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Match report: Darwin delight as Dees fire against Freo

Highlights: Melbourne v Fremantle The Demons and Dockers clash in round 16
DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - JULY 09: Jack Watts of the Demons in action during the 2016 AFL Round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Fremantle Dockers at TIO Stadium on July 9, 2016 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Jack Watts was among Melbourne's best performers against Fremantle

FOUR goals from star forward Jesse Hogan has helped Melbourne to a 32-point win over Fremantle at TIO Stadium in Darwin.

In steamy Top End conditions on Saturday night, the Demons set up the 12.15 (87) to 8.7 (55) win with a dominant first half.

Full match coverage and stats

Jack Watts booted three goals in the first term as his side leapt to a 29-point lead at the first break, with Melbourne stretching that lead to 50 points in the third quarter before the Dockers mounted a belated challenge.

Demons skipper Nathan Jones inspired with 35 possessions, while former captain Jack Grimes excelled in his first senior game of the season with 32 disposals.

Dom Tyson and Jack Viney were also prominent around the stoppages, where Max Gawn dominated with 43 hit-outs, while Tom McDonald was outstanding at the back with 31 touches and 10 marks. 

Freo's Lachie Neale impressed with 33 disposals, but the Dockers came out on the wrong side of a lopsided 465-329 possession count.

Five talking points: Melbourne v Fremantle

Former skipper Matthew Pavlich booted three goals in a side that squandered late opportunities to close the gap further.

The win snaps a run of four losses in a row in Darwin for the Demons and breaks a seven-match losing streak against Fremantle.


The way Melbourne set up the game in the first half was the most satisfying aspect for Melbourne coach Paul Roos, who said there was no sense of disappointment that the Dees didn't run away with a bigger win.

"Overall it was pleasing. We were coming off a six-day break, and we haven't been able to do that too well this year, so there was a lot more to like than to dislike about the game," Roos said after the win.

"They were pretty hard early and came out pretty physical, and they kicked the first goal. The way we steadied and moved the ball around [was impressive]. We got some really good scoring opportunities moving the ball around.

"And to win tackling (90-68) and contested ball (148-129) against a pretty physical team is something we've been working on. We're still a young team so to win the tackles and the contested possessions was important."

Melbourne improved to a 7-8 record with the result as they prepare to take on St Kilda next week, while the Dockers remain mired in the bottom three with a 3-12 record.

WATCH: Hogan, Watts torch Dockers

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said it was a frustrating game to watch as his team "couldn't get near" the Demons in the first half before they were able to outscore Melbourne after the main break.

"When the game was up for grabs we just looked right off the pace," Lyon said post-game.

"The numbers were frightening [in the first half]. We arrested that a bit in the second half but it was really disappointing."

He pointed to Stephen Hill's second half as a positive, and also highlighted youngster Ed Langdon for his encouraging showing with 16 disposals, but said the Dockers midfield was "obliterated".

Melbourne: Midfielder Dom Tyson required his head to be taped up following a collision with teammate Ben Kennedy in the second term, but played out the game without any problems.
 Bernie Vince got an early knock to his shin but managed to work through the pain, while Oscar McDonald rolled his ankle and was on crutches after the game. The young defender is in come doubt to be available next week.

Fremantle: Dockers captain David Mundy finished the game on the bench with a concussion, but the Dockers are hopeful he will be available next week.

Fremantle will be hoping for a closer contest next Friday night when it hosts Geelong at Domain Stadium. The Demons will be back in Melbourne, taking on St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Sunday in a contest they'll need to win to have any chance of sneaking into the finals.

Every player wanted to get their hands on the ball up in Darwin. Picture: AFL Media

MELBOURNE               6.5    9.8    11.11   12.15   (87)                  
FREMANTLE                2.0    3.1    7.4       8.7      (55)          

Melbourne: Hogan 4, Watts 3, Kent 3, Vandenberg, Jones
Fremantle: Pavlich 3, Mayne 2, Suban, Taberner, Ballantyne

Melbourne: Hogan, Viney, Jones, Watts, Hunt, Tyson, Grimes
Fremantle: Neale, Hill, Sutcliffe, Pavlich, Blakely

Melbourne: McDonald (ankle), Vince (shin)
Fremantle: Mundy (concussion)

Reports: Lachie Weller (Fremantle) reported for high contact against Jayden Hunt (Melbourne)

Umpires: Margetts, Ryan, Mitchell

Official crowd: 8163 at TIO Stadium