Friday 17 March 2006

'Captain is alive' shock result.

Neitz LIVES!

Just when you thought he had been reduced to playing the starring role in cheap opening ceremonies the captain spanks North's first choice side and gives us some hope for the new season. See also a cameo from BP (Bargearse Pickett) and I've got 7% more hope for the upcoming year than I did yesterday. This indicates we will finish 6th instead of 8th before getting knocked out in the first week.

Melbourne skipper David Neitz has jagged five goals to help the Demons hold off a determined Kangaroos outfit by 22 points at Princes Park on Friday afternoon, in the final round of the 2006 NAB Challenge.

The Demons 19.7 (121) defeated the Kangaroos 15.9 (99) to finish their pre-season with three wins and one defeat, while the Roos enter the premiership season with just one victory - over last year's premiers Sydney in the opening round of the NAB Cup.

Although Melbourne led for the entire match, the Demons were seriously challenged by the Kangaroos in the third quarter. The red and blue led by eight goals mid-way through the quarter, but the Roos fought back to trail by less than two goals at the final change.

But the story of the match was the strong return to form from Neitz, who led strongly, marked well and had his kicking boots on against new Kangaroos' full-back Jonathan Hay.

The Melbourne skipper will enter the premiership season full of confidence, after an injury-marred 2005.

Along with Neitz, live-wire forward Aaron Davey (four goals), Byron Pickett (three) and Paul Johnson (two) were also key players in Melbourne's attacking zone. Davey capped off a fine pre-season, finishing the pre-season with 10 goals.

Veteran Daniel Ward, playing his first official pre-season match, was among Melbourne's best, while ruckman Jeff White, hard-at-it running defender Matthew Whelan, the ever-reliable Nathan Brown and emerging youngster Col Sylvia also stood tall.

The only sour point for Melbourne was a leg injury to Clint Bizzell just minutes before the end of the match.

For the Kangaroos, key forward Nathan Thompson was also not to be outdone, also booting five goals - and was arguably his side's best - while Sav Rocca also bobbed up with two majors.

Brady Rawlings continued his excellent pre-season for the Roos, winning the ball about 30 times, while teammates Shannon Grant, Daniel Harris and Jess Sinclair were also prominent for the Roos.

Promoted rookie Josh Gibson continues to look a player - having been a terrific low-budget find - while youngster Jess Smith again showed his class at times. Unfortunately, though, he was taken from the field in the final term in the hands of trainers.

Melbourne went into the match without leaders Russell Robertson, Cameron Bruce and Brad Miller, while regulars Jared Rivers, Brock McLean, Ben Holland and Daniel Bell were also missing.

On the other hand, the Kangaroos were virtually at full strength with skipper Adam Simpson the only major omission.

Melbourne started the match in emphatic style. The Demons booted seven goals to two - including the opening five majors - to gain a 30-point lead at the first change.

Neitz (three goals) and Davey (two goals) shone during this period, while Thompson was the lone goalkicker for the Roos with two majors.

The Kangas fought back early in the second term with a hat-trick of goals, reducing the deficit to just 12 points. But when Davey jagged his third and Adem Yze kicked truly later in the quarter, the Demons took an 18-point lead into the main break.

Brown (15 disposals), Ward (14) and Bizzell (14) were the major ball-winners for the Demons in the first half, while B.Rawlings (16 possessions) led the way for the Kangaroos.

The match looked set to be over mid-way through the third term after Melbourne slammed five in a row, running away to a 48-point lead.

Neitz booted his fourth and Pickett added a couple and a thrashing dished out to the Kangaroos looked on the cards, until the Roos began a super revival.

The Kangas booted six goals to zip in less than 15 minutes to enter the final stanza trailing by just 10 points.

Although a fascinating final term loomed, Melbourne booted five goals to three in the final term to win comfortably.

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