We started the first quarter well with Byron running rampant through the midfield and dropping a perfect pass on Robertson to open the scoring. Robbo then added the second as well and gave us an early twelve point lead. Could have had a third too from a difficult angle, but it was left to some top pressure inside the attacking 50 (a feature of our play this year) to cause a colossal cockup in the WCE defence and gift Dunn the third. Even though we were running them off the park in the early going it became apparent that you simply cannot stop Chris Judd. Short of tying him up and hacking him to pieces with a chainsaw a'la Scarface there is no way you're going to prevent him wrecking you through the centre. The key is to knock over the person who he kicks the ball to. As a childhood Melbourne fan you'd ask that he'd show some respect and roll over in honor of our winning streak but twas not to be. Having said that during the first term his kicks usually only found a player being tightly marked and let us rebound the ball out of 50 continuously for the first fifteen minutes.
After ten minutes we were 20-0 in front and were you a ludicrously optimisitic person you'd think we were going to win by ten goals. Had Moloney converted from 40m out on the run with no pressure whatsoever, or Robbo not dropped a gettable mark in the square for his third goal before the Eagles had scored you might have converted me as well. We tried our hardest to gift them a goal as Johnstone cocked up his kickout four times (!) and Yze once (yet again proving that we can't defend from kick-ins to save ourselves) before they finally converted from a free to bring the margin back to eleven points going into time on. By this point the Eagles forward line, which had looked rotten in the first ten minutes, had been switched around enough to start looking far more dangerous. If they had been able to kick straight our early goals advantage would have been wiped out. As it was you could tell that the momentum had switched and that we weren't going to hold on to the game for much longer. The kick-in fiascos continued as Brad Miller (#4 option for the day) walked over the line, got away with it, and dropped his kick on an Eagles player who kicked a goal anyway to bring the margin back to three points. The way it's going they're going to deliberately kick behinds just to go for a seven point play everytime. It shits me to tears that we can never, EVER get it right from the kickouts. The first season that I can remember every single moment of, 1998, was the same and every year since has followed the same trend.
Quarter Time: Melbourne by 2pts with some encouraging signs early on and some distressingly rubbish play towards the end. Our tackling for one was ace. Pickett/Whelan/Rivers and Davey were on fire. I have to pay respect to the Eagles tactic of actually trying to get the ball away from the boundary line rather than meekly conceeding the throw in and trying to win the stoppage. Given that we won't win it, because we never do, that's the sort of team that I support winning the flag over idiots like Adelaide.
Juddmania rolled on early in the 2nd as he put them in front after setting up and finishing a goal in the same play. FOLLOW YOUR CHILDHOOD HEROES YOU BASTARD. Robbo then wins the Ben Holland/Earl Spalding Memorial Trophy for cocking up an absolute sitter from 20m out before going off injured and grabbing the Sean Charles Cup for "Most Consistently Injured". Brad Green then rounds out a huge quarter for honors - if not scoring - by taking a massive dive inside 50 when he could have just run onto the ball and probably kicked a goal anyway, thus earning himself the 2006 TV Week Logie Award for Australia's Favourite Actor. Just quietly we're fucked. Pickett, Davey and Johnstone haven't seen it for a quarter and a half and it increasingly concerns me that Brad Miller really has no idea what he's doing when he gets the ball. I'm not saying I don't like him in the side but he seems to just run around aimlessly and then get rid of the ball as quickly as possible when he does get it. And I still don't understand why Godfrey is in the side in the first place.
Eventually just as I wrote that Johnstone hadn't had a touch he goaled running inside 50 for our first goal in 33 minutes (thanks to Clinton Grybas for the cheap stat). Didn't last long. We're fucked.
Halftime: Eagles by 5. Robertson kicks his third in the last few seconds after taking a top mark and running into the open goal. Bruce then could have put us in front at the change and completely ruined everyone's halftime/fulltime doubles but just fell short on the siren. The margin is workable but I don't think we can do it - they're just a cut above us. I'm more interested in the fact that we're running the best team in the competition around and staying competitive against them. Chris Johnson was good though.
Given that we've been slop in the third quarter this year nobody should have been surprised that we copped a goal within the first minute. Insultingly enough it was an absolute ripper from the boundary line. But even more surprisingly, as Gerard Healy proves himself a master dissecter by calling "Luke McDonald", we struck back straight away through Pickett. Then when Green goaled on the run we were in front. HOW? Then we were losing again. That's more like it. Then we were back in front again. Then it was equal. Healy the master dissecter even managed to work in the traditional "Big Cox" reference that commentators are legally obliged to do once in every game. Then we were losing again.
3/4 Time: West Coast by 1pt. I feel we can actually win this. Obviously you already know if we did or not so forgive me if we copped ten goals to none and died without a trace.
Thirty seconds into the last Kerr goals, but after a few minutes of back and forth shenanigans Clint Bartram adds his second in an excellent performance and we're only down by a point. You never know etc.. Yet again I'm more than satisfied with the way we're taking it to the Premiership favourites. With 10 minutes left to go Judd went off with a hamstring injury but it was too little too late as two goals in a row meant a fourteen point defecit. Stick a fork in us we are DONE. Just to rub it in the Eagles kicked the sealer and Travis Johnstone did his ankle in the same minute. Pff.
2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes
Before I get to this I should mention an email I recieved from Skills halfway through the second quarter,
On radio glen jako was asked about his bro. Glen said
that Jako is now in Sydney and working. No further details. But at least we Know where he is.
TO SYDNEY! It's an award winning documentary ready to be made.
And the votes,
5 - James McDonald
4 - Chris Johnson
3 - Russell Robertson
2 - Brock McLean
1 - Brad Green
Apologies to Bartram, Bruce, Carroll, Johnstone, Moloney, Rivers, Whelan and Yze
25 - Cameron Bruce
16 - Byron Pickett
15 - Brock McLean
13 - Aaron Davey
12 - Travis Johnstone
9 - James McDonald
8 - Jared Rivers (2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal leader)
7 - Colin Sylvia
7 - David Neitz
4 - Nathan Carroll
4 - Chris Johnson
3 - Russell Robertson
3 - Brad Green
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Adem Yze
2 - Brad Miller
1 - Daniel Ward
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White
Next week: St. Kilda on Sunday at the MCG. Given that they're as skitzo as we are this year anything could happen. As long as it's not a repeat of the farcical scenes when we played them last year and they whacked us upside the head for four quarters without getting out of first gear.