Demons stun Bulldogs in heavyweight AFL clash

Melbourne has cemented its status as a bona-fide premiership favourite after a convincing win over the Western Bulldogs to kick off Round 11.

Playing in a fan-less Marvel Stadium due to Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak, the Demons came out of the gates on fire, kicking six goals to two in the opening quarter, before running out 13. 9. (87) to 8. 11. (59) winners.

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Melbourne’s first-quarter win was the first time the Bulldogs had dropped the opening quarter of a match in 2021 and ultimately proved to be the difference.

Despite the Bulldogs coming into the contest as the AFL’s highest-scoring team, Melbourne put a chokehold on the Dogs’ swift ball-movement, with club great Garry Lyon lauding the win as a “coaching masterclass” from coach Simon Goodwin.

“The whole footy world said this Western Bulldogs team was as pure as any going around and as exciting as anyone to watch, they looked stymied tonight,” he told Fox Footy.

“They looked stuck in mud the way they couldn’t move the footy. That’s a huge result for this football club.

“They dropped a game last week, they’ve come to Marvel Stadium where the Bulldogs have made teams look second-rate and they’ve belted them.

“That’s a 28-point belting and they made them look very uncertain and unsure.”

Brisbane Lions great Jonathan Brown also praised the Demons’ defensive structure, stating that it made the Bulldogs look “like a bottom four team”.

Goodwin’s team threw a curveball at the Bulldogs by sending James Harmes into the middle as a tagger, only Harmes went to Tom Liberatore, as opposed to All-Australian duo Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli.

As a result, Liberatore, who came into the game is the AFL’s runaway clearance leader, managed just 16 disposals and four clearances, while also committing five turnovers.

“He was sensational,: Goodwin said of Harmes’ performance after the win.

“We gave him that role earlier in the week and we wanted him to really nullify (Liberatore) at the stoppages and he certainly executed his role.

“Liberatore has been a massive player for the Dogs in his ability to win it on the inside and get it to the players on the outside, so (Harmes’) role was instrumental in getting some dominance around the clearances, especially early in the game.”

Clayton Oliver continued his outstanding season for the Demons, finishing with 33 disposals and five clearances, while Harmes added 23 touches and a goal.

Melbourne’s forward tandem of Tom McDonald and Bayley Fritsch combined for six goals, while Sam Weideman was the team’s other multiple goal-kicker with two goals.

Melbourne is currently scheduled to face the Brisbane Lions in Round 12, while the Western Bulldogs are scheduled to travel to WA to face Fremantle.

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