Nervous for Round Two? You’re not alone.
Melbourne’s Round Two encounter with the depleted Essendon whips up the perfect storm for a bad result – the Dees coming off a stirring win, red-hot favouritism, the stigma of trying to win two games on the trot for the first time since 2011 and – more than likely – 50,000 Bombers fans or more packing into the MCG on Saturday afternoon.
There is also their shocking Round Two record.
To put Melbourne’s Round Two record into perspective, it was 11 years ago that Melbourne last managed a win in this round, a 26-point victory against the Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. The Dees have only saluted in five Round Two encounters since 2000. It’s woeful.
Without doubt, the Dees would want to change that this weekend. But let’s go back and have a look at their previous Round Two disasters…
Round 2, 2006: Western Bulldogs 20.17 (137) defeated Melbourne 12.18 (90)
The Demons had been equally as bad in Round One as they had lost to the reigning wooden-spooners Carlton at Etihad, as a precursor to their terrible record at the ground from 2007 onwards, and given that their opening number of encounters were away from the MCG, which was in use for the Commonwealth Games, couldn’t afford to lose too many more encounters.
Unfortunately, they ran into a red-hot Bulldogs outfit who had annihilated Richmond by 115 points the week before.
It wasn’t entirely bad, however. The Demons actually opened up a three goal lead by the end of the first change, and still lead by a couple of goals going into half time.
Unfortunately for the Demons, they would then go on to concede nine third quarter goals, a Robert Murphy inspired Dogs charging to a 26-point lead at three quarter time before extending that lead to 47 points by the final siren.
Murphy kicked 4.4 and took 11 marks, while Brad Johnson also enjoyed a day out, kicking three goals from his 27 disposals.
Not too many winners for the Demons, however, Cameron Bruce collected 29 disposals. Unfortunately, his kicking let him down in front of goal, kicking 1.3. A rare highlight for the Demons was Nathan Carroll kicking his very first goal in AFL football, an occasion which was truly a rarity for the full-back.
Round 2, 2007: Hawthorn 17.14 (116) defeated Melbourne 14.10 (94)
Okay, so 2006 wasn’t that bad because after Round 3, Melbourne won something like 11 of their next 12 games. That wasn’t the case in 2007.
In terms of injuries, this proved to be an Easter Monday massacre for the Demons. When David Neitz goaled early in the first quarter, the lead was already out to 20 points. He then went off the ground, not to be seen for the remainder of the game with a knee injury, and it changed the complexion of the game.
The Hawks were able to overturn that 20-point deficit, and extend their lead to as much as seven goals late in the third quarter. Worse was to come for the Demons, with Russell Robertson then going down with another knee injury.
Remarkably, the Demons had a crack at reducing the margin, and found themselves only seven points down with seven minutes left. However, the Hawks kicked the final two goals of the game and gave themselves their first win in what would be the start of a remarkable run for the Hawks, who would go on to make the finals that season, then go on a fairly decent run which saw four flags in eight years.
Mark Williams kicked six goals for the Hawks, with Tim Boyle adding three, while Rick Ladson was arguably one of the Hawks’ best. Brad Miller was a beacon for the Demons, kicking three goals for the afternoon, and was one of their best.
Round 2, 2008: Western Bulldogs 24.17 (161) defeated Melbourne 9.12 (66)
It just got worse for the Demons. A 104-point defeat at the hands of the Hawks in round one gave them a bad start, but at least the Demons looked to be competitive the next week when they trailed the equally as hot Bulldogs by 25 points at half time.
Then the second half happened. The Bulldogs, reminiscent of the clash two years ago, again kicked nine goals in the third quarter, and funnily enough, again, Robert Murphy kicked four goals and dominated.
The Demons copped their second successive hiding and nobody knew just how bad it could get, with the reigning premier Cats at Simonds Stadium on the horizon and the Demons yet to serve anything that resembled a salvo.
Daniel Cross, Matthew Boyd, Scott West and eventual Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney combined for 111 disposals between them, while the likes of Josh Hill, Scott Welsh, Jason Akermanis, Brad Johnson and best on ground Cross kicked three goals each.
For the Demons, Paul Wheatley and James McDonald were amongst their few triers for the afternoon. It was far from the best start Dean Bailey was after in his fledgling coaching career.
Round 2, 2009: Collingwood 17.15 (117) defeated Melbourne 10.4 (64)
One of the few results where the game did not, perhaps, match the intensity that Melbourne produced, particularly in the first half.
