Jake Melksham celebrates a goal during the match between Melbourne and Brisbane in R18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

TWO LATE goals from Jake Melksham as part of a four-goal burst in less than seven minutes has seen Melbourne come from nowhere to consign Brisbane to yet another MCG defeat, this time by just a single point.

Melksham's second goal of the night, a pinpoint set shot with just 33 seconds remaining, capped off a stunning late Demons surge and saw them take the lead for the first time since late in the first half.

DEMONS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats

With the Dees up by a point as the clock ticked down, Jake Lever and Eric Hipwood appeared to simultaneously mark the footy on the Lions' forward 50 arc as the siren sounded. But the umpire awarded the mark to the Dees defender, much to Hipwood's dismay, to break Lion hearts.

The Demons had trailed by 24 points with just 7:08 remaining before goals to Kozzy Pickett, Melksham, Jack Viney and Melksham again sealed the barely believable result.

Both teams jumped out to leads of at least 25 points at various stages of the night, but it was Melksham – who started the game in awfully shaky fashion, booting one out on the full, dropping a mark and hitting the post – who was ultimately the hero in the 16.9 (105) to 16.8 (104) victory.


The Lions were 28 points ahead in the third quarter but, much as they did earlier this year in the infamous lights-out game between the pair, went into their shells while the Dees finished full of running.

Pickett in the middle meant Christian Petracca started forward and had an ominous start, booting two goals in the first seven minutes, including a pearler from outside 50 when he was afforded far too much room.


It was part of a scintillating start from the highly efficient Demons, who jumped out to a 25-0 lead while the Lions blew chances down the other end.

Jake Bowey pounced on an overcooked kick-in to start proceedings in the second quarter, and it looked as if the Demons would continue on their merry way, but the Lions warmed into the game beautifully.

Some young gun magic from Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher helped strike crucial blows, Hugh McCluggage worked overtime to control the tempo of the game, and then it was Melbourne's turn to fail to capitalise on inside 50s.


Having taken a one-point lead into the main break, Brisbane's midfield kicked into gear in earnest, led by Lachie Neale.

The Brownlow medallist had a tough first half, recording just six disposals, but won the first two clearances of the third term and set Jack Gunston up for his second major as the Lions piled on four straight goals.


Melbourne's fearsome defence struggled to have an impact aerially after the first quarter, with the Lions' sharp ball-movement spreading the Demons thin, leaving them unable to intercept across the second and third terms.

Joe Daniher had a topsy-turvy game that only he can produce, missing a few gettable shots and seeing an on-target shot bounce at right angles on the goal-line but also producing pin-point 50m passes and attracting an awful lot of defensive heat from Melbourne.


He even led the Lions in disposals at three-quarter time with 21, and followed up to kick an important goal to open the last quarter.

Harrison Petty was hindered by a rib injury suffered late last week against St Kilda, and was eventually subbed in the third term, with Joel Smith slotting into defence in his place.

'Jazzcroft' set to dominate for years to come
Jaspa Fletcher and Will Ashcroft kicked two key goals in the Lions' second-quarter comeback, an exciting combination known on social media as 'Jazzcroft'. Fletcher's major was simply superb. Running with his back to the flight of the ball, he marked overhead without contacting Lachie Hunter, sped off and slotted truly from 40m.


Grundy-less Dees stand tall
Melbourne made a big call in dropping big-name recruit Brodie Grundy and bringing in Jacob van Rooyen instead to play a forward/ruck role supporting Max Gawn. The skipper relished being the main man, racking up a game-high 10 clearances to go with his 38 hitouts (matched up with Oscar McInerney's 34). Gawn also found a stack of the footy with 29 disposals and kicked a high floating goal in the third term to keep the Dees in touch. Van Rooyen was fairly quiet, but Gawn's dominance means it wouldn't surprise if Grundy remains on the outer.

Tight in the top four
Brisbane blew a chance to give itself a nice buffer in third position and would have sat three games clear of the Demons in fourth if they'd managed to hold on. Instead, Melbourne now just sits one game behind the Lions and has kept its own four-point (at least) advantage on Essendon and St Kilda, a gap that could sit at two games if both the Saints and Bombers lose this weekend.


MELBOURNE  6.2   8.3   12.4   16.9   (105)
BRISBANE     3.3   8.4   15.7   16.8   (104)
Melbourne: Petracca 4, Pickett 3, Melksham 2, Neal-Bullen, Brown, Spargo, Bowey, Woewodin, Gawn, Viney
Brisbane: Gunston 3, McCarthy 2, Bailey 2, Cameron 2, Daniher 2, McInerney, Ashcroft, Fletcher, Lyons, Hipwood
Melbourne: Petracca, Gawn, Brayshaw, Viney, Pickett, Melksham
Brisbane: Daniher, McCluggage, Neale, Ashcroft, Andrews, Bailey
Melbourne: Petty (TBC)
Brisbane: Nil
Melbourne: Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty in the third quarter)
Brisbane: Deven Robertson (replaced Jarrod Berry in the fourth quarter)
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