THIS would have been sweet relief for Simon Goodwin.
Having been made to battle its way through Wednesday night, Melbourne overcame a clumsy start to avoid the ignominy of being Adelaide's first scalp of season 2020 with a 51-point victory that will provide its head coach with a moment of much-needed respite.
A seven-goal final term from the Demons helped to deliver the separation between the two sides, as the visitors shrugged off a disappointing fortnight to record a 13.10 (88) to 5.7 (37) win that will momentarily release the pressure that has been building at the club.
Clayton Oliver was the driving force behind Melbourne's improved second half, recording 34 disposals, 22 contested possessions, 12 clearances, six tackles and adding a nice goal in an impressive display that was far away the best performance on the field.
Former captain Jack Viney (22 disposals, eight clearances, two goals) was also a decisive factor in the midfield, helping the Demons overcome a loss to Port Adelaide last week that was described by club president Glen Bartlett as "disgraceful" and "insipid".
The result stretches a youthful Adelaide's winless start to the season to 10 matches, as first-year coach Matthew Nicks continues his search for a breakthrough maiden victory in charge.
Matt Crouch (27 disposals, eight tackles) had helped ensure the Crows were within touching distance until half-time, but all hopes of that long-awaited first win for the campaign quickly dissipated when the hosts conceded the opening four goals after the main change.
Things then went from bad to worse, as Melbourne piled on the misery in the last quarter.
Sling tackle set to land Dee in hot water
The Match Review's revamped interpretation on dangerous tackles is set to get one of its first serious test cases. Adelaide youngster Will Hamill was forced out of Wednesday night's clash midway through the first quarter with concussion, having been slung to the ground by Alex Neal-Bullen. Earlier this year, the League amended the wording of what constitutes a dangerous tackle from "arms" being pinned to "arm" being pinned. It's crucial in this case, where Neal-Bullen pinned only one of Hamill's arms in the tackle. Given the state Hamill was in, Neal-Bullen could be looking at a two-match ban if it's classified 'high' impact, or a date with the AFL Tribunal if it's graded 'severe'. The AFL tweaked the rule in June after Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne escaped with a fine for his tackle on Patrick Dangerfield.
Dees find something to work with inside 50
There had been much made of Melbourne's decision to drop experienced key forward Tom McDonald this week. However, in youngsters Sam Weideman and Luke Jackson, the side found something to work with in attack. Both provided dangerous options in the forward line, particularly early in the encounter, with Weideman's ability to generate space on the lead providing a good foil for Jackson's high-marking aerial talents. Weideman kicked three goals and looked assured in front of goal, while Jackson displayed glimpses of his immense talent to finish with two majors, as both provided the presence that McDonald has often lacked over the last 18 months. Now, they'll need to provide consistency in order to keep their older teammate out of the side.
The rebuilding Crows are unrecognisable from 2019
Adelaide has now blooded eight AFL debutants in 10 matches this season, with a completely new-look Crows side virtually unrecognisable from the team that ended last year. Lachie Scholl and Harry Schoenberg added to the list on Wednesday night, joining Fischer McAsey, Ned McHenry, Will Hamill, Shane McAdam, Andrew McPherson and Kieran Strachan in making their maiden senior appearance this year. Both performed admirably, with Scholl bright early and Schoenberg plying his trade solidly in the midfield. Remarkably, there are now only five players on Adelaide's list who haven't played an AFL game. They include first-year players Josh Worrell, Ronin O'Connor and Lachie Gollant, as well as rookies Jordon Butts and Ayce Taylor. Who is to say their time won't also come before the season is over?
ADELAIDE 2.4 4.5 4.7 5.7 (37)
MELBOURNE 3.2 5.4 6.7 13.10 (88)
Adelaide: Seedsman 2, Fogarty, Himmelberg, Crocker
Melbourne: Weideman 3, Jackson 2, Melksham 2, Viney 2, Fritsch 2, Bennell, Oliver
Adelaide: M.Crouch, Brown, Keays, Laird, Seedsman
Melbourne: Oliver, Viney, May, Petracca, Salem, Lever
Adelaide: Hamill (concussion)