Melbourne gate-crashed Corey Enright’s 300th-game celebrations on Sunday, beating Geelong for the first time in nine years in a huge AFL boilover at Simonds Stadium.
The Demons led at every change and then rammed home the advantage in the final quarter to win 18.5 (113) to 13.11 (89).
It was a desperately disappointing display by the home side on an evening when triple-premiership hero Enright became only the third Cat to reach the 300-game milestone.
“To be frank, a little bit,” said disappointed Geelong coach Chris Scott, when asked if the loss was made even worse due to the special nature of the match.
“But Boris (Enright) was always keen not to make it about him and the loss certainly won’t be about him.”
Key Melbourne midfielders Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince combined for 73 possessions and developing ruckman Max Gawn enjoyed clearly the best of his 29 matches spread over five injury-interrupted seasons.
“The game was won and lost around the contest,” said Scott.
“When you just get smashed around the ball as comprehensively as we did your transition game has got to be unbelievable to win.”
The Cats would have moved into the top eight with a victory, but the 24-point loss saw them slip to a 6-6 win-loss record ahead of the bye.
In contrast, Melbourne racked up their fourth victory of 2015, one which coach Paul Roos labelled as clearly the best of his 26 games at the helm.
“It’s a great win,” said Roos.
“I just said to the players after the game – Geelong at Geelong is a fantastic win and they have been in terrific form.”
The Demons have made a habit of spoiling 300-game parties for their opposition through the years, having now won all six games when the likes of Len Thompson, Leigh Matthews, Paul Salmon, Luke Power, coach David Parkin and now Enright were reaching the major milestone.
Until Sunday, Melbourne’s most recent win over Geelong was back in 2006.
They have suffered some horrible beatings at the hands of the Cats in the intervening years – none worse than the 186-point shellacking at the same venue four years ago that led to the sacking of then-coach Dean Bailey.
Melbourne led at every break on Sunday, but there was still a feeling the Cats would step up for Enright when they trailed by 11 points at the final change.
Instead it was Melbourne who found another gear, outscoring Geelong by five goals to two in the final term.
The Cats have now won only one of their first four matches this year at Simonds Stadium – a venue where they have been well-nigh unbeatable in the previous eight seasons.
Scott admitted the Cats’ home-ground advantage was now less pronounced.
“It’s hard for us to control what the opposition is thinking,” he said.
“But are they a little bit more confident coming down here than they used to be? Probably. It’s hard to argue with that.”