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Match report: Scrappy Demons edge past brave Blues

Highlights: Melbourne v Carlton The Demons and Blues clash in round two
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Christian Salem of the Demons marks over Billie Smedts of the Blues during the 2017 AFL round 02 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 02, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Christian Petracca marks strongly

MELBOURNE has won consecutive games to start the season for the first time since 2005, but the Demons' 22-point win over Carlton at the MCG on Sunday was far from comprehensive.

The Demons battled mightily against Carlton, who showed it was up for the fight, but eventually wore down their inexperienced opponents in the 13.8 (86) to 9.10 (64) victory.

Full match details and stats

Melbourne found itself trailing by eight points midway through the third term, as its inefficiency going forward was a cause for great concern, before booting seven of the last nine goals of the match.

The problem for the Demons was that a number of their key playmakers were down, with Jordan Lewis (17 disposals) and Jesse Hogan (zero goals), among others, not exerting their normal influence.

Luckily for the Demons, Christian Salem (31 disposals) was there to steady the ship with the silky defender clearly Melbourne's most solid four-quarter contributor.

Off-the-ball incidents put star Demons in the gun

Clayton Oliver (34 disposals and five clearances) was again industrious through the middle of the ground, while Dom Tyson (32 touches) made a positive return from a pre-season knee injury.

Jeff Garlett (three goals) and Jack Watts (two) were lively up forward and often created space when other teammates struggled.

Coach Simon Goodwin said his team was still working out how to respond in high-pressure situations like they found themselves in in the final term.

"It's nice to be two-zip but it's still very early in the year and we've got a lot of work to do, as you saw today. We're still evolving and developing into the team we want to become," Goodwin said.

"It was great learning for our boys today. We're still a young team – we've got 12 guys under 50 games playing today, so those guys are going to continue to grow and get better."

The Demons booted the first three goals of the second term, which saw them take a 24-point lead, and at that stage of the game they looked to be getting well on top of their opponents.

But the Blues did an excellent job of slowing Melbourne's ball movement down by flooding their defensive 50 with numbers and making it incredibly difficult for the Demons to score with any sort of flow.

Blues defenders Sam Docherty (28 disposals and 10 marks), Lachie Plowman (18) and Caleb Marchbank (16) were central figures in Carlton's strong defensive effort and Docherty, in particular, was one of Carlton's best on the day.

The Blues brought the margin back to 10 points at the major change, thanks to Dennis Armfield's set shot goal on the stroke of half-time.


As Melbourne struggled to penetrate Carlton's zone defence, the Blues showed themselves to be far more efficient going forward than their counterparts, led by Matthew Wright who kicked back-to-back goals in the third term to give his side the lead.

Wright, who led Carlton's goal-kicking in 2016, finished with three majors and 21 disposals to be the Blues' most reliable scoring source.


Captain Marc Murphy (31 disposals) and Patrick Cripps (27 and nine clearances) were also typically prolific for the Blues, as Carlton's midfield held sway with Melbourne's for most of the contest.

Blues coach Brendon Bolton was frustrated by his team's inability to close out a game it had every right to win.

"We have high expectations of this group, even though they are young, we know they're developing, we know they're learning but we got ourselves into a position at three-quarter time to win the game," Bolton said.

"It's a really good learning opportunity but one that I know us as coaches, I'm supporters and also players are really frustrated that they didn't get a result."

The Demons may have a few troubles to deal with from the Match Review Panel with star forward Jesse Hogan appearing to collect Sam Rowe high in an exchange in the third term.

Hogan collected Rowe in the face as the pair shaped up to one another and the impact left the Blues defender dazed, although he did play out the game, at least for a few moments.


Lewis also caused a sizeable melee in the third quarter when he clipped Cripps from behind with a number of Blues players coming in to remonstrate with the experienced Melbourne recruit.

Melbourne eventually managed to break the shackles in the final quarter to record only its second win over Carlton since 2007.

Melbourne: Young midfielder Angus Brayshaw copped a knock to the head and was forced to come to the bench due to the blood rule. The gash caused blood to flow freely from above his eye, but Brayshaw – who was hampered by a series of concussions last season – returned to play out the game. Coach Simon Goodwin said there were no long-term effects associated with the knock.

Carlton: Jack Silvagni was sore after a knee to the back in a marking contest in the second term. Silvagni received treatment in the rooms before completing a mini fitness test on the boundary line. He returned to play out the game. Not long after Dale Thomas hurt his right knee and was also forced into the rooms. Thomas returned with his knee heavily bandaged, with coach Brendon Bolton saying it was a good sign he played out the game. Jacob Weitering also appeared to jar the hip he injured against Richmond in round one, but he too played out the game.

The Demons will take on Geelong at Etihad Stadium next Saturday afternoon, a team Melbourne has beaten just once since 2006. Carlton will be looking to avoid a 0-3 start to the year in a match-up against Essendon next Sunday.  

MELBOURNE       3.2   6.4    7.5   13.8  (86)                  
CARLTON            2.2   4.6   7.8   9.10   (64)          

Melbourne: Garlett 3, Watts 2, Weideman 2, Jones 2, Salem, Gawn, Petracca, Tyson
Carlton: Wright 3, Casboult, E. Curnow, Murphy, Armfield, Petrevski-Seton, Pickett

Melbourne: Salem, Tyson, Oliver, Watts, Garlett, Jones, Harmes
Carlton: Wright, Murphy, Cripps, Docherty, Gibbs, Curnow

Melbourne: Brayshaw (cut eye)
Carlton: Thomas (right knee), Silvagni (corked thigh and ankle)

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Meredith, Williamson

Official crowd: 46,727 at the MCG

More to come