AFL Round 14 – St Kilda v West Coast: Saints competitive but get pecked off by Eagles

Etihad Stadium

3.20 PM Sunday 22 June

 

The Saints, and their supporters, are having a character building year. They have lost their last seven games, with some thumping defeats. Last week’s game against the Cats was a disaster. Despite this, Saints’ fans lived in hope that the team would turn things around against the Eagles, who have had a middling year with five wins.

The Saints looked lively from the start. They moved the ball around with more confidence than in recent weeks. Jack Billings kicked the first goal from a free kick at the three minute mark of the first quarter. Everyone seemed to be contributing. First gamer Darren Minchington had 7 possessions in the first quarter. He faded somewhat after that, but managed to kick his first career goal, on debut, in the last quarter. A fine achievement! On a couple of occasions the Saints lead by 2 goals. Jack Billings had 3 by the end of the quarter. He finished with 3 for the game. It was the first time this season that someone other than Nick Riewoldt has managed to get more than 2 goals in a game. The signs were good at quarter time with the Saints leading by 7 points.

The Saints got the first goal of the second quarter. Shane Savage, in his best game since he escaped Hawthorn, willed himself into a contest, pirouetted out of a tackle, looked like he was going to fall over, but didn’t want to get his shorts dirty and not only stayed on his feet but managed to shot out a perfect handpass to Lenny Hayes, in the corridor, for a great goal. The Saints looked good.

Unfortunately, the Eagles then got their act together. They seemed to manage the inside – outside dialectic better than the Saints and delivered the ball more ably to the big man advantage they had on their forward line. They kicked 12 of the next 17 goals of the game, running out winners by 33 points. The Saints had spells in both the third and fourth quarters where they moved the ball well and scored goals on the back of fluent team play. The trick is to replicate such passages for greater proportions of the game. Tom Simpkin kicked his first career goal, in 30 games, in the third quarter. His pleasure was such that he looked like he had won the lottery.

The best part of the game for Saints’ fans was that the team looked competitive. They were still a chance late in the last quarter. All the players made a contribution. With a little more finesse and straighter shooting for goal the Saints could have pulled off an upset. Billy Longer handled the ruck work alone against the Eagles rotation of two big men. Jack Newnes, Maverick Weller, Jack Steven and Lenny Hayes gave the team drive. A statue should be erected for Saint Lenny when the the sad day of his retirement arrives. Jack Billings played with poise up forward for the best game of his short career.

The good news is that the Saints look like they have turned the corner. With the younger players getting more game time and experience things look much brighter than they previously have.

 

St. Kilda:       4.3   6.5    8.7      10.10 (70)

West Coast:   3.2   8.6   12.10   15.13 (103)

 

Goals

St. Kilda: Billings 3, Jones 2, Minchington, Hayes, Riewoldt, Lee, Simpkin.

West Coast: Darling 3, McGovern 3, Lycett 2, Gaff, Kennedy, Shuey, Brown, Hutchins, LeCras, Priddis.

 

Best

St. Kilda: Billings, Hayes, Newnes, Savage, Weller.

West Coast: Priddis, Rosa, LeCras, Gaff, Darling.

 

Umpires: Nicholls, Harris, Stephens                                                 Crowd: 17,317

 

Our Votes: Priddis 3 (West), Billings 2 (St. K.), Rosa 1 (West).

 

Braham Dabscheck is a guest speaker at this Friday’s Almanac luncheon to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the formation of the VFL/AFL Players’ Association.  Braham is a world leader in the field of player collectives/unions/associations. Also speaking will be  lawyer-historian Mark Branagan, expert on the ten-year rule.  Waterside Hotel, cnr Flinders and King Streets. 12.30 for 1pm. $50. Two courses. Drinks at bar prices.  [email protected]

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