Round 14: Saints win the one we’ve been waiting for

By Josh Barnstable

Wow. It’s here. It’s finally here. The moment we’ve all been waiting for since about Round 5. St Kilda, unbeaten after 13 games, takes on Geelong, also unbeaten. Saying there was a big build-up to this match is an understatement, and there were even plans to relocate this match from Etihad Stadium to the MCG, which was vacant on a sunny Melbourne’s day. Of course the AFL frowned upon this, and the decision was to have the game remain at Etihad. Yet they can move the timeslot of this game forward an hour, forcing the roof to be closed which favours St Kilda.

The AFL confuses me.

Oh well this match started on TV half an hour before it started so the build-up was huge. Finally Channel 7 is showing a game live. I half-expected them to move the broadcast forward another hour so it would still be an hour’s delay. The lingering question in my mind was would the Saints really clamp down on the Cats, totally restricting the forward line and stopping the movement through the middle? And would the Cats go flat-out and attack the game like they have in the previous 60-odd games?

Well I settle into the couch and watch.

I’d heard rumours that Steve Johnson was out of the side for the Cats. “That’s just rubbish,” I convinced myself, but it turns out that the Magician will miss due to hip soreness. Simon Hogan comes into the side, whoever he is.

One word summed it up for how I felt 10 minutes into the first quarter: stunned. The Saints had goaled to start the match through Clinton Jones, then an amazing Nick Riewoldt mark running back into a pack saw another goal kicked, then a contest on the Saints’ goal line, the ball spilled out to Michael Gardiner who put it through to give St Kilda an 18 point lead.

It didn’t stop there though. Justin Koschitzke kicked a ripper from outside 50 and then Sam Fisher gathered and goaled on the run from 35m out to give the Saints a 30 point lead. I couldn’t believe it. It was Round 9, 2008 all over again for Geelong. Fortunately for them. Gary Ablett and Travis Varcoe goaled to finish the quarter. The Cats went into quarter time with a 19 point deficit, 2.2 to 5.3. A Red, White and Black blitz saw Fisher pick up 12 touches while Jimmy Bartel had 11 possessions for the Cats.

The second quarter starts and Riewoldt marks and goals from a tight angle 50m out and then Andrew McQualter takes a mark inside 50 to goal, extending the margin out to 29 points. Darren Milburn sneaks forward to mark and goal for the Cats and then Ablett marks, plays on and kicks his second to bring the margin back to 17 points. Adam Schneider quickly replies but a snap from Joel Corey sails through to cut the margin to 17 points at the main change, 5.5 to 8.4. Fisher has 16 disposals for St Kilda while Bartel is on a huge 21 possessions.

The third quarter begins and Gardiner takes a big mark but Koschitzke is down injured. He’s hurt his shoulder. Fortunately he is up and running a little while later. Gardiner goals from the mark but the Cats started playing irresistibe football; premiership football. Goals to Andrew Mackie, a massive goal from outside 50 to Cam Mooney and a snap out of a pack to Joel Selwood sees the margin just 3 points. A late goal to the Roo brings the crowd to their feet; he marked, evaded Harry Taylor and slammed through the goal on the run from outside 50 to take the margin out to 10 points at the final change, 10.5 to 8.7. “Oh yeah that’s right!” I remember that North Melbourne are currently playing the Swans at the SCG. I turn my radio on while the ads are on and I’m saddened to hear that they have gone down by 15 points. Oh well there’s always next week but for now I don’t care about that result, I’m focusing on this match that is proving to be one of the games of the year.

The final quarter is set to be a classic. The game everyone had been waiting for is living up to its lofty expectations. The quarter starts with Koschitzke taking a mark and kicking a big goal from 55m out to extend the lead to 16 points. Then a contentious free kick to Leigh Montagna on the boundary line. He centers the ball to Gardiner who’s all alone within a huge pack of players. Gardiner marks, plays on and goals to take the margin back out to 23 points and doubt begins to skip across Cats’ fans minds. But a snap to Max Rooke, a big torpedo goal to Paul Chapman and a goal from 55m to Mooney sees the margin reduced back to just 5 points and the 54,444 strong crowd are back to their feet, cheering at every contest. Stephen Milne goals from 40m to take the margin back out to 9 points but Milburn replies, his second, and it’s a goal the difference.

Could it be a draw? How fitting would that be? A draw between the two undefeated sides after Round 13. I hope for that result.

And I’m getting closer to my desired result after a goal to Mathew Stokes from 30m out. The following few minutes are amazing. They are so intense, the crowd riding on every bump, the heart beating just that little bit faster as players from respective teams charge towards the goals with the ball in their hands. And that is what happens with the Saints. Luke Ball, hardly sighted for the whole match, has the ball in his hands 55m from goal. He plays on and kicks long towards the goalsquare. Hearts are in mouths as the pack grew larger. Riewoldt is out of position. Koschitzke is in there somewhere. But no, they won’t mark. Coming in from the side like a flying giraffe is GARDINER! Taking one of the marks of the year, and also taking out Taylor. Gardiner will line up to put the Saints in front with just over a minute remaining. Time is halted as Taylor is carefully stretchered off, giving both teams time to plan their next attack after Gardiner’s kick. He finally approaches the man on the mark, slowly lumbering in for his fourth goal and perhaps the most important kick of his career. He kicks a goal! St Kilda hit the front with just a minute remaining.

