Green in line for All Australian selection
Melbourne coach Dean Bailey believes veteran forward Brad Green could earn the first All Australian selection of his AFL career after a five-goal haul in a stunning 73-point thumping of Sydney at the MCG on Sunday.
The 22.10 (142) to 10.9 (69) victory was the Demons’ biggest win under Bailey and the largest defeat of Swans’ coach Paul Roos’ eight-year reign.
It was set up by a blistering start – Melbourne kicking eight goals without a miss in the first 22 minutes, including three to Green, all from marks – to build a 36-point lead.
Up by 37 points at the first change, the 29-year-old took a big pack mark early in the second quarter, again showing that his 184cm frame is no impediment to being a marking target, to add his fourth and continue the avalanche.
By the time he snapped his fifth deep in the third quarter, Melbourne were 86 points clear and pushed the lead as far as 91 points in the final term, before some late Swans consolation goals.
Green had notched a five-goal haul just once in the first 212 games of his AFL career, but has now done so twice in three matches, having also hit that mark against Essendon in round 15.
His 42 goals so far this season, his 11th, are a career-high, partly due to spending more time in attack, although Bailey said they still wanted him to play midfield at times.
“But he’s shown this year he’s been super effective up forward, when we were struggling for guys up forward to mark it and kick goals, with limited inside 50s, he still produced,” Bailey said.
Bailey said Green was benefitting from being pain-free after an injury-hampered 2009.
“He’s just a star, Brad Green is a star for us,” Bailey said.
“Last year he spent 12 months icing his Achilles three times a week and straight after the game.
“He’s an unbelievably professional player and good luck to him, what he went through the last two years to get himself to play is extraordinary … he’s a beauty, every accolade you can throw at him, I’m with you.”
Green had plenty of support in attack, the Demons boasting 13 goal-kickers, as they posted their biggest score in six seasons.
The Demons’ attack has lifted significantly in the past three rounds, after a barren mid-season patch, Bailey crediting Green’s form, as well as the return from injury of Liam Jurrah, Colin Sylvia and Jack Watts.
Sylvia was excellent on Sunday, playing mostly in the midfield, while Cameron Bruce had a fine game, blanketing Sydney’s Ryan O’Keefe and causing damage himself, and ruckman Mark Jamar continued his career-best season.
The Swans one shining light was dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes, with four goals and 27 touches.
Roos admitted his side put in a “shocker”, but paid credit to Melbourne.
“When you strike any team that’s at the absolute top of their game it’s very difficult, it doesn’t matter where they are on the ladder,” he said.
“They played exceptionally well and we played exceptionally bad, obviously the end result is not surprising when that happens.”
The loss leaves the Swans in eighth spot and facing a scrap to reach the finals, starting with the tough challenge of Geelong at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night.