Demons face big test against Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demons face big test against Cats

By Roger Vaughan 09/04/2007 07:14:47 PM Comments (0)

Determined to avoid a repeat of their 0-3 start last AFL season, Melbourne face an imposing challenge next Sunday against Geelong.

The Demons lost captain David Neitz and fellow key forward Russell Robertson with knee injuries in Monday's 22-point loss to Hawthorn at the MCG.

Neitz and Robertson will undergo scans on Tuesday and they are unlikely starters against the Cats, who scored a record 78-point win over Carlton on Saturday night.

Melbourne's injury list is worryingly long after just two rounds, with Brock McLean breaking his foot in the round-one loss to St Kilda and utility Clint Bartram possibly needing surgery after hurting his knee over the weekend during training.

Aaron Davey has made a bad start to the season, while fellow key players Travis Johnstone and Jeff White also went missing in Monday's loss.

"It's a good test for us and the response against Geelong, who are on fire .... they were fantastic, red-hot," said Demons coach Neale Daniher.

Asked if it was a good test for him, Daniher replied: "Why not? I will be stepping up and I will expect my players to step up, too."

The Demons have said publicly several times that they wanted a better start than last season.

But they have now lost two games on their MCG home ground, where they also face the Cats.

Only inaccuracy stopped them building a bigger first-quarter lead against the Hawks and they led at the first change 4.5 to 2.4.

But Neitz had limped off by then, robbing them off their forward structure.

After trailing by seven goals during the third term, the Demons rallied with six goals to pull within seven points.

Robertson hyper-extended his knee early in the last term and the Demons simply ran out of effective scoring options.

"We came out of the blocks okay, Neitz's loss, we really got unstructured in the second quarter," Daniher said.

"We went in there, but our forward line didn't function at all - not only did it not function, but it just rebounded out, so we got the double whammy.

"They were too good for us in the third quarter, but we fought it out - seven points, Robertson came off, that's the way it goes, I guess, when you're losing.

"I was happy with our blokes not tossing it in."

Daniher doubts the injuries to Neitz and Robertson are long-term, but added it was "too early to say".

He added Bartram might need surgery to repair possible cartilage damage, meaning around a month on the sidelines.

Hawthorn's Brad Sewell had one of the best games of his career to restrict Johnstone to just eight touches, while Rick Ladson also blanketed Davey to keep him to only six kicks.

"He just can't get the ball, he's out of sorts, he's just in shocking form," Daniher said.

"Trav probably didn't have much impact on the game, so there's too really good players for us who were down on the day."

Daniher said Colin Sylvia played well for Sandringham in the VFL, while Adem Yze was also "pretty good" for the Dragons after poor form meant demotion and an end to his streak of 226 senior games.

He added Byron Pickett was "a long way off" resuming for the Demons as he struggles to regain fitness.

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