General Footy Writing: I don’t see how anyone can beat the Saints

By Tony Dalton

I have now watched the full seventeen games of the Saints season, each week expecting to see someone, some team, run out, work them over and defeat them. Much to my surprise and delight it has not happened and I am now convinced that it will not happen this year.

I was firmly confident that we would dispose of the Cats in Round 14. Over the past five years the Saints have had a better team than the Cats; it’s just been that we have not been able to put the best team on the park.

The realisation that we would remain unbeaten came to me in Round 16. It was in this round that the Saints met the Crows, a team I have been watching change their game plan (copied ours), learn it under the tutelage of a great coach and string together seven successive wins. We were still catching our breath after the tough game against the Cats (who later pensioned off a string of their best players), we’d played an insipid game against the lowly Eagles, we were surely vulnerable against the Crows. I tipped against my team for the first (and last) time for the season.

Some eighty tackles later a demolished Crows team had failed to execute its plans and left Ethihad featherless. The Saints then repeated the dose against another in-form side, the Bulldogs, who are coached by one of the great tacticians of the game (remember Malthouse wanted to appoint Rocket Eade as director of coaching). Another 76 tackles later the Doggies (my second side) were sent home with their tails between the legs.

It seems to me that we have had  the three best coaches in the competition, Thompson (a premiership coach ), Eade and Craig, do their very best to tactically out-manoeuvre the Saints and all have failed dismally (not to mention the other 13 who have also tried their best).

Statistically, the Saints have been significantly superior to all sides except the Cats, although they hold an edge there also. So how do you beat them?

It is not possible for either the Bulldogs or the Crows to redeem themselves in the short term, although I think the Crows are the second best side in the competition and will prove to be. Thompson seems to be committed to one game plan; his attitude is “come and beat us”, which we did. Thompson does not have a plan B. It would take at least a full pre-season of practice to counter the Saints’ defensive structures. The Cats also have major injury worries and players who recently have been exposed.

So it looks to me that the dream that has eluded the Saints for so long (43 years) is achievable, barring earthquakes, terrorist attacks or any other major calamity. In the words of one great sceptic, the premiership is the Saints to be lost.

It will be intriguing to see just what tactics opposition clubs use during the finals to try to unpick the Saints’ game plan. But their efforts will be in vain. I’m firmly convinced that the Saints are unbeatable.


  1. uncle tony says

    Nearly saw the answer to my own question tonight

  2. I agree the Saints are looking fairly unstoppable due to a lack of injuries and a game plan that has seen them through a couple of very tight games. However I don’t think they are invincible though, and I certainly wouldn’t describe the Cats falling 6 points short (thanks to one of the marks of the season by Gardiner) as “failing dismally”. I think the last Saturday in September is renowned for surprises, like in 97 when the Sainters went in favourites but got blown away in the last quarter to lose by 5 goals to the Crows led by Jarman and Norm Smith Medallist McLeod.

    The Saints are looking very good but as they say, don’t go counting your chickens….

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