Melbourne have held on for a 26-point AFL win over a gutsy Brisbane in their AFL clash at the Gabba.For a moment, Melbourne looked as if they might once again lament the one that got away.
But some Jeff Garlett magic helped the Demons hold on to a 14.16 (100) to 10.14 (74) AFL win over a gutsy Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night.
A week after letting victory against Geelong slip through their grasp with Max Gawn’s late miss, Melbourne again looked shaky when the Lions hit back from a 42-point third-term deficit to lock up the scores in the fourth.
Former Adelaide star Charlie Cameron (16 touches, three goals) was electric as Brisbane kicked the first four goals of the final term to level the scores 65-all with 20 minutes left.
However, Garlett (four goals, 17 disposals) proved the difference as the Demons held their nerve in front of a 17,141-strong crowd.
Fellow forward Jesse Hogan was also a presence for Melbourne with a game-high five goals, 22 touches and nine marks in the Demons’ first Gabba game in five years.
“They are creating a really strong forward line. They shared the load down there,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said of the twin-pronged attack of Hogan and Garlett.
“They worked their way back into the game and full credit to Brisbane but I loved the way we responded when scores were level.
“But I thought we were outstanding setting up the game early, especially defensively.”
Besides Cameron, Brisbane’s Allen Christensen (three goals, 16 touches) was also instrumental in their comeback in his 100th AFL game after nearly two years on the sidelines due to shoulder issues.
Lions coach Chris Fagan lamented their start after Melbourne jumped to a 0.3 (3) to 5.4 (34) lead at the first break, with the Demons kicking five unanswered goals, including a double to Hogan.
“It takes an enormous effort for a young team to fight back and level the way they did,” Fagan said.
“We had our opportunities to go on with it but botched some shots and made some turnovers and they made us pay.
“But I was more disappointed with the first quarter than anything else.”
Garlett provided the second-term spark for the visitors, snapping truly and having a hand in two other goals as Melbourne cruised to a 37-point halftime buffer after the Demons topped contested possessions 88-72.
The lead blew out to 42 points after co-captain Nathan Jones nailed his second major but it only sparked a fightback.
Christensen and Cameron combined to help Brisbane grab four more contested possessions and three more inside 50s to win the term and cut the deficit to 24 points by the final break.