Lightning delay can’t save Eagles as Melbourne move back to top of AFL ladder

Melbourne has moved back to the top of the AFL ladder with four points against West Coast in a game that was halted temporarily due to the threat of lightning around the ground.

Midway through the last quarter, with Melbourne leading 10.9 (69) to 5.6 (36), officials called a halt to play after an audible lightning crack.

The players were forced to leave the field, initially for a half-hour period as ground staff and officials assessed the conditions.

A little more than 30 minutes later play was allowed to resume, and after the break the Eagles belatedly lifted.

They kicked four unanswered goals upon the restart and piled on the inside 50s, but the Demons were able to hold for their 10.12 (72) to 9.9 (63) win.

It was a peculiar end to another disappointing night for the Eagles, whose spot in the top eight is now in serious jeopardy with two games to play.

With matches against Fremantle and Brisbane to play, West Coast are only one game clear of ninth with a significantly lower percentage.

The Eagles kept pace with the Demons for most of the first half, producing more contested and tackling effort than they have in recent weeks.

It took a goal from Kysaiah Pickett after the half-time siren for Melbourne to take a lead into the long break, but the second half was much more of a Melbourne procession.

The Demons broke clear of the Eagles in the second half to post a big win.(

Getty Images: Paul Kane


The Eagles defence found itself under constant pressure in the third quarter and relented with frustrating regularity as errors and misjudgments crept in.

West Coast trailed by a goal when Jack Redden converted from the sideline early in the third quarter but a run of goals from James Harmes, two from Jake Melksham and Ben Brown took the game away from West Coast before the weather came.

Melbourne’s midfield was typically excellent, with Clayton Oliver prolific and Christian Petracca constantly dangerous.

Max Gawn won his ruck battle with Eagles ruck Nic Naitanui, and while Elliot Yeo and Tim Kelly had good games for the Eagles, their influence wasn’t matched elsewhere on the ground.

The Demons are now two points clear of the Bulldogs on top of the AFL ladder with games against Adelaide and Geelong to come.

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