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Demons stars shine as Blues' positional concerns mount ahead of Opening Round


Melbourne fans would be ecstatic with how their team looks heading into Opening Round, following their comfortable win over Carlton in the AAMI Community Series - 15.11 (101) to 10.3 (63).

Of course, you can’t read much into the result, but all facets of their game were impressive. The Demons dominated through the middle, their forwards hit the scoreboard and their defensive systems were at their best.

Max Gawn, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Jake Lever and their usual stars were excellent, while a few positional tweaks also paid off.

For Carlton, they have concerns in the ruck, key defence and at small forward, and have a week to solve those headaches.

Their ball movement rarely threatened Melbourne’s defensive web, something that would worry coach Michael Voss.

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Weitering’s absence leaves a gaping hole

Carlton fans would be going to bed on Wednesday night no clearer on what their Opening Round setup in defence will look like.

Melbourne took 12 marks inside 50 to half time and 20 for the match.

Brodie Kemp and Lewis Young were both comprehensively beaten, while Caleb Marchbank hasn’t played in either practice match with an undisclosed illness.

Without Weitering, Carlton’s backline looked disorganised and their talls were consistently beaten in the air. A worry with Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood around the corner.

Small forward mix remains up in the air

Jesse Motlop suffered a jarred toe in the first quarter for the Blues, who then decided to sit him for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons.

You’d assume Motlop will be fine for Opening Round, but with Jack Martin, Matt Owies and Corey Durdin all coming off interrupted pre-seasons and not featuring in the practice games, coupled with Elijah Hollands’ two-game suspension, Carlton’s depth will be seriously tested if Motlop can’t play.

Orazio Fantasia now looks an even better pick-up, and he is a certainty to play against Brisbane. As are Lachie Fogarty, Matt Cottrell and David Cuningham, but none of those three are scoreboard impact players.

Coud Ashton Moir debut and fill a void?

What is Carlton’s best ruck set up?

Playing against Max Gawn makes most opposition ruckmen look average, but the Melbourne captain’s domination of Marc Pittonet in the first half almost singlehandedly gave the Dees full control of territory.

Things didn’t get much better in the third quarter when Tom De Koning took over the ruck work, with Gawn still dominating around the ground.

The Blues however looked more versatile when Pittonet came from the ground, with De Koning and Harry McKay splitting the ruck work.

Can Carlton afford to play the two rucks in Opening Round against Brisbane? They’re likely better off with the smaller line-up. Of course, the season-ending injury to Jack Silvagni limits their options.

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Melbourne’s forward connection sizzled

Melbourne’s connection between their midfield and their forward line was the big takeaway from Wednesday night.

The Demons have struggled in recent years to convert stoppage control into shots at goal, but everything went to plan in the first half, taking 12 marks inside 50.

David King was incredibly impressed with what he saw from the Dees’ decision making going forward.

“Their dare with the ball has been absolutely brilliant. It’s not just skied entries. It’s kicks with purpose,” King told Fox Footy.

“Pickett and Salem into the midfield, it’s all working for Melbourne.”

Salem and Kozzie on-ball gives the Dees a different dynamic

Christian Salem into the midfield feels like a move that has been a long time coming for the Dees and he is exactly the classy user they need alongside their bulls.

Salem started at the centre bounce and was consistently used in the middle across the night, finding targets inside 50 and winning clearances.

Kysaiah Pickett was equally impressive in his moments on-ball, giving the Demons burst from stoppage.

Even if Clayton Oliver plays in Opening Round, the Dees should persist with the more dynamic midfield rotation.

Caleb Windsor plays Opening Round

Melbourne’s top draftee looks the goods early in his career and seems certain to feature in Opening Round for the Demons based on his performances across the two practice games.

His outside run and carry give the Demons an option in the absence of Lachie Hunter and his ability to hit the scoreboard was displayed in the second quarter, snagging a goal on the run.

“Put his magnet on the board for Opening Round”, David King said as Windsor slotted his second goal in the third quarter.


Carlton: Saad, Cripps, McKay, Acres, Boyd
Melbourne: Gawn, Petracca, Lever, May, Viney, Sparrow, Salem


Carlton Melbourne

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