In-form Demons out to defy history - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

In-form Demons out to defy history

By Sam Lienert 30/06/2011 05:28:33 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne have form on their side, the Western Bulldogs have history, when the two AFL clubs meet on Friday night.

The Bulldogs have not downed an opponent ranked as high as eighth-placed Melbourne this season, or managed a winning streak greater than their current two matches.

But Demons' coach Dean Bailey has never guided his team to a win over the Bulldogs or to a victory at Etihad Stadium.

It gives Melbourne the chance to break two hoodoos and all but end the finals hopes of one of their rivals for a lower top-eight berth.

"It's a big game but we've just got to concentrate on our structures and playing our role. That's what's got us into this position," Melbourne forward Jack Watts said.

Like his team, the 2008 No.1 draft pick has quietened the doubters in the past two rounds, impressing with three goals in each, as the Demons notched good wins over Fremantle and Richmond.

But Watts also reflects much of his team in that he has never won at Etihad.

While Bailey has played down that record, Watts acknowledges that Melbourne are working on modifying their game plan to succeed at the narrow venue.

He said Melbourne like to attack through the centre of the ground, but that is more dangerous at Etihad than the MCG because there is less space to work with.

"Teams are right onto us at Etihad Stadium," Watts said.

"So we've got to adjust our game plan a little bit."

He said teams such as the Bulldogs, who play most of their matches there, had naturally developed styles to suit.

"Certainly, the way we have to play is talked about during the week.

"The guys that get picked will be the guys that can play to that plan."

While the only side outside the bottom four which the Bulldogs have downed this season is 11th-placed Richmond, there were a few promising signs last round against Gold Coast.

Chief among those was a return to form from midfield star Adam Cooney, who struggled with a chronic knee injury through the first half of the season, but had 23 touches and three goals against the Suns.

"He's still got some pain there in his knee. That's going to be there for a fair bit of time," coach Rodney Eade said.

"But certainly his attitude to training and the game situation has been terrific. He's got his head around where his body's at and I thought his form last week was quite encouraging."

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