AFL Prelim Finals: Saints’ extra bite up forward hauls them over line

It is a Friday and the end of the school term, I should be thrilled. However on this particular Friday I am relatively angry!! Today is the day I am receiving my braces!!!!!!

Although this device is supposed to straighten my two crooked teeth, its presence still very annoying!! Thankfully they will only be attached to the top line of teeth and will be taken out in about a year or so.

Anyway enough of dental talk, the Preliminary Final between St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs is approaching, kicking off the penultimate weekend of the AFL Finals Series. The Saints are rejuvenated after a weeks break and although they are favorites to enter their first Grand Final for 12 years, there are whispers that key midfielder Nick Dal Santo may be sitting on the sidelines as well as veteran Max Hudghton. The Bulldogs are hungry for success after 55 years of pain and suffering and if they execute their fast and free-flowing game style tonight, the Dogs are not without a chance.

For the sake of next week’s decider I hope the Saints can prevail to set up an enthralling contest in the Grand Final. I glance at the clock in my living room it signals 8:00, I switch on to Channel 7 assuring myself that I would not make the same mistake as last week when I tuned in half an hour late. The two sides run out, Dal Santo is in his team gear raring to go, all the players are pumped and fiery as they prepare to battle for a place in the big dance.

In the opening stages the Bulldogs defy the expectations as they dictate the game on their terms but fail to capitalize. The Dogs are on top physically in the contest and this persistence pays off eventually as son of a gun Liam Picken snaps the opening goal. Following a sluggish 15 minutes of play the Dogs salvage a breakthrough as youngster Shaun Higgins sending a major through from long range. But the Bulldogs could have easily being building a substantial lead if not for inaccuracy. As instrumental players such as Hahn and Griffen send easy chances through for a minor score my mind casts back to the corresponding game last year against the Cats where the Bulldogs kicked themselves out of the game in the second half scoring 2.7 (as well as many out on the full) to lose by 29 points. As the Quarter Time bell rings the Dogs lead by 15 points.

The Saints click into gear after a goalless first term with Nick Dal Santo booting their first before the underrated Andrew McQualter goals to send the Saints back into the thick of the contest. Just as the minor premiers look like creating an avalanche Mitch Hahn shows brute strength in the contest as he boots two goals within the space of 60 seconds and the Dogs cling onto a 13 point buffer. Classy Saint midfielder Lenny Hayes is continuing to exert his influence on the match earning plenty of disposals and kicking a vital goal to keep the Saints within reach. Late in the quarter Nick Riewoldt is hobbling gingerly after a heavy damaging his ankle. Will his impact be limited?  Can the Bulldogs hold onto a slender lead over the next hour? The questions filter through my head as the Saints trail by seven points at the main break.

In the third term it is a case of brain says sleep but eyes say watch for me as the tight low scoring tussle continues. The Saints are gifted with the first goal of the second half after a silly free kick is given away in the Dogs defence; Nick Riewoldt grabs the opportunity with both hands and bangs it through the centre showing no signs of injury. Sam Fisher who has played a sensational game running the ball across half back wanders forward to kick a long goal and believe it or not the Saints are in front!

The Saints are now the side dictating the play as Nick Riewoldt hammers through his second after a brilliant centre clearance. However the Dogs will not lie down and through consecutive goals to Johnson and Giansiracusa they grab the lead back. The most annoying player in the comp Stevie Milne kicks a vital goal on Three Quarter Time as the lead continues to see-saw. The Saints are up by five and I am anticipating another thriller.

It is clear the players are exhausted in the final term as clanger after clanger occurs. Someone needs to stand up in these tense circumstances, could it be the veteran Brad Johnson? Hungry for a flag he shows no signs of fatigue pouncing to his feet to put the Dogs back in front. But it’s now the opposing skippers turn with Nick Riewoldt taking his trademark courageous grab in a pack of four and finishes perfectly to see the lead change hands again. With three minutes remaining a Giansiracusa snap sails through for a behind and we have one point ball game!

