Reigning premiers Melbourne are back on the winners list, smashing a hapless Brisbane in Thursday night’s first versus second encounter at the MCG.
The Demons cruised to an eye-popping 64-point win which rocketed them back to the top of the ladder, leaving Brisbane with plenty to ponder after their 10th straight defeat at the home of football.
Melbourne’s midfield put on a masterclass after quarter time, led by Jack Viney at the coalface who dominated with 34 touches (19 contested) and seven tackles.
Youngster Luke Jackson stepped up from his role as back-up ruckman to play the number one role in captain Max Gawn's injury absence and had an intriguing battle with Oscar McInerney.
Jackson finished with 21 disposals, 18 hit-outs, 10 score involvements, nine tackles, six inside 50s and a goal as one of his side's best.
McInerney was very effective for the Lions with 23 touches and 29 hit-outs.
“Brisbane Lions are strangers in a strange land tonight,” Gerard Whateley said on AFL Nation.
“There are moments in this round that are going to last and maybe this (result) above all else. This will haunt Brisbane for the remainder of the season.”
Jake Lever was back to his best after Steven May made his return following a fortnight which saw him miss through both concussion and then suspension after a alcohol-fuelled incident at a Prahran restaurant which landed teammate Jake Melksham in hospital.
The Lions were forced to manage several injury issues throughout the game, with Daniel Rich (shin) and Harris Andrews (shoulder) both spending time off the ground in the third term.
Earlier in the contest, Jarrod Lyons came off clutching his ribs after a collision with Bayley Frisch in a marking contest, with the Lion coming off second best after Fritsch’s knee jammed into his midriff before he was eventually subbed out in the final term.
The first quarter was dominated by a red-hot Brisbane in general play, with Gerard Whateley saying Chris Fagan’s side were “slaughtering” the Dees early on.
Brisbane missed several set shots early, before a miraculous James Harmes floating goal which debutant James Tunstill misread in flight ensured Melbourne hung in the contest despite the Lions dominating around the ground.
But as the game wore on, Melbourne began to find some of the form which has seen them become football’s dominant force for the best part of 18 months.
Five consecutive goals across the first and second quarters came from sheer weight of numbers as Brisbane were suffocated in a similar fashion to so many sides who have played the Dees in the last two seasons.
“Melbourne has found their mojo big time,” Dwayne Russell said on AFL Nation in the second term.
The protected area rule was in the spotlight again after Cam Rayner was penalised, leading to a James Jordon goal from point black range.
SEN’s Kane Cornes has been a constant critic of the rule and didn’t hold back after a 50m penalty was paid.
“We can’t be silent,” he said on Twitter.
We can’t be silent https://t.co/BDkUFFxlha— Kane Cornes (@kanecornes) June 23, 2022
Melbourne’s next assignment after Thursday night's thumping win is a trip to face the Crows at Adelaide Oval, while the Lions are in Thursday night action for a second consecutive week when they host Western Bulldogs at the Gabba.
Melbourne: 2.4, 8.10, 11.17, 16.21 (117)
Brisbane: 3.4, 4.4, 6.7, 7.11 (53)
Melbourne: Fritsch 3, Jordon 2, Bedford 2, Harmes 2, Pickett 2, Brown, Neal-Bullen, Spargo, Sparrow, Jackson
Brisbane: Hipwood 2, Robinson 2, Daniher, McCarthy, Rayner
Melbourne: Viney, Oliver, Petracca, Lever, Jackson, Brayshaw
Brisbane: Rich, McCluggage, McInerney, Coleman
Brisbane: Jarryd Lyons (ribs), subbed out for Callum Ah Chee.
Crowd: 37,728 at the MCG