KYSAIAH Pickett got the ball on the wing, took some quick steps and kicked the ball to teammate Bayley Fritsch.
It was spoiled away, but only into the path of Pickett, who had kept running, grabbed the ball at top speed at the 50-metre mark of the MCG and kicked his third goal of the night for Melbourne in the middle of the third term.
It was not only the spark an otherwise ho-hum game against Greater Western Sydney needed.
DEES v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats
It was also a moment that sent the Dees into full throttle mode: a minute later Alex Neal-Bullen snapped perfectly, then Tom McDonald dribbled a shot through and two minutes after that Max Gawn kicked his second terrific goal of the win.
In an instant the Demons had piled on 10 goals (via 10 different players) to two for the quarter to set up a massive 67-point win.
The gap in class was evident throughout the Demons’ 19.6 (120) to 7.11 (53) victory, which was their fifth to start this season and sees them remain the only unbeaten team in the competition.
And they can get better. Ben Brown will be available for selection next week after his VFL suspension, Christian Salem will return mid-season from his knee injury and they are often only finding top gear when they need to.
The Giants hung tough for the first half but were blown out of the water after then in a poor showing that leaves the club with just one win in the opening five games and with focus set to rise on out-of-contract coach Leon Cameron.
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Christian Petracca kicked two goals from 29 disposals to again likely be in the Brownlow Medal votes, while Clayton Oliver (31), Ed Langdon (24), Steven May (24), Bayley Fritsch (four goals) and Jack Viney (27, one goal) were all strong contributors.
Pickett kicked two goals in the opening term as the Giants were kept goalless. They had their chances – they recorded 19 inside-50s to Melbourne’s nine – but could only manage five behinds as the Demons capitalised on their opportunities.
It took Harry Himmelberg to break the Giants’ goal drought at the nine-minute mark of the second quarter and it was a confidence spark. They booted three to two for the term and went into the main break 14 points down.
Although the Demons had the clear ruck advantage through Max Gawn and Luke Jackson against Matthew Flynn, who replaced the suspended Braydon Preuss, Melbourne was still at times in second gear whilst fending off a competitive Giants side just lacking some polish.
That was ultra-clear after half-time as Pickett’s brilliance ignited a Melbourne surge that closed the game comfortably. By the end, it was the stuff of training drills as the Demons loaded up on an early-season percentage booster.
When will Melbourne lose a game?
Unbeaten to start this season and coming off seven consecutive wins at the end of last year, it is hard to see when the Demons will drop their first game of 2022. They face Richmond next Sunday night in the annual Anzac Day eve clash before then playing Hawthorn in round seven, St Kilda in round eight, West Coast (at Optus Stadium) in round nine and then North Melbourne in round 10. The premiers will go into all of those games as red-hot favourites, with the Saints looming as the most likely to challenge.
Melbourne’s unheralded youngsters shine
James Jordon was a surprise selection when the Demons recruited him with pick 33 at the 2018 NAB AFL Draft but he is proving to be yet another hit for Melbourne’s scouting team. Jordon came of age last year as a player, featuring in every game for the Demons and winning a premiership as the medical substitute last year and he has been excellent this year, finding another 20 disposals on Saturday night. Charlie Spargo’s hard running never goes unnoticed inside Melbourne and Tom Sparrow’s toughness and smarts were clear late in the clash against the Giants, showing the Demons’ talent spreads far further than just the big names.
Toby’s imminent return
Next week the Giants will regain Toby Greene from suspension and it can’t come quick enough. Missing since his six-game ban in the finals last year, the Giants have battled without their superstar forward, co-captain and talisman. His presence inside 50 will reinstate an important dynamic for the club which has been lacking in the first quarter of this season. Greene has done his time and will be primed to return for the Giants next Friday night at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
MELBOURNE 4.0 6.2 16.4 19.6 (120)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.5 3.6 5.8 7.11 (53)
Melbourne: Fritsch 4, Pickett 3, Gawn 2, Petracca 2, Bowey, Jackson, Jordon, McDonald, Neal-Bullen, Spargo, Viney, Weideman
Greater Western Sydney: Hill 2, Callaghan, Coniglio, Flynn, Himmelberg, Hogan
Melbourne: Petracca, Gawn, Oliver, Viney, Pickett, Langdon, May
Greater Western Sydney: Green, Kelly, Ward, Bruhn
Melbourne: Lever (ankle)
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Melbourne: Toby Bedford (unused)
Greater Western Sydney: Jake Riccardi (unused)
Crowd: 20,791 at the MCG