Round 17 – Melbourne v St. Kilda: Saints Out Tackle Demons Inside 50 (46 Points Actually!)

by Braham Dabscheck

3.20 PM Sunday 26 July

Melbourne Cricket Ground


The Saints and Demons squared off six weeks ago. Both had won three games. The Saints won a thrilla (and it wasn’t in Manila) at Etihad Stadium under the dome. The rematch, with both teams now on five wins fighting for the coveted 13th position on the ladder, was at the MCG on a delightful Melbourne winter’s day; cold with a bracing shower in the third quarter-something to warm the cockles of the heart of any diehard supporter.

From the first toss up (no bounces for this game) the Saints looked likely. The game was played at a high tempo with both teams struggling to find any rhythm going forward. Kicks and hand passes went astray. The game was more like pinball than football. The Saints were dominating play, out tackling the Demons and the inside 50s. But all to no avail, with a few points on the scoreboard. Not another re-run of the Giants game? The Demons kicked the first from a miracle snap from the pocket. For the rest of the quarter, the Saints dominance was rewarded with 4 goals.

The less said about the second quarter the better. Both teams were sloppy. The Demons managed 2 goals and reduced a quarter time deficit of 20 points to 7 at the main break. Game on.

The third quarter started and the heavens opened up to provide a pathway for their beloved Saints. Tackling pressure in the back half of the ground was rewarded with precision play up forward: 6 goals from 10 inside 50s. The pick of the bunch was Jack Newnes’, the last of the quarter. The ball is in the center, a pack is forming, Nick Riewoldt toes the ball backwards to Newnes, who gathers, weaves past an opponent and lands a huge sausage roll from outside the 50. The last quarter amounted to little more than the playing out of time.

The Saints’ victory was based on pressuring the Demons; not allowing them to get going and forcing them into turnovers. The Saints won the tackle count 83 to 58 and inside 50s 57 to 44 (in the second half when they were most effective they lost the latter 20 to 27 – can you make sense of it? I can’t). Unlike previous weeks, the Saints seemed to resist the temptation to kick the ball backwards; reducing the chance for turnovers which resulted in gift goals as occurred against the Tigers. They also used a goal keeper to mop up speculative kicks by the Demons from a pack in or near the defensive 50. The Saint’s brains trust worked its magic!

The backs kept the Demons to 6 goals. A stellar performance in anyone’s language. They all performed well. Sean Dempster had another outstanding game. He took 10 marks (with two pinched off him due to frees) and took a screamer in the last quarter. Jimmy Webster showed great courage in the third quarter going backwards for a mark which resulted in a clash which could have seen him experience something worse than bruised ribs. Hugh Goddard had a serviceable second game. Sam Gilbert had his best game since his return from injury, especially in the first half. He did something to his leg in the last quarter. Hopefully, he will be right for next week. Paddy McCartin had more than an impressive game. He lead well, took 9 marks and looks like a dead eye in front of goal.

The difference between the two sides was Nick Riewoldt. He kick started the Saints up forward in the first quarter, and again in the third quarter when the game was up for grabs. Thirteen marks on a wet day and 3 goals speak for itself. He started the game with a crook leg and then injured the other one during the game. Imagine how good he would be if he could play on both legs!


Melbourne:    1.2   3.6   5.9   6.10 (46)
St. Kilda:       4.4   4.7   10.8   12.11 (83)



Melbourne: Jones, Dawes, Tyson, Hogan, Garlett, Gawn.

St. Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Dunstan 2, Sinclair, Savage, Lonie, McCartin, Newnes, Bruce, Weller.



Melbourne: Viney, Howe, Jones, Cross, Grimes.

St. Kilda: Riewoldt, Dempster, Gilbert, Savage, Roberton.


Umpires: Mollison, Rosebury, Wallace.


Crowd: 22,945.


Our Votes: Riewoldt 3 (St.K), Dempster 2 (St.K), Gilbert 1 (St. K).


  1. Well written Braham. If these two teams could play for a Cup, other than one named after ‘Big Carl’ who might it be in recognition of? Rod Owen maybe, or is it pushing the boundaries too far to have it named after another stalwart, though he played for 4 clubs; Brian Wilson? Over to you.


  2. Braham Dabscheck says

    Thanks for the kind words Glen. The obvious candidate would be Big Carl. I saw his first game in 1963 against Melbourne at the Junction Oval. He took on and demolished (well, beat) Ronald Dale Barassi. Before that, in 1961, I saw him and Jimmy Read play for East Brighton at Hurlingham Park. But, if I have to rule out Big Carl, my candidate would be the diminitive Paul Callery. He played 76 games (102 goals) for the Demons and 105 games (98 goals) for the Saints. He also had one goaless game for the Swans. He was a Big little man.


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