Round 1 – GWS v St. Kilda: Saints prevail over Giants in a tight game in tough conditions.

Greater Western Sydney v St. Kilda

3.20pm, Sunday March 21

Giants Stadium



This was always going to be a tight, tough contest. Over the previous week it had rained non-stop in Sydney and New South Wales more generally. It was unlikely that we would see a game of free flowing football. Despite all the rain, the ground was in good condition, with an absence of water and mud heaps; unlike the good old/bad old days at Moorabbin! Well done ground staff.



The game started with predictable stoppages in play, ball ups and boundary throw ins. Other than for an unbelievable speccy by the Giants’ Toby Greene for the first goal of the match, there was little to get excited about. Despite the Giants dominating the first quarter they only lead by seven points at the first break.



The game came to life in the second quarter, with both teams lifting their tempo. The Saints got on top and in the second half of the quarter kicked three in a row. The best of the lot was Brad Hill’s; where he gathered the ball wide out on the wing, ran into the 50 and steered a low kick which bounced through for a goal. The Giants kicked a late goal to cut the Saints lead at the main break to seven points.



The third quarter see sawed one way and then the other. Both teams kicked four goals. The two best goals for the Saints were long bombs by Seb Ross and Tim Membrey. Ross’s was noteworthy in that long kicking has never been a feature of his game. The Saints were up by nine points when the Giants got another late goal, to bring the margin down to three points.



The last quarter started and the Giants were all over the Saints. They got two quick goals, the first from a dubious free (the freekick count for the game was 29 to 14 for the Giants) and were up by 10 points. The Giants’ Harry Himmelberg was awarded another free (it was there) 15 to 20 meters from goal on a slight angle with 13 and a half minutes of the quarter/game to play. If he kicked it the game would have been over. He missed and hit the big stick on the right.



The arm wrestle continued with the ball going up and down the field. The Saints eventually forced the ball forward for a throw in on the half forward flank. The ball ended up with Jack Lonie in the left pocket on the boundary line, who kicked a high ball which miraculously flew through the big sticks. He has ‘Goal of the Year’ sewn up. The Saints were down by less than a goal. With a half of the quarter still to play the Giants went into survival mode, kicking the ball backwards and sideways chalking up uncontested possessions. The Saints eventually gained possession and put the Giants on the backfoot. Seb Ross took a mark near the boundary line outside the 50. He propped, played on and kicked another long bomb for a goal. What has he been doing in the off season? He is suddenly a goal scoring mid-fielder. Saints up by a point, Tim Membrey then marked from a kick out of the center, kicked truly and the Saints were up by more than a goal.



The Giants got another one with four minutes to go. The ball now hotly contested. There is a minute and a few seconds to go. The Giants were in possession in their back half when Dan Butler, who had a relatively quiet game, lay his seventh tackle for the game. Callum Ward dropped the ball and Butler is awarded the Saints’ second free for the quarter. He converts and the Saints win by eight points.



There is no such thing as a bad win; they are all great. But as George Orwell would have said if he had followed the Saints (I mean who else would he have followed?): some great wins are greater that other great wins. And this is up there with the greater great wins. This win was based on an all round team performance where everyone did something when it mattered. Tim Membrey was outstanding with his three goals and general play. Jack Billings, Jade Gresham, Seb Ross, Jack Steele, and Hunter Clark, especially after half time, put in consistent games.



It is only Round One, and we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. But a good season is built on winning close, hard fought games. Next week the Demons.



Go Saints!




GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY    2.3     4.5     8.9     11.12 (78)

ST. KILDA                                       1.2     5.6      9.6      13.8 (86)



Greater Western Sydney: Himmelberg 3, Greene, Green, Hill, Coniglio, Ward, Taranto, Hopper, Keefe

St. Kilda: Membrey 3, Higgins, Lonie, Ross 2, Billings, Hill, Battle, Butler



Greater Western Sydney: Flynn, Perryman, Taranto, Ward, Coniglio

St. Kilda: Membrey, Billings, Gresham, Clark, Ross


Crowd: 5,014 plus umbrellar sellers.


Malarkey Medal: Flynn (GWS) 1, Billings (SK) 2, Membrey (SK) 3




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  1. Anonymous says

    Completely agree with you, Braham.

    To me, this was the best St Kilda win under Brett Ratten because St Kilda had nine of its best starting 21 out of the team. Most importantly, it was without our 2 best ruckman in Marshall and Ryder and our best centre half forward in Max King.

    Also missing were Captain Courageous Jarryn Geary, speedy midfielder Zak Jones, ball magnet Brad Crouch, the inspirational Dan Hanbebery, tall premiership backman James Frawley, who will miss about half the season and a good small backman Pen Paton, out for the year.

    It shows that St Kilda has very good depth to win at Giants Stadium, without those players.

    It’s great to see Jade Gresham back playing well and Jack Higgins will be a great addition to this team.

    Not only were Tim Membrey’s 3 goals good, back his work rate around the ground was impressive too.

    Lonie’s miraculous goal in the last quarter was inspirational as were the goals from Seb Ross.

    St Kilda worked very well together as a team and their intensity and never say die attitude was great to watch.

    I was impressed with what Sean McKernan had to offer in the ruck and Hunter also did well in that role.

    Hoping that Jack Billings can keep playing well and live up to his number 3 National Draft pick, as St Kilda took him ahead of Marcus Bontempelli.

    It’s a shame what happened with Paddy McCartin, a former number 1 National Draft pick, as St a Kilda took him ahead of Christian Pretracca.

    How good would St Kilda be now if they had taken both Bontempelli and Petracca, not to mention St Kilda previously taking Luke Ball at pick 2 of the 2001 National Draft, ahead of Chris Judd. That decision cost St Kilda several flags.

    St Kilda may lack the genuine stars or matchwinners of the other top clubs this year, but as long as every player keeps playing their role and the game plan remains a winning and successful one, anything can happen. When the Western Bulldogs won their flag in 2016, only Bontempelli and Stringer were genuine matchwinners but they were very even with a great game plan. Likewise, Richmond with their game plan and matchwinners in Martin, Rance in 2017, Riewoldt, then Lynch.

    Anyway, let’s hope that St Kilda can make the top 4 in 2021, notwithstanding a difficult draw and injuries, and win their long awaited 2nd flag soon.

    I honestly believe that St Kilda currently has a premiership list, when the majority of the missing 9 become available, assuming there aren’t too many other good players missing as well. I know the same can be said about other teams too but St Kilda with only 1 flag and 27 wooden spoons in the previous 123 years of the VFL/AFL, deserve to have another premiership the most out of all the current AFL clubs.

    Carn The Mighty Saints!

  2. John Butler says

    Braham, I thought that game was so important to GWS that they didn’t dare lose. But it was the Saints who stood up when it was on the line. A very promising sign, given who is to return.


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