Kruse comes of age

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has hailed Robbie Kruse's virtuoso performance against Perth Glory on Saturday night as a coming-of-age for the young striker after he hit a first-half hat-trick in a remarkable 6-2 win.

Melbourne coach Ernie Merrick has hailed Robbie Kruse's virtuoso performance against Perth Glory on Saturday night as a coming-of-age for the young striker after he hit a first-half hat-trick in a remarkable 6-2 win.

Kruse had scored just once in 11 games prior to Saturday's match at Etihad Stadium, but relished the space given to him by the Perth Glory defenders to slot three goals in 27 minutes. He was on the end of a superb Carlos Hernandez pass on 12 minutes and then on 26 minutes finished off a fantastic sweeping move with a sharp finish.

His dream night was complete when he capitalised on Jamie Coyne's failed clearance on 39 minutes, racing clear to make it three goals.

"Robbie just seems to get better every week and he's moved from being wide player to a more central striker," Merrick said after the match.

"I spoke to him before the game and said that last little bit sometimes it's just opportunistic goals, be in the right spot, having that awareness of what's going to fall in the penalty box for you."

"Often strikers, a lot of the goals are just tap-ins but I thought all of his goals were really well taken and it was really cruise control after (that)."

"He really did come of age as a striker tonight and it was terrific to see."

Kruse's position in the team has been highly scrutinised since he arrived at the club in the wake of Danny Allsopp's sudden departure in September. While he neither has the stature or the experience of his predecessor, he has been working hard to develop the same understanding with Archie Thompson and Hernandez that Allsopp had.

"It came together a bit tonight but it's been coming," Kruse said.

"I've been getting into the right spots so it's just as soon as one came I thought a flurry would come so hopefully I can keep working on it and push forward."

Kruse's best game in a Victory shirt came on a night where the whole team clicked, banishing a poor run of form which saw it lose two matches in succession. He said the whole team had worked hard to turn things around after the 3-2 loss to Newcastle last week.

"We've been working hard this week and straight from the whistle the first five minutes I knew we were going to put in a good performance," Kruse said.

"Our defenders were getting in front of their strikers and winning balls and our midfielders were playing to Carlos (Hernandez) and then me and Archie (Thompson) were making forward runs and that's what Melbourne Victory's all about."

"I think eventually they just started to back off and it just worked to our advantage."

Merrick said the key was getting his side playing positive football again, especially in front of the home fans.

"It has to be an intimidating place for visiting teams to come to with our fantastic crowd behind us and when we get in that mood of inter-passing we just know that someone is going to happen and I felt as Robbie said that first five minutes everyone was really switched on," the coach said.

"I always felt it was the sort of team that we were really going to attack and attack in numbers and take risks at the back. We conceded two goals through that but that's our style of football, we just keep coming at teams."

"As you know that connection we have with our fans is so important and it would've been a disaster if we didn't show our fans how committed we are to play the type of football that they enjoy and go forward and work hard right to the end."