MELBOURNE’S FORWARD WOES

Daniel Turner would not have been high up the list of game-breakers for the Demons, but when his team needed a spark, the 22-year-old was the unlikely firestarter.

Turner booted two of his three goals in the third term, giving the Dees much-needed breathing space against the dogged Tigers, who were admirable in defeat.

It speaks volumes of the Dees’ woes in attack that a player recruited from a mid-season rookie draft (in 2021) as a defender should be needed to play such a role at the other end of the ground.

Daniel Turner celebrates a goal.

Daniel Turner celebrates a goal.Credit: Getty

Their entries inside 50 were horrendous in the first half, every bit as bad as they were late last year when their quest for a second flag in three seasons was cruelled by an impotent forward line.

Take this for a sample from the second term. From a free kick in the centre square, Christian Petracca held the ball to allow Richmond to set up defensively then dumped it long and high, asking Max Gawn to outmark the entire Tigers defence.

The Demons would have worked all summer on improving what coaches now call the “connection piece” centre forward but on the evidence so far they are not making deep inroads.

If they are to be the contender they should be this year, they need to fix it quickly.

TIGER TENACITY

As dejected as Richmond fans will be with a 1-6 record, they should not have left the MCG without hope. Their side put up a considerable fight only to be overwhelmed by a far more experienced side still with their premiership window wide open.

At times like this, supporters of rebuilding clubs need to look for glimpses from their youngsters.

Maurice Rioli has taken a step forward this year. He appears to be fitter and capable of sustaining his bursts for longer. When he is near the ball, good things happen for the Tigers. He booted two goals with his 14 possessions and laid four tackles.

Mykelti Lefau is a competitor. He was not daunted in his short stints in the ruck against Max Gawn, and hit the ground balls hard. He is worth more investment in by Adem Yze.

Thomson Dow held his own in the midfield. With the Tigers’ best onballers injured, Dow will get his chance this season to prove he is up to the level.

HOPPER HOBBLED

There is no respite on the injury front for the Tigers, who look set to be without another of their starting midfielders for the next few weeks.

Jacob Hopper tackled by Max Gawn.

Jacob Hopper tackled by Max Gawn.Credit: Getty

Already without Tim Taranto and Dion Prestia, the Tigers have lost Jacob Hopper to a hamstring injury sustained in the third quarter. Returning from a knee injury, Hopper cut a dejected figure as he left the field. He was subbed out moments later.

At his best, Hopper is a tough clearance winner but he has not had a decent run at it since leaving Greater Western Sydney at the end of 2022.

In the past three seasons, he has played just 26 of a possible 52 games.Message afl-blogs

And that’s it, Melbourne are leaving the MCG with the four points in their back pocket.

It sends them to the top-four, and with a healthy percentage boost after blowing out the game in the second half.

Melbourne defeat Richmond 13.7 (85) to 5.12 (42).

Melbourne celebrate a goal.

Melbourne celebrate a goal.Credit: Getty

After a low-scoring first half, the Demons have blown out this game in the second.

Christian Petracca kicked their 10th goal (to two) this second half with a huge drop punt set shot.

Melbourne by 44.

Bailey Laurie has kicked another for Melbourne and Richmond fans have started to stream out of the MCG in numbers.

Laurie received the ball from Kozzie Pickett, who handed it off unselfishly, and the young Dee put it through from the left forward pocket on a tight angle.

The Demons have kicked nine goals to two in this second half.

Melbourne by 38.

Daniel Turner celebrates a goal.

Daniel Turner celebrates a goal.Credit: Getty

Bailey Laurie came on as the sub just moments ago and has already joined the party with a goal of his own, his first at AFL level.

Melbourne look away now. They are up by 32 points with eight minutes left on the clock, and don’t look to let up the game.

Melbourne by 32.

Bayley Fritsch with a right-foot snap has kicked another for Melbourne, his second for the evening.

Kozzie Pickett then backed it up with another of his own to give the Demons a very handy 27-point lead midway through the final term.

The Caleb Windsor sub was a tactical one, so thankfully, no injury concerns there. He was having a pretty decent game, and there’s no obvious need to manage as they are coming off the bye – so, a somewhat odd call.

Melbourne by 27.

Caleb Windsor has come to the bench and been subbed out of the game – yet to find out whether it’s a tactical or injury concern.

Bailey Laurie comes on as the sub for Melbourne.

Richmond get the first goal of the final term through Shai Bolton, to cut the margin back to within striking distance.

Credit to the Tigers, they are trying to lift in this game. And there’s less than three goals in it.

Melbourne by 16.

Richmond v Melbourne.

Richmond v Melbourne.Credit: Getty

Melbourne have finally put a gap in this game, but it wasn’t pretty. Daniel Turner has been their unlikely hero, with three goals in a low-scoring game, but it has not been a convincing performance at all by the Dees.

The Tigers have been admirable in what looks to be looming defeat. I’m not sure if there are any moves Adem Yze can make with the personnel he has available other than to implore his men to keep at it in the hope the Dees wilt under pressure.

The loss of Jacob Hopper is a blow, both tonight and in the short- to medium-term future. Hopper has been one of the Tigers’ best.

Let’s see what happens in the last term. Melbourne by 24, as it stands.

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