AFL

Demons stun Bulldogs in fiery AFL clash

Melbourne have stamped their AFL premiership credentials, smashing reigning premiers Western Bulldogs by 57 points in a spiteful Etihad Stadium encounter.

Jack Watts booted three goals in a dominant performance as the Demons climbed to fifth on the AFL ladder with a 17.11 (113) to 8.8 (56) victory on Sunday afternoon.

The Dees could hardly have been more impressive, beating the Dogs at their own hard-running, transition offence game and repelling everything thrown at them on the defensive end.

It was a dire loss for the Bulldogs, who remain stranded in ninth place, made worse by a serious and potentially season-ending knee injury to key midfielder Lin Jong.

Jong went straight to the rooms and was later in tears on the interchange bench, having crumpled to the ground when his kick was smothered by Nathan Jones early in the first quarter.

The Dees had injury concerns of their own, with Watts, Jones, Neville Jetta and Jayden Hunt all spending extended time on the bench.

Tensions between the two sides were stoked before the game, with Melbourne enforcer Tomas Bugg using social media to taunt Bulldogs speedster Jason Johannisen.

The Norm Smith medallist had a shocker during their loss to Sydney, courtesy of a hard tag from George Hewett, and Bugg took to Instagram to make it clear he could expect the same treatment.

The Dogs made a beeline for Bugg before the opening bounce but it was one of the few shots they fired in an otherwise meek performance.

Luke Beveridge's men were held goalless in the opening quarter for the first time this season as Melbourne's phenomenal pressure proved far too much for them to handle.

Marcus Bontempelli and Lachie Hunter racked up plenty of touches but to little effect as the physical Demons tackled, smothered and muscled their way to a four-goal lead at quarter-time.

The Dogs looked to fight back during a fiery, old-school second term, with the umpires kept busy by spotfires across the ground.

But it was Melbourne who came out on top, extending their lead with consecutive goals after Bugg - again the chief provocateur - was laid out by a frustrated Easton Wood.

It was all one-way traffic after halftime, with Jordan Lewis (31 touches), Oscar McDonald (23 disposals, 12 marks) and Christian Salem (23 touches) among the standout performers for the Dees.

AAP