The Melbourne Demons have thrashed the Sydney Swans 21.8 (134) to 12.12 (84) at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, but the loss may have a more lasting sting.
The Swans were sitting on top of the ladder with a ridiculous percentage of 232.7 heading into the match but it was slashed to 134.5 in the club’s first loss of the season.
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Simon Goodwin’s system stood up to the Swans’ dynamic attack, leading from the early stages of the match in a comprehensive victory.
The Demons were in command from the outset, racing to a 28-point quarter time lead on the back of a six-goal-to-one first term, but they had to hold off a gallant fightback from the Swans through the second and third quarters before racing away with an exhilarating seven-goals-to-three last quarter that reaffirmed their premiership credentials.
Without the competition’s No. 1 ruckman Max Gawn, out with a knee injury, Brodie Grundy rucked one-out for the Demons and produced a sterling performance.
Grundy was vying for best-afield honours with 21 disposals and 25 hit outs.
The mobile big man ground down his opponent Peter Ladhams in the ruck and was like an extra midfielder for his team at ground level, producing a number of nifty handballs to kickstart forward moves.
The Demons found a way to hit the scoreboard without small forward Kysiah Pickett as their fleet of small forward electrified the ‘G.
Bayley Fritsch (three goals), Kade Chandler (three) and Charlie Spargo (two) all kicked multiples, while midfield chipped in to hit the scoreboard with 150-gamer Clayton Oliver and Lachie Hunter kicking multiples.
First gamer Jacob Van Rooyen kicked three goals in a dream debut.
Defensively, the Dees made life difficult for the Swans talls, though speedster Tom Papley threatened to take the game away with three goals.
And Steven May’s addition to the Demons defence was huge, restricting Buddy Franklin to 10 disposals, with two goals and two behinds.
May had 20 disposals and matched the Swans superstar with six marks and six intercepts.
“It was a good duel. They’ve played a lot of football against each other, both All Australian in their own right,” Jordan Lewis said on Fox Footy.
“I think both sides through the middle part of that game were really messy going inside 50, they didn’t have opportunities so there wasn’t much movement, but it was a good duel to watch.”
The Demons’ relentless pressure stopped the Swans in the middle of the field, shutting down the scoring opportunities.
“It wasn’t the Swans we saw in the opening two rounds where they had that free-flowing movement in the middle of the ground, which promotes movement further up the field,” Lewis said.
“The pressure for Melbourne just didn’t allow that to happen.”
Last week, the Swans played Logan McDonald and Joel Amartey forward but it was far more difficult against the Dees.
Lewis said the Swans looked better when Franklin was pushed further up the ground.
“I did think when Amartey was the deepest forward and McDonald was the deepest forward, they looked a lot stronger with Buddy further up the ground,” Lewis observed.
“What that does when Amartey and McDonald are deeper, it means May and Lever are deeper as well, so they’re able to get past that transition phase and go deeper inside where they look dangerous.”
Sydney tried their utmost to get back into the game through the second and third quarters.
While they threatened, there were a lot of failed entries from the visiting side.
The fourth quarter turned into a rout.
It was a case of deja vu for the Swans, who experienced a similar feeling in last year’s decider as the Demons rattled off goal after goal.