Melbourne and Collingwood go head-to-head in front of a packed MCG in the annual King’s Birthday clash, with added excitement between two top-four heavyweights.
The Demons (8-4, 134.1%) are coming off a sweep of Carlton, but will be without Clayton Oliver for the third straight game after the star quarterback suffered a foot infection as he prepares to return from a hamstring problem.
They faced the Numbers (11-1, 138.4%), who have won eight straight, and Jordan De Goey will be suspended in the midfielder’s first game of 2023, replaced by Patrick Lipinski.
Watch every match or every round of the 2023 Toyota AFL Premier League LIVE on Kayo Sports. New to Cayo? Start your free trial now >
It will also mark Brodie Grundy’s first game against his old side, after the Magpies sensationally traded him last season to clear the salary cap to make room for recruits.
Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis, who switched the club to Melbourne in the twilight of his career, said Grundy was feeling “nervous” ahead of the game.
“It’s all about how you leave one club to get to the next. For myself and Brodie Grundy, the decision was probably made to replace the player and the player made the move at the time,” Lewis told Fox Footy.
“I think he will be well received by the Collingwood faithful, it wasn’t his choice to leave in the end.
“You can’t prepare yourself, it’s an unfamiliar situation. I wish him the best, but there may be a small group of Collingwood supporters, which could be difficult for him.
“But he can walk onto that field with his head held high.”
This match starts at 3.20pm AEST from the MCG.
Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504) from 2pm AEST.
MATCH REPORT BY AXIS
While there was pre-game drama off the field involving Collingwood small forward Jack Ginnivan and Reef McInnes, on the field it was all from both sides.
Melbourne and Collingwood players formed a guard of honor for Neil Daniher in impressive displays that brought fans to their feet at the MCG.
Despite Demon Ed Langdon’s excellent tackle on Jack Crisp, Melbourne failed to clear the back half and coughed up the leg.
It was Pat Lipinski who actually scored the first goal of the Royals’ birthday clash in his first game of 2023 due to injury.
Only back row Max Gawn stopped Collingwood’s second score as Dealer continued to cough up the wings.
There was a mixed reaction when Brodie Grundy got his hands on the leg for the first time after starting the match on the bench. Boos rang out – along with the support of the faithful demons.
It was the Magpies with quick goals to Jack Crisp and Harvey Harrison.
“It’s a real turnover game now. Two of their three goals came off turnovers,” commentator Tim Watson said.
It took just over 15 minutes for Melbourne to settle for their first goal through Jack Viney.
But they wasted the next five chances, including one from Grundy on a massive hit by Lachie Hunter Will Hoskin-Elliott.
Kisaiah Pickett missed a 25-yarder as the Magpies scored nine points in the first shift.
Bailey Fritsch grabbed the Demons’ second when Melbourne had to find their radar in front of goal.
But he failed to find his second when he took a dubious free-kick to dispossess Magpie Nathan Murphy.
“They’re on top everywhere but the scoreboard,” Watson said of Melbourne.
“When you’re in control like that, you’ve got to score – make it count.”
Mason Cox was able to shake Max Gawn and mark unchallenged from 20 meters straight in front.
But Fritsch responded immediately at the other end to keep Collingwood’s lead at four points.
Christian Petracca had two long-range shots and missed both, including one after the siren, as Collingwood finished 5.4 (34) to 3.8 (26).
The game’s slow scoring pace continued in the third quarter, with Bobby Hill only missing a close-range shot, Joel Smith missing set shots at the other end before joining the Demons’ rally.
A minute later, Smith added his second career goal from a similar angle from 20 meters to bring the Demons back within a point.
And then there was Fritsch, lashing home from a tight angle to give Melbourne the lead – given their dominance of the game overall, they were a deserved lead for a while.
Follow Melbourne and Collingwood on our live blog below!
If you can’t see the blog, tap here.
#DIRECT #DIRECT #DIRECT #RESIDENTS #elder #stilt #inaccuracy #frustrates #Dis