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|J. D. Goey||17:24|
The annual Queen’s Birthday clash sees a suddenly vulnerable Melbourne looking to bounce back after consecutive losses and a nightmare week off-field against a Collingwood outfit sniffing a major upset. Join The Roar for live scores and rolling coverage from 3:20pm (AEST).
Unbeaten and unbackable premiership favourites a fortnight ago, the Demons’ ship has suddenly hit a reef with losses to Fremantle and Sydney, plus a major off-field altercation that saw Steven May suspended and Jake Melksham require surgery.
It’s not panic stations yet – victory today would see the Dees a game and percentage on top ahead of Brisbane and Fremantle, with all three heading into their bye – but a third consecutive loss would start to see alarm bells ringing.
The Dees have reacted swiftly to their loss to Sydney, dropping defensive duo Jayden Hunt and Adam Tomlinson, with 2021 mid-season draftee Daniel Turner making his AFL debut in their stead. Premiership backman Michael Hibberd also returns for his first game of the season after an injury-interrupted run.
The Pies can head into their bye in the eight with a victory today, which would be a fitting reward for an excellent season under first-year coach Craig McRae.
Remarkably, the Magpies are in significantly better form than the ladder-leaders and reigning premiers, having won three games on the trot, including stunning Fremantle in Perth and knocking over Carlton and Hawthorn in thrillers at the MCG.
As an added bonus, forward Jamie Elliott returns having missed their win over the Hawks with illness, giving the Pies an even stronger line-up with which to try to win a fourth consecutive Queen’s Birthday match.
B: B. Maynard, D. Moore, N. Murphy
HB: S. Pendlebury (c), J. Howe, I. Quaynor
C: J. Noble, P. Lipinski, W. Hoskin-Elliott
HF: J. Crisp, B. Mihocek, J. De Goey
F: J. Ginnivan, J. Elliott, S. Sidebottom
FOLL: D. Cameron, T. Adams, J. Daicos
I/C: O. Henry, B. McCreery, N. Daicos, M. Cox
EMG: T. Brown, F. Macrae, T. Ruscoe, I. Chugg
B: J. Bowey, H. Petty, C. Salem
HB: J. Jordon, J. Lever, A. Brayshaw
C: T. Sparrow, A. Neal-Bullen, E. Langdon
HF: M. Brown, B. Fritsch, C. Petracca
F: K. Pickett, B. Brown, C. Spargo
FOLL: M. Gawn (c), C. Oliver, J. Viney
I/C: J. Harmes, L. Jackson, M. Hibberd, D. Turner
EMG: A. Tomlinson, S. Weideman, O. Baker, K. Chandler
IN: Turner, Hibberd
OUT: Tomlinson, Hunt