I am willing for the match to be decided in extra time but Nick Riewoldt stands up yet again toe-poking one of the most important goals for his career over the goal-line. The Dogs tried valiantly but I know they were gone and as the final siren sounds the players’ faces tell the story. The Saints celebrate in ecstasy while the Dogs plunge into agony, lying motionless, realizing that their season is over.

The Saints are now in a familiar position to 1997, holding the minor premiership and are branded as the favorites before suffering a loss to the underdogs in the Jarman-inspired Adelaide Crows.

But the $76 million question remains: can the Saints jump one step further to yield their second title?

We will find out in seven days time!

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, Dal Santo, Fisher, Hayes, McQualter, Milne
Western Bulldogs: Hahn 2, Johnson 2, Giansiracusa, Higgins, Picken

Crowd: 78,245 at the MCG

My Votes: 3. N.Riewoldt    2. N. Dal Santo     1. S.Fisher

About Damian Watson

Hey,my name is Damian Watson and I am 14 years old. My ambition is to become an AFL broadcaster/journalist in the future. I am a keen blues supporter and I live in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I play and write for the Knox Falcons U/16's.


  1. Great report Damo,

    Luckily i don’t have braces, I’d definitely hate getting them.

    It is like 97 for the Bulldogs as well, their close loss against the Crows. I remember I had the 97 grand final on tape, but my brother ripped it up about 5 years ago.

  2. Damian Watson says

    Thanks Steve,
    It is similar to 97′ although the Dogs really should have held on in that game against the Crows. The image of Libba on his teammates shoulders is still in my mind.

    Has anyone been watching the Classic Grand Finals on One HD? Well they are not really classics it’s just Grand Finals from the last seven odd years, still a good idea though.

  3. I’m gonna watch and score the Brisbane V Port Adelaide game at 4:30 today. I didn’t watch the last two because I have seen them both recently. I wanna watch both Sydney V West coast’s cos I don’t seem to rememeber them very well.

  4. Michael Allan says

    Sydney West Coast games were remarkable. I remember being there at both of tthem sitting next to my Sydney obsessed grandmother for both of them. The 05 game had so many twists and turns it was amazinbg. I thoguht it was over when Luke Abblett kicked the ball across goals and it was intercepted by Cousins who kicked the goal.

  5. lol im too busy holidaying to sit down and watch all the past few finals.
    i just finished my hair, apperently were going out for dinner tonight, looks like i can use my ‘depression cos collingwood lost’ to eat like crazy and pile on 10 kilos for when u get back to melbourne.

  6. Damian Watson says

    Should Barry Hall have played in that Grand Final after love-tapping McGuire?
    After all he was the difference in the end kicking 2 goals.

  7. Damian Watson says

    You would be depressed watching those two Collingwood Grand Final losses anyway Danielle. LOL

  8. true Damian especially the first time.
    ill save myself from gaining another 50 kilos by not watching them again.

  9. People actually say that Hall hasn’t been the same since the 2005 Grand Final. Anger aside, he hasn’t dropped in form which is why I think that he should be picked up by another club.

    What does everyone think about Matthew Lloyd’s potential move?

  10. ….ive been under a rock for a while?
    what about lloyds potential move to where?

  11. Nah It’s just about how Lloyd could move to another club if he doesn’t sign with Essendon for another year

  12. ok well he better not come anywhere near collingwood cos i know how mick likes to recycle oldies.
    one thing that didnt come as a shock was roccas retiring.
    lol i was like: NOOOOO! SERIOUS!
    lol nah it was really like. “about time!”

  13. Michael Allan says

    Sorry guys I was away.

    Damo he probably shouldn’t have. It was behind play so it was pretty bad.

    Steve I think your thinking of the 06 Grand Final as the turning point in his career.

    I think Lloyd should go to the Dogs. Sensible player. Good full forward. And he’ll be happy because he’ll be in the forward the whole time where he likes to be.

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