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Match report: Tigers wear down tired Dees

Highlights: Melbourne v Richmond The Demons and Tigers clash in round five
Jack Higgins impressed again with three goals - AFL,Melbourne Demons,Richmond Tigers,MCG
Jack Higgins impressed again with three goals

AS FORECAST, Melbourne brought some hustle to the MCG on Tuesday night in the now traditional Anzac Day Eve blockbuster after their debacle of an outing against Hawthorn the week before.

The problem for the Demons was they were up against the reigning premiers.

Richmond was up for the scrap, absorbed the best Melbourne had to offer, and then asserted itself when it counted, kicking away to a 46-point win in front of 77,071 fans, 15.12 (102) to 8.8 (56).

FULL MATCH DETAILS: All the news and stats from Demons v Tigers

The Tigers (4-1) also created some history. For the first time since 1995 they sit on top of the ladder during the home and away season. They won the flag last year despite never climbing higher than third.

The Demons, for all their pre-season optimism have now won just two from five games. In their favour is that this is shaping as one of the most even seasons for several years. Melbourne is not out of September calculations by any stretch, but needs to get a wriggle on.

And indeed, Melbourne’s first quarter reflected that urgency – 28 tackles to 21 and 19 inside 50s to 13, yet for all that they managed just one goal and trailed by three points at quarter-time.

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It was one of the Tigers’ flattest quarters for the year, but they clicked into gear in the second term, dominating clearances and stoppages and allowing the Demons just five inside 50s, kicking away to a 20-point lead at half-time.

Melbourne came hard again in the third quarter, led by Clayton Oliver who was superb with 13 touches for the term, but for all the industry the Demons still trailed by 19 points with a quarter to play. And it takes better teams than them to spot Richmond a margin that high with a quarter to go and win the game.

WATCH: Higgins bags three snags

The Tigers got three goals from second-game small-forward Jack Higgins, who must be thinking that this League footy caper is a breeze. Kane Lambert, Jack Riewoldt, Jason Castagna, Sam Lloyd and Kamdyn McIntosh kicked two goals each.

WATCH: Jack Higgins is loving football


Once again it was a relatively even performance from the Tigers. Yes, Brownlow medalist Dustin Martin was prolific after a quiet start with 26 possessions (15 contested), but Kane Lambert (29, 15), Shane Edwards (26,13) and Bachar Houli (26) were excellent.

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was pleased with how the Tigers worked their way through the match.

“It was a tough old game for a period of time. An arm wrestle, high pressure, high contest and I thought we were on the ropes early in the first and third quarter and I was really pleased with how our back six in particular stood up to that challenge,” he said.

“And then we started to grind away and got the game on our terms towards the end. It was a tough game.”

Apart from Oliver, who ended with 31 possessions, Jake Melksham was Melbourne’s best. He finished with a career-high four goals while playing deep forward on Alex Rance, while his former Essendon teammate Michael Hibberd provided drive across half-back despite an incident-filled night in which he twice had to be treated on the bench for a bloodied nose.

But once again, the Demons didn't have enough four-quarter contributors and they'll be disappointed to have faded badly again in the final term for the second week on the trot. They kicked the first goal of the last quarter to get within 13 points, but it then became a yellow-and-black procession as the Tigers banged on seven goals to officially make it a rout.

Despite the eventual lopsided result, Demons coach Simon Goodwin was pleased enough with what he saw and said it was a step forward from last week.

“For three quarters, I thought we brought out intensity and the way we want to play,” he said.

WATCH: It wasn't all polish from the Tigers


“Clearly, we still need to add some polish to what we're doing – the way we're moving the ball, but I thought in general our intensity around the contest was strong, right up until the last quarter. So it was a step forward in that respect, but we were under no illusions what we were up against too – a footy club that's pretty strong at the moment, and they play the game right out and that's something we have to keep chipping away at.”

Melbourne’s inability to run games out is going to have to be addressed if it wants to start what is now a long climb back up the ladder. The Demons could be looking at how urgent the Tigers were right until the very end on Tuesday night, even though the result was well beyond doubt.

WATCH: You get nothing easy from Alex Rance


Melbourne: Midfielder Dean Kent hurt his hamstring in the dying seconds of the first half and took no further part in the game.

Richmond: The Tigers appeared to come through the physically intense game unscathed.

The Demons are at Etihad Stadium for the clash with Essendon on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers are back at the MCG on Sunday, wearing the white shorts again as they play Collingwood.

Melbourne and Richmond ran through the banner together. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE  1.5   2.6   5.8   8.8 (56)
RICHMOND    2.2   5.8   8.9  15.12 (102)

Melbourne: Melksham 4, Hogan 2, Garlett, Harmes
Richmond: Higgins 3, Lloyd 2, Castagna 2, McIntosh 2, Riewoldt 2, Lambert 2, Prestia, Cotchin 

Melbourne: Oliver, Hogan, Melksham, Jones, Hibberd, Gawn
Richmond: Martin, Edwards, Houli, Lambert, Grigg, Higgins 

Melbourne: Kent (left hamstring), Hibberd (nose)
Richmond: Nil

Reports: Bernie Vince (Melbourne) for striking Brandon Ellis (Richmond)

Umpires: Foot, Rosebury, Williamson

Official crowd: 77,071 at the MCG