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From offensive juggernaut to impotent attack: Dees' No.1 problem

Highlights: Richmond v Melbourne The Tigers and Demons clash in round six

WHAT Melbourne would have given for Jack Riewoldt, or a player like him on Wednesday night.

The 1-5 Demons jettisoned Jesse Hogan across the country in last year's NAB AFL Trade Period after Tom McDonald's 53-goal season, on top of Sam Weideman's sudden emergence.

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The disclaimer before going on is that Melbourne's ball movement again bordered on embarrassing, at least once the air went out of Jake Melksham's blistering start.

Forty-two inside 50s certainly didn't help, either, but it hasn't mattered how many there have been throughout the season.

McDonald has struggled so badly this year the Dees returned him to his roots as a key defender against Richmond – which worked well in one sense – while Weideman turned in his latest ineffectual performance.


Third-year forward Tim Smith, a 28-year-old who stands 192cm and was playing his seventh match, came in to compensate for McDonald's positional switch.

It was one of a series of wacky moves to start the contest, including Clayton Oliver at full-forward, Melksham and Michael Hibberd – who shadowed Dustin Martin everywhere – inside the centre square, and Nathan Jones at half-back.


Smith ended up being Melbourne's greatest marking threat in an otherwise impotent attack, against a side that boasts Riewoldt and Tom Lynch in the same forward line.

Lynch, opposed to McDonald, had minimal impact for the second straight game, while Riewoldt, in his first game since round two because of a wrist injury, spent most of the fourth term on the bench nursing a knee issue.

However, Riewoldt represented everything the Demons don't have.

He was bouncy, active, confident, set up teammates, out-bodied opponents – just ask Sam Frost – was constantly involved and, most simply and importantly, got his hands on the Sherrin.


Riewoldt's back-to-back majors in the third quarter helped rip the game away from Melbourne, at a time it probably shouldn't have even been in touch, anyway.

In barely 80 minutes' game time, the triple Coleman medallist gathered 16 disposals (10 contested), took six marks (four inside 50 and three contested) and amassed eight score involvements.

Riewoldt is a premiership player and 252-gamer, whereas Smith and Weideman have 33 matches between them.

Weideman had six touches, Smith nine, Alex Neal-Bullen 10, Jeff Garlett 11 and Christian Petracca 12.

The Demons were the AFL's undoubted offensive juggernaut last season – averaging 101.3 points – but have now registered 61 points or fewer in four of their six matches.

The problems are plenty, but not having a marking target inside 50 is a significant one.

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