The Dees, at least, had a crack early in the 2009 season, and it was evident in this encounter with the Magpies. They lead for the majority of the first half, but only when Alan Didak kicked a couple of quick goals did the Pies start to get on top.
In the end, though, the likes of Leon Davis and Didak got on top of a tiring Melbourne outfit, kicking away to a 33-point buffer by three quarter time, and then clearing out to a 53-point victory.
John Anthony kicked four goals for the Pies, who were well served by Josh Fraser, Didak, Dane Swan and Nick Maxwell. The Demons had big contributions from Cameron Bruce, Brad Green (who had three goals and 15 marks) and Brad Miller (14 marks).
Round 2, 2010: Collingwood 12.14 (86) defeated Melbourne 12.13 (85)
The one that got away.
In terms of heartbreaking results for Melbourne this century, this has to rank right amongst the top. The Demons were given extraordinarily little chance before the game after copping yet another heavy defeat to the Hawks in Round One, while the Pies were starting to show that they were ready to take the next step, and would eventually do so in October.
However, the Demons were on top for much of this encounter, and found themselves 11 points in front late in the game. Unfortunately, a late Leon Davis goal, sharked from an errant Matthew Warnock handball, put the Pies in front, and managed to hold on… but not without a fright.
With a matter of seconds to go, the (then) inexperienced Rohan Bail had gathered inside 50 and let loose from 45 metres out. However, it appeared he was trying to pass to Ricky Petterd instead of having a shot. Petterd juggled the ball twice before a late spoil from Steele Sidebottom gave the Pies a very dramatic victory.
Petterd was shattered, hitting both hands on the ground a la Rohan Smith in the 1997 preliminary final. But his efforts were extraordinary, and it was a reminder of just how good his start to 2010 was. Petterd kicked four and was amongst the best on the ground, while Brad Green kicked three goals.
Four goalkickers kicked two goals each for the Pies, led by Scott Pendlebury who was their best.
Round 2, 2011: Hawthorn 16.26 (122) defeated Melbourne 12.5 (77)
Nothing to see here, just another thrashing at the hands of Hawthorn.
However, this one was different. The Demons looked like they were going to punish Hawthorn’s shocking inaccuracy, which saw the Demons lead by as much as 27 points 20 minutes into the second quarter.
After that, the Hawks launched into one of their most savage quarters of their era at the top, and it could have been much worse if their inaccuracy hadn’t crippled them throughout the entire day.
The Hawks went from 3.13 (31) at half time to a spellbound 11.24 (90) by three quarter time – that’s right, the Hawks kicked 8.11 in a quarter. 19 scoring shots. Some teams couldn’t even manage 19 scoring shots throughout the game last weekend. So yeah, it could have been worse. Ironically, it was a former Demon who got the ball rolling in that quarter – Cameron Bruce goaling two minutes in.
Cyril Rioli was outstanding for the Hawks, collecting 29 possessions and kicking a goal, proving to be too fast for the Demon midfielders. However, he also got cited in this game and then rubbed out for a fortnight for striking Nathan Jones. Matt Suckling had a brilliant outing with 32 possessions and two goals, while Sam Mitchell had 30 touches.
For the Demons, who were comprehensively beaten in the second half, it seemed to be the same old story throughout the late 2000s and early 2010s – Colin Sylvia dominant against the Hawks. Sylvia had 26 touches, while second gamer Luke Tapscott had 23. Mark Jamar was dominant in the ruck with 29 hitouts.
Round 2, 2012: West Coast 25.16 (166) defeated Melbourne 9.4 (58)
More or less it was the calamitous off-field week the Demons had which contributed more to this year’s edition of our nightmare Round Two, as after a bad loss to Brisbane in Round One, firstly Mark Neeld got a warning from the AFL for flagging so many team changes in his press conference before the nightmare really got going.
On Monday night’s On The Couch, an article from Grant Thomas, suggesting that Neeld had spoken to Melbourne’s Indigenous players as a group, whilst talking to every other player on the list individually. Neeld, the special guest, was taken aback by this, and Thomas later withdrew the article, and created a storm with AFL Indigenous Officer Jason Mifsud (who had given this information to Thomas), and would later apologise to Neeld.
The Thursday before the game revealed that EnergyWatch, the new sponsor of the Melbourne Football Club, were embroiled in controversy when CEO Ben Polis was exposed for racist and disgusting comments made on his Facebook page. The Demons immediately terminated their sponsorship and made for some farcical scenes on the Saturday afternoon when the club were hurriedly taping over their disgraced sponsor with black tape – this still the case later in the season when the club’s new sponsors were basically draped over the EnergyWatch logo’s on jumpers being sold.
