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Five Key Dee-tails: Clutch Fritta, Jezza Curtailed

The DeeBrief

The DeeBrief

Contributor Ben Wilmoth provides his five key takeaways after Melbourne’s much deserved victory against Geelong on Saturday night.

Young guns

Melbourne fielded nine players aged 22 or younger against Geelong. Simon Goodwin, once criticised for a lack of evolution of the list, has been able to steadily inject youth while remaining a top-four, flag-contending side. Seasoned veterans Lachie Hunter, Adam Tomlinson and Ben Brown don’t have to be relied upon as much as they once were, with the likes of Blake Howes, Daniel Turner and Caleb Windsor earning their spots. Windsor, the youngest of the lot, has officially arrived. In his best game for the club, last year’s pick 7 had 18 touches and an impressive nine score involvements, along with a chase-down tackle and crucial goal in the fourth. He’s got star written all over him.

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Petty finds his hands 

Harrison Petty was under the pump during the week after a quiet fortnight and dour season to date. While his scoreboard return remained quiet with just one goal, he presented up the ground all night, clunking nine marks (four contested) in a much-needed return to form for the man the Demons need as a key marking forward. With Jacob van Rooyen and Turner having leaner nights, Petty rose to the occasion. His defensive effort late in the game to spoil a ball, as the Cats rebounded from defensive 50, set up the Fritsch sealer. More of the same, please big Harry.

Control the game

Dees games are rarely a great viewing spectacle for neutral parties, which is by design from Goodwin and his defensively minded coaching group. Goodwin explained post-match that “it’s the way we play”, controlling the tempo of the match and making it hard for the opposition to score heavily.  Geelong at times threatened to open up the game with their ball movement, but Melbourne’s defensive structure, ranked #1 in the competition, stood up again. Averaging just 66 points against per game, the Dees’ defence is the key to leading them to glory.

Hawkins and Cameron shut down

Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron are rarely held goalless, so for neither to hit the scoreboard gives us an indication of just how good Melbourne’s defensive pillars are going. Tom McDonald was the perfect matchup for Cameron, although the Cats star fluffed his lines with two late set-shot howlers, while Steven May’s outstanding record against Hawkins continued. Jake Lever’s season has flown under the radar, but the star defender is arguably in career-best touch after yet another dominant intercepting performance (game high 12 intercepts). Lever and May would have to be in line to join ruckman Max Gawn for another All-Australian nod should their form continue. 

Clutch Fritsch

Geelong was applying the clamps late in the fourth quarter, before Bayley Fritsch reminded us of his football brilliance with a dribbler from the pocket that iced the match. Fritsch, with three goals on the night, is having yet another superb season – sitting fifth in the Coleman Medal race. While Melbourne’s key forward mix remains a work in progress, Fritsch has been the constant threat inside 50 and deserves all the praise he’ll receive this week. It’s just so hard to contain the classy forward from Coldstream.