Melbourne has again showed why it is a genuine premiership threat with a 22-point win over the Brisbane Lions at Sydney’s Giants Stadium, a performance highlighted by a stirring third-quarter fightback from the Demons.
- The Demons move to an 11-1 win-loss record courtesy of the victory over the Lions
- The Lions had led by 20 points at half-time
- Star Demons pair Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver combined for 52 disposals
The Lions lit up the first half of Friday night’s contest, opening up a 20-point half-time lead as they eyed an eighth straight victory.
But Christian Petracca, Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver rallied for the Demons, who also lifted their pressure and speed of ball movement in what proved the quintessential match of two halves.
It resulted in two third-term goals each for Kysaiah Pickett and Tom McDonald, allowing the ladder leaders to claim a one-point lead at three-quarter time.
Pickett and McDonald then both slotted a goal in the final quarter, helping ensure their side prevailed 14.13 (97) to 11.9 (75).
The much-anticipated match was held in western Sydney because of Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak, while the AFL confirmed on Friday night that the Demons-Collingwood Queen’s Birthday clash will be shifted to the SCG.
Lions captain Dayne Zorko was reported for striking McDonald in the third quarter, while Tom Sparrow’s high bump on Brisbane veteran Daniel Rich is likely to be scrutinised by the match review officer.
Melbourne is now 11-1 and on track for its first minor premiership since 1964, the same year it won its most recent flag.
The Demons have accounted for reigning premiers Richmond and last year’s grand finalists Geelong plus fellow top-four sides Brisbane and Western Bulldogs.
Petracca and Oliver, who combined for 52 disposals and 17 clearances, headlined the list of best-on-ground contenders.
Fleet-footed youngster Zac Bailey booted a game-high four goals for the Lions, running rings around the league’s most miserly defence.
But star backmen Steven May and Jake Lever, having been so central to Melbourne’s brilliant start to 2021, settled superbly after being repeatedly put under siege in a lopsided first half.
Brisbane dominated inside-50s (32-18), clearances (22-14) and contested possessions (72-59) in the opening half, only for the Demons to seize momentum and finish ahead in all three of the key metrics.
Key forward Eric Hipwood started strongly for the Lions, clutching two contested marks in the first term, but twice hit the post to finish with 1.4 on an inaccurate night.