Sport AFL Melbourne blitz Western Bulldogs to take flag and end 57-year drought

Melbourne blitz Western Bulldogs to take flag and end 57-year drought

wa grand final
September – Melbourne beats the Western Bulldogs in the AFL grand final in Perth to break its 57-year premiership drought. Photo: Getty
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It was a premiership quarter for the ages, one that will be forever entrenched in Melbourne folklore.

In the space of 16 magical minutes, the Demons turned heartbreak into ecstasy in Saturday’s AFL grand final against the Western Bulldogs.

With 5.10 to their name midway through the third quarter and facing a 19-point deficit, the Demons seemed a long way from ending their 57-year flag drought.

But the Demons finished the term with a devastating seven-goal burst to set up their 74-point win.

Melbourne showcased every type of champagne football during that period, which in actual game time was just nine minutes.

Masterclass performance

There was the centre square masterclass, led by Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney, Max Gawn and co.

There was the outrageous dribble goal from Petracca in the pocket.

There was Bayley Fritsch soaring high up forward and landing like a cat to collect his own crumbs and kick the goal.

The Bulldogs’ highly-vaunted midfield had been obliterated. There was no coming back.

Melbourne started the game with red-hot intensity, only to undo their good work with poor goalkicking.

But in the third period – the fondly dubbed ‘premiership quarter’ – the Demons unleashed arguably the most devastating segment of football witnessed in an AFL grand final.

It set up a 24-point lead at the final change. More importantly, it broke the Bulldogs’ spirit.

The rout continued in the last quarter, with the Demons booting the first five majors to make it 12 straight goals.

The last 10 minutes was more akin to a lap of honour.

From the very first bounce of the match, Melbourne went in hard.

Fast and hard

Huge early tackles from Jack Viney and Steven May set the tone.

Space was at a premium for the Dogs, and the panic soon set in.

The situation was best illustrated by two bloopers from Bulldogs defender Bailey Williams that cost his side two goals – one from a wayward kick, and the other a dropped mark.

Melbourne’s intense pressure helped them build a 21-point quarter-time lead.

But it all changed early in the second term as the Bulldogs finally got on top at the clearances, with their midfielders also drifting forward to cause havoc.

Adam Treloar snapped two goals in the opening two minutes to set the wheels in motion for the comeback.

And Marcus Bontempelli recovered from his four-disposal opening quarter to take two strong contested marks up forward for two goals, as well as taking the game by the scruff of the neck in the midfield.

But out of nowhere, Melbourne turned the game on its head to secure a famous victory.

Melbourne dominated the clearances 44-33, the centre clearances 19-11, and inside 50s 64-49 for the match. It’s now party time for the Demons.