Melbourne holds on to pip St Kilda by three points in AFL thriller

Melbourne dynamo Christian Petracca has booted four goals in a controversial three-point win against St Kilda in Alice Springs.

The Demons climbed into the top eight with their nail-biting 8.4 (52) to 7.7 (49) victory, although the result swung on a contentious score review midway through the final quarter when Petracca thought he had snapped his fourth major to put his side 10 points up.

But the goal umpire ruled Saint Dougal Howard had got a fingertip on the ball before it crossed the line, only to be overruled on video review and the goal awarded.

In Saturday’s earlier matches, the GWS Giants enjoyed a resounding 38-point win over Fremantle in Perth, while Port Adelaide held down top spot on the ladder following a comfortable 26-point triumph over lowly Sydney.

Against the Saints, Melbourne’s key defender Steven May was superb, posting 22 disposals and nine marks for the match.


Halfback Christian Salem (21 touches) was influential and midfielder Clayton Oliver (26 disposals, six clearances) produced a magnificent last quarter.

Melbourne skipper Max Gawn, after missing the past three matches due to injury, recorded 30 hit-outs and broke even against St Kilda’s ruck tandem of Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, who had 28 taps combined.

St Kilda duo Jack Steele and Brad Hill were their side’s leading ball-winners with 26 disposals but the Saints could not find a multiple goalkicker.

Petracca led an opening blitz from Melbourne, booting his side’s initial two goals and then winning a centre clearance to set up a third to captain Gawn.

The Demons skipped to a handy quarter-time lead, 4.0 to 1.3, and went 21 points clear early in the second term before the tide turned.

The Saints gained control at the centre clearances — they won that stat six to one for the half — and made three rapid strikes.

Ed Phillips started the spree from a free kick when Jack Viney collected him high and Melbourne also gifted the next with an errant sideways kick in defence that went straight to the industrious Steele.

From the resultant centre bounce, Paddy Ryder tapped to Jack Sinclair who booted in attack where Rowan Marshall gathered and scored another.

Melbourne led by just two points at half-time, 5.1 to 4.5, before both teams scored two goals in the third term.

The Demons were three points in front at the last change and both teams could not score a goal in the last term until the score review flashpoint in the 12th minute.

Saint Tim Membrey kicked the last goal of the match to reduce the final margin.

Giants find winning form

Second-game forward Jake Riccardi and Jeremy Cameron booted four goals apiece in the Giants’ 14.7 (91) to 8.5 (53) victory.

But the win came at a cost, with midfielder Josh Kelly suffering a sickening head knock.

The star midfielder was falling forward while tackling a Dockers player on the stroke of half-time when his head slammed into the knee of teammate Shane Mumford.

Kelly’s head snapped back when contact was made, and he lay stunned for more than two minutes before being helped off the field by two trainers with a game-ending concussion.

A GWS Giants player jumps in the air and pumps his fist as he celebrates a goal against the Dockers.
The Giants’ Bobby Hill shows his delight during the win over the Dockers.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Riccardi booted three goals in the third term to kill off Fremantle’s fightback, while Lachie Whitfield (31 disposals) and Stephen Coniglio (24) collected plenty of the ball.

Cameron (18 disposals, eight marks, 4.2) bounced back to form with his biggest goal haul of the year.

Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe was restricted to just 11 disposals, with some of the treatment dished out to him off the ball questionable.

Dockers midfielder David Mundy (20 disposals, two goals) produced a hot third quarter to give his side a chance, but it was quickly snuffed out by the Giants.

Power too strong for Swans

The 11.5 (73) to 7.5 (47) victory at Adelaide Oval saw Ken Hinkley’s side move four points clear of Geelong and Brisbane, however the Lions have a match in hand.

Power forward Charlie Dixon put a week of speculation over his playing future behind him, kicking four goals.

Experienced campaigners Tom Rockliff (24 disposals), Ollie Wines (22) and Travis Boak (20) led a strong Power midfield that dominated first-half proceedings to set up the win.

But it was the home side’s electrifying forward line that provided most of the excitement.

Dixon was at the heart of it after going goalless in his two previous outings and he celebrated each of his four majors against the Swans with vigour.

Robbie Gray was outstanding again, finishing with 27 disposals, six tackles, five clearances and two goals.

The injury-ravaged Swans were missing a host of stars and had few clear winners, though Jake Lloyd (31 disposals) and co-captain Josh Kennedy (28) worked tirelessly.

Three Port Adelaide AFL players embrace as they celebrate a goal against the Swans.
The Power moved back to the top of the ladder with the victory over the Swans.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Port Adelaide endured a brief scare during the first term when Zak Butters tripped, staggered and over-extended his left leg when running into goal.

The 19-year-old was hurt but carried on and the home team put their stamp on the match with four unanswered goals during the second term.

Dixon (three) and Gray (two) both kicked multiple majors as the Power midfielders asserted their dominance at the clearances (30-10) in the first half.

Comebacks had been the story of round 14 and the plucky Swans kicked two goals without reply in the third quarter to trim a 32-point half-time lead back to 18 points at the final change.

Nick Blakey’s goal on the three-quarter time siren gave them a sniff of an upset.

But it was snuffed out when Dixon ducked and weaved around Lewis Melican and kicked his fourth goal to open the scoring in the final term.

Tough Power midfielder Brad Ebert came off after an accidental head knock during the third quarter and was assessed for concussion, but returned late in the match.