And then, the game itself. Phew. After all that you wouldn’t think it’d get any worse. Well, it did. 15 goals in the middle two quarters to a rampaging West Coast outfit meant that the Demons would fall to a 108-point loss, meaning that the Dees were basically holding up the ladder after a couple of games.
The one saving grace for the Demons was that Mitch Clark kicked five of Melbourne’s nine goals. As it was for much of the first half of the 2013 season, you could imagine how much worse it could have been without his influence. In fact, the Demons only had three goalkickers for the afternoon – Clark, Lynden Dunn and Nathan Jones (two each).
Still, could be worse…
Round 2, 2013: Essendon 28.16 (184) defeated Melbourne 5.6 (36)
You would have thought on-field, it could not have gone any worse than Melbourne copping an 80 point drubbing at the hands of Port Adelaide on the MCG in Round One.
This being Melbourne under Neeld, it seemed the Demons could, after all, find new ways to get even worse, and so it proved on this Saturday night game when the Bombers played their first home game since all the ASADA stuff broke (yep, that long ago, and it kind of feels like déjà vu this weekend!)
And the Demons responded by allowing 28 goals without giving much of a yelp. Six to Crameri, four to Bellchambers, and three to Watson, who was also given the freedom to have 38 disposals while he was at it. Dyson Heppell also had 36 touches and kicked a couple of very easy goals.
The Demons… yeah, they were pretty bad. So much so that Jack Watts was subbed off not too long into the second half, given he had a genuine shocker. The Demons had almost 200 less disposals than the Dons, and in fact only had 262 for the entire game. It was a drubbing in pretty much every sense.
A familiar sight in these years was Nathan Jones leading the way, and so he did on this night with 25 touches and a goal.
However, the scenes were ugly after the game, with loads of Melbourne supporters unforgettably hurling abuse at the club over the wall when returning to the rooms, while others openly weeped. It couldn’t get any lower for the Dees.
Round 2, 2014: West Coast 18.15 (123) defeated Melbourne 4.6 (30)
If there was proof that there was a long way to go when Paul Roos took over, it was this game.
West Coast were red hot coming in to this one, having destroyed the Dogs at Subiaco in the opening round, and when you consider that they opened up this season with three wins and a percentage of over 200, it’s still surprising that the Eagles missed the finals.
The stats for this one were actually remarkably similar for a game with the lopsided scoreline that occurred. The Dees actually had more possessions than the Eagles, more tackles and the inside 50 count was 53-39 in the Eagles’ favour so it wasn’t the remarkable discrepancy that the scoreboard would have otherwise suggested.
It was the quality of the Eagles’ ball use, however, and the lack of quality in Melbourne’s, which separated the two sides. Four goals to Josh Kennedy, three to Jack Darling, and quality ball use from Andrew Gaff, Matt Rosa, Luke Shuey and Xavier Ellis allowed the Eagles to romp away, and barely give Melbourne a chance.
So inefficient were the Demons inside 50, they could only muster two goals in three quarters of football. Not that the midfielders were unable to get the footy – Nathan Jones, Dom Tyson, Daniel Cross and Bernie Vince had 120 touches between them.
After the game, it was revealed Jack Trengove had a sore foot. He has not been sighted on an AFL field since.
Round 2, 2015: Greater Western Sydney 15.11 (101) defeated Melbourne 8.8 (56)
33 points up, the Demons were. 33. They lost by 45. Melbourne fans were left wondering what on earth happened.
The Demons were on fire early as they looked to make it two wins on the trot to start 2015, and when Jesse Hogan goaled five minutes into the second quarter, they had five goals, with the Giants yet to respond. When Ben Newton goaled late in the quarter, the Demons were 33 points up.
From then on, the Giants kicked the next 14 goals. Yep. 14. It was an astounding run of form which is probably the most devastating the Giants have played in their short existence as an AFL team, and one which perhaps is a quiet reason the Demons have been glad to knock them over in their past two encounters.
Daniel Cross was again a shining light for the Demons, collecting 23 touches, whilst Newton and Hogan kicked two goals each. This one is much forgotten in the eyes of Demon supporters, especially that second half.
Can the Demons finally stop the rut? Or will the Bombers unexpectedly add another chapter to Melbourne’s Round Two misery? It’s all there to be found out on Saturday…