AFL Round 19 – Brisbane v St.Kilda: Pulling threads

The Waikato bells are ringing for the Chiefs tonight, after the ACT Brumbies gave up their lead in the last ten minutes of the Super Rugby final. The Fanatics grip their beers with hope in England, as Australia go into day three of the third Ashes test with runs! And Saints fans… well they’re probably watching the cricket.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Though if they are at the Gabba, like the white zinc on Ryan Harris’ face, the St Kilda faithful are ghostlike.

St Kilda has won just three games all season. The Saints must unravel the Brisbane quilt early; a loose thread is exposed early. The Lions have won the first quarter just three times all season.

After a goal each, Ahmed Saad attaches a fine needle to said loose thread. He goals on an impossible angle, despite some pissed Queenslanders in his ear. But there’s a knot on the other end. Almost immediately, Brisbane’s Daniel Merrett top-and-toes one through before Sam Docherty (DOCK-ER-TEE) swings-in his first AFL goal from outside fifty. The Lions take a seven point lead into the first break – slightly worse off than the bookies had them.

Where’s the remote?

Day three of the third test has already begun. The other Lions began the day on two for not many. With rain forecast over the next 72 hours in Manchester, Australia need to be batting again by the close of play, to get back in the series. This session matters. Ryan Harris is moving the ball. No wicket yet today though, so Saints fans still have reason to flick back.

Those who do are rewarded by a Stephen Milne lead, grab and goal to take them within a point – the first score of the second term.

A quick score check.

And I’m rewarded. Harris finds Trott guilty of indecision, sentenced by skipper Pup at second slip for five. Game on.

Brisbane have since run to a 19 point lead. Three goals answered only by Saad’s second. Merret responds swiftly, and is proving capable of filling the void left by Jonathan Brown who injured his foot in the first term.

Composed as a cucumber under the knife, Leigh Montagna nails a set shot from fifty on a tough angle. But Pearce Hanley resets the margin to 18, and Daniel Rich – through sheer brilliance – prevents cocky Lions supporters from reaching for the remote. He crumbs, runs to 75, and the ball barely clears the ground, like a Kevin Pietersen cover drive for six. Goal.

The English Lions reach 100 during the third term, which ironically is won by the Saints’. They lead the quarter by four points, after Tom Lee goals. Some momentum is generated when Armatige rebounds a Lions’ clearance from half back, which goes through three sets of hands before Tom Lee gets it and goals, again.

The Saints are now within 13. There is hope. But it’s short lived. The Lions consolidate thanks to a straight Jesse O’Brian set-kick, and even the Fox commentators struggle to make us believe there’s still a contest.

With three minutes to go in the term, I flick back over to the cricket, and even Adam Gilchrist couldn’t have timed it sweeter. Mitchell Starc delivers, Captain (Alistair) Cook tries to caress it down leg, and Brad Haddin’s ensuing snare will be remembered by even the most casual viewers. Expect the following image in test promos for the Australian series: Haddin splayed and horizontal with the ball in his outstretched right hand. Brilliant! 4/110. (Provided he keeps his place of course).

The Saints all but give-up in the fourth term. Brisbane run away with four unanswered majors -another thread tied up on a tired premiership quilt. They’ll take it as far as they can.

Two late Nick Riewoldt goals are no more than a whisper, as expressionless as the dejected forward’s face. Next season. Maybe.

Meanwhile the morning session ends without ceremony, but with hope. Clarke’s plan to remove Pietersen is clear: have Harris bowl outside off, after lodging two thorns in the right handers midwicket. The Ashes again seem attainable, for now.

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