result, final scores, updates, stats, video, stream, news, reaction, blog


The AFL’s much-maligned score review system reached comical levels on Sunday at the MCG as Melbourne superstar Clayton Oliver continued to put a tumultuous summer behind him and lead the Demons to a thumping 45-point win over the Western Bulldogs.

The erosion of the goal umpires’ confidence to make a decision was as overt as ever in the first half with no fewer than five ridiculous score reviews requested.

In the opening quarter, Jack Billings’ dribbler from the pocket was clearly touched by Buku Khamis on the goal line, Jake Lever blatantly got a hand on Cody Weightman’s shot for goal in the goal square and another Weightman set shot was marked by Max Gawn on the behind line.

Watch every game of every round this Toyota AFL Premiership Season LIVE with no ad-breaks during play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial today >

But despite being in the perfect position, the goal umpire asked for a score review each time to have the bleeding obvious confirmed, causing unnecessary delays.

On the quarter-time siren Bayley Fritsch’s set shot went the wrong side of the behind post, yet despite the boundary umpire and goal umpire both being right on the spot, they still sent the decision upstairs.

The coup de grace came late in the second term when Ryley Sanders’ set shot from 45m out didn’t cross the behind line, was punched back in play and should’ve been called play on, but because the goal umpire asked for yet another score review, play had to be stopped for the review.

After it was confirmed a behind wasn’t scored, the field umpire was forced to ball it up and it disadvantaged the Bulldogs because the ball was bouncing loose in a dangerous position and denied them a potential goalscoring opportunity.

Fifteen years ago, each decision would’ve been made without hesitation or question.

But the Demons wouldn’t have been too concerned because Oliver backed up his impressive first-up showing against Sydney last week with another dominant performance that saw him rack up 35 disposals (10 contested), six clearances and seven inside 50s.

Melbourne’s much-publicised forward issues were non-existent as they registered their biggest score in eight games in the impressive 16.13 (109) to 9.10 (64) win.

The Demons looked much more fluent and structured in their attacking zone than they had for some time with Kyle Chandler (three goals), Jacob van Rooyen (three), Ben Brown (two), Alex Neal-Bullen (two) and Kysaiah Pickett (two) all working beautifully together.

But thanks largely to the Bulldogs’ poor defending, Melbourne took 129 uncontested marks, a whopping 49 above last year’s AFL average (80), which allowed them to creep forward under minimal resistance on numerous occasions.

The Demons made their first move in a 23-minute period either side of quarter-time when they booted six out of seven goals, including five in a row, to lead by 19 points early in the second term.

And after the match became an arm wrestle, Melbourne emphatically closed the door shut in the final period with another six goals to two.

After a rough start to the season last week, Gawn returned to his influential best with 26 touches (12 contested), 35 hitouts and eight clearances, Christian Petracca also starred with 29 possessions (13 contested), 10 marks and a goal and Steven May destroyed Aaron Naughton (one goal) to finish up on 26 touches and 13 marks.

The 3-2-1 (what we learned) …

3. ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ GAWN STOMPS CRITICS AFTER ‘HUGE SAY’ VS. DOGS

“Unbelievable” Melbourne skipper Max Gawn has answered his critics in a statement performance against the Bulldogs.

Gawn was beaten by ex-teammate Brodie Grundy last Thursday in the Dees’ season-opener against the Swans, admitting post-game he “let himself down” after Sydney launched a targeted approach against the six-time All-Australian.

“I haven’t seen Max Gawn get beaten like that (last week) for, I don’t know, a long, long time,” St Kilda great Leigh Montagna told Fox Footy during the week.

“I expect him to flex his muscles and show that he is still the best ruckman in the competition. Going up against Tim English, who might be the next big thing on the scene, I reckon ‘Maxy’ will take him to the cleaners.

“I think the Demons get the win that they have to get, and he’ll lead the way.”

While English was more than a serviceable asset for the Dogs on Sunday, Gawn indubitably won the day.

The 32-year-old tallied 26 disposals, 12 contested possessions, nine marks, eight clearances, 35 hit-outs and 494 metres gained. Wow.

Coach Simon Goodwin’s pre-game words on Gawn gave us all the prelude we needed for what we were about to observe.

