Round 11 – St Kilda v Geelong: Saints mugged by Cats and (maybe) reality

 

 

 

A buoyant, successful St Kilda trundled out of the Gold Coast bubble to Brisbane on this cold Monday evening and had every hope and dream torn apart by a rampant Geelong. And unlike many thrashings where the coach declares “we won’t bother watching the tape”, Brett Ratten and his team will be watching this one for a long time.

 

After all, how is it possible for the Saints to play their two toughest players (Geary and Long) as offensive taggers on Tom Stewart and for the Geelong defender to rack up 20 uncontested possessions?

 

How can St Kilda have the top three clearance players on the field (Marshall with seven, Steele with five and Bytel with five) and not kick a goal for an entire half?

 

How can Geelong rest a ruckman on the wing of the best player St Kilda have got, Brad Hill, and somehow Hill ends up with only seven possessions for the game?

 

At his post-match presser coach Ratten diagnosed Hills problem as being because his team mates wouldn’t kick the ball to him. Seriously?

 

The answer was a fierce determination by Geelong to play to their own strengths and back them with unrelenting, four-quarter, every-inch-of-the-ground pressure. When the ball was kicked to Hill he was often ruthlessly exposed for intensity and work rate by Blicavs, Tuohy or Guthrie.

 

It was a night where the omens were stirring very very early. From the first bounce Geelong fanned out and started playing the toughest game of keepings off since the day I took liverwurst sandwiches to Chilwell Primary School. They simply refused St Kilda access to the ball or contest.

 

Sometimes the wisdom of new eyes can be the most penetrating. My wife has attended perhaps three AFL games in her life and from our position on centre wing she thought she watching a kind of ballet.

 

This was not the revelation found in the difference between watching the game on TV and seeing it live; she was perplexed why St Kilda weren’t allowed to touch the ball and how Geelong players could cover the field so perfectly spread apart. She convinced herself it must have been a pregame warm up of some kind. She got a start when Geelong kicked a goal because, “oh this is the game.”

 

Beyond the pressure Geelong had two players ready to take advantage of their control, Tom Hawkins and Gary Rohan kicked nine between them. Down the other end St Kilda’s previously excellent combination of Max King, Tim Membrey and Dan Butler didn’t kick a goal between them.

 

Rohan was really impressive in this game. His speed, pressure, endurance and marking were all first rate and the Saints had no one to go with him. A second quarter effort to run down three Saints and win a free kick was the play of the game.

 

Hawkins dominated every space he moved in to, he kicked five and it could have been eight. For Carlisle to be left on-on-one with him for the whole game must have been demoralising and made it look like the coach was punishing him for something.

 

…And then there was Menegola. Maligned by some Cats fans for his inconsistent kicking, he looks to have been given his own wing, which for the last two games (that I have seen) he has utterly dominated. He has slimmed down a little since last year and built his endurance to gut-busting levels.

 

He had a game-high 26 possessions, nearly all perfectly delivered and reduced Jack Billings to St Kilda’s least productive player.

 

With Stanley winning his second match-up in a row and finally showing some serious form and consistency, as well as Duncan and Dangerfield feeding the forward line, Geelong just had too much of everything everywhere to be challenged by St Kilda.

 

Prior to this game St Kilda were being judged, by smarter readers of the game than I am, as finals bound and strong contenders. And while they’ll probably still make the finals, every other team in the eight at the sharp end will hope they draw the Saints.

 

 

ST KILDA       2.1      4.6      4.8      4.10 (34)
GEELONG      2.4      7.5      11.7    14.9 (93)

 

GOALS
St Kilda: Phillips 2, Battle, Billings
Geelong: Hawkins 5, Rohan 4, Menegola 2, Dangerfield, Duncan, Tuohy

 

BEST
St Kilda: Steele, Sinclair, Long, Phillips
Geelong: Menegola, Hawkins, Dangerfield, Rohan, Duncan, O’Connor

 

Malarkey Medal: (3) T Hawkins – GEEL, (2) S Menegola – GEEL, (1) G Rohan – GEEL

 

 

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About Hamish Townsend

Hamish Townsend was born and raised in Geelong, supports the Cats and lives in Brisbane.

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