by Braham Dabscheck
Melbourne Cricket Ground
4.40 PM Sunday 24 August 2014
Let’s face it, 2014 has been a challenging year for the Saints and their loyal band of followers. Another wooden spoon beckons in the twilight of the final round of the season against the Crows. A win and a Demons’ loss will relieve the gloom of such ignominy. A loss to the Crows pecking away at the bodiless Saint; what an apocalyptical vision to frighten even the most diehard of supporters! Irrespective of how the Saints are going I always look forward to next week’s game and have never left the ground early or stopped watching a game no matter how the team is going. There are always some signs of skill, endeavour and hope for the future; something to cling onto. Such was the case against the Tigers in this penultimate round of season 2014.
The Saints lost another one against the Tigers. As in most games this year, the Saints were slow out of the blocks and were all but blown away in the first quarter. Three goals were conceded in the first four minutes. The Tigers then kicked another three before the Saints clinked into gear. From then on, the Saints matched the Tigers to lose by 28 points. They even won the second and last quarters; though the Tigers probably took the foot off the accelerator on the last quarter after they had jumped to more than a 50 point lead.
Despite the loss, there were two bright spots for Saints fans. The first was the performance of Captain Nick Riewoldt. He had another outstanding game. In the first quarter he received a rabbit chop to the throat, for which his Richmond opponent was rewarded with a free kick! After gathering himself he kick started the Saints revival in the latter part of the first quarter. He kicked two goals; one from the intersection of the 50 meter and boundary line after a strong passage of team play out of the backline. He is tireless throughout the game, is buffeted and bashed by opponents and rarely receives protection from umpires. He is obviously headed for the AFL’s Hall of Fame when he retires. Both the Saints and the AFL are unlikely to see another player of his distinctive class ever again. If only there were two of him where they could kick the ball to each other!
The second bright spot was the debut of key, big man forward Spencer White. He wears the number 23, the same as that recently retired Saint stalwart Justin Koschitzke. Spencer only had four kicks for the game, all of which hit their mark. Most importantly, three of them were goals. He is only the fourth player this tear to kick three or more in a game. The others have been Nick Riewoldt several times and Jack Billings and Rhys Stanley once each. He dropped some easy marks early in the game. Looked like nerves. His only mark was a contested one in the third quarter which he then converted for his first goal. His teammates rushed to congratulate him. He looks like he has a dead eye left foot and can run like the wind. His debut provided the Saints and their supporters with signs that things will get better next year. We can only hope that things will be better next year. Go Saints!
Richmond 6.0 8.3 13.5 15.8 (98)
St. Kilda 2.2 4.7 5.9 10.12 (72)
Richmond: Riewoldt 6, Deledio 2, Griffiths 2, Batchelor, Maric, Foley, Petterd, Ellis.
St. Kilda: White 3, Riewoldt 2, Shenton, Fisher, Armitage, Newnes, Murdoch.
Richmond: Houli, Riewoldt, Petterd, Chaplin, Deledio.
St. Kilda: Riewoldt, Steven, Armitage, Ray, Fisher.
Umpires: Dalgleish, Burgess, Mollison Crowd: 47,188
Our Votes: Houli 3 (Rich), Riewoldt 2 (St. K.) Riewoldt 1(Rich).