Suns Set To Ward Off Demons

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Harley Bennell has torn up Melbourne the past two clashes. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Last Four Matches

Round 7, 2013 – Gold Coast 114 d Melbourne 54 at MCG
Round 19, 2012 – Melbourne 108 d Gold Coast 66 at MCG
Round 23, 2011 – Melbourne 112 d Gold Coast 82 at MCG
Round 14, 2011 – Melbourne 159 d Gold Coast 69 at The Gabba


Form

     Rd 15       Rd 16       Rd 17       Rd 18       Rd 19   
Gold Coast    L  L  W  L  L
Melbourne    L  L  L  L  L

After a promising start under Neil Craig, Melbourne’s season has spiralled out of control the past few weeks with two absolute beltings from Geelong and North Melbourne, as well as last weekend’s embarrassing 37-point loss to GWS which handed the Giants their first victory of the season. The Demons have a relatively soft draw to close out the year, but it’s hard to see them adding to their two wins for the season. Their only saving grace is that GWS probably won’t win another game to hand them the wooden spoon.

Another team with an easy run of fixtures to finish the year is the much-improved Gold Coast outfit. The Suns kept plugging away in Perth on Saturday and had it not been for a couple of ordinary umpiring decisions against Campbell Brown, they could have stolen the four points. In the end, they went down by 17 points with Gary Ablett Jnr kept relatively quiet, which shows how this team is progressing. In saying that, they have lost six of their past seven games.

The Suns are unchanged, despite having to make the long haul trip back from Perth. Melbourne has dropped ruckman Max Gawn and young midfielder Jimmy Toumpas with Jordie McKenzie returning to the team while Troy Davis will make his debut.


Key Men

(Suns) Harley Bennell – The past two times the Suns have played the Demons, Gary Ablett Jnr and Harley Bennell have just owned the midfield. Bennell had 32 touches and a goal in the 60-point win over the Dees in round seven, and last year in a 42-point loss he was even more dominant registering 37 possessions, seven marks and four goals. Given Melbourne’s lack of pressure in the middle, expect those two, Dion Prestia and a slightly jaded Jaeger O’Meara to find plenty of the ball on Saturday night.

(Demons) Jack Viney – He missed eight straight games during the middle of the season, but Jack Viney has certainly been one of Melbourne’s best since coming back in to the side against Brisbane three weeks back. He grabbed 21 touches and five marks in the loss to the Lions in Darwin, laid seven tackles in the drubbing by the Kangaroos, then was one of the few Dees who could hold their head high after losing to GWS after picking up 22 possessions in a solid game. He has been one of the few bright spots in a disappointing season.


Prediction

The Suns got smashed in the ruck, predominantly by Dean Cox, but also Scott Lycett, yet still managed to stay in touch with the Eagles on the road for most of the game. If their ball-winners get an even share this weekend, you would think they will have far too much speed and class for a Melbourne side which is showing signs of wilting after a revival of sorts following Mark Neeld’s sacking. Nathan Bock’s return from injury was a big plus for the Suns. He kicked two goals and despite struggling with the speed of the game at times, will be better for the run after being out since round six last season due to a broken leg. How much will that trip to the west take out of the young team, though? Gold Coast by 22 points .

Click here to bet on AFL Round 20 matches