Round 17 – St Kilda v Melbourne: We could use two Gawns

St Kilda v Melbourne

By Steve Healy

Around a year ago when my sister got a job at Channel 7 my mind immediately went to one place: Tickets. Ever since, a sizable part of our conversation has been “Did you apply for tickets?”, “So did you get the tickets?” and variants of the theme.

We got them this time (she happily obliges even though she’s not a fan), and they were virtually the best in the house (let’s excuse that cliche as the place at least has a roof on top), level 2 and perfectly aligned with the middle. If I cared enough, I could follow the interchange movements and grow frustrated to see Watts and Hogan standing around for minutes while there’d be no one left to kick to on the field. I could also watch several channels with the aid of a newly attached screen to the seat, (mine was slightly glitchy though) I think Dad was happy that he had the ABC to fall back on should the game not deliver.

We started favourites, which since the Essendon loss I’ve branded a curse. Speaking of curses, we hadn’t beaten the Saints in 13 “tries” and Etihad is virtually interstate. The crowd was modest but there was no lack of atmosphere as the game got underway.

The Saints fans grew weary in a way I’m only used to with Melbourne fans at their perceived whistle injustice. The men in lime let the game go and the Dees started like a house on fire, with a surplus of handballs, many of which were erratic, yet we outworked the Saints for the lead. Brayshaw showed touch after sitting out with concussion (he also had to shed a few kilos apparently!) and space at the goal mouth granted Garlett and Petracca two early majors. However, with the ball they did win, the Saints threatened to make this an exciting contest with their supply of shortish, hard runners who created opportunities that just went awry. Petracca was putting his size to good use in the forward line and the crowd finally chirped up for something other than free kicks as Watts danced around a couple of opponents in a way that suggested “Aw, why does he have to be good now?” It looked like Joe Biden chose the wrong game to attend.

The six goal first quarter was commonplace for us in 2016, but the goalless second didn’t feel out of place either as the house begun to fizzle out. We held our own for several minutes, until one of the game’s two turning points occurred: instead of using Kent or kicking to an open forward line, Hunt opted to handpass to Brayshaw who was immediately swarmed and it quickly turned into not one, but three St Kilda goals to give them the lead. The Dees would’ve probably been contented with a one-point lead at the long break, which was probably all they had their minds on as Geary got free in the final minute and kicked his only two goals for the season. It was following the pattern of the Round 6 game.

Hickey had outdone Gawn in the ruck, Weller was making a statement and we had no matchup for Membrey (where did he come from?) who carved us up again to the tune of four goals and two posters. I also thought Gilbert was doing alright for a guy who elicited “This could go anywhere” from a seasoned fan every time he touched the ball. Luckily, Riewoldt wasn’t so prolific (yet) but his teammates were kicking it to him in a way that was stretching himself towards a career threatening injury.

At half time a kid stared at the camera for 100 seconds without blinking and left an unforgettable impression on the crowd.

I’ll skip to the bit where we were 29 down. We had a revival off the presence of Hogan, a voracious Viney who struck one perfectly from 50 (and also took a mark reminiscent of that Riewoldt one) and Gawn who went on an overdue foray forward and surprisingly may have Jesse covered for set shot kicking. But Hogan couldn’t have done a lot more on his next attempt which was denied by the fingertip of a soaring, pale No.12.

2016’s defining cry, DELIBERATE!!!! gave us a very good opportunity to open the final term, but Garlett’s snap gave Membrey’s post another wobble. To get us within a kick, Gawn slotted another (we could use two Gawns) and from the clearance, Watts sent a high ball towards Hogan who was held! No, free against for the retaliation (the game’s second turning point). A quick rebound saw Riewoldt kick his first, before Weller added another, and as I watch the replay a few days later, I turn it off.

The Saints had a wealth of missed opportunities that somewhat hid how we turned into a bunch of soft onlookers. It’s disappointing that we can’t compete with a side who we should be at least equal to, if not ahead of in development. What differentiates us though is our lack of leadership, the Saints have Riewoldt, Montagna and Dempster to show the way each week. As the youngest team in the league, we don’t have many 25 who look interested, Jones lead the charge through tough times, but as talent grows around him, he’s looking more unsure with the ball. With just three contested possessions for the game, he was little more than an outsider. Vince also could’ve done a bit more as he racked them up at the last line of defence. We may have to be ‘not quite there’ for quite a while longer.

St Kilda 3.3 8.6 10.12 15.20 (110)
Melbourne 6.2 6.5 9.7 11.8 (74)

St Kilda: Membrey 4, Weller 3, Geary 2, Montagna, Bruce, Riewoldt, Weller, Roberton, Dunstan
Melbourne: Petracca 2, Garlett 2, Gawn 2, Watts, vandenBerg, Hogan, Viney, Kennedy

Votes: 3. T. Membrey (STK), 2. M. Weller (STK), 1. J. Viney (MEL)

Crowd: 25,322

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About Steve Healy

Steve Healy is an entity of a Melbourne supporter.

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