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Demons dodge fast finishing Eagles



Melbourne has moved to the top of the AFL ladder, holding on to defeat the West Coast Eagles by nine points in on a remarkable night in wet conditions at Optus Stadium.


Play was halted for almost half an hour in the final term with lightning close to the venue, play resuming with Melbourne in front by 33 points.


West Coast charged home when play resumed to kick the final four goals of the match, but it wasn't enough as the Demons triumphed 10.12 (72) to 9.9 (63) in front of 31,584 fans.


Melbourne seemed to have the game on their terms in the first quarter, but the Eagles refused to go away, clawing back a 20-point deficit to enter the main break just four points behind, a Kysiah Pickett major putting the visitors in front at half time.


Both teams lost a player to injury in the opening quarter, former captain Shannon Hurn leaving the game with a a hamstring injury and speedster Jayden Hunt injuring an ankle.


Melbourne came out of the blocks hard in the third term, booting five goals to West Coast’s one to take a 32-point lead into the final change.


Lightning in the Perth area forced a break in play early in the fourth quarter, with both sides retreating to their changerooms to wait out the storm.


The Eagles charged home after the restart as Oscar Allen was swung forward alongside Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy (each two goals), falling just short of a miraculous comeback victory.


Demons midfielders Clayton Oliver (28 disposals and 9 clearances) and Christian Petracca (28 disposals and 7 clearances) were supreme in the contest in heavy conditions, Elliot Yeo West Coast's player with 31 disposals and 14 clearances as he tried to lift his team over the line.


The Demons now sit top of the ladder with games against Adelaide and Geelong to come, while West Coast is in a fight for a top 8 spot with matches against Fremantle and Brisbane in the final fortnight of the season.


IMAGE: The Australian.