“Max has been dealing with this for six years, he’s not immune to it but it’s about how he reacts to it, how he responds to it and how we can help him as a team,” Goodwin told Fox Footy on Sunday.

“That’s the most important thing. We’ve been through this situation many a time with Max, and today we’re looking for a response and I know the big fella, all week, he just couldn’t wait to get out here.”

Max Gawn was best-on-ground on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney.Source: Getty Images

Melbourne’s bearded ruckman was itching to exert his influence from the outset, with Jordan Lewis noting Gawn’s evident dominance.

“He has been massive today,” Lewis told Fox Footy. “He’s clearly been the number-one-rated player on the ground. English was hurt early on and certainly Max has taken full advantage of that.”

Post-game, Gawn assured he wasn’t bothered by the outside noise, but he must have been satisfied to put forth the display he did against a quality opponent in English.

“To be honest, I didn’t really read it (the criticism),” Gawn told Fox Footy after the siren.

“When I know I played bad I sort of shut myself away from that, because I know what people (say).

“Brodie’s a great player and I lowered my colours last Thursday, and Tim’s in All-Australian form so it (didn’t) get much easier.”

2. ‘EMOTIONAL’ OLIVER STEPS UP… BUT MAINTAINS THERE’S ‘A LOT OF WORK TO DO’

Clayton Oliver put in a tremendous shift against the Bulldogs, showcasing his typical fervour for the contest in his second game back at the senior level.

The 26-year-old notched a game-high 35 disposals, six clearances and seven inside-50s to be among the top-three players on the MCG.

It’s been a well-documented rollercoaster ride for the prolific onballer in recent months, but one thing is blatantly obvious: he has the full-fledged support of the Melbourne people.

“It’s been noted how much the Melbourne faithful (is) behind ‘Clarry’ and I’m sure you feel that,” Gawn told Fox Footy post-game.

“I think, what we see from Clayton is he’s had such a (tormented) little period but he’s rattling (inside) 50 going in for goal and (instead) he passes it off to Jacob (van Rooyen).

“He’s still playing that selfless role — I think that’s the player we got and I’m excited for the best version of Clayton this year.”

Oliver acknowledged it’s been a difficult period for him, though he’s thankful for the wide-ranging support he’s continually been afforded.

“It’s been a tough couple of months (but) I’ve had ‘Gawny’ and the rest of the boys helping me out,” Oliver told Fox Footy post-game.

“It’s all worth it at the end of the day, coming here and doing this and getting wins for the boys.”

Oliver said he’s not finished earning back the trust of his teammates, before detailing the special moment in the final quarter when he came from the ground to the raucous applause of the Demons supporters.

“Definitely not. Still a lot of work to do, little steps along the way but keep being a better person, better teammate (and) keep striving every day.

“I feel alright, just ticking along, and hopefully (I’m) getting better every week – like the team.

“Yeah, it was a little bit emotional actually. I had chills down my spine — we love the Melbourne faithful, they’re always behind us every step of the way, so we love that.”

Goodwin’s embrace of Oliver at the Demons’ interchange was symbolic of what we’ve continually been told by Melbourne — that the club will continue to back its superstar on his road back.

1. DOGS’ SCORING FALTERS AFTER FAST START

Despite a fast start by the Bulldogs’ tall timber — Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Rory Lobb all saluted in the first term — Luke Beveridge’s men faded disappointingly after quarter-time, succumbing to Melbourne’s swift movement and extraction at the contest.

After booting four goals in the first quarter, the Dogs managed just five majors for the remainder of Sunday’s game. Conversely, the Demons kicked 12 goals across the final three stanzas as they progressively wore down the Dogs.

The Bulldogs registered the exact same number of inside-50s (53) and contested possessions (126) as Melbourne, but ultimately managed 10 fewer scoring shots, as they were unable to link-up often enough in transition.

The Demons were +42 in marks, controlling the game in the air in large part as a result of Gawn’s extraordinary influence.

Unlike Grundy, English wasn’t able to quell Gawn’s expansive impact around the ground, nor in the ruck. And, as the Dogs’ tall forwards slowed down after quarter-time, Melbourne’s formula for victory was cemented.



Source link

Leave a Comment