AFL

Demons Face the Kangaroos as They Look to Hang on to Their Top 8 Spot

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This Saturday, we see the Melbourne Demons head down to Blundstone Arena in Hobart to take on the North Melbourne Kangaroos. It may look like it should be a comfortable win for the Demons but recent history suggests otherwise. The Kangaroos have not lost a game to Melbourne since 2006, making it 16 straight victories, so they’re certainly not a team that Melbourne will be thinking is four points in the bag. Earlier this year, the Kangas beat the Dees by 14 points at the MCG back in Round 9, so they know they can take nothing for granted.

North Melbourne is looking to avoid their eighth consecutive loss on the back of some poor form recently. The Kangas haven’t lost that many games in a row since losing 16 on the trot back in 1984 and it won’t be a title that this group of players wants to achieve. It has been a difficult season so far for the boys in blue and white, especially after making the top eight last year. As it stands presently, they are fighting to not be in the hunt for the wooden spoon as they currently sit on equal points with the Brisbane Lions in last place.

Most would say that if the Demons are going to break the hoodoo against the Roos then this is the week to do it. Recent form points to a Melbourne victory and Oddschecker has found them at best odds of 1.44 for the win, suggesting that it will be dominant display from the red and black.   

The Demons have been playing some great footy this year and this will be a crucial four points for them if they want to maintain their place in the eight. They are currently sitting seventh on the ladder and looking ready for finals football. However, a loss at the weekend could see other sides leapfrog them up the table, with four teams sitting just one win behind them. If they did record a loss, they would have to hope other results went their way if they were to keep their position. This is something coach Simon Goodwin won’t want to leave to chance and will surely be pushing his team in training this week to get the results he requires come Saturday.

They will go into the match convinced they can get the job done, after coming away with a gutsy win against Port Adelaide, which saw Melbourne knock them out of the top four. The Demons cruised to a 23-point victory in front of a home crowd and showed that on their day they can be an extremely good footy team.

North will also be concerned that the Brisbane Lions have started to get the season moving in the right direction lately. They won their last match against the Carlton Blues and caused a major upset recently when they defeated the Essendon Bombers away from home back in round 15. If the Roos fail to beat the Demons on Saturday and the Lions can muster up a win against the West Coast Eagles, they will be sitting all alone at the wrong end of the ladder.

Key Players for the Demons

Two of Melbourne’s key stars returned to action last week, when Dom Tyson and Jack Viney both made their first appearance since returning from injury. The pair had an immediate impact on the team and both produced very strong performances through the middle of the park. They will certainly be looking for another good showing as their teams push to stay in the eight.

Jack has taken 111 tackles this campaign and is a powerful presence through the midfield. He had four clearances against Port, the most of the game, and the Dees will again be looking for that kind of defensive play so they can dominate the possession. Melbourne will be looking to him and to Tyson to help finish off the normal season strongly and get them their place in the finals.

Christian Petracca has been in fine form in front of the sticks with 23 goals so far this season. He kicked two at the weekend and the young forward will be looking to impress again in the upcoming clash with the Roos. The Melbourne young gun has had his strongest season ever and it’s reflected in the Shick AFL Player Ratings, where he has climbed from 364th at the end of 2016 to a personal best 69th.

Clayton Oliver is another one to watch with his energetic runs up the middle. The young midfielder has 502 disposals to his name this year as well as an extremely impressive 117 tackles.  

Key Players for the Kangaroos

Trent Dumont was particularly impressive against the Bombers last week, with 28 disposals and a goal. The speedy midfielder has an average of 4.4 tackles and 20.1 disposals so far this year. The 22-year-old is starting to play some of his best footy since joining the Roos, and is definitely a talent to watch out for.

Young forward Ben Brown was outstanding for the Kangaroos last week, kicking six majors and taking nine marks. He’s kicked 47 goals already this season and is coming second for most marks behind teammate Robbie Tarrant, with 97. He will be looking to build on that against Melbourne and the Dees’ defence will have to keep a close eye on him at the back and not give him too much space to move.

Another player the Kangaroos will look to utilize is Sam Gibson. He was sensational for North Melbourne at the weekend with 19 kicks in total. He also snatched himself seven marks and booted a goal. The hard-running midfielder will certainly play a key part in the upcoming clash.

The Run Home to the Finals

After this week’s match-up with the Roos, the Demons have four more games before the end of the normal season. These games come against the GWS Giants, St. Kilda Saints, Brisbane Lions and the Collingwood Magpies. Considering that Melbourne is placed well above three of these teams, the Dees should be looking at a return of at least 12 points out of a possible sixteen. If they manage to achieve this, the club would almost be a certainty to secure a top eight finish.

The toughest game will probably be up at the UNSW Canberra Oval against the Giants. Luckily for the Demons, the Sydney team has been struggling to find the run of form they enjoyed earlier in the year and haven’t recorded a victory in the last four games.

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