Round 7 – St Kilda v North Melbourne: Different in so many ways, but not all

Etihad Stadium, Sunday May 8th 2016, 3.40pm

 

It’s fascinating how St Kilda have become a different story this year. Still having won only 2 of 7 games, the Saints are a positive story in the press and among fans. People can see the growth. People can see the effort. We don’t get the wins, but we are getting the flowers and the chocolates and it feels very strange.

We are in an alternate universe where Carlton have won three in a row (and beat Collingwood to boot), Melbourne are booming, GWS is set to dominate the next five  years and Fremantle, last year’s ladder leader, have no wins. Collingwood, Richmond and Gold Coast are this year’s winners of “Coaches and Players Under the Heat Lamp” award. Mick Malthouse continues to lay the steel-tipped boots into Bucks with his SEN comments come the weekdays, saying when he left, he thought the list was a three-peat waiting to happen.

More positively, Western Bulldogs have lost so many players to season-ending injuries, and yet they are still 5-2. Brilliant.

It makes going to the footy like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never quite know what you are going to get.

I’d spent the weekend away with my kids in Sassafras, lots of eating and Battleships and Rummy Tiles and funny photos of cockatoo and rosella feeding, and walking through spectacular gardens, and finished a great weekend by coming to the footy to do what I love doing. Releasing my kids from mother duties, and keeping out of the raining Sunday afternoon weather. My brother Andre, sister Denise and I all miss my Mum on this first Mother’s Day.

My guests, Marianne and Noon, a mother-and-son Mother’s Day combination, and Uncle Bob and cousin Gary and I sat together, probably in our hearts not expecting a win. North are 6 and zip. Top of the ladder. Way ahead. We may have nearly got the  Hawks, but we have beaten only Collingwood and Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong. That was great. But we haven’t punched above our weight.

It was Drew Petrie’s 300th. Even our banner paid tribute to Drew. Our players come out of the race, through a lineup of their mothers, and Jack Sinclair’s mum has a go at him for his lack of “good son-ness”. The players come out so late that there is almost no time to warm up before the bounce. It is very weird and a little bit different.

We win the toss, the first for the season. Hoping it’s an omen. And then it’s game on, with Saints looking good with an early goal to Shane Savage before Petrie gets his first and we can see it will be a tight game. Both teams have errors, both teams are so fast when they get the ball and run. So very fun and fast.

On the replay (I always watch to see what I missed from the game, unless it was so awful I erase it from the recording and my memory and refuse to watch it again), Leigh Matthews says, “We need to re-rate St Kilda from the beginning of the year.” Yes Leigh, we all do. We would have been three goals up but for misses by Mav Weller, Josh Bruce and Jack Billings.

Ben Brown shows more accuracy as he gets North’s two and Ben Cunnington seals the quarter with North in front by two goals.

North’s good pressure means we keep pumping it in for misses. Weller and Jarryn Geary miss again, and supporters around me groan as we watch the useless backward kicking that gains no inches and risks turnovers. But the boys — both in blue and white, and red, white and black — are fighting for every moment, every ball, every entry.

“Scrappy,” say the commentators.

Scrappy indeed.

Tim Membrey goals, Boomer Harvey goals, and we miss three more through Blake Acres, Savage and Joey Montagna. I am pointing out all the misses so we can remember we could have been ahead at many times of the game but for sloppy forward entries and turnovers.

I love watching little Jack Lonie throw his whole body into players and putting guys twice his size onto the ground.

Leigh comments, “Work ethic’s been excellent from both teams.”

Saints have had more inside 50s without the good results.

Jarrad Waite gets his first, in a flow of play that catches us out of place before Tom Hickey misses another.

At half time, North are 20 ahead.

The Saints must have had their spinach at half time because they came marching in the second half. My guests had to leave, work was calling and I lost the warmth of having someone to my right keeping the cool breeze away. Membrey and Nick Riewoldt keep me warm before Petrie scores a goal. Riewoldt is having an outstanding game and gets another from 50; his kicking has improved out of sight. Mason Wood and Shaun Higgins keep the Kangas in front, Todd Goldstein is probably winning in the ruck with Hickey giving decent effort and Bruce shows style and a little bit of Rooey by being in defence, kicking it to Jade Gresham who kicks it back to him to goal. We are 17 behind at the end of the third in a relatively low-scoring game. Mind you, Saints have kicked 7 points and North 12, so it wasn’t only the Saints that could have sealed this game earlier.

