday night. The Bloods gave Carlton a lesson in wet weather footy in the first term and withstood a late fightback from the Blues to take the points.

At least the Dees don’t have to worry about keeping an eye on Adam Goodes with the Swans star set to miss the next six weeks following knee surgery. In his absence, some tall timber has been rushed back with Sam Reid (quad) and Shane Mumford (cheekbone) returning. The Demons get co-captain Jack Grimes back from a broken collarbone.


Key Men

(Demons) Jack Watts – He wasn’t the only reason Melbourne last weekend, but there’s no doubt Jack Watts played one of his best games at AFL level in the victory over the Bulldogs. Whether it was kicking four goals up forward in the position he was expected to play at AFL level, or dropping back to take a crucial mark in the backline where he spent most of his time during the Neeld reign, he was a cut above most of the players on the ground. Now, let’s see if he can back that up week after week after week, but it’s fair to say the Dees look much better with him and Jeremy Howe in the forward line.

(Swans) Craig Bird – Sydney’s not short of unheralded players, but Craig Bird may well be top of the pile. Each week he gets a job of shutting down a player of influence from the opposition, and he does it with a minimum of fuss. Last week, though, was one of the first times he has stood out from a ball-winning point of view. 33 touches and five tackles in a game where sure handling was at a premium proves this guy has more to his game than just the ability to shut players down.


Prediction

Last season the Swans had to get used to life without Adam Goodes for a fair chunk of the season. He was out for six games throughout 2012, and in that period Sydney went 4-2, but those two losses were five-goal defeats at the hands of Richmond and St Kilda, two teams that didn’t make the eight. There’s no suggestion the Dees have any real hope because of his absence, especially given Kurt Tippett’s encouraging start to life in the red and white, but his loss will be felt against the competition’s better teams. The Demons went down by 101 in the corresponding match last season; another result like that and last week’s victory will have counted for little. Sydney by 72 points .

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