Dees beat Bulldogs to go top of AFL ladder

·3-min read

Melbourne have put a turbulent week behind them and reaffirmed their AFL premiership credentials with a 28-point win over the Western Bulldogs in a top-of-the-table clash.

The Demons executed their defensive plan to a tee and produced a blistering start, piling on six first-quarter goals to lay the groundwork for a 13.9 (87) to 8.11 (59) victory at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

Clayton Oliver (32 disposals) and Christian Petracca (24) led an even performance in the Demons' engine room, which spread the workload and outclassed the vaunted Bulldogs midfield.

Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald kicked three goals apiece, while key defenders Steven May and Jake Lever combined to keep dangerous Bulldogs forwards Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce quiet for most of the night.

The resounding victory was the perfect way for Melbourne to bounce back from a shock loss to Adelaide six days earlier and sent them back to the top of the ladder, one game clear of the Bulldogs.

It came after the blockbuster clash almost had to be postponed as a result of Victoria's latest coronavirus outbreak.

The game was played in front of empty stands and only got the green light on Friday morning after all Melbourne players and staff received negative COVID-19 test results.

The Bulldogs had been through a similar scare earlier in the week.

"I was really proud of the way the boys went about it," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

"It wasn't the perfect week, but our ability to deal with it and the maturity shown and our ability to execute what we were trying to do was outstanding.

"That was clearly one of our best performances for the year."

Both sides took 9-1 records into the contest and the Demons burst out of the blocks, with James Harmes kicking the opening goal inside 20 seconds.

They led by 27 points at quarter-time largely off the back of their forward pressure and sound defensive structure, which played roles in causing a raft of Bulldogs turnovers.

The Dogs lost debutant Riley Garcia to a head knock before quarter-time and were never able to get the game on their terms.

"Most of the year, we've been able to out-work sides and see it through but tonight (Melbourne) had most of the bases covered," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"We couldn't force anything and it was only a 28-point loss but it felt like a lot more in the end."

Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli managed 30 disposals, but lacked his usual influence.

Jack Macrae (36 disposals) was one of the Dogs' best and Taylor Duryea kept Dees livewire Kysaiah Pickett quiet.

The Bulldogs will travel to Perth on Sunday and stay there in the build-up to their clash with Fremantle in round 12.

Melbourne are due to play Brisbane in Darwin but are awaiting further instruction from the AFL, with that match likely to be rescheduled.

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