Dees overcome early scare to beat North
MELBOURNE remains the only undefeated side after seven rounds of the AFL season, having banked a costly 30-point win over bottom-placed North Melbourne in Hobart after flirting with disaster.
The Demons triumphed 16.7 (103) to 11.7 (73), busting the game open with five consecutive third-quarter goals after trailing for the vast majority of a sluggish opening half.
Ben Brown booted two goals against his former side during a steady club debut for Melbourne, who could have been on the wrong end of a boilover if not for Bayley Fritsch’s 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.
However, Sunday’s victory was marred by injuries to defender Adam Tomlinson (knee) and former captain Jack Viney (toe).
Viney is set to spend two to three weeks on the sidelines, having been a late scratching from Sunday’s clash, while Tomlinson is likely to miss the rest of this season.
Scans are expected to reveal Tomlinson damaged the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during the early stages of Sunday’s contest.
The setback occurred in innocuous fashion as the 27-year-old corralled Tom Campbell.
A tearful Tomlinson was quickly substituted out of the contest then consoled by teammates on the bench, with coach Simon Goodwin confirming “it’s looking like an ACL”.
“Shattering for Tommo. He’s worked so hard to get himself in this position, I know his teammates and everyone is feeling for him,” Goodwin told Fox Sports.
Tomlinson, who left GWS after playing the 2019 grand final, had become a key cog in the Demons’ defence during their impressive start to 2021.
Brown and North defender Josh Walker finished the game with bloodied heads after a fourth-quarter collision, while Aiden Bonar was substituted off in the second term because of a badly corked thigh.
The league-wide expectation was for Goodwin’s side to ruthlessly crush the winless Kangaroos, as reflected by bookmakers offering odds of just $1.01 for them to post their first win in Hobart.
But North kicked the game’s opening two goals and continued to rattle the Demons, grabbing a 19-point lead at halftime before momentum shifted.
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 at Marvel Stadium in Round 8, when the Demons host Sydney at the MCG.
(C) AAP 2021
MELBOURNE 3.2 6.4 12.7 16.7 (103)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 9.5 10.6 11.7 (73)
Goals: Melbourne: B Fritsch 6 K Pickett 3 B Brown 2 C Oliver C Spargo E Langdon J Jordon L Jackson. North Melbourne: B Cunnington 2 N Larkey 2 T Campbell 2 C Zurhaar J Mahony J Simpkin S Atley T Powell.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Simon Meredith, Justin Power.
Venue: Blundstone Arena.