Tomlinson injury mars undefeated Dees' win

·3-min read

Harrison Petty and Tom McDonald loom as Melbourne's leading candidates to cover the void left by Adam Tomlinson, whose suspected season-ending injury marred a 30-point AFL win over North Melbourne.

The Demons triumphed 16.7 (103) to 11.7 (73) in Hobart, busting the game open with five consecutive third-quarter goals to ensure they remain the only undefeated side after seven rounds.

Simon Goodwin's team flirted with disaster against the winless, bottom-placed Kangaroos, trailing for the vast majority of a sluggish opening half after starting $1.01 favourites.

But Ben Brown booted two goals against his former team during a steady club debut for Melbourne, while Bayley Fritsch kicked a career-best six goals.

The Demons haven't started a season with so much promise since going 8-0 in 1965, leaving them perfectly placed to return to finals after last year's ninth-placed finish.

But the club's depth will be tested after Tomlinson's setback, suffered innocuously as he corralled Tom Campbell early in the first quarter.

Former captain Jack Viney (toe) was a late scratching and will spend at least two weeks on the sidelines, while Fritsch's errant elbow to Tom Powell's head is likely to be scrutinised by the match review officer.

A tearful Tomlinson was quickly substituted off then consoled by teammates on the bench, with scans expected to confirm a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee.

Goodwin is adamant the ladder leaders will adjust without the much-loved and much-improved defender, who has manned Tom Hawkins and Jack Riewoldt this season.

"He's shattered," Goodwin told reporters.

"It's really disappointing.

"He's done an incredible job to enable us to do the things we want to do.

"We'll have to restructure a bit ... Harrison Petty, who played a few weeks ago, is ready to play some really good AFL footy.

"Tom McDonald, we pushed him back (on Sunday) and he performed really strongly. We've got a couple of options."

Brown and North defender Josh Walker finished the game with bloodied heads after a fourth-quarter collision, while Aiden Bonar (corked thigh) was substituted off in the second term.

The Kangaroos kicked the game's opening two goals then grabbed a 19-point lead at halftime before momentum shifted.

"That's AFL footy, you're not going to be at your best every week," Goodwin said.

"Every game is tough.

"I've got unwavering belief in our ability as a club and playing group to get better."

North only trailed by six points early in the fourth quarter, thanks to a goal from Ben Cunnington, but Melbourne's polish and pressure came to the fore.

The Kangaroos' search for their first win of the year continues against Collingwood in round eight, when the Demons host Sydney at the MCG.

"We play to win, that's the bottom line," North coach David Noble said.

"We are building consistency.

"We kicked the first goal of the last quarter ... we were right in the game."