Tom Sparrow and Angus Brayshaw celebrate a goal during the round seven clash between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG on April 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has thrashed North Melbourne by 90 points in an AFL mis-match marred by a horror leg injury to Kangaroos youngster Charlie Comben.

The Demons killed off the contest with the first six goals and gave their percentage a healthy boost with Saturday night's 22.7 (139) to 7.7 (49) win at the MCG.

Comben, who has a history of left leg injuries, was hurt when he went for a mark in the opening quarter.

DEMONS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats

Comben was hospitalised with a broken leg and is likely to undergo surgery to have a plate inserted.

Medical staff attend to Charlie Comben during the round seven clash between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG on April 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The 21-year-old Kangaroo, who has a history of left leg injuries, was hurt when he went for a mark in the opening quarter.

Play was held up for several minutes and, significantly, the Seven Network opted against showing a replay of the gruesome incident.

Demons coach Simon Goodwin started his post-game media conference by wishing Comben and his family well.


North coach Alastair Clarkson confirmed the outlook is grim for Comben, but hopes he will return later this season.

"I was told on the bench he has a fracture to his lower leg, it will require some surgery.

"They're going to probably put a plate in of some description.

"That's a blow to us, he's a young guy trying to make his way in the game."


Fellow North forward Callum Coleman-Jones also was forced from the game in the third term after coming off second-best in a marking contest with Demons defender Steven May.

Completing a disastrous night for the Roos, Tom Powell needed help from trainers as he went off with a leg injury in the last term.

It is North's biggest losing margin under new coach Alastair Clarkson, after they won their first two games, and also Melbourne's fourth 100-plus score this season.

"It was exactly what we wanted," Goodwin said.


"We really wanted to put the defensive side of our game to them and we did that for the majority of the night."

Clarkson noted that Melbourne had as many as 10 players in their side of All-Australian quality and were just too good for the rebuilding Kangaroos.

"We came up against a bloody, really good side," he said.

"I thought we played better tonight than we had in the last two weeks - the 90-point margin doesn't suggest it.


"We competed in different areas of the game really, really well. But out of a half chance, they'd make a full opportunity and out of a full opportunity for us, we'd somehow turn it into a half or a quarter-chance.”

The Dees kicked their highest score this year and were on track to their biggest winning margin against the Kangaroos, before North kicked the last three goals of the match.

Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver may have picked up three more Brownlow Medal votes with his 37 possessions, while Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw, in his 150th game, also shone.

Cameron Zurhaar kicked North's first goal late in the opening term and the Demons led by 44 at the first change.


The Kangaroos were ahead in clearances, but it didn't matter as Melbourne dominated general play.

It went from bad to worse for North at the start of the second term when Jaidyn Stephenson gave away a free kick for high contact.

He protested to Ray Chamberlain - the worst-possible option, given the umpire’s no-nonsense persona.


Sure enough, Stephenson was hit with a 50m penalty and then another, with Chamberlain holding up his hand to the North forward as Trent Rivers kicked an easy goal.

The Demons continued their rampage, kicking five goals to one in the second term for a 66-point lead at the main break.

Alex Neal-Bullen was rewarded with a goal for an outstanding run-down tackle on an unsuspecting Luke McDonald late in the second quarter.


Zurhaar kicked three goals, while impressive North youngster Harry Sheezel and Aaron Hall had 30-possession games.

Bayley Fritsch is a seriously underrated footballer
When it comes to talk of the best small forwards in the comp the names Charlie Cameron, Tom Papley and Izak Rankine invariably come up among others, but Bayley Fritsch rarely gets a mention. Well, it's time the talk changed. Fritsch has twice made the All-Australian shortlist, led the Demons' goalkicking the last three seasons and kicked six on Grand Final day. Oh yeah, and he has the longest-running goalkicking spree in the league with at least one major in each of his last 35 games. Is it because he doesn't have the flair of Cameron? The celebration of Papley? The unpredictability of Rankine? Whatever the reason, it's time the name Fritsch was elevated as high as his hair.


Sheez, this kid is good
Harry Sheezel exploded at AFL level from round one and was averaging over 31 disposals a game through the first five weeks before coming back to ground against the Suns in round six with just 11 touches. Had the pace got to the young Roo or was it a case of being figured out by the opposition? Don't worry North fans, Sheezel was right back amongst it on Saturday night, finishing with 30 disposals and arguably the Kangaroos' best. The 18-year-old now has the amazing statistic of being his club's leading possession winner in six of his first seven games.

Harry Sheezel in action during the round seven clash between Melbourne and North Melbourne at the MCG on April 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Just what is Melbourne's best forward set up?
Melbourne's two key forwards on Saturday were Jacob van Rooyen in his fifth game and Josh Schache in his first as a Demon. It's not that the list is devastated by injury - both Tom McDonald and Ben Brown are available - it's just seems that Simon Goodwin is happy to throw the magnets in the air and go with whatever combination lands on the board. And when you have Bayley Fritsch, Kozi Pickett and Kade Chandler waiting at the big guys' feet and a midfield full of gun runners that love to kick a goal, does it even matter who is standing in the goalsquare? Facing Melbourne is like playing Squid Games - it's impossible to prepare when you have no idea what you'll be facing from week to week.




MELBOURNE                 8.2    13.3    16.4    22.7 (139)
NORTH MELBOURNE    1.0     2.3      4.6      7.7 (49)
Melbourne: Fritsch 4, Pickett 3, Petracca 3, Chandler 3, Grundy 2, Viney, van Rooyen, Sparrow, Rivers, Neal-Bullen, Schache, Bowey
North Melbourne: Zurhaar 3, Larkey 2, Shiel, Cunnington

Melbourne: Petracca, Oliver, Fritsch, Chandler, Brayshaw, Viney, Bowey
North Melbourne: Sheezel, Simpkin, Zurhaar, Ziebell, McDonald

Melbourne: Nil
North Melbourne: Comben (leg), Coleman-Jones (Concussion), Tom Powell (ankle)

Melbourne: James Harmes (replaced Michael Hibberd in the fourth quarter)
North Melbourne: Daniel Howe (replaced Charlie Comben in the first quarter)

Crowd: 29,455 at the MCG