Christian Petracca celebrates with Kysaiah Pickett and Jake Melksham during Melbourne's clash with Brisbane in round 23, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

IF YOU thought Melbourne's premiership defence was wobbling – think again.

From the moment Kysaiah Pickett swooped on a loose ball to goal inside the opening 20 seconds, Friday night's blockbuster fizzled into a one-sided exhibition as the premiers demolished Brisbane by 58 points in front of a stunned sell-out crowd at the Gabba.

LIONS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

In doing so, they re-asserted themselves as flag favourites alongside Geelong with a powerful, clinical, unrelenting brand of football that was too much for the Lions to handle.

Melbourne led by 31 points at quarter-time, a staggering 66 at the half and ran out 18.7 (115) to 8.9 (57) winners to lock up a double chance in the finals.


The win moves them to second place, while Brisbane now needs Fremantle and Collingwood to both lose to cling to a top-four spot.

Pickett finished with four goals, as did Bayley Fritsch, as the visitors had winners all over the ground.

For the Lions, it was sadly reminiscent of the 64-point hiding suffered eight weeks ago at the MCG. It was the fourth straight time Melbourne has accounted for Brisbane.


Any time the Lions tried to move the ball through the corridor, Melbourne was there to either pressure or intercept. They simply could not get through the premiers' defensive web despite winning the inside-50 count 58-50.

It was a thoroughly dominant performance.

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Steven May and Jake Lever were commanding defensively, making light work of their opposing aerial threats, while the Melbourne engine room regularly outnumbered its counterparts at each contest.


Clayton Oliver (30 disposals and 13 clearances) was magnificent in congestion, while Angus Brayshaw (27) continued to thrive in his midfield role.

Once Melbourne won the ball back, it found plenty of space when going inside 50. Pickett looked like he barely had an opponent at times.

The Demons kicked the first three goals of the game to quieten the crowd of 32,172 and did not look back. They kicked seven consecutive goals in a rampant second quarter.


Brisbane has some soul-searching to do before facing whoever it plays in week one of the finals.

Coach Chris Fagan warned during the week the main battle in this match would be the contested ball, and as it has in most of the past four matches lost against the Demons, it was a battle his team failed.

Battle of the Brownlow favourites
Lachie Neale and Clayton Oliver entered the match as two of the Brownlow Medal favourites, with any votes acquired tonight having the potential to decide the count. Neale was arguably Brisbane's best player, racking up 29 touches and six tackles, but if either is to catch the eyes of the umpires, it's Oliver. The Melbourne midfield maestro was in everything for the victors, finishing with 30 disposals, including 13 clearances that often got his team on the front foot.

Rayner's tackle
Cam Rayner is certain to come under scrutiny from Match Review Officer Michael Christian for a first-quarter tackle on Ben Brown. The Melbourne forward gathered the ball in the middle of the Gabba when Rayner pinned an arm to him in an attempt to bring him down. Brown was sent into a half-spin and landed face first on the rock-hard cricket wicket area. He left the field with a bloody nose but returned shortly after to be a critical player for the Demons.


Trac's magic trick
When it's your night, it's your night. Melbourne didn't need too much help, so well was it playing, but late in the second quarter when it was really rolling, Christian Petracca produced an off-spinner Nathan Lyon would be proud of. Ripping the ball from congestion about 30m from goal, Melbourne's dynamic midfielder somehow threw it on his right boot like a checkside and watched it take an enormous bounce over the despairing Jarrod Berry on the goal line to keep the Demons humming.


BRISBANE            1.1         2.3         5.6          8.9 (57)
MELBOURNE        6.2        13.3       17.4        18.7 (115)

Daniher 2, McCluggage 2, McCarthy, McStay, Rayner, Robinson
Fritsch 4, Pickett 4, Brown 3, Petracca 2, Jackson, Langdon, Lever, Melksham, Neal-Bullen

Brisbane: Neale, McCluggage, Mathieson, Prior
Melbourne: Oliver, Brayshaw, Pickett, May, Lever, Petracca, Hunt 

Brisbane: Berry (ankle)
Melbourne: Jackson (knee) 

Brisbane: Nil
Melbourne: Christian Salem (groin) replaced by Jake Bowey 

Brisbane: Mitch Robinson (replaced Berry in the fourth quarter)
Melbourne: James Jordon (replaced Jackson in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 32,172 at the Gabba