‘This is the rising of Melbourne’: Demons claim the scalp they needed to prove themselves

THIS was the win Melbourne needed to prove itself as a genuine premiership threat.

They might have already won six games this season, but none of those wins were scalps.

But in Alice Springs on Sunday, Simon Goodwin’s side claimed the scalp they needed, slaughtering last year’s grand finalists Adelaide to win its fifth consecutive game for the first time since 2006 — the year they last played a final.

10 rounds into 2018, the Demons look almost certain to return to September.

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The signs were ominous early at Traeger Park. The Demons kicked the first five goals of the game inside the first 13 minutes to set the tone for the day.

And from there, they were rarely troubled, kicking seven goals in the opening quarter, five in the second, six in the third and five in the final term to hand Adelaide a 91-point hiding.

“Melbourne are making a statement here today,” 1986 Coleman medallist Brian Taylor said on Channel 7.

“You don’t want to draw conclusions too early, but I tell you what, we picked Richmond at this time last year to go on and have success, and you just wonder if this is the rising of Melbourne here today?

Angus Brayshaw was everywhere in Alice Springs on Sunday.
Angus Brayshaw was everywhere in Alice Springs on Sunday.Source: AAP

“We know they have done OK this year, but I wonder whether this is the game where they rise out of the pack and show people they are ready. This could be the game we look back on.”

Much of the discussion in the build-up focused on Melbourne’s high profile acquisition Jake Lever and his first game against the team he departed following last year’s disappointing grand final.

While the bigger test will come when he returns to Adelaide Oval for the first time in red and blue in Round 19, Lever continued his resurgence in the red centre.

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At the other end of the ground, Demons spearhead Jesse Hogan leapt into the top handful of players in the Coleman Medal race, adding a bag of five goals to take his tally to 26 from the first 10 games.

Had he not handed a couple off close to goal, or played on just before the three-quarter time siren, the West Australian might have finished with a very big bag.

Hogan wasn’t the only one to cash in on Sunday. Christian Petracca and Alex Neal-Bullen kicked three each, while Jake Melksham and Tim Smith added two apiece.

Jesse Hogan celebrates one of his five goals in Alice Springs.
Jesse Hogan celebrates one of his five goals in Alice Springs.Source: Getty Images

But while almost every Demon made a sizeable contribution, Angus Brayshaw rose above everyone else, producing the best performance of his career.

After being forced to bide his time at Casey in the first three rounds of the season, Brayshaw was enormous in the Northern Territory, amassing a career-high 37 disposals, 14 marks, 12 score involvements, five inside 50s, three goals and an enormous 791 metres gained.

Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney also starred in his second game of the season, collecting 35 disposals, including 20 contested possessions, while Clayton Oliver finished with 31 touches, 10 clearances and nine tackles.

With an injury epidemic engulfing the Crows across the first half of this season, things got even worse when in-form wingman Paul Seedsman was a late withdrawal due to an adductor issue in the warm-up.

Myles Poholke replaced Seedsman, who joined a glut of Crows stars unavailable due to injury — Taylor Walker, Rory Sloane, Mitch McGovern, Brad Crouch and Riley Knight.

Many wondered how Adelaide would cope with so many injuries in the first half of the season. And in the red centre, they simply couldn’t cope against a rampaging Demons side that don’t just appear certain to end a 12-year finals hiatus, they could go all the way.

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