Melbourne defeated Richmond by 32 points at a rain-soaked MCG on Friday night.
The sides were neck and neck when conditions were dry in the first half, but the Demons put on a determined display of hard-working, wet-weather football after halftime to earn the 12.11 (83) to 6.15 (51) win.
Melbourne led by three points at the first break and two at halftime, but simply outworked the Tigers in the second half.
Chris Dawes and Jesse Hogan were dangerous up forward for Melbourne early and Ben Griffiths provided a strong presence for the Tigers only to let himself down with his kicking for goal.
Conditions didn’t suit the big marking forwards in the third quarter after the heavens opened at halftime, but they were custom-made for the hungry Demons, whose appetite for the contest and willingness to fight hard for every inch of turf saw them boot four goals to one.
The game was still within reach for the Tigers, who were 20 points in arrears as the final term got underway, but they were desperately disappointing for a side with lofty finals aspirations.
They failed to score another goal as Hogan put the exclamation point behind the stirring win with a pack-busting mark and goal.
The win was even more courageous given the Demons were a player down on the bench for most of the second half. Dean Kent limped off with a hamstring injury in the first quarter, while Neville Jetta suffered a head knock and couldn’t continue.
Tigers’ debutant Nathan Drummond was stretchered off the ground in the second quarter with what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Melbourne skipper Nathan Jones (24 possessions) and rookie Aaron Vandenberg, with 21, worked tirelessly at the stoppages throughout, with Vandenberg also laying 13 tackles.
Demons coach Paul Roos rated the win as one of the most significant in his time at the club.
“Apart from the first two or three minutes I thought we were really consistent with our effort,” Roos said.
“The performance across the board with two (players) down in the second half … to come out with a five-goal win against a finals team from last year is a very good effort.”
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said it was clear that his side had been unwilling to work hard enough, and pointed the finger of blame at every player – not just his onfield leaders.
“Everyone’s a leader on the footy field,” Hardwick said.
“The reality is we expect every player, when the ball’s there to be won, to win the ball.
“That’s the art of footy and it hasn’t changed in 150 years.”