That minute is full of tackling, pressure, corralling and a free kick against Mooney that stopps Geelong’s last roll of the dice, and the siren sounds just as Gardiner has disposed of the ball on the wing, fittingly.

The Saints are unbeaten; they’ve beaten the champions by 6 points in a classic game of footy, 14.7.91 to 13.7.85. Gardiner has kicked 4 goals for the Saints while Riewoldt has booted 3. The cats have no major goalkickers.

I am somewhat disappointed with this outcome though. This result really didn’t tell anyone anything. If the game had of gone on for another two minutes Geelong probably would have won, and they would have been called the team to beat yet again for 2009. It’s also amazing that the Saints won, considering many of their stars didn’t have as much impact as they have had throughout the 2009 year so far. Ball, Brendon Goddard and Leigh Montagna were some who failed to fire today. One thing Geelong is not good at is handling the pressure of the big stage. This is the third time they have lost in front of a massive crowd in a big game of football. First was in Round 9 at the MCG. In front of a packed MCG, the Cats were annihilated by Collingwood. Then there was the Grand Final of course. In front of over 100,000 fans, the Cats lost to the Hawks by 26 points. Now, in front of 54,444 people, the Cats have lost to St Kilda.

Can they reverse that when these two teams meet in the Grand Final though? I don’t know, no one does, but we can all hope on that last day in September we have a cracking game just as cracking as this one.

St Kilda 5.3—8.4—10.5—14.7.91

Geelong 2.2—5.5—8.7—13.7.85

Goalkickers:

St Kilda-Gardiner 4, Riewoldt 3, Koschitzke 2, Milne, Fisher, Jones, Schneider, McQualter

Geelong-Ablett 2, Mooney 2, Milburn 2, Chapman, Varcoe, Rooke, Selwood, Stokes, Corey, Mackie

Best:

St Kilda-Gardiner, Riewoldt, Hayes, Fisher, Koschitzke, Blake, Dal Santo

Geelong-Bartel, Ablett, Mooney, Selwood, Rooke, Milburn, Corey

Crowd:

54,444 at Etihad Stadium (should have been 90,000 at the MCG)

Votes:

3: Michael Gardiner (ST)

2: Jimmy Bartel (G)

1: Nick Riewoldt (ST)

Comments

  1. danielle says:

    Dude, i was soo upset!!
    like seriously that should have been Geelong’s game!!!

  2. Josh Barnstable says:

    Yes it should have been but Geelong seem to have a problem with the big stage.
    I like seeing Geelong getting beaten though.
    Really makes me feel good that “it” can bleed and “it” can actually be killed this year.
    I actually don’t want these two teams meeting in the Grand Final. I want to see St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs on the last day in September. The two most unsuccessful clubs in Victoria since their introduction fighting for the premiership.

  3. danielle says:

    i watched a bit of the North game.
    (i have cable)
    Swallow’s gonna be soo good!!

    its quite funny, eventhough im a Collingwood girl for some reason i get upset when North lose.
    can you explain it?

  4. Josh Barnstable says:

    Umm…that’s a puzzler. Maybe because North is really struggling at the moment, financially and on the field, another loss is just brings more criticism to the club and may lead to relocation or a merger. North is like a struggling person trying to make ends meet but ends up getting knocked around too much, gets critizised and then may look dis-interested next time they take the field.

    Swallow has been a handy player for us this year. He’s almost leading the goalkicking as well. I don’t know how many he’s kick but he has kicked a few bags of goals and his soccer-goal on the weekend was amazing.

    I actually find your comment funny. I cannot stand Collingwood and love it when they lose. I don’t hate the team, I just really hate the Magpie fans that take out their aggression on the umpires after every loss and also bash Nathan Jones’ father after the Round 2 game. I know that gives them all a bad name. Also I do not like Eddie McGuire one bit. He really needs to learn that Collingwood is in the AFL, not the AFL is in Collingwood. The Pies need to stop being selfish with the whole clash jumper situation and Eddie is driving that selfish attitude towards the matter.

  5. danielle says:

    In Eddie’s defence hes jsut doing what the supporters want, you know how i feel about our away jersey.. (eww) even the white shorts get on my nerves.
    umpires.. i would be lying if i would say that i have never blamed an umpire for a loss. i dont ‘HATE’ them infact i think the booeing them on and off the ground should stop, however my uncle who is a carlton supporter himself will say that the umpires do kinda treat collingwood unfairly.

    Its fine that you dislike Collingwood, there are very little people who like them but dont support them.
    As for the supporters, well im evidence that they arnt ALL as bad as they seem.

  6. Josh Barnstable says:

    Yeah I know that those odd Collingwood fans give all the supporters a bad name. Also do you think there is a clash between North and Collingwood in jumpers? Suppose North wears Blue shorts and Collingwood white, or the other way around according to team colours, I don’t think their is a clash at all.

    But i’m actually one of those people that like Collingwood without going for them. I just dislike the odd supporters and the president. The team is a good bunch of players, and IMO when they are really playing well like in the last quarter of the Fremantle match, they are the best team in the league.

  7. danielle says:

    Good to know!
    umm no theres no clash but North looks much better in the blue shorts and we only look good in our black shorts!
    ive currently got an obsession with the same shade of blue in the North jersey and have been buying anything that shade!
    who knows i might even buy a North jersey!

    yer you are right, i get so annoyed like in the first quarter of the ess match. i hate it when Collingwood dont play like ‘Collingwood’ make sense? LOL

  8. Josh Barnstable says:

    Yeah Collingwood can be pretenders sometimes

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