Melbourne defeat Bulldogs to claim first AFL premiership in 57 years

Should all players who play in a flag year get a medal? (2:06)

The ESPN Footy Podcast team debates whether all players who contribute in a premier-ship winning side should be awarded a premiership medal? (2:06)

Melbourne have ended a 57-year premiership drought with a 74-point thrashing of the Western Bulldogs in the 2021 AFL Grand Final.

The Demons posted a 21.14 (140) to 10.6 (66) victory in the historic season decider, played in front of 61,118 spectators at a sold-out Optus Stadium in Perth.

Christian Petracca gathered a Grand Final record 40 disposals and kicked two brilliant goals in a starring role to win the Norm Smith Medal as best afield. Midfielder partner Clayton Oliver was also oustanding and dangerous forward Bayley Fritsch finished with six majors.

The trio were all influential as the Demons seized control of a see-sawing contest late in the third quarter. They piled on seven unanswered goals, including four majors direct from centre bounces, in a 15-minute burst of dominance before the final change.

The rampant Demons ultimately kicked 16 of the last 17 goals to run away with the match and secure the club's first flag since 1964 and 13th overall, drawing them level with Richmond and Hawthorn - three behind leaders Carlton and Essendon (16 each).

There was a sad note, with the majority of the club's legion of fans stuck in Melbourne's latest COVID-19 lockdown and unable to witness the momentous triumph in the flesh.

Watching on television, they saw a cautious start from both sides before Petracca's booming goal from 50 metres gave the Demons a spark. Their pressure strangled the Bulldogs' ball movement and two goals to Fritsch helped fire Melbourne into a 21-point lead by the first change.

Marcus Bontempelli, Caleb Daniel and Adam Treloar breathed much-needed life into the Bulldogs during the second quarter. Bontempelli and Treloar finished with three goals apiece and Daniel had 37 disposals, but couldn't do anything to stop the Dees' third-quarter surge.

Melbourne's Ben Brown complemented Fritsch in attack with three goals and fellow key forward Tom McDonald finished with two, completing the rout with a set shot after the siren.

Demons captain Max Gawn and Jack Viney were valuable contributors in the engine room, while All Australian duo Jake Lever and Steven May stood tall in defence.