Round 6 – Western Bulldogs v St. Kilda: Dogged Saints dog the Dogs

by Braham Dabscheck

2.10 PM Saturday 9 May

Etihad Stadium


This was one of the great games. The Saints were dead and buried at half time, down by 49 points. The Dogs kicked the first one after the main break, and if wasn’t already over it looked like icing on a Dogs’ cake being prepared for Mothers’ Day. Down by 55 points! And then the tide turned. The Saints piled on 12 goals to 2 for the rest of the match, to win by 7 points. A modern miracle; one of the great escapes of all time. Harry Houdini lives and resides in St. Kilda! After the match Coach Alan Richardson said he hadn’t seen it coming. At half time he had urged the team to be smarter and maintain pressure; to get a bit of pride back into the team.

But he did a bit more than that. The Saints have had a policy of maintaining pressure around the ball. This has ususlly meant developing a congested style of play. This also means that opponents also crowd up proceedings and corral the Saints in the defensive 50. Against both the Pies and Blues this resulted in the side being pressured into mistakes and giving away gift goals. This is what happened in the first half. The fact that the Saints were only 7 points down at the first break with a negative 20 to 9 inside 50 count was a credit to the defense. In the second quarter things went haywire with the Dogs prancing around like spoilt poodles scoring 7 unanswered goals. The inside 50 count had jumped to a negative 40 to 17.

After half time the Saints spread out the team. Nick Riewoldt, who together with Leigh Montagna, was returning from injury, was taken out of the forward line and given a mid field role as a ruck rover. If nothing else, he gave the team poise and his kicking efficiency helped team flow. David Armitage, who was one of the few shining lights in the first half, got even better in the second half. The forward line was left to the younger brigade. Two of the Jacks, Messers Billings and Sinclair. came up trumps and kicked 6 golas between them; Billings 3 in the last quarter including the sealer with a few minutes to go.

But big man Tom Hickey was crucial to the win, at both the beginning and end of the turnaround. After the Dogs had kicked the first of the second half, Josh Bruce missed a gettable shot for a point. From the kickout, Dogs greyhound Robert Murphy kicked off to himself and tried to run down the field to initiate an attack, to only be grabbed by Hickey who was awarded a free and golaed-the Saints’ third for the match!! With a few minutes to go in the final quarter, with the Saints 5 points down, Jack Steven had a free outside the 50. He sterred a low tralectory kick high enough to be marked by a giraffe. Hickey obliged and slotted home the goal.

In the second half the Saints dominated poseesions by 201 to 137 and inside 50s, 30 to 22. They squared up what was a free kick count of 3 to 13 at half time to 16 to 19 at the final siren. Throughout the second half, especially in the final hectic minutes of the last quarter, any player who needed to do something in hauling the team back into the game, and then ensuring that it would be not lost once in front, did what needed to be done. Even when the Dogs kicked the first two of the kast quarter, it felt like the Saints had got them back on the leash. And as the second half unfolded I knew that the Saints would win. It was like watching the Saints overhaul the Swans in Sydney over 20 years ago when Plugger, Nathan Burke and Danny Frawley took over in the last quarter; before Plugger had an enforced holiday for something or other he did to a Swan. A truly great win. The Saints are back in town. The emotional yo-yo that is the lot of Saints fans is on the up. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the season will bring. There is light at the end of the tunnel.


Western Bulldogs   3.3  10.3   11.6   13.9 (87)
St. Kilda                    2.2   2.3     9.6   14.10 (94)

Western Bulldogs: Stringer 4, Picken 2, Goodes, Stevens, Wood, Crameri, Dahlaus, Cordy, Honeychurch.
St. Kilda: Billings 4, Sinclair, Hickey 2, Riewoldt, Schneider, Armitage, Dunstan, Lonie, Bruce.

Western Bulldogs: Picken, Wood, Stringer, Johannisen, Cordy.
St. Kilda: Armitage, Billings, Steven, Fisher, Riewoldt.


Umpires: Farmer, Schmidt, Stephens.

Crowd: 29,619.

Our Votes: Armitage 3 (St. K), Billings 2 ( St. K), Steven1 (St.K).


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Great analysis of the game and it helps me understand what the hell happened. Don’t forget to let me know if u are in town for a game and I am coming up to spotless soon!

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