Round 15 – Richmond v St. Kilda: Saints find their mojo against tired Tigers


By Braham Dabscheck

Richmond v St. Kilda

7.50 PM Friday 25 June

Melbourne Cricket Ground


The Saints had only won one of their last five games, against the last placed Kangaroos. Three of these loses were games that the Saints had let slide – inaccuracy in front of goal against the Cats, missing three set shots in the dying minutes against the Swans and falling in a hole after leading all day against the Crows, losing with the last kick of the game. The Saints were thereabouts, but nothing was working. The bye gave them a chance to reflect and reset.


The Tigers on Friday night at the MCG looked like a tall order. I woke up and the first thing that flashed into my head was a feeling that the Saints would win (note, I am a person of science; someone who is extremely critical of superstition and hunches; but come on, this is footy and everyone needs a break from such discipline; and, after all, I am a Saint!). I rang a few friends and told them the good news. They were overjoyed. The Saints’ website then ran a story of the 1961 clash at the Junction Oval when the Saints held the Tigers goalless (8 points), winning by 83 points. It was a game I saw as a 12 year old. I remember the ump giving two dubious frees to the Tigers in front of goal late in the game (at the Lake end of the ground) so they could at least score a consolation goal. The Tigers had the good sense to miss and cement for themselves a special place in the annals of footy. The win was in the bag. Little did I know that on this Friday night the Tigers would record their lowest score since that 1961 game. I didn’t see this coming. I hadn’t told my friends that this was what would happen. Goes to show how you can’t really trust your hunches.


It was a wet and cold night. The Tigers started well and moved the ball across the field with ease but only managed to score a couple of points from long range shots. The Saints gradually got into the game. They were beginning to get on top, winning the 50/50s and accumulating a procession of one percenters. Both sides had trouble holding onto the slippery ball, dropping marks and fumbling, especially when under pressure. Daniel McKenzie, in his first game following an injury which had left him sidelined for several weeks, soccered one off the ground in the goal square following a handpass from Ben Long. Ben, who was pushed forward, performed a valuable harassing role throughout the game. Jack Higgins and Max King, two of the Saints’ major kicking for goal miscreants, both kicked truly following marks; King’s was from an acute angle in the right pocket. Saints up by 15 points at quarter time.


The rest of the game was an arm wrestle. The Saints stopped the Tigers running overlap game and forced them into errors.  The one percenters started to accumulate. The best goal of the game came in the second quarter when the Saints moved the ball from the back right pocket with a series of passes/marks across the ground which ended up in the arms of Max King deep in the left forward pocket. He normally misses these. The break served him well. He performed an around the corner kick, gave it plenty of height (which he has had trouble doing) and it sailed through and he had a smile on his face which would have done Luna Park out of a job. This was followed by a goal to Mason Wood, from a handpass from King, straight out of the centre. The Tigers replied with their first from the following centre bounce. Three goals in two minutes lit up what was an otherwise dour struggle. The Saints had a bit of luck late in the quarter when a Tigers’ kick off the ground just (and when I say just, I mean just) grazed one of the big sticks for a point, rather than a goal.


At the beginning of the third quarter the Tigers sought to get back in the game and seemed to be getting on top, similar to the early stanzas of the first quarter. The Saints withstood this pressure and Luke Dunstan, with a best on ground performance, snapped a neat goal on his right (wrong) foot following a throw-in. The Tigers finally kicked their second a few minutes later. Ben Long crumbed one with another soccer off the ground. Late in the quarter, Daniel McKenzie received a free for around the neck. He was about 45 meters out from goal. He took a couple of deep breaths, steadied himself and guided it through just inside the right post. He tried to outdo in the smiling department. Game over.


The last quarter involved little more than the playing out of time. Seb Ross kicked the only goal of the quarter following a pass/mark from Mason Wood. The Saints wracked up 54 mainly uncontested marks in this quarter in one of the finest exhibitions of short passing under no pressure.


All of the Saints performed well, doing whatever was needed when it was needed. Nick Coffield, who was a late inclusion for the injured Jack Billings, looked good in his best position in the back half, before injuring his hamstring halfway through the third quarter. The ruck combination of Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall dominated the Tigers’ big men and gave a platform for the smalls. The midfield of Luke Dunstan, Jack Steele and Brad Crouch controlled proceedings. Daniel McKenzie and Ben Long gave the side more grunt. The backline only conceded two goals; this speaks for itself. The Saints are back on track; giving us fans a reason to feel that life has some meaning. The Saints played the Tigers in Round 5 and lost by 86 points. They won this one by 40 points, a 126 point turnaround. This says something about the Tigers. It looks like their era is coming to an end.


Next week that old foe the Pies.

Go Saints!!



Richmond   0.5   1.6   2.7   2.10 (22)

St. Kilda       3.2   5.3   8.7   9.8 (62)



Richmond: Martin, Edwards.

St. Kilda: McKenzie 2, King 2, Higgins, Wood, Dunstan, Long Ross.



Richmond: Pickett, Vlastuin, Short, Graham, Martin.

St. Kilda: Dunstan, Steele, Howard, Crouch, Ryder.


Crowd: 14,787 and that fabulous Saints 1961 team.


Umpires: Deboy, Fleer, Stevic.


Malarkey Medal: Howard 1 (StK), Steele 2 (StK), Dunstan 3 (StK).



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  1. Football Analyst says

    Excellent summary of the match.

    As an optimist, I know it’s easier said than done but this is how I expected St Kilda would play for the majority of the season, as the expectations for St Kilda at the start of the season was finals, perhaps even pushing for top 4 with the additions of Higgins and Crouch. However, injuries to key players for long periods of time put an end to that hope.

    It was a superb performance by St Kilda to beat Richmond convincingly at the MCG. It’s better late than ever and I can’t wait to see how St Kilda performs over the next few years, as long as their best players play at least 16 games per season, including the end of the year and an improved game plan, which is so important.

    I know it was a different St Kilda team back then but Ross Lyon’s game plan to win 19 games in a row in 2009 was truly remarkable. Hoping that Brett Ratten and his Assistant coaches, as well as David Rath, can come up with another winning game plan starting from next year.

    Go Saints!

  2. Guru Gus - Singapore says

    Terrific win by the Saints – need to back it up this week and go 2 in a row – such consistency missing from this year so far. Coffield 2020 intercept form did return – pity about the hammy, as his best game for the year. Long aggressive and hungry. D Mac loved it out there. New love for Dunstan. Keep it going Mason. Wilkie, Dougal, Highmore – magnificent. Usual great mid field class from Steele, Couch, Seb. Hill never stopped trying and asking for the ball. Ruck combo best in the business. Well done Saints.

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