WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday August 26, 4.40pm
LAST TIME: Melbourne 22.17 (149) d Adelaide 8.5 (53), round 7, 2011, at MCG
After being virtually assured a home final in the first week of the finals this September, the stakes now couldn’t be higher for Adelaide after a shock loss to the Brisbane Lions last weekend. They will now need to win their last two games comfortably and hope results go their way with the other top 4 contenders to get there.
As far as the Demons are concerned, the ending of the season hopefully means brighter things. After talk of possibly somehow receiving the 2012 wooden spoon, they had a shock win over Essendon and did what they needed to against the expansion teams. Its been a season from hell in all other regards though.
Legend Jim Stynes passing, gun recruit Mitch Clark’s season ending injury and humiliating losses to lower end clubs are amongst a myriad of things red and blue fans have had to face this year.
A club veteran and fantastic servant, Brad Green, has announced this will be his final game of his AFL career. After 253 games and 348 goals it only seems fitting his 254th will be at the MCG. Footy fans will be hoping this gives the Demons the spark this game desperately needs.
It doesn’t look good on paper. Adelaide have been rampant this year. Ignore accusations of a soft draw; it has helped, but they have played some amazing football this season. Their midfield is terrifying and their forward line is a force to be reckoned with. The Crows have lost two important key defenders to expansion clubs, but Daniel Talia (likely Rising Star winner) and Ben Rutten have more than ably held down the spots.
The Crows will be hungry after last week’s loss and with a top four spot assured with a win this weekend it could get ugly.
Melbourne dropped core midfielder Brent Moloney last week after a series of poor performances and they will be hoping that if he comes back, he does so with fire in the belly. Firecracker Sam Blease and jumping Jeremy Howe have been regularly hitting the scoreboard in recent times, but the Demons will need their (admittedly thin stockwise) tall timber to assist if they are any chance.
The Demons form has definitely improved in the past month though, with all the key stats rising heavily. They are in the top half of the AFL for most of the important midfield and around-the-ground stats and in their two losses in that time period they have not been embarassed. Co-captains Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove are finally hitting their straps and despite a quiet game last weekend, Nathan Jones remains a worthy midfield general.
Mark Jamar (MELB) – The Demons will be praying that Jamar passes a fitness test and is good to play on the weekend. Their young ruck stocks have performed as nothing more than a stop-gap while the ‘Russian’ is out. If he returns the Melbourne midfield is automatically more dangerous.
Jeremy Howe (MELB) – The high-flying Howe has been the story of the year down at Demonland. He is also a capable goal-kicker and booted three last weekend. If he can continue to combine his outstanding marking and increase his goal output, starting this weekend, he will become quickly become known for more than speckies.
Patrick Dangerfield (ADEL) – As Brian Taylor would say, “wowee!”. Dangerfield has had an unbelievable season and seems destined to be one of the best players in the competition. He does the hard stuff, the outside stuff, kicks goals and tackles hard. Scott Thompson will rack it up no matter what – Melbourne need to focus their shut-down efforts on Dangerfield.
Kurt Tippett (ADEL) – Held to just seven touches and one behind by Daniel Merrett of the Lions last weekend, Tippett desperately needs to find form before the finals. He had a long lay-off, granted, but against a side like Brisbane that they should have had no trouble with his game was worrying. The Demons are no slouch defensively either, with James Frawley, Colin Garland and Tom McDonald all more than capable. Taylor Walker kicked four against Brisbane but he can’t do it all on his own.
Prediction: Adelaide by 40 points