Melbourne Demons smash Gold Coast Suns, climb into AFL top four

Melbourne have stormed back into the AFL's top four with a percentage-boosting 96-point annihilation of Gold Coast at the MCG.

Sunday's 21.17 (143) to 7.5 (47) victory propels the Demons to fourth on the ladder with a superior percentage to all rivals bar ladder-leaders Richmond.

Brownlow Medal contender Clayton Oliver starred with 31 disposals, 11 marks and two goals, helped by fellow young guns Jesse Hogan (four goals) and Angus Brayshaw (27 touches, one goal).

Alex Sexton booted a career-best five majors for the Suns, whose only other goal-kickers were Nick Holman and Michael Rischitelli (one each).

The victory was soured in the final term when Demons backman Joel Smith broke his collarbone after being dumped to the turf in a Sean Lemmens tackle.

Smith was helped off the ground in agony during the final term and Lemmens' tackle is certain to be looked at by match review officer Michael Christian.

The game was effectively over at quarter-time after the hosts burst out of the gates with nine goals to one in the opening term.

Melbourne's 9.3 (57) was their best first-quarter score in 30 years and proved to be insurmountable for a Gold Coast side missing captain Steven May (suspension), David Swallow, Jack Martin and Sam Day.

The Suns were further depleted when tall forward Peter Wright injured his knee minutes into the opening term and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

"It did upset our structure," Suns coach Stuart Dew said.

"That's not the total reason but I think our guys were reasonably deflated by that."

The Demons had twice as many disposals at quarter-time, with the inexperienced Suns unable to counter the hosts' run and spread.

"I was probably most pleased with our start ... it's an area that we wanted to be really strong at today," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.

"The leaders drove that for the majority of the week and especially heading into today."

With Dew coaching from the interchange bench, the Suns put up a solid fight during the second and third terms but faded late.

The build-up to the game had been thoroughly overshadowed by confirmation Suns free agent Tom Lynch would return to Victoria at the end of the season.

Lynch told teammates of his decision on Thursday and was promptly stripped of his captaincy.

Dew called for "absolute effort" from his players following the saga and while the final margin was ugly, the Suns coach can take some comfort from his players not dropping their heads after the catastrophic opening term.

Melbourne's remaining games come against fellow top-eight sides Sydney, West Coast and GWS.