Max Gawn and Jacob van Rooyen celebrate a goal during the R7 match between Melbourne and Richmond at the MCG on April 24, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has recorded a fifth straight Anzac Day Eve victory over Richmond after breaking the game open in the final quarter to post a 43-point win.

A 10-goal second half from the Demons resulted in the 13.7 (85) to 5.12 (42) win at a cold MCG, despite a nervous start on both sides leading to just a one-point margin at the main break.

TIGERS v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Facing the side for which he played 271 games, it wasn't the result new Tigers coach Adem Yze was hoping for, with Jacob Hopper's hamstring injury in the third quarter adding more pain.

It was an opening half laden with skill errors and a lack of composure. Both teams appeared panicked in the face of the marquee fixture, overrunning the footy, dropping marks and hitting opposition players lace out with kicks inside 50.


It took until the third term for Melbourne to settle, sparked by some big efforts from captain Max Gawn (23 disposals, 26 hitouts, one goal), who won the Frank 'Checker' Hughes medal as the best player on the ground.

Daniel Turner proved a surprise packet in attack in just his fourth AFL game. Coming into the match without a goal to his name, he kicked three, with his celebrations escalating with each major.


The Tigers controlled the territory in the first quarter, winning the inside 50 count 17-11, but didn't break through for their first goal until the 23-minute mark. Coming off the boot of Mykelti Lefau (four inside 50s, one goal), it was his defensive efforts higher up the field that launched the scoring chain.

Although Richmond opted for dual rucks in Toby Nankervis and Sam Naismith, it was Lefau playing a physical ruck role at stoppages in attack, adding a different challenge for Gawn to contend with.

In the face of that barrage of Richmond forward entries, Jake Lever starred for Melbourne with 26 disposals, 11 marks, and 15 intercepts, repeatedly putting his body on the line, while Steven May (23 disposals, 12 marks) was also solid in the air down back.

Richmond did manage to rediscover the intense pressure game that worked so beautifully against Sydney three weeks earlier, playing a big part in Melbourne's worried ball movement, particularly in attack.


With Marlion Pickett tasked with limiting Christian Petracca's output, and Kamdyn McIntosh named as the sub, it was a fresh look outside the contest for Richmond. Hugo Ralphsmith and Sam Banks patrolled the wings, battling it out with Melbourne's Ed Langdon and Caleb Windsor.

The Pickett tag, although effective early in the game, simply wasn't enough to contain Petracca for the duration of the game. The Demon finished the game with 23 disposals, six clearances and a goal, despite the slow start.

Lefau has arrived
Mykelti Lefau, signed in the pre-season supplemental selection period earlier in the year, has been a revelation for Richmond. The 26-year-old, New Zealand-born product has officially found his feet at AFL level. Coming off an impressive three-goal return in the Tigers' loss to West Coast a fortnight ago, he flourished in attack against the Demons. Leaping at everything, setting up teammates in the arc, and even taking on Max Gawn in the ruck, Lefau's presence has added a spark to the Tigers' attack.


Keeping the MRO busy
Marlion Pickett could come under scrutiny from the Match Review Officer after a jab to the gut of Clayton Oliver in the first quarter. While Melbourne's Bayley Fristch was lining up for goal, Pickett felled Oliver, causing a significant scuffle to Fritsch's left. Thankfully for Melbourne, it didn't distract the forward, who neatly slotted the goal on the eve of the first break.


Mark of the Year … almost
As scoring had dried up and both sides traded errors in the second quarter, emerging Tiger Tom Brown offered a highlight. Almost. As the Demons worked out of defence, kicking to the edge of the centre square, Brown rose high above the pack to reel in the mark, but proved just unable to hold on long enough. Once the ball – and Brown – hit the deck, it was Demon Jacob van Rooyen who gathered the footy and sent it forward into the hands of Daniel Turner, who coolly ran in to kick his first goal in the AFL.


RICHMOND                 1.3    3.6    4.8   5.12 (42)
MELBOURNE              2.3    3.5    8.7   13.7 (85)
Richmond: M.Rioli jnr 2, Lefau, Martin, Bolton,
Melbourne: Turner 3, Fritsch 2, Pickett 2, Laurie 2, van Rooyen, Gawn, Windsor, Petracca
Richmond: Lefau, Broad, Dow, Hopper, Baker
Melbourne: Lever, Gawn, Oliver, Turner, May
Richmond: Hopper (hamstring)
Melbourne: Nil
Richmond: Kamdyn McIntosh (replaced Jacob Hopper in the third quarter)
Melbourne: Bailey Laurie (replaced Caleb Windsor in the final quarter)
Crowd: 72,840 at the MCG