MELBOURNE 2.2 5.3 12.5 17.5 (107)
ADELAIDE 1.4 6.7 7.8 9.12 (66)
GOALS: Melbourne - Pedersen 3, Kent 2, Garlett 2, Jones 2, Bugg 2, T McDonald 2, Oliver, Petracca, Viney, Hannan. Adelaide - Betts 2, Jenkins 2, Walker 2, Smith, Atkins, Laird.
BEST: Melbourne - Oliver, Viney, Hibberd, Jones, Salem, Lewis. Adelaide - Jacobs, Laird, Smith, M Crouch, B Crouch, Atkins.
UMPIRES: Shaun Ryan, Chris Kamolins, Craig Fleer.
CROWD: 47,882 at Adelaide Oval.
Adelaide's old guard in coach Simon Goodwin and Bernie Vince brought them undone in a shock loss to Melbourne at home on Saturday night.
Down 28 points midway through the second term, the Demons stunned the Crows by kicking 10.3 to 1.2.
It was Goodwin's first game as Melbourne's coach against his old club where he played 275 games, and his ploy to tag the Crows' key midfielder with another Adelaide best-and-fairest winner Vince in his 200th game was a major factor.
The game brought its rarity when there were only two field umpires on the field for the last quarter. Craig Fleer crashed into Vince early in the second quarter, and the emergency umpire who replaced him, Rowan Hundertmark, was also injured in the third.
The win also came at a price when Melbourne's Jayden Hunt crashed into Adelaide ruckman Sam Jacobs, forcing him to be taken off by field ambulance with severe concussion.
This was an amazing win by Melbourne considering they virtually didn't have a ruckman competing well against Jacobs, who had amassed 62 hit-outs by three-quarter-time.
There was the obvious expectation among the 47,882 crowd that Adelaide would simply "turn the switch on" in the second half, just like they had done in their opening seven wins to the season that earned them premiership favouritism.
But Melbourne made them look anything like a grand final contender as they beat the Crows at their own game – fierce pressure and brilliant rebounding football. The Demons rallied incredibly well under pressure and repeatedly stormed through the back gates.
They produced an outstanding, committed team effort and crunched the Crows at the stoppages.
It seemed rather fitting that as football honoured one of its old-time great players and characters in Lou Richards, one of our oldest clubs in Melbourne got back to the old scragging and tagging like the good 'ol days.
OK, it wasn't always pretty, but this element of the game provided further proof Melbourne are no longer a side easily pushed around, and Adelaide are vulnerable under the abuse.
With Sloane bruised by just about every Demon, the Crows missed his force and creativeness at the stoppages, as was the case the previous week against North Melbourne.
The disappointing part wasn't so much Sloane not be able to be at his brilliant best, but not enough of his teammates protecting him. Again, the Crows were ultimately terrific, but they don't have enough players with that annoying, aggressive edge in them to stop the intimidation.
The Demons dared to take on the Crows at their running and tackling game and were very good. Not bad for a rank underdog.
Melbourne had a host of players who performed their task exceptionally well, and the most notable were those who were fearless around the packs – including Vince. Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver were largely responsible for getting them back in the hunt. Nathan Jones was solid, and Jeff Garlett showed some of his old magic.
As much as Melbourne has been talked up this season, few rated them that highly because they hadn't really over-powered a finals contender – until now. And at four wins and four losses, they are now a genuine finals contender themselves. They haven't been there since 2006, but right now the hopes have never been higher.
More than anything, the manner in which Melbourne responded under pressure tonight, and simply ground out this win with incredible endeavour and ultimately class tells us they are rapidly regaining respect after years of gloom.
But what of Adelaide? It was like they didn't treat their opponents with enough respect. No excuses, and if it weren't for terrific efforts by Jacobs, Rory Laird and Brodie Smith the carnage would have been worse.