Melbourne Demons v Western Bulldogs

Kysaiah Pickett celebrates a goal during round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE has broken through for its first win of the season, defeating the Western Bulldogs by 45 points on Sunday afternoon.

Pressure had built on the Demons during the week after their shock Opening Round loss, but under the blazing sun at the MCG, the Demons looked to be back to their best in the 16.13 (109) to 9.10 (64) victory.

It was the Demons’ first win since round 23 last year after they exited the 2023 finals in straight sets.

Midfielder Clayton Oliver was back to his best after a tumultuous off-season, as was captain Max Gawn after being outplayed by former teammate Brodie Grundy last week.

Melbourne’s often-dysfunctional forward line looked dangerous with Kade Chandler (three goals), Jacob van Rooyen (three), Ben Brown (two), Kysaiah Pickett (two), and Alex Neal-Bullen (two) chipping in.

DEMONS v BULLDOGS Full match coverage and stats

Marcus Bontempelli (25 touches and a goal) was arguably the Bulldogs’ best early while Tom Liberatore (32 disposals, nine clearances) and Adam Treloar (31 disposals) were typically prolific.

Key forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was lively but kicked 2.3.

High-profile Bulldog Caleb Daniel was relegated to the substitute role, and replaced impressive first-round pick Ryley Sanders in the third term.

The Bulldogs burst out of the blocks and picked Melbourne apart early, with Aaron Naughton and Ugle-Hagan kicking the opening two majors.

But Jack Viney’s goal on the run settled Melbourne as Oliver entered the fray to a round of applause after five minutes.

The prolific midfielder got his hands on the ball at will, collecting 10 touches for the term to spark the Demons.

Melbourne hauled in the Bulldogs as the quarter progressed and Van Rooyen secured the lead just before quarter-time.

The Demons nudged out to a 19-point lead early in the second term but Cody Weightman goaled just before half-time to keep the Bulldogs within 12 points.

Melbourne still restored their lead back to 19 at the final change, then piled on the pain with a six-goal final term.

The Demons (1-1) play Hawthorn (0-1) at the MCG next Saturday while the Bulldogs (0-1) head to Ballarat to play Gold Coast (2-0) on Sunday.

Dogs deliver on debut
The Western Bulldogs unveiled two debutants on Sunday afternoon, with No.6 pick Ryley Sanders and 2022 No.39 pick Harvey Gallagher named in the starting 22. Gallagher kicked a goal in the first quarter and finished with nine disposals and two clearances, while Sanders showed plenty of spark with his 15 disposals and seven marks before he was subbed out in the third quarter.

Oliver back to his best
After spending the majority of the off-season training away from the club, many questioned what sort of form Clayton Oliver would be in early in the season. But the 26-year-old was back to his mesmerising best against the Bulldogs, shimmying away from tackles with ease to finish with 35 disposals, six clearances and 565m gained and received a huge ovation, which he later described as “emotional”, when he came off near full-time.

MELBOURNE                  4.4    8.5   10.8    16.13 (109)
WESTERN BULLDOGS    4.3     6.5    7.7     9.10  (64)

Melbourne: Chandler 3, Van Rooyen 3, Brown 2, Neal-Bullen 2, Pickett 2, Viney, Petracca, Billings, Salem
Western Bulldogs: Ugle-Hagan 2, Naughton, Lobb, Gallagher, Bontempelli, Weightman, Bramble, West

Melbourne: Gawn, Oliver, Petracca, May, Billings
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Liberatore, Treloar, English, Johannisen

Melbourne: None
Western Bulldogs: None

Melbourne: Taj Woewodin (replaced Caleb Windsor in the fourth quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Caleb Daniel (replaced Ryley Sanders in the third quarter)

Crowd: 44,100 at the MCG

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