The Demons triumphed 16.21 (117) to 7.11 (53) at the MCG on Thursday night, snapping a three-game losing streak and displacing the Lions at the top of the ladder in the process.
Key defender Steven May had mixed results on return from his club-imposed suspension when he blunted Brisbane spearhead Joe Daniher but made a few costly errors, especially with ball in hand.
Just about everything else went the Demons’ way as they laid the victory platform with a destructive six-goals-to-one second term, having trailed at quarter-time for just the second time this season.
Melbourne won contested possession in a landslide (170-133) – a repeat of last year’s qualifying final dominance over the Lions – and got on top of their opponents in the clearance battle (46-35).
“Tonight, we re-established our method in how we want to look and that’s (being) a really contested side,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.
“We knew what we were up against but we’ve worked incredibly hard the last three or four weeks on the training track and tonight it came out.
“Whether we’ve lost three in a row or won 10 in a row, it doesn’t really matter. We just go back to what works for us and tonight we did that.
“Our ability to execute role for a long period of time tonight was outstanding and it’s full credit to the players.”
Clayton Oliver (35 disposals, 12 clearances), Christian Petracca (31, eight) and Jack Viney (34, eight) gave the Demons control in the midfield, where young ruckman Luke Jackson stepped up in place of injured skipper Max Gawn.
James Harmes put the clamps on Lachie Neale, restricting the Brisbane ball-magnet to eight disposals during the middle two quarters, and Jake Lever starred in defence with 15 intercepts.
Bayley Fritsch kicked three goals and four Demons – Toby Bedford, James Jordon, Kysaiah Pickett and Harmes – booted two each.
The Lions had no clear individual winners in their heaviest loss of the season after three previous defeats by a combined 29 points.
Hugh McCluggage, Daniel Rich, Harris Andrews and ruckman Oscar McInerney fought against the tide, while Mitch Robinson and Eric Hipwood finished with two goals each.
Andrews (shoulder) and Rich (shin) required treatment on injuries but played out the match, while Jarryd Lyons (ribs) was eventually substituted out after being crunched in a second-quarter marking contest with Fritsch.
The result extended the Lions’ barren run at the MCG, where they last won in 2014 and have now lost 10 consecutive matches.
“This game was always going to hinge on who could win the territory battle, so therefore who wins the contest, and Melbourne won it hands down,” Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said.
“We should’ve lost the game by a lot more than we did. We’re lucky they didn’t kick straight.
“That’s as bad as we’ve played in a long, long time.”
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.