AFL Prelim Finals: Saints desperate flurry breaks every red, blue and white heart

It’s that time of year. The end of the third term: the garbage trucks invade the streets and take rubbish from people’s nature strips. It’s September.

I can’t wait for the game to begin. I come home from Founder’s Day with a smile on my face, and do whatever I can to pass time. The coverage finally starts, the national anthem is sung, and Riewoldt wins the toss of the coin (thrown by the Rocket Man) and kicks to the City end.

The game starts and both teams have a strange sense of confidence. The Dogs attack hard, and Picken snaps a goal as a result. The Dogs are switched on, but they miss opportunities from Griffen, Hahn and Giansiracusa. They are dominating inside 50s and contested possessions, which is a real worry for St.Kilda. Higgins finally kicks a running goal from 50, and the Saints make errors but the Bullies still don’t capitalise. The siren sounds, and the score is 0.2 2 to 2.5 17 in favour of the Dogs, but it could be more. Fisher and Higgins have nine touches each for their respective sides.

A St Kilda revival looms likely in the second, but it initially doesn’t happen until Dal Santo kicks a casual goal from 45. McQualter marks and goals almost immediately afterwards, but Mitch Hahn gets on the end of two passes and returns with two goals. Finally the game was opening up and some goals were being scored. Hayes kicks a relaxed snap from the pack, which goes straight through the middle. Pivotal misses for the Saints from Koschitzke and Schneider round out the quarter, and the Dogs take a very handy seven-point lead at the main break, 3.6 24 to 4.7 31. Fisher and Hayes have 14 possessions each, while Harbrow leads with 17 for the Dogs.

The third quarter begins, and before the ball is bounced Lake gives away a soft free to Riewoldt. The big Saint goes back and kicks his first and the Bulldogs’ fans shout at the umpires. The momentum continues. Koschitzke marks, ignores Eddy and centres to Fisher who bangs it through from 50. The Saints clear as a result, and Riewoldt gets on the end of it and kicks through his second. The Dogs need a reply. They get it through Johnson, who marks and wheels around on to his right and snaps a goal. Players make mistakes which causes a scoreless period. It is ended by Giansiracusa, who snaps his first goal in five finals and puts the Dogs back in front. Their lead is evaporated with a dribbling goal from Milne with just a few seconds left on the clock. At the break, it’s the Saints 7.6 48 to the Bulldogs 6.7 43. Dal Santo has 24 touches, and Griffen has 23 disposals for the Dogs. I am looking forward to the big last quarter.

The last quarter begins and Murphy kicks a point, making his tally 2.10 in the last six matches. The Dogs are patient, Johnson marks, bounces to his feet and kicks a goal! I can’t believe the Dogs are winning. The Bulldogs start to win contests, but can’t capitalise as was the case in the first quarter. With time running down quickly, the Saints kick it forward and Riewoldt flies and marks, 20 out directly in front. He puts his third through, and an enormous roar fills the MCG. Riewoldt is such a good player, even with a dodgy knee. I can’t believe I am witnessing another close final for the third week in a row.

A desperate Giansiracusa misses a crucial one, with 3:13 on the clock. I really want the Dogs to win. A long ball is kicked into the St.Kilda forward line, and out from nowhere comes Riewoldt!!! The captain soccers through his fourth and a knife is stabbed into every red, white and blue heart. A minute later, the siren sounds. 9.6 60 to 7.11 53. The Dogs are spent. Cooney lies face-down on the turf and Scott Welsh puts his elbows on his knees. Another devastating preliminary final loss for the Bulldogs.

The Saints had the courage and intensity to win the game. All their players, especially Hayes, Dal Santo, Fisher and Riewoldt, never gave up and kept giving repeated efforts. It was a game where the emotions took over. I can’t wait till tomorrow night’s game.

St.Kilda 0.2  3.6  7.6  9.6 (60)

Western Bulldogs 2.5 4.7 6.7 7.11 (53)


St.Kilda: Riewoldt 4, McQualter, S Fisher, Hayes, Milne, Dal Santo.

Western Bulldogs: Johnson 2, Hahn 2, Higgins, Giansiracusa, Picken.


St.Kilda: Hayes, Dal Santo, Riewoldt, Fisher, R Clarke, Goddard, Jones, Dawson.

Western Bulldogs: Cooney, Boyd, Morris, Lake, Griffen, Gilbee, Harbrow.

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

Umpires: McBurney, Chamberlain, McInerney.                Crowd: 78,245 at the MCG.

About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.


  1. Damian Watson says

    Great piece Steve,
    It is a bit of de ja vu for the Dogs, giving away a silly free kick after the break while they had a great chance of taking the game out on the scoreboard. Scott Welsh gifted the Saints a goal after running out onto the field as a 19th man, but I think that was at Half Time.

    I’m on the umpires side on this occasion as it is in the law book although I agree it is a silly rule which is gradually taking niggling out of the game, after all this is a contact sport.
    What is your opinion Steve?

  2. The Lake free kick wasn’t there. I think it was stupid, looking at it again it really looks like Riewoldt faked it. The umpires have to let those bumps go, after that goal the Saints gathered momentum

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