The ‘Big V’ has reigned supreme again, Dustin Martin starring on the big stage for Victoria who have come from behind to smash the All-Stars by 46 points in the AFL’s bushfire relief match at Marvel Stadium.
A crowd of 51,052 turned out on Friday night to watch the Vics overcome a 30-point deficit to run away with a 24.10 (154) to 15.18 (108) win.
Not that the result really mattered.
There were fend-offs, high fliers, torps, even a Mexican wave as the AFL world came together to raise funds for bushfire-ravaged communities and pay tribute to emergency service workers.
The tone for the evening was set when the players formed a guard of honour as a selection of firefighters, police and SES workers ran through a banner which read, “For those who were impacted, right across the land, with our game we honour you, tonight with you we stand”.
Even with a nine-man bench and line-ups packed with stars, the elite talent still found a way to shine through.
Two-time Norm Smith Medal winner Martin added another medal to his collection when he was voted best afield for his 23-possession, two-goal performance.
Scott Pendlebury, the only player to have featured in the last representative game in 2008, had 27 touches for the Vics, with Toby Greene (23 possessions and four goals), Josh Kelly (four goals) and Tom Papley (five goals) catching the eye.
Former Fremantle teammates Nat Fyfe and Lachie Neale formed a formidable midfield combination for the All-Stars, while Charlie Cameron booted three goals and should’ve had more.
— Fremantle Dockers (@freodockers) February 28, 2020
The contest lacked the passion and bruising intensity of state of origin of yesteryear, but the crisp skills on display made up for it early, although the standard dropped away late as the players tired.
With the defensive team structures and measured ball movement of the premiership season largely done away with, the commemorative orange Sherrin pinged from one end of the ground to the other at breakneck pace in the first half.
It suited the All-Stars who had the edge in leg speed with Bradley Hill, Cameron and Isaac Smith prominent.
But after trailing by five goals, the Vics lifted their intensity to trail by just nine points at the last change.
At a ground where he’s usually the villain, Greene was the home crowd hero when he slotted his second goal to put the Vics back in front early in the last quarter.
The GWS bad boy helped to seal the contest with another two, Victoria booting 11 goals in a row as the All-Stars ran out of puff.