Bayley Fritsch’s goal of the year contender snaps unbeaten streak in AFL thriller

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An unworldly dribble goal from Bayley Fritsch sealed a Simon Goodwin coaching masterclass as Melbourne snapped Geelong’s unbeaten streak with a gritty eight-point win on Saturday night.

Goodwin said during the week the Demons would do everything to avoid the match looking like a Geelong game, and they held true to their word – much to the dismay of neutral onlookers at the MCG.

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The Cats could not generate any of their usual fluency in the forward half as Jake Lever and Steven May kept Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins goalless in a dour, low-scoring affair.

Fritsch delivered the killer blow with a Goal of the Year contender from the pocket with three minutes remaining, on either side of two horrible miskicks by Cameron, who had a pair of set shots almost directly in front which could have kept the Cats’ perfect record intact.

Alister Nicholson exclaimed on Channel 7: “Bayley Fritsch has pulled one out of the sky. Miraculous. A contender for goal of the year has come. How on earth did he manage to get the ball to go through on the impossible angle like that.”

Luke Darcy said: “Bayley Fritsch had no right to kick that goal.”

“That skidder that went through was pretty nice,” Fritsch told Seven post game.

“They were coming pretty hard so it’s a good win. I knew it was a massive chance but it needed to grip. It was sort of tracking and then probably the second last bounce it went in.”

The crowd had to wait almost 70 minutes between goals after the 21-minute mark of the first quarter, but a Kade Chandler set shot finish five minutes into the third term brought the match back to life with a bang.

Geelong immediately responded with Zach Guthrie soaring for a mark before Tyson Stengle gathered in the forward 50, feinted to his right and spun back towards the boundary before sending home a brilliant left-foot snap.

As the game rose to a ferocious new level Max Gawn copped a knee to the head from Rhys Stanley in a bizarre ruck contest, but stayed on the field after a lengthy conversation with a Demons trainer.

The captain, who was nullified by Stanley and Mark Blicavs in the first half, showed no ill effects and let rip with an enormous 70m drop punt for a stirring goal to put the Demons four points in front early in the final term.

Geelong midfielder Tanner Bruhn spent a prolonged period on the bench during the second term and was subbed out shortly after halftime due to a shoulder issue.

GOAL UMP ERROR NO ISSUE

A goal umpire made a mistake giving Max Holmes a long goal on the run in the third term which replays showed Steven May just got his palm to before the ball crossed the back of the line.

Because the goal umpire made a call, play went back to the middle for a centre bounce before the automatic review triggered a kick-in at the last second.

After weeks of long delays waiting for reviews to be completed with the game in limbo, SEN’s David Schwarz praised the umpire for following the right process and making a decision on the line.

“It’s perfect — that’s why the system is set up that way,” Schwarz said.

SECOND QUARTER SNOOZEFEST

The ball zipped from one end to the other in a rapid second term as Melbourne and Geelong traded blows on the scoreboard.

The only problem was the blows ewere all behinds (five to four), and the term was only rapid because of its 25:14 duration – one of the shortest this century.

The goalless quarter was an advertiser’s nightmare and would have troubled both sides as needlessly rushed kicks were sent right down the throat of the intercept defenders: Tom Stewart was in his element with 10 possessions, Jake Kolodjashnij had eight and Jake Lever had seven.

DEMPSEY DELIGHT

Springheeled Cat Ollie Dempsey has premiership forward Gary Rohan breathing down his neck for a spot in the starting 22, but continues to show fantastic class and poise for a 14-gamer and delivered a brilliant goal from a set shot in the opening term.

The 21-year-old marked hard up against the boundary line 40m out at the Punt Road end and knew straight away he was going to take a shot at goal.

He let fly with a crisp right-foot drop punt which sailed through from the pocket which had his senior teammates on the line jumping and pumping their fists.

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