Round 3 – St Kilda v Brisbane: A Master Class From Saint Nick Lead Saints To Victory Over The Lions
By Braham Dabscheck
Sunday March 9, 1.10 PM
Not one of the great games of footy. Both sides struggled for fluency in the opening stanzas. They seemed to have entered into a side bet about who could commit the most turnovers, with the Lions being more determined to win on this score! The ball slipped and slided away when there was a chance for a player to make a clean breakaway. And then there was the Saints’ inability to kick straight from ‘easy’ set shots. They muffed at least two very gettable goals a quarter and, if they had kicked straight should have won by 60 to 70 points.
Misses by the Saints in the second quarter when leading by six goals let the Lions back into the game. They kicked six in a row, three each either side of halftime, with the Saints committing a terrible clanger. The Saints then steadied, and decided to copy cat the Lions (what a pun?) and replied with six in a row; one in the latter stages of the third quarter and five in the last.
The dominant player of the match was Nick Riewoldt, not for the first, and hopefully not the last, time. He badly injured his leg against the Demons in Round One; badly enough that it was feared his career would be at an end. Well, there he was back two weeks later. He had 28 possessions, took 12 marks, kicked three and set up numerous others. He is not too many goals away from 700.
With both Jack Steven and David Armitage out injured the Saints midfield looked a little bare. When the Saints were afflicted with goal kicking gripes the Lions midfield took over. Those Saints who had gone missing during that period reappeared and all made important contributions to ensure the win.
The Saints also moved Leigh Montagna into the midfield to help steady the ship in the last quarter. He had a six or seven seconds period where he decided to switch to vaudeville to give us all something to talk about. After receiving a handball in the goal square with not a Lion in sight, he hesitated… well stopped. I hoped he was going to drop kick a goal, something I can hardly remember seeing done since my boyhood in the 1960s. Go on ‘Joey’, please do it! Instead, he tapped the ball on the ground. Maybe, I thought, he is undertaking studies in land surveying for when he retires, and why not do some homework during a quiet period during the game? As a Lion approached, he popped a drop punt through the big sticks, for a terrible anticlimax. After the game, he said he delayed because he wanted to take time off the clock.
The Saints are yet to find their fluency. They were outplayed against the Demons and were stiff against the Eagles. While not being at their best, they were simply too good for the Lions who will probably struggle throughout the year. The Saints will need to improve next week against the Pies. The return of Jack Steven and David Armitage may do the trick. The big guys up front, other than Saint Nick, look as if they are on the verge of returning to the feats of last year. We can only hope.
During the week Sean Dempster announced his retirement. In a career which started with the Swans (54 games) in 2003, he played 222 games, kicking 21 goals. He was a member of the Swans 2005 premiership side, played in three Grand Finals for the Saints and was selected as an All Australian in 2012. He was a fearless player who took many spectacular marks during his career. I chatted with him at the first Saints’ game in New Zealand in 2013 and congratulated him on his All Australian selection. He was humble in his thanks. Thanks Sean for being such a great player and all the best for life after footy.
St. Kilda: 4.4 7.10 9.16 14.23 (107).
Brisbane: 1.2 5.4 9.8 11.10 (76).
St Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Weller 2, Savage, Dunstan, Montagna, Acres, Membrey, Geary, Gresham, Bruce, Steele.
Brisbane: Robinson 2, Schache 2, Zorko, Beams, Rich, Bewick, Berry, Bell, Taylor.
St. Kilda: Riewoldt, Montagna, Ross, Newnes, Hickey.
Brisbane: Beams, Rich, Martin, Zorko, Rocklift.
Umpires: Donlon, Harris, O’Gorman.
Our Votes: Riewoldt 3 (St. Kilda), Montagna 2 (St. Kilda), Beams 1 (Brisbane).