Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca have guided Melbourne to a 31-point dismantling of Port Adelaide, helping the Demons regain top spot on the ladder with round 17 to be completed.
- The win has the Demons four points clear of the Bulldogs, who play on Sunday
- Petracca kicked three goals in addition to his 33 disposals and seven clearances
- The Power dropped to fifth place on the ladder following the loss
The pair had 64 disposals between them in the Demons’ classy 12.14 (86) to 8.7 (55) win at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.
The Demons moved four points ahead of the Bulldogs, who will take back top spot on the ladder if they beat Sydney at Docklands on Sunday.
Petracca (33 disposals, seven clearances) also kicked three goals, while Oliver’s 31 touches featured 11 clearances.
The pair put on a midfield masterclass as teammate Tom McDonald slotted three goals, the sixth time he has booted three or more in 16 matches this season.
His teammate Kysaiah Pickett also kicked three majors to rediscover his form, while recalled forward Ben Brown (10 disposals, four marks) was lively in the first half.
Melbourne captain Max Gawn controlled the ruck with 31 hitouts to Port rival Scott Lycett’s 21.
Gawn was also astutely deployed in back play near Power linchpin Charlie Dixon, who was kept to two goals including a consolation major after the final siren.
Former Power captain Travis Boak (25 disposals, eight clearances) and Ollie Wines (33 disposals) continued their fine form.
Winger Karl Amon (28 disposals) was influential and emerging attacker Mitch Georgiades briefly sparked Power hopes with a two-goal cameo and soaring mark.
But the Power’s premiership credentials have taken another hit from a genuine contender.
Of their five losses, four have been to flag fancies — the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Geelong and now Melbourne.
The Power slip from fourth to fifth place on the ladder and the gap may widen with Brisbane (third) and Geelong (fourth) favourites to create breathing space with wins over St Kilda and Carlton.
An injury to Zak Butters in his comeback match added to the Power’s woes. Butters was substituted from the match with a knee injury.
The 20-year-old playmaker had been sidelined since round four because of ankle surgery.
Butters exited the match in the third quarter, when the Demons’ McDonald rallied his troops.
The Demons led by 26 points in the second term but the Power then snuck within nine after a Georgiades burst that included two goals and a spectacular high-pack mark.
But McDonald then responded with two majors in three minutes, giving the visitors a valuable 22-point three quarter-time lead.
Melbourne aces Petracca and Pickett then again took centre stage, scoring goals to effectively quash any thought of a Power revival.
The home side did not score a major until Dixon’s post-siren strike.