Sport AFL Tigers’ late surge sinks Demons in Anzac Day eve struggle
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Tigers’ late surge sinks Demons in Anzac Day eve struggle

Dustin Martin
Dustin Martin and the Tigers put in a big second half to overrun the Demons. Photo: AAP
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Richmond has stormed to the top of the AFL ladder for the first time since 1995 with a late burst sealing a 46-point win over a fading Melbourne in the Anzac Day eve clash at the MCG.

The Demons trailed by just six points in the third quarter, but the Tigers slammed home seven of the last nine goals of the game to score a 15.12 (102) to 8.8 (56) win in front of 77,071 fans.

Dustin Martin was quiet early but warmed into the contest to finish with 26 possessions, including 10 clearances.

Kane Lambert (29 disposals), Shane Edwards (26) and Bachar Houli (26) were also important, while Jack Higgins led the way in attack with three goals in just his second game.

“It was a tough old game … it was a bit of an arm wrestle there for a long period of time,” Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said.

“High pressure, high contest and I thought we were probably on the ropes early in the first and third quarters, so I was really pleased with how (we) stood up to that challenge.

“Then we started to grind away and got it on our terms towards the end.”

It was another uneven performance from Melbourne, which slipped to a 2-3 record with the loss.

Tigers and Demons players run through Anzac Banner
The Tigers and Demons players commemorated Anzac Day by running through the banner together. Photo: AAP

The Demons endured nine days of intense criticism after their limp effort in a 67-point thumping by Hawthorn and they started like they had a point to prove.

But while they had the Tigers on the back foot, they let themselves down with costly skill errors.

Richmond soaked up the early pressure and counter-attacked effectively when opportunities presented to lead by three points at the first break.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin conceded his erratic team couldn’t be trusted in the lead-up to the big clash and it wilted under the Tigers’ pressure in the second quarter.

Martin and Reece Conca got on top at the stoppages and Richmond should have been more than 20 points up at half-time after dominating the inside-50 count 19-5.

The Demons suffered a blow when Dean Kent’s night ended with a hamstring injury, but they took the fight back up to the Tigers after the restart.

Clayton Oliver (31 possessions) and Nathan Jones (30) provided the spark as the margin was sliced to just six points, but as they had done all night, Damien Hardwick’s men answered the challenge.

They led by 19 points at three-quarter time and finished the fading Demons in clinical fashion.

“For three quarters I thought we brought our intensity and the way that we want to play,” Goodwin said.

“Clearly we still need to add some polish to what we’re doing.

“But I thought generally our intensity around the contest was strong right up until the last quarter.

“It was a step forward.”

Jake Melksham kicked a career-high four goals and Max Gawn had 56 hitouts for Melbourne.

-AAP

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