Sweet 16 for Dees after win over Eagles


Melbourne’s new-found love affair with Perth continued as they posted a 74-point AFL win over West Coast at Optus Stadium.

The Demons kicked six goals to one in the opening term of Sunday’s match to set up the 16.16 (112) to 5.8 (38) victory in front of 27,488 fans.

The result marked Melbourne’s 16th straight win, with the run including last year’s grand final triumph – also by 74 points – over the Western Bulldogs and the 83-point preliminary final demolition of Geelong, both at Optus Stadium.

Perth had previously been a graveyard for the Demons, with Melbourne losing 17 straight matches at Subiaco Oval between 2004-2016.

But the defending premiers have now won four straight games at Optus, with their latest win keeping them at the top of the ladder with a perfect 9-0 record.

Sunday’s result was soured, however, by a hamstring injury to midfielder James Harmes, who limped off in the final quarter.

Harmes’ replacement Kade Chandler is facing suspension for his pin-the-arms tackle that resulted in Luke Foley’s head being slammed to the turf.

West Coast forward Liam Ryan is almost certain to be suspended for a bump to the head of Melbourne young gun Jake Bowey.

Although Bowey was able to play on, the high nature of the hit and the fact Ryan ran past the ball to deliver the bump will count against him.

Ryan was subbed out in the final term with a hamstring injury.

The Demons’ had winners all over the field.

Clayton Oliver (28 disposals, seven clearances) and Christian Petracca (28 disposals, two goals) cleaned up in the middle, Andrew Brayshaw (24 possessions) provided plenty of rebound from defence, while Tom McDonald (four goals), Kysaiah Pickett (three), and Bayley Fritsch (three) cashed in up forward.

Max Gawn and Luke Jackson dominated in the ruck.

Eagles midfielder Tim Kelly battled hard to win 32 disposals and five clearances, but West Coast’s on-ball brigade was overwhelmed.

The Eagles started the match without 11 of their best 22 players after Josh Kennedy (sore knee) was a late withdrawal, joining the likes of Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, Andrew Gaff, Oscar Allen, Dom Sheed, Willie Rioli and Shannon Hurn on the sidelines.

The first-quarter stats were ugly and perfectly summed up Melbourne’s dominance.

The Demons won the inside-50 count (20-4), clearances (14-4), and contested possessions (40-28) on the way to winning the quarter 6.5 (41) to 1.0 (6).

West Coast stemmed the bleeding in the second term and restricted Melbourne to just one goal, but the damage had been done.

Eagles duo Jamie Cripps and Bailey Williams produced special checkside goals in the third quarter.

But West Coast defender Jeremy McGovern was left fuming after suffering through an umpiring howler.

McGovern had taken a defensive mark and wanted to take his kick before pointing to Petracca, who had made no effort to leave from the protected zone.

Instead of paying a 50m penalty, the umpire called play-on and pinged McGovern for deliberate out of bounds, with Petracca nailing the subsequent goal.

West Coast worked hard to keep the margin at 44 points, but the floodgates opened in the final term as the Demons piled on seven goals.

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