AFL Round 17: Saints warm further to premiership task while I warm up with electric blanket

By Josh Barnstable

After a day that left me completely exhausted, I wanted to do nothing but watch the footy on the TV. In the morning I played footy against Katandra, losing by 104 points and spending the rest of the day in town with a friend, getting lunch and playing ping-pong at his house. As it nears night time, Mum drives into town to pick me up. We buy pizza with the voucher I won from the match in the morning. She tells me about the Geelong-Hawthorn game. I kick myself for not getting near a radio or TV to hear those final moments.

I get kicked out of the loungeroom because Mum wants to watch a movie so I decide to go to the warmth of my bed, which is toasty with the new electric blanket on there. I hop in and try not to doze off as the Before the Game finishes and the match begins.

The first quarter starts and James Gwilt gets a goal from a soft free kick to give the Saints the lead. Matthew Boyd replies with a goal on the run. Dylan Addison, a late inclusion for Lindsay Gilbee, marks on the 50 and kicks a big goal to give the Doggies a 7-point lead. The Saints get on a roll with little time remaining, though, with Nick Riewoldt taking advantage of a dropped-Will Minson mark, Jason Gram kicking a big goal from 60m out and Gwilt snapping his second to give the Saints a 13-point lead at quarter-time, 4.3 to 2.2. Brendon Goddard is up to a massive 15 disposals for the Saints while Boyd is on 11 for the Dogs.

The second quarter starts and Stephen Milne snaps an early goal to extend the margin out to 19 points. He then goals from the goalsquare after some inspirational running by Riewoldt, setting up a 25-point lead. Bob Murphy marks and goals before Sean Dempster kicks his first goal of the season after a couple of opportunities beforehand. His move to the forward line seems to be a masterstroke by Ross Lyon, with Dempster proving to be very dangerous, despite not having much impact on the scoreboard. Riewoldt snaps a goal from a Jarrod Harbrow mistake and Milne kicks his third for the quarter with an uncontested mark inside 50, taking the margin out to 39 points. A late goal to Callan Ward reduces it to 31 points at the main break, 4.4 to 9.5. Lenny Hayes was on track for a 50+ possession game, with 26 up to half-time while Boyd is on 23.

The second half begins and after a long period of no goals being kicked, Mitch Hahn earns himself a free kick and goals from the set-shot, cutting the margin to 24 points. Robert Eddy snaps a goal from a stoppage before late goals to Ryan Griffen and Nathan Eagleton see the Dogs right back in the game, within 18 points at the final change, 7.7 to 10.7. Nick Dal Santo is up to 31 touches for St Kilda while Boyd is on 30 for the Dogs.

I expected a strong showing from the Dogs, and maybe they would have kicked the first goal of the quarter and got on a roll but after Scott Welsh jogs back out to his position on his dodgy ankle, the game is over. The emergency umpire nips onto the field, seeing 19 players on the field as Welsh madly sprints back to the bench. Riewoldt goals from the result, sparking a Saint avalanche. Milne snaps his fourth goal before Ward goals on the run. Adam Schneider takes time out from his tussles with the Bulldog defence to kick his first and then Milne provides the highlight of the night, kicking a brilliant goal on the outside of his boot for his fifth. The match-high haul of goals is equaled, though, with Riewoldt kicking the final two goals for the Saints to take the margin out to 50 points.

A late goal to Hahn that barely makes its way through the big sticks is a consolation goal, with the siren sounding indicating St Kilda’s 17th win from 17 games, 16.10 (106) to 9.7 (61), a solid 45 point win over yet another premiership fancy. A Saints supporter goes over the top with the celebrations, though, releasing a flare in the crowd, two in fact. The security is right on it, though, spoiling the fun as usual.

After tonight I’m finally convinced that St Kilda will win the flag. They’ve played every team except for Hawthorn, and won most games convincingly. I thought it would be a Grand Final preview tonight, but I think we saw that in Round 7 on a Monday night. The Doggies are just lacking the skill when playing against the top sides. Sure they pushed Geelong right to the end but failed against the likes of Collingwood, St Kilda and Carlton. It will take something really special to make the Grand Final this year, and something extra special next year to win it. Barry Hall is special, isn’t he?

St Kilda 4.3—9.5—10.7—16.10.106
Western Bulldogs 2.2—4.4—7.7—9.7.61


St Kilda-Riewoldt 5, Milne 5, Gwilt 2, Schneider, Gram, Dempster, Eddy

Western Bulldogs-Hahn 2, Ward 2, Addison, Boyd, Murphy, Eagleton, Griffen


St Kilda-Riewoldt, Goddard, Milne, Hayes, Gilbert, Hudghton, Gwilt, Dal Santo

Western Bulldogs-Boyd, Ward, Hargrave, Cross


45,082 at Etihad Stadium


3: Nick Riewoldt (ST)
2: Brendon Goddard (ST)
1: Stephen Milne (ST)

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