WEST COAST 6.5 10.7 14.10 18.15 (123) MELBOURNE 0.1 1.3 2.4 4.6 (30)
Goals: West Coast: J Kennedy 4 J Darling 3 C Masten 2 L Shuey 2 M LeCras 2 C Sinclair E MacKenzie J Cripps M Rosa N Naitanui. Melbourne: S Byrnes 2 J Kennedy-Harris J Toumpas.
Best: West Coast: Shuey, Naitanui, Kennedy, Masten, Gaff, Darling, Rosa, Selwood. Melbourne: N Jones, Tyson, Vince, Terlich, Byrnes.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Sam Hay, Shane McInerney.
Official Crowd: 22,226 at MCG.
In the first term Melbourne failed to get a centre hit out, they failed to get a centre clearance, they failed to get a goal.
Eagles down dismal Demons
Vast swathes of empty seats at the MCG on Sunday as Melbourne slumped to a 93-point thrashing at the hands of the West Coast Eagles.
Melbourne's ruck palmed the ball down to Melbourne's midfield, which grabbed the ball and kicked long to a contest whereupon the ball spilled over the back for two Melbourne players to run onto and share between them for a goal.
It was football as intended. It was also eight minutes into the second quarter and the frst time Melbourne had had a centre hit-out, the first time Melbourne had had a centre clearance and the first time Melbourne had scored. Meantime the Eagles already led by 52 points, had had eight different goal kickers and were humbling Melbourne while yet playing with a Wednesday night training session intensity about them.
Paul Roos warned when he took over Melbourne there was no messiah who would cure all ills and carry the Demons to the promised land. It was not Jack Watts, not Dom Tyson, Jimmy Toumpas, Jack Viney or Jesse Hogan. It also was not Paul Roos.
Two rounds into a new season and that is plainly true. Melbourne's offering at the MCG showed in statistical terms little advance on last year. Yet it was clear what Melbourne wanted to do. It was also abundantly clear the players were not skilled enough to do it.
Melbourne was trying to play to a plan, trying to hold the Eagles up and move the ball on the rebound. The players were trying to possess it and hold it and move the ball by stealth – the Demons finished the game with six more possessions and had more time with the ball in their hands (53 per cent).
But their ability to play to a plan was counfounded by the absence of a forward line to accept the ball, or to run deep and searchingly to be there to link the play. It meant they hung on and waited and had nowhere to go. It was confounded by the abject lack of skill shown routinely through the game, in part this was lack of confidence, in part lack of vision, in part lack of ability, but 11 Eagles goals came from turnovers.
A plan asks that the ball meet its intended destination, not float over heads or wide of the mark. A plan asks that when trying to kick to one of three unattended targets it does not split the three and offer itself back to the opposition. A plan asks that a player take a chest mark when leading their player to the ball in the forward line.
The difference with last year is that Roos has the credentials that demand that his position not be questioned – this is not a coaching matter, this is an issue of onfield talent.
Melbourne was desperately under-sized in defence. Most sides this year will be against the Eagles when they can start a match with Nic Naitanui in the ruck and still have Dean Cox, Jack Darling, Callum Sinclair and Josh Kennedy all in the one forward line. At various stages Jack Grimes was asked to man Darling or third ruck Sinclair, when he should have been the man standing all day at Mark LeCras' shoulder.
SImilarly picking on Melbourne forwards for not kicking goals would be like criticising Kelly Slater for not catching a wave in Port Phillip Bay – the ball has to arrive in your area with something akin to meaningful direction to have a hope of doing something.
In that context it was interesting when in the third quarter Roos opted to remove ruck-forward Jack Fitzpatrick and substitute him with Jay Kennedy-Harris. Short already Melbourne went shorter, plainly seeking to turn vice into virtue and add run where height was giving them nothing.
Kennedy-Harris did kick a goal and Melbourne overall was slightly better in the last quarter and a half. Melbourne waited 46 minutes between kicking goals.
The Demons will be better when they get Chris Dawes, Jesse Hogan and Jack VIney on the field and if they get Mitch Clark back. They will also be better if more players consistently performed as Nathan Jones did.
Melbourne has broken new ground for Roos – 93 points was the biggest losing margin of his coaching career.