By Braham Dabscheck
Saturday April 1 4:40 PM
The Saints flew west to take on the Eagles to determine if last week’s loss to the Demons was an aberration. Even though they fell short the Saints put in a much better performance and indicated that there will be a force to be reckoned with during 2017.
From the first bounce it was clear that the Saints were on. They chased and harassed the Eagles, dominating the first quarter. The Saints had altered their game plan from last week where they were more man on man and played down the flanks rather than the corridor. Despite being dominant, two problems were revealed in the first quarter which were to dog the Saints throughout the game.
The first was the Saints missed gettable goals, not so much from set shots but in open play. Second, the Saints conceded late goals in each quarter which enabled the Eagles to stay in touch. Two late goals in the first quarter, two in the second, one in the third and then five in a row in the last to finally undo the Saints. The Saints were blown away in the last quarter, especially the second half. They couldn’t get the ball forward. The Eagles won the inside 50s in the last quarter 14 to 6 and possessions 127 to 76. A positive for the Saints is that they did not give up any goals from clangers.
Coach Alan Richardson did not blame umpires and the free kick count, 23 to 8, to the Eagles for the loss. The quarter by quarter count was 5/0, 8/2, 3/4 and 7/2. The problem is not so much the free kicks given but the ones that weren’t. There was Josh Kennedy’s push in the back on Nathan Brown and others to the Saints not given; for example tackles where an Eagle dropped the ball was called ‘play on’ . To repeat Alan Richardson did not feel the need to be critical of the umpires.
The Saints backline performed well. Both Nathan Brown and Jake Carlisle had better games. The midfield were much improved on last week. Seb Ross was the Saints best player. Tom Hickey was not far behind, being the dominant big man on the ground. Unfortunately Jack Steven suffered a punctured lung late in the game and is probably a doubtful starter for next week, if not several more. Jade Gresham may have also twisted his ankle; more will presumably be revealed during the week. The big three forwards, Josh Bruce, Paddy McCartin and Tim Membrey had fine patches which are indicative of better things to come. Jack Lonie played well in possible his best game for the Saints and Leigh Montagna provided the team with poise and sneaked a great opportunist goal in the second quarter.
Well the Saints lost, but they can hold up their heads with pride. They were blown away in the windy west. Brisbane next week at home. Hopefully, not too many of our best players will be injured and able to play for the first win of the season.
West Coast Eagles 4.0 8.3 13.5 18.8 (116).
St. Kilda 6.7 8,12 12.17 13.19 (97).
West Coast Eagles: Kennedy 4, Hill 3, Shuey 2, Darling 2, Masten 2, Cripps, LeCras, Giles, Priddis, Vardy.
St. Kilda: McCartin 2, Lonie 2, Bruce 2, Weller 2, Membrey, Gresham, Montagna, Acres, Dunstan.
West Coast Eagles: Shuey, Yeo, Gaff, Priddis, Mitchell.
St. Kilda: Ross, Hickey, Montagna, Lonie, Roberton.
Umpires: Donlon, Harris, O’Gorman.
Our Votes: Shuey 3 (West Coast), Yeo 2 (West Coast), Ross 1 (St. Kilda).