Disappointing Demons out to make amends against Bulldogs

A notable absencen will Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw, forced to retiremement due to repeated concussions.

A notable absencen will Melbourne star Angus Brayshaw, forced to retiremement due to repeated concussions. Photo: AAP

Connection and contest have been the focus as Melbourne recast their side for their AFL clash with the Western Bulldogs.

The Demons opened their season last week with a loss to Sydney at the SCG and their misfiring forward line – which cost them so dearly in last year’s finals – again proved a weakness.

But along with the need to connect better inside 50, the Demons’ contested work was also a problem area when the game was in the balance against the hard-working Swans.

“When we had our momentum in the game, our contest was strong. Our ability to connect still wasn’t where we wanted it,” said Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin ahead of Sunday’s MCG clash.

“We’ve always said that’s going to take some time, but we feel like if you looked to the game before that, we connected very well.

“The conditions were incredibly tough and I don’t think either team connected incredibly well inside 50, or moved the ball from the back half well, at all.

“Where the game swung was on contest – they dominated us in contest in the second half. It was a wet-weather type game, the humidity was high, it was slippery.

“We’ve worked incredibly hard all summer. We’re one week in … we’ll be looking to connect a bit better this weekend.”

Melbourne have made five changes, losing Jake Bowey to a broken collarbone and Charlie Spargo because of achilles soreness.

Bulldogs rested and ready

Adam Tomlinson, Josh Schache and Bailey Laurie were dropped, while the Demons will have a significant boost with the return from suspension of Kozzy Pickett.

Key forwards Ben Brown and Tom McDonald are also back, while defender Marty Hore and onballer Taj Woewodin complete the inclusions.

Sunday is the Bulldogs’ season opener after a tumultuous summer, which featured a review of their football department and several off-field changes.

Former Melbourne player James Harmes will debut for the Bulldogs against his old club.

Fellow recruits Lachie Bramble (Hawthorn) and Nick Coffield (St Kilda) will also play their first game for the ‘Dogs, while draftees Harvey Gallagher and Ryley Sanders will make their senior debut.

The Bulldogs opted for Rory Lobb ahead of fellow tall forward Sam Darcy.


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