The Demons have leapfrogged Richmond with the win.
MELBOURNE 1.3 4.5 9.6 14.7 (91) RICHMOND 2.3 4.8 6.16 9.20 (74)
Goals: Melbourne: J Watts 3 C Pedersen 2 D Tyson 2 A Riley B Vince C Dawes J Kennedy-Harris J Viney M Jones N Jones. Richmond: B Lennon 2 S Edwards 2 D Jackson D Martin J Riewoldt S Lloyd T Cotchin.
BEST Melbourne: N. Jones, Howe, Tyson,Watts, Pedersen, Viney, Grimes. Richmond: Martin, Cotchin, Jackson, Deledio, Edwards, Grigg.
INJURIES Melbourne: Jetta (gastro) replaced in selected side by Toumpas. Richmond: Astbury (knee), Cotchin (ankle).
Umpires: Ben Ryan, Mathew Nicholls, Leigh Fisher.
Official Crowd: 56,910 at MCG.
Jack Watts has fronted post-game inquisitions and kept his chin up in some solemn and gloomy changerooms through his five-and-a-bit seasons as a Demon, so deserved to air his take on happier times.
"I think in the past we've thought that individually we had to do something special to win a game of AFL footy," Watts said after Saturday's collegiate win. "Whereas if every player just plays his role when it's his turn to go, that's when you win games of footy."
It was a dirty day all round for the Tigers. David Astbury was forced from the field with a knee injury. Photo: Wayne Taylor
- Q4 29:25
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Edwards (2.2), Lennon (2.1), Riewoldt (1.3), Cotchin (1.1), Lloyd (1.1), Jackson (1.0), Martin (1.0), Griffiths (0.3), Grigg (0.3), Deledio (0.1), Ellis (0.1), Houli (0.1)||Scorers||Watts (3.0), Pedersen (2.2), Tyson (2.0), Dawes (1.1), Jones (1.0), Jones (1.0), Kennedy-Harris (1.0), Riley (1.0), Vince (1.0), Viney (1.0), Bail (0.1), Gawn (0.1), Salem (0.1)|
Even with the mandatory modern leaning on "the process", it summed up where the Demons were better than Richmond, and are getting better in general.
Nathan Jones went head-to-head with Trent Cotchin, having done so this season with Marc Murphy and Gary Ablett. His cause was helped by an ankle injury to the Tigers' captain, yet he kept churning away for the team good. Jones' 13 last-quarter possessions were back-breaking for an ailing opponent.
Up forward, Chris Dawes and Cameron Pedersen laid eight tackles each – Dawes in what his coach Paul Roos said wasn't a great personal game, but one in which he was his team's general, while Pedersen won the one-on-one contests that Damien Hardwick would rue as being key to the result.
AFL round 9: Richmond vs Melbourne at the MCG
Melbourne 14-7-91 beat Richmond 9-20-74 by 17 points at the MCG. Photo: Wayne Taylor
"That's a great stat for two of our big boys to have 16 tackles between them," Watts said, noting the emphasis Roos has placed on his forwards "rolling up" to close off the corridor.
Max Gawn and Mark Jamar pushed forward to stretch an opposition defence that lost David Astbury in the third quarter, was already under pressure and thereafter couldn't hold back the tide. Jack Grimes went to a rampant Dustin Martin and matched him for output, Dom Tyson and Jack Viney played like the on-ballers on the rise that they undoubtedly are.
Jeremy Howe's reading of the incoming ball was a highlight, launching himself skyward and plucking marks deep in defence that were as thrilling as those in his earlier incarnation as a leaping forward. With Richmond still clinging on, he loped through a vacant middle and speared a pass to Jay Kennedy-Harris that gave the Demons a game-high 16-point lead that made safe a win of merit.
"That's the beautiful thing about Howey down back, when he flies for those marks ... as a forward you can see he's going to elevate and take a mark from an oppo kick, we can read it and go bang out to the other side," Watts said. "It gives us a lot of predictability as a team. He's embraced that role, he's playing fantastically well."
The gods were supposed to be with the Tigers but they were on the wrong end of some head-banging moments. Nathan Jones, with the game's first, and Tyson both kicked goals with the help of ripping leg-break bounces. When Watts blasted a floating, wobbling mongrel punt to full-forward, it landed in Aiden Riley's lap surrounded by three Tigers.
Every Richmond miss amplified the drums of doom. Through the game's middle quarters they kicked 2.5 and 2.6. Shaun Grigg fluffed three gettable shots in open play in little more than five minutes either side of half-time; Ben Griffiths can kick it a country mile, but Tiger fans yearned for him to simply kick it straight; he too kicked three behinds.
Hardwick admitted to erring in subbing out Shaun Hampson just after the long break. Even though his replacement Ben Lennon had joined the goal-from-first-kick club before the scoreboard even announced his arrival, Astbury's knee collapsing soon after as Viney sold him a most painful dummy left his team a rotation down.
Cotchin was having treatment in the rooms at the time, and had to pull his boot back on and wince back into battle. Not surprisingly, his coach wished he had more than one of him.
A tone of sorts was set in the opening minute when Reece Conca hesitated inside his defensive arc and Dawes mowed him down, dispossessing the Tiger with a seemingly perfect tackle. No free was paid – then, or for the next 17 minutes.
Finally the first infringement of the game was spotted when Gawn really was gone, but only eight frees were paid to half-time, building to 24 for the afternoon. Holding the ball, in particular, seemed to have been a silent victim of Joe Hockey's federal budget.
Watts' third goal – screwed around the body after positioning himself perfectly at the drop of the ball – illustrated perfectly Roos' assessment that his players are learning where to be for each and every contest. Beaming, Watts summed it up. "This is what footy's about, isn't it?"