Undefeated Melbourne has announced itself as a genuine premiership threat with a stunning 34-point win over reigning premiers Richmond, who will be without Dustin Martin for the upcoming blockbuster clash against the Western Bulldogs.
Martin will be sidelined from Friday night’s match against the ladder leaders due to the AFL’s concussion protocols. He sat out the final quarter of his 250th senior match on the bench with concussion after copping a stray arm to the head.
The Demons kicked four unanswered goals during the second quarter to take control of a tough contest as rain fell at the MCG in their Anzac Day eve clash, setting the platform for a 12.10 (82) to 6.12 (48) victory.
In other matches on Saturday, Fremantle downed North Melbourne by 51 points in an empty Perth Stadium during the city’s lockdown, the Brisbane Lions beat Carlton by three goals, Geelong thumped West Coast by 97 points, and Gold Coast scored an upset 40-point win over the Sydney Swans.
The Demons’ win was the perfect way to celebrate stalwart Nathan Jones’s 300th game and it improved the club’s record to 6-0, in what is now their best start to a season since 1965.
Richmond’s recent dominance over the competition has been underpinned by its famed pressure and surging attack, but it was the Demons who mastered those arts in wet conditions.
Christian Petracca (38 disposals), Clayton Oliver (36) and Christian Salem (39) starred in the midfield, while Kysaiah Pickett showed exciting flashes and Tom McDonald kicked three goals, justifying his place in attack after fit-again Sam Weideman and Ben Brown were overlooked.
Steven May returned from a nasty eye injury and marshalled Melbourne’s defence, shutting down Tigers forward Tom Lynch in the process.
The battle between explosive midfielders Petracca and Martin was a huge focus of the build-up and it was the Demons’ challenger who had a far greater impact.
Petracca registered 10 clearances, six tackles, seven inside-50s and a goal in a massive contribution.
In stark contrast, Martin (eight disposals) was kept quiet by Demons stopper Michael Hibberd until his forced exit from the match.
Earlier, Richmond had dominated the early exchanges and spearhead Jack Riewoldt cashed in with the first two goals to help his side build a 15-point lead before Melbourne managed a score.
But the Demons weathered the storm and upped their pressure late in the first term, piling on seven consecutive goals to open up a match-winning 30-point lead soon after half-time.
The Tigers were rattled late in the match, with Pickett’s sealer from a free kick and subsequent celebration sparking a melee a few minutes before the final siren.
The only sour note for Melbourne was McDonald’s high strike on Dylan Grimes off the ball during the third quarter, which will come under scrutiny from the match review officer.
Shane Edwards (24 disposals and two goals) and Shai Bolton worked tirelessly for Richmond.
Dockers crush Roos behind closed doors
Fremantle veteran David Mundy produced yet another vintage display to guide his side to a resounding win over North Melbourne.
Mundy tallied 30 disposals, eight clearances, and three goals in the 14.15 (99) to 6.12 (48) win, which was played without spectators due to Perth’s three-day lockdown enforced by the Western Australian government on Friday.
Dockers captain Nat Fyfe was also critical in the win with 34 disposals and four contested marks, while goalsneak Lachie Schultz and spearhead Matt Taberner booted four goals each.
Fyfe’s day could have been even better had he been accurate in front of goal, with the two-time Brownlow medallist returning 0.4 to take his season tally to 1.12.
The Dockers suffered a blow in the final quarter when Brennan Cox injured his ankle, with the star defender subbed out of the game.
The result lifted Fremantle (4-2) into sixth spot, while the Kangaroos (0-6) remain anchored to the bottom of the ladder with a percentage of 45.9.
Veteran Jack Ziebell tried hard for the visitors with 37 disposals, but Fremantle simply had too many guns in the midfield, with Mundy, Fyfe, Caleb Serong, and Andrew Brayshaw leading the way.
North Melbourne’s Jy Simpkin could be in strife for his roundhouse hit to the ribs of Ethan Hughes in the first quarter.
Hughes had taken the mark at head-height before copping Simpkin’s swinging arm, which forced the Fremantle defender from the field for several minutes.
Fremantle’s 2021 goal kicking woes were clear to see in the opening quarter.
Fyfe, who booted 0.6 against Hawthorn a fortnight ago, hit the post from a 25-metre set shot that he decided to snap around his body despite being directly in front.
Michael Frederick, Rory Lobb and Travis Colyer also missed gettable shots.
Fremantle received a slice of luck when Taberner was awarded a mark a fraction after the quarter-time siren, with the spearhead booting the goal to give the home side an eight-point edge.
The Kangaroos dominated clearances in the first quarter, but Mundy and Fyfe turned the tables in the second as the Dockers piled on four goals in three minutes of game time to take complete control.
Mundy entered the half-time break with 20 disposals, six clearances, and two goals to his name.
North Melbourne showed more fight early in the third quarter, with a few spotfires breaking out as tempers threatened to boil over.
Nick Larkey’s powerful pack mark and goal, and a beautiful soccer goal from ruckman Todd Goldstein closed the margin to 20 points.
Fremantle missed a host of gettable shots, but goals to Schultz and Michael Walters in the final two minutes of the term extended the margin back out to a match-winning 51 points.
Wounded Lions hold off Blues
Brisbane has pushed past a plethora of injury scares and a six-goal haul from Carlton’s Harry McKay to beat the Blues by 18 points for their second win on the bounce.
