A FEW BULLDOGS soared, but it was ultimately a disappointing outcome for the club, well and truly beaten in the second half.
Marcus Bontempelli - 8
Led from the front and looked on track for a possible Norm Smith medal at the start of the third term. Kicked two crucial goals in the second to drag the Dogs back into it after a relatively slow start. Finished with 25, five clearances and three goals and was one of his side's best.
Zaine Cordy - 4
Had an up and down match, much like his team. Took a few strong contested marks but was often caught out behind Ben Brown.
Bailey Dale - 6
The All Australian defender started uncharacteristically shaky in the face of some fierce Melbourne pressure, skewing his first kick out of bounds on the full. Finished with 21 at 81 per cent efficiency.
DEMONS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats
Caleb Daniel - 8
One of the Bulldogs' very best players, recording 26 touches to half-time as he ran riot in defence and sweeping the back of packs. Used the ball cleanly, made good choices but faded as the Dees wrested control. Finished with a team-high 37 touches.
Josh Dunkley - 7
Far from the Bulldogs' worst, but struggled to keep up the heat as Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney took control in the third. Showed excellent desperation early, battled hard in the contest with 25 and five clearances.
Taylor Duryea - 6
Had the unenviable task of manning dangerous forward Kozzy Pickett and kept him very quiet. Took a few strong marks in defence but finished the game with a sore nose after a marking contest gone wrong.
Tim English - 6
Had excellent patches throughout the match when in the ruck against Gawn, keeping his influence down, but battled in the second half.
Mitch Hannan - 3
Ran hard across half-forward in a fairly unforgiving position if your team isn't winning the ball, but didn't find a heap of footy against his old side.
Lachie Hunter - 6
Was influential on the wing as the Doggies gained momentum, setting up a few goals with scything kicks across his body into dangerous spots. Gave his side the lead in the second term.
10 TALKING POINTS Dee-structive third quarter, was Max robbed?
Jason Johannisen - 6
Definitely did his part in attack, and was often playing as an undersized deepest forward in the Dogs' unorthodox line-up. Took a ripping specky over Jake Bowey, kicking the first goal of the third term, but supply dried up after that.
Alex Keath - 4
Looked a little proppy, coming in after missing the preliminary final with a hamstring injury. Took a few strong marks and opponent Tom McDonald was fairly quiet.
Tom Liberatore - 6
Had moments of brilliance, and put his head down and battled away in his imitable style. Was part of the midfield group that struggled badly after the Dees took control.
Jack Macrae - 7
Didn't reach his usual stunning heights in term of accumulation, finishing with 25 disposals. Had a strong first half with 18 touches, using the ball beautifully, but like many of his teammates, struggled for influence in the second half.
Stefan Martin - 5
Didn't quite replicate his preliminary final heroics, but was far from his team's worst performer. Found a bit of the footy around the ground with 14 touches, but only took the two grabs.
Aaron Naughton - 5
Looked like he was a chance to break the game open late in the second and early in the third as his marking started to come to the fore, but it was not to be. Kicked a rare goal off the deck, but was not sighted in the last.
Josh Schache - 4
Started to work his way into the match in the second quarter, providing a marking target across half-forward, and found a bit of the footy with 11 touches, but didn't have the best delivery. Very quiet in the fourth as the ball lived in the other half.
Bailey Smith – 6
The winger was one who stood up amid Melbourne's early onslaught in the opening quarter, and while he found plenty of the footy with 26 disposals, his influence wasn't as great as it has been in weeks past.
Roarke Smith - 6
A very dependable performance, battling hard in the middle of the ground and running hard across the ground. Kicked the Dogs' first goal, finished with 16 disposals, with 10 contested possessions.
Adam Treloar - 8
Kickstarted the Bulldogs' run in the second term when he started on the ball, having begun the match at half-forward. Kicked three important goals and the Dogs struggled when he wasn't in the middle.
Cody Weightman - 3
It can be a tough role, a small forward when the team is struggling, but Weightman was well below his normal level of influence. Seemed to be playing a slightly deeper role than in weeks past, and will be very sore after crashing into the goal post.
Bailey Williams - 5
Had a nightmare start, coughing up two goals as Melbourne piled on the pressure. Steadied as the game progressed and laid an important smother early in the third term that led to Johannisen's goal.
PERFECT PETRACCA, FANTASTIC FRITSCH Every Demon rated out of 10
Easton Wood - 4
Needs an asterisk as appears to have played the game out with a damaged wrist. Had a few important wins, including a two-on-one battle on the goal-line, but struggled to contain Bayley Fritsch.
Laitham Vandermeer (medi-sub) – N/A
Did not play.