This Friday night time, Melbourne face the demons of their preliminary last bloodbath final September after they fly west to Perth to face reigning premiers, the West Coast Eagles.
In what might solely be described as a horror film, the event of enjoying within the membership’s largest sport for the reason that 2000 grand last turned an excessive amount of for the Dees as they crumbled beneath the strain utilized by the Eagles, going goalless within the first half earlier than finally crashing to an 11-goal defeat.
That they had entered that match with some sense of optimism on the again of 4 straight wins, together with defeating the Eagles by 17 factors at Optus Stadium in Spherical 22.
That consequence sealed the Dees’ first finals berth for 12 years, the membership having hit all-time low throughout their time away from September, throughout which they churned via six completely different coaches earlier than deciding that Paul Roos and Simon Goodwin have been the appropriate males to rebuild the membership.
They’d additionally overwhelmed two of essentially the most constant golf equipment this century – Geelong and Hawthorn – in consecutive sudden-death finals to take their place within the last 4.
However the mauling they copped towards the Eagles would show a bitter ending to what had in any other case been an enormous season of enchancment for the membership, which previous to final yr, hadn’t reached a finals sequence since 2006 and hadn’t reached the penultimate weekend since 2000.
Eight rounds into 2019, it has been instructed that the psychological scars brought on by that defeat have broken the Dees, who’ve gained solely three of their opening eight matches of the brand new season.
They’ve additionally misplaced spearhead Jesse Hogan, who was traded to Fremantle on the finish of final season following a troubled interval in Melbourne tormented by accidents, a analysis of testicular most cancers, poor kind and household points, together with the loss of life of his father via most cancers.
The Dees have, nevertheless, gained their final two matches in succession, edging out Hawthorn and the Gold Coast Suns by a grand complete of six factors with Tom McDonald kicking a poster on the loss of life towards the Suns final week to offer his facet one other morale-boosting win.
In the meantime, the Eagles sit seventh on the ladder with a 5-Three file. Final weekend they stayed forward of St Kilda for the entire match to file an 18-point win at Marvel Stadium.
Their kind this season has been modest, having gone right down to the Brisbane Lions and Geelong Cats by 44 and 58 factors in Rounds 1 and 6 respectively, whereas additionally being upset at residence by Port Adelaide on Good Friday in Spherical 5.
Their scoring is properly down on earlier seasons. They’ve solely handed 100 as soon as, towards the GWS Giants in Spherical 2, unveiling their 2018 flag in entrance of their followers.
Their second largest win for the season was by solely 23 factors towards a aggressive Gold Coast Suns facet. The Eagles’ proportion can be within the pink at 97.four – the worst by any facet at present within the eight.
Nonetheless, Adam Simpson’s males ought to obtain a lift to their flagging premiership defence this Friday night time, as they begin favourites to defeat a Melbourne facet that has scored the second fewest factors and conceded the third most factors of any facet in 2019.
However whereas the Dees gained’t be with out their probabilities, they are going to be with out defender Michael Hibberd who copped a collarbone harm of their win over the Suns, whereas doubt stays over the supply of Jake Melksham and Jordan Lewis.
Their win over the Suns was their second from as many highway journeys thus far this season, having additionally overwhelmed the Sydney Swans by 22 factors on the SCG in Spherical four.
What gained’t assist them is the six-day break, in addition to having to hop on a airplane for the second consecutive week, which can current Simon Goodwin’s facet with one other psychological and psychological problem as they try to resurrect their season.
Whereas a win on the highway will go a way in direction of restoring some confidence for the Dees, an enormous win for the Eagles would assist get their title defence again on observe and present why they have been among the many most-feared groups final yr.