After a month of indifferent form, the Melbourne Demons demolished the Fremantle Dockers on a damp and windy night at Optus Stadium. The Demons were hot from the opening bounce, contesting and tackling to put the Dockers under pressure. Luke Darcy was strong in the ruck for Fremantle, opposed to Luke Jackson and later Max Gawn, Darcy controlled the early taps but it was Christian Petracca and Todd Viney who won clearances for Melbourne. The Demons got away to an early lead with small forwards, Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo booting two goals and the mobile Bayley Fritsch adding one. The Dockers were rushed into poor plays by the ferocity of the Demon pressure around the ball. Halfway through the first quarter the Dockers recovered from the early onslaught and pushed forward to register goals from the pacy Michael Frederick and the skill of Michael Walters. Under pressure Fremantle turned the ball over too easily by hand and foot and Melbourne players found space in groups of two or three, to punish the poor defensive work of the Docker midfielders. Fritsch added another goal to give the Demons a useful lead by the first break.
The Demons came out hard again in the second quarter and refused to give the home side space to set up play. The Demons won more contested possessions and used the ball with more precision than the Dockers. Steven May took strong intercept marks (catches) in defense for Melbourne to stifle Fremantle's long kicks into attack. When the Dockers tried to run the ball forward they were under pressure from Melbourne chasers lacked finish. Melbourne controlled play for most of the second quarter and added three goals courtesy of James Jordan, Ed Langdon and Jake Melksham. Poor defensive structure by the Docker midfielders made it too easy for the Melbourne midfielders to get forward of a contest after turnovers, and run the ball into an open attacking zone. The exception for Fremantle was James Aish, who worked hard in the middle by tagging Demon playmaker Clayton Oliver. Aish kept Oliver relatively quiet with 21 possessions for the game, while Aish picked up 28 of his own. Will Brodie and David Mundy collected 35 possessions each for the Dockers and Andrew Brayshaw picked up 30 possessions, but it was the work of the Demon midfielders, Viney (33 possessions), Petracca (30) and Angus Brayshaw (28) that created offensive opportunities for the Demons.
Eight minutes into the third quarter Griffin Logue gathered a loose ball and booted a much needed goal for the Dockers. Any chance of a second-half Docker revival was quickly snuffed by a Fritsch goal three minutes later. Then Sam Weideman briefly broke the shackles put on him by Alex Pearce, to boot his only goal for the night. The Dockers fought on, improving their clearance rate and taking advantage of Darcy's solid ruck work but were unable to break through the strong defense of Harrison Petty, Christian Salem, Jake Lever and Steven May. A second goal for Charlie Spargo at the 26-minute mark underlined the Demons' control in the wet and slippery conditions.
The Dockers had their share of the play in the final quarter and won more clearances, but in the wet conditions were unable to play their preferred game style of quick ball movement. In contrast, Melbourne reveled in the heavy conditions and used the ball well. A mark and goal to Michael Frederick added Fremantle's fifth and final goal nine minutes into the quarter. The Demons kept the on-ball pressure high and Pickett found some space to boot two goals to hammer home the Demons' superiority.
The win puts the Demons into the frame to stay in the top two. The loss will make it difficult for the Dockers to get back into the top four. Next week the Demons play Collingwood at the MCG in a battle of second versus third. The Demons will need to stay in their hot zone to beat the Pies. The Dockers play the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium. The Dogs will be desperate to stay in touch with the top eight and Fremantle will appreciate the dry conditions of the indoor stadium.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 2.2 3.4 4.5 5.9 (39) Melbourne Demons: 4.3 7.7 10.11 12.13 (85) Best Fremantle Dockers: Aish, Mundy, Brayshaw, Young, Pearce Melbourne Demons: Viney, Petracca, Brayshaw, May, Fritsch
Article last changed on Saturday, July 30, 2022 - 7:31 AM EDT