The Lions lost Darcy Gardiner to concussion in the first term, while Lachie Neale (ankle), Mitch Robinson (eye), Dan McStay (head knock) and Harris Andrews (head knock) all had treatment throughout Saturday evening’s clash at Docklands.
Hugh McCluggage’s class stood out in his 33 disposals and Eric Hipwood pushed past an early hip complaint to kick three goals as the Lions shrugged off the Blues to prevail 15.13 (103) to 12.13 (85).
Sam Walsh (33 disposals) was again brilliant for the Blues and McKay thrashed Brisbane vice-captain Harris Andrews.
Carlton got off to a bright start, drawing first blood when Patrick Cripps slipped a handball to Mitch McGovern, who prodded home from just inside 50.
Brisbane managed to remain within touching distance at quarter-time despite its wastefulness, while Neale went down holding his ankle late in the quarter after getting it caught underneath his body.
The Brownlow medallist looked proppy early in the second quarter but was able to run off the injury and play out the game.
Neale could also be cited for making contact with umpire Matthew Nicholls when he touched the official on the arm to get his attention after having his eyebrow split open in the second quarter.
After quarter-time, the Lions exploded and looked set to leave a listless Carlton in their wake.
Deven Robertson steered through his first AFL goal on the run to put the Lions in front, while Hipwood kicked three for the quarter.
Despite their dominance, the Lions led by just 26 points at half-time, keeping the door open for the Blues and McKay almost busted it down.
The key forward, with heavy strapping around his thigh, took two big contested marks and booted three goals to spark the Blues at the start of the third term with Carlton cutting the deficit to seven points.
But the Blues were unable to maintain the rage, with Cripps and Eddie Betts both wasteful in front of goal, while Brisbane’s late surge nudged the three-quarter time margin back out to 25 points.
From there, the Lions kept Carlton at arm’s length.
Cats smash flat Eagles
Geelong destroyed a listless West Coast in Jeremy Cameron’s first AFL match for the Cats.
Trailing by five points at quarter-time, Geelong caught fire to kick 13 consecutive goals — including 10.1 to 0.1 in the second term — to embarrass the Eagles at Kardinia Park.
The Cats piled on 20 of the last 22 goals to run out 21.10 (136) to 5.9 (39) winners and inflict Adam Simpson with his heaviest defeat in eight seasons as Eagles coach.
It was the Eagles’ worst loss since 2009.
During the first five rounds, the Cats showed none of the spark that took them to last year’s grand final.
But the dismantling of a fellow finals contender is guaranteed to put the rest of the competition on notice.
Without superstar Patrick Dangerfield for up to two months, former GWS ace Cameron made a welcome appearance after a series of hamstring issues kept him on the sidelines since his high-profile arrival at Geelong during the off-season.
Cameron, like the rest of his team, looked flat early, but came alive with two goals in the second quarter to earn a standing ovation from the Geelong faithful.
The nine-time Giants leading goal kicker combined seamlessly with fellow key forward Tom Hawkins, who presented Cameron with his jumper before the match, as both players booted three goals each.
Midfielder Mitch Duncan kicked a career-high four goals, including bombing a torpedo through from beyond 50 metres after the half-time siren.
Geelong’s only concern from the percentage-boosting result was a late leg injury to hardworking Irishman Mark O’Connor.
The Eagles’ horror day worsened when star defender Jeremy McGovern was subbed out of the game with a groin injury.
Their preparation was impacted with all players having to be tested for COVID-19 due to Perth entering a snap three-day lockdown.
West Coast slipped to a 3-3 record, having lost all three games on the road this season.
Suns make statement with win over Swans
A week after being humiliated by the Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast has responded brilliantly to stun Sydney in Carrara.
The Suns, who conceded 11 goals to one last week in the first half, were a different proposition against the Swans, winning 15.10 (100) to 9.6 (60).
Ben King kicked a personal-best five goals for the hosts in one of the strongest games of the 20-year-old key forward’s short career.
Ben Ainsworth (three), Izak Rankine and Josh Corbett (two each) were the other multiple goalkickers for the Suns.
Midfielder Touk Miller was everywhere for the Suns, particularly early as he claimed 16 disposals in the first quarter on his way to a tally of 36 for the game.
Noah Anderson finished with 34 disposals, while Nick Holman’s 13 tackles were an indication of the pressure brought throughout by the Suns.
The Swans omitted young forward Logan McDonald and were missing Lance Franklin (knee) and it showed as they managed just one goal in each of the second and third quarters.
The Suns set the tone for the day in a first quarter where their high-pressure game forced the Swans into several errors, with Holman’s goal on the siren giving his team a seven-point advantage.
Gold Coast kicked four goals to one in the second term to open its advantage to 22 points at the main break.
Sydney’s woes were compounded with George Hewett subbed out after a head clash in the first quarter, while Nick Blakey was left sore after copping a knee from Charlie Ballard to his thigh.
Blakey returned in the second term to the Swans’ forward line.
The Suns continued the rout in the third quarter, with King having a day out as his side added a further five goals to one to be 49 points clear at the final change.
Josh Kennedy had a game-high 41 disposals as he ran himself into the ground despite the Swans’ being second-best, while Hayden McLean was the visitors’ only multiple goal kicker with two majors.
The big win is just Gold Coast’s second of the year. Sydney has now slumped to back-to-back defeats after winning its first four matches of the season.