MELBOURNE has given themselves a chance of playing in this year’s AFL finals after a 19-point win over Essendon at Metricon Stadium.
The 10.8 (68) to 7.7 (49) victory over the Bombers lifts the Demons to eighth, a position they’ll retain if the Western Bulldogs lose to Fremantle in Cairns on Sunday.
The Bulldogs will leapfrog the Demons into eighth, however, if they can overcome the Dockers.
Jayden Hunt scored four goals for the Demons while Bayley Fritsch kicked three as Simon Goodwin’s team did their bit despite a fourth-quarter fightback by the Bombers.
Melbourne appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win with a 34-point lead in the third quarter but a goal after the three-quarter time siren to James Stewart sparked the Bombers into life.
Stewart – twice – Devon Smith and Dylan Shiel all kicked fourth-quarter goals as the Bombers closed the gap to seven points.
With their chance to play in finals hanging by a knife edge, Fritsch stood up with two late goals to halt the Bombers’ momentum and secure the win for the Demons.
Stewart finished with three goals of his own with Melbourne’s Alex Neal-Bullen another multiple goalkicker.
Former Bomber Mitch Brown had 13 marks, while a trio of Bombers – Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett and Shiel – topped the disposals tally with 25 touches each.
Demons star Christian Petracca was the leading possession getter for his team with 23 disposals and also kicked a bomb of a goal in the second quarter from outside 50.
Defeat marks the end of John Worsfold’s coaching reign at the Bombers, with the 51-year-old finishing with 45 wins from his 107 games at the helm.
Assistant coach Ben Rutten will take over at the club which has won just one of their final 10 games of the season and last won a finals match way back in 2004.
(C) AAP 2020
MELBOURNE 1.4 6.6 7.7 10.8 (68)
ESSENDON 2.0 2.2 3.3 7.7 (49)
Goals: Melbourne: J Hunt 4 B Fritsch 3 A Neal-Bullen 2 C Petracca. Essendon: J Stewart 3 D Shiel D Smith J Laverde J Stringer. Umpires: Ray Chamberlain, Nathan Williamson, Hayden Gavine.
Official Crowd: 2,175 at Metricon Stadium.