AFL Finals — Week 1: Saints have Pies’ measure

It’s Sunday afternoon, and it’s slightly overcast.  I’m home alone (which is good, because I won’t have to turn the sound way up and I’ll be able to hear the commentary) and the Saints are playing the Pies in a blockbuster Qualifying final at the ‘G. There are no changes to either team. I watch TAC cup future stars, before turning off the TV, and turning it back on again half an hour later to catch the end of Ghost Dad (what a shame that I didn’t watch that!) and the coverage of the game begins.

The big story of the game is the return of Anthony Rocca, playing his first game since Round 7, which was also against the Saints. I love watching Rocca play; you never know what you’ll get from him and he can kick the ball a mile. A huge roar fills the hallowed ground as the teams run out. Collingwood are wearing their clash jumper, and they win the toss and point to the Punt Rd end. I notice something strange. The Collingwood cheer squad is never at the Punt Rd end. Joffa and the gang were there today, for some funny reason.

The game begins, and the Saints look switched on. Koschitzke out-bodies Leigh Brown, and kicks an easy goal to begin proceedings. Koschitzke marks on the lead again, but this time hits the post to let off the Pies. Collingwood gain the ascendancy, they miss a couple of shots before a superb Maxwell kick hits Anthony in the corridor. Anthony goes back from 50 and drills it through the middle. The Pies get another through Thomas, who got pushed in the back. It turns into an interesting game to watch, the Saints are under immense pressure and the Collingwood defence stand strong. At quarter time its 1.2 8 to 2.4 16 to the Pies. Low scoring, but a good battle. Dal Santo and Fisher have 12 each for St.Kilda, Shaw and Swan have eight each.

The second quarter starts and Cloke marks unattended but hits the post from close range. Rocca takes a brilliant mark at the tip of the square and smacks it through. I’m beginning to believe that the Pies could thrash the Saints. Swan holds on to Goddard, who replies with a good goal. Riewoldt also gets a free and bangs it through from 50. It’s game on. The Saints clear and the ball ends up with Riewoldt again! From the same spot as the last, he kicks another. It reminded me of Riewoldt Unleashed, last week. (See my match report for details.)

The Pies answer, through a snap from Medhurst that evades Raph Clarke. The game lifts up a notch, Schneider drives one through to put the Saints in front and St Kilda finally find a hole in the Pies defence, Riewoldt kicks a goal. The siren sounds and the Saints lead, 6.4 40 to 4.6 30 at half time. Fisher and Montagna have 20 touches each, Toovey leads for Collingwood with 15 and Swan 14. There’s bad news for the Pies, Pendlebury goes off with what could be a broken fibula bone and won’t take part in the rest of the game.

The third quarter starts, and the Saints dominate possession, and McQualter threads the needle with a drop punt from the boundary line. Riewoldt marks again and kicks his fourth from 45. Presti is struggling. Koschitzke marks with his vice-like hands and kicks a goal. The Pies reply through Thomas (a courageous mark) and Rocca snaps one. The Saints failed to slow the game down, I saw the same thing happened yesterday with the Cats at the same ground. It’s 9.7 61 to 6.8 44 and the Pies are still in it. Fisher has a huge 31 touches, Hayes has 27 and Swan leads with 19 for the Pies. Hopefully it would be a good last quarter.

The last quarter starts and McQualter tackles Didak, holding the ball! McQualter kicks his second and 21st of the season, what an improved player he is. The Saints continue to have the upper hand. Riewoldt nearly seals it with a brilliant snap and his fifth goal. But maybe not, Cloke dishes off to Davis who strolls in to kick his first. Milne gets pushed and kicks a goal, and now it’s definitely all over. The Saints run the clock down, finding space and kicking to whoever they please. The siren sounds and it’s a 28-point win to the black-white-and-red, 12.8 80 to 7.10 52. The Saints supporters go wild. Fisher ends up with a career-high 42 touches, Dal Santo 34 and for Collingwood in comparison Swan lead with 24 and Shaw 21.

In simple terms, the Saints dominated. 439-274 in disposals, 147-74 in marks, frees 21-15, tackles 60-55 and hit outs 36-19. They are back to their best.

St.Kilda  1.2  6.4  9.7  12.8 (80)
Collingwood 2.4  4.6  6.8  7.10 (52)

St.Kilda: Riewoldt 5, McQualter 2, Koschitzke 2, Goddard, Schneider, Milne.
Collingwood: Thomas 2, Rocca 2, Davis, Medhurst, Anthony.

St.Kilda: Fisher, Riewoldt, Hayes, Dal Santo, Goddard, Gram, Jones, McQualter, Ray, Gilbert, Dawson, Blake, Baker.
Collingwood: Maxwell, Shaw, Swan, Cloke, Thomas, Toovey.

My Votes: 3. Sam Fisher (St.K), 2. Nick Riewoldt (St.K), 1. Lenny Hayes (St.K).

Umpires: Rosebury, Chamberlain, McInerney.                Crowd: 84,213 at the MCG.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

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