Come the last quarter, there seems good energy on the ground. Higgins gets North back to 23 ahead before another three misses by the Kangas. Riewoldt is doing great work in EVERY part of the ground. He moves with super powers. He is a wonder to behold and watch. He also gets the next goal, and passes it to Billings for the next Saints goal, reducing the margin to 14. When Membrey then Bruce get the next two, North are only 2 points ahead and we are in with a chance. North fans and players and coaching staff are having conniptions.

We help their heart when we miss through Luke Dunstan and get another rushed behind. Riewoldt seems to have hurt his knee. There are tireless effort and tackles all over the ground. It is fierce. The scores are actually level. Could this be a tie?

Daniel Wells probably saves the game for North when he throws himself over Seb Ross’s attempt to kick forward, and suddenly all the misses come home to roost for the Saints. North begin to slow things down, there are 91 seconds on the clock. Hickey gets a free paid against him in the North goal square (that will be talked about all week) and it completely changes the outcome of the game, whether the free “was there,” “a big call,” or “Hickey won the ruck contest even though he is limping.”

Goldstein gets a point, there is messy play as Saints fans know we have lost, and Jack Newnes gets pinged for holding the ball. We boo as Wood wastes the time on the clock, just because (it really was nowhere near the spirit of this great contested game), and it is an anti-climactic end. The Saints fans boo their unhappiness, although we know that at that stage we’d never get two scores on the board. The siren goes after the requires 30 seconds and Wood kicks perfectly. Petrie is celebrated by all the fans and both the teams. We’ve had a wonderful, above-expectation game, and Petrie says in the interview, “Gee, we were lucky.”

And then Gary and I (and a thousand other happy campers) had a kick to kick and I find I have lost all the skill and kicking ability I had built up last year and spend my time apologising to a good -natured Gary for all my dribbles, wayward kicks and lousy passes. My marks were outstanding, though. I really am a Saint all the way through to my runners. I, and my boys, need more practice yet.

About Yvette Wroby

Yvette Wroby writes, cartoons, paints through life and gets most pleasure when it's about football, and more specifically the Saints. Believes in following dreams and having a go.

Comments

  1. Neil Anderson says

    So close and so disappointing to lose in the finish. I tipped the Saints because they are well coached and they have found another forward to kick the goals. Rooey can roam further up the ground and is in top form.
    Another story of ‘ifs’ and what could have been. This week North will be without Higgins and possibly Wells. Those two would have been a couple of handy ‘outs’ playing the Saints. It’s a great sign for the Dogs that they have been able to cover the injuries so far. This week I hope they use our second draft pick Kieran Collins to replace the injured Marcus Adams.
    And don’t worry about your dribble-kicks. Everyone uses the dribble-kick much to Jason Dunstall’s chagrin.

  2. Very unlucky to lose, Yvette. That was a thrilling comeback by the Saints in the last quarter.
    It sounds like you need to hit the training track for more kick-to-kick sessions!

  3. Guru Gus - Singapore says

    Terrific game spoilt by a very questionable call by the umpire to Goldstein. No issues with Woods’ standing still for 30 seconds – all within the rules.

    Exciting to watch the Saints. The improvement is substantial. Saw them live against the Scraggers – probably their worst run for the year. But lots to like in the 5 weeks since!

    Thanks for the writeup on the game.

  4. Hi Yvette,

    Even we missed opportunities to win, we are doing well. And hope we can gain skills to win the close games like this match and against Hawthorn soon.

    Your writing is awesome and you describe moments of the game positively. I wish the accurancy of kicking goals was better to upset the strong Kangaroos.

    I’m sure our boys show efforts towards Eagles at Subiaco this evening. We will fight well and I hope Saints go marching in.

    Have a good weekend!

    Yoshi

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