Round 7 – St Kilda v North Melbourne: 300 Cheers for Drew Petrie

In 2014, sometime in late Summer or early Autumn, I don’t remember exactly, North held an open training session at Arden Street to show off how the squad, including new recruit Nick Dal Santo, were shaping up. As the session dragged on past the advertised time, players and spectators alike started flagging in the heat. When the training finally wound up it was Drew Petrie coming over to the fence, all smiles and open arms, thanking the remains of the crowd for sticking around. Hats and jumpers and footy cards were signed, selfies taken, and of course Drew was the last to leave, generous as always with his time and attention.

He’d already made a big impression on the boy some years earlier. The great ritual of our first father-son day at the footy was at the MCG for Glenn Archer’s 300th game in 2007, the then 5-year old in his new jumper, hot chips at the ready, plenty of good seats to choose from on level 1 around in the pocket in front of where the North cheer squad put up the banner. That was the end North kicked to in the first quarter, Petrie’s 6 in a quarter now the stuff of legend and even though we ended up getting number 11 on the jumper, it was Drew’s coming out party as a big forward, a role he’s filled with aplomb ever since.

2014 was also the last time I saw a North-St Kilda game. It was in Hobart, Dal’s first time against his old club and a 10 goal win for the Roos that should have been more. I wrote of the Saints at the time, “I can’t really feel sorry for them. They’ve had a good run, and they’re reloading with some good kids.” Well it looks like those kids are coming good pretty quickly. Bottoming out doesn’t have to take long these days.

The Saints, true to expectations, took it up to the Kangas this week. With both sides looking to contain rebound footy with spare numbers back, it was proving difficult to get clean entries inside 50. Petrie is not usually one to lurk over the back of packs for cheapies, but that’s exactly how he got his, and North’s, first goal. After a tight first 20 minutes, it was a pair of goals to Brown and one to Cunnington that gave North some breathing space. They maintained this in a 2 goal to 1 second term, the second being a microcosm of Petrie’s game and North’s forward threats this year. With a high ball coming in from Atley, Drew was outnumbered two to one and looked hopelessly out of position, yet somehow forced himself into the contest and brought the ball to ground where Waite swooped and goaled. His sheer willingness to get to and make a contest brings his teammates into the game. A bit has been made of his diminishing scoreboard returns, but he remains a vital part of an overall forward system (I prefer the term “workhorse” to “decoy”, by the way).

The second half turned out to be The Riewoldt Show. Well held in the first half, his endurance started to show as he managed to get free in the forward 50. Two goals in the third quarter helped the Saints keep the pressure on, while North held up their end with set shots from Petrie and Wood, and a superb snap from Higgins, bouncing off tackles and spinning out of a pack. There were warning signs though, as Nahas, Waite, Gibson and Wood all missed very gettable chances, leaving the Saints in touch at the final break.

In the last it looked like North might finally kick away, with a neat set shot goal from a tight angle from Higgins, but despite owning possession and territory for the first 10 minutes, could only manage another 3 behinds to inch to a 26-point lead. The Saints, with nothing to lose, threw caution to the wind and attacked through the corridor, high risk high return, and by the 20 minute mark were within 2 points. A Dunstan miss and rushed behind later, scores were level.

Petrie’s 300th needed a hero.

Daniel Wells, nursing a nasty corked thigh since the third quarter, declared himself OK to come back on. Wasn’t going to sit by and let this one slip. And provided the most unlikely of heroics. No gliding runs, no pinpoint passes, but a smother to deny a forward thrust, bashing into a contest and scrubbing a kick out lying on the ground, tackles and pressure when everyone else was stuffed. A free and long range point to Goldy, then Wood’s tackle and clock-watching before slotting a tight goal from the pocket iced a lucky win for the Roos.

Full credit to the St Kilda Football Club for going out of their way to recognise Drewy’s 300th in their home game. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

St. Kilda 2.3   3.7   7.7   11.9 (75)
North Melbourne 4.5   6.8   9.12   11.16 (82)

St. Kilda: Riewoldt 3, Membrey 3, Bruce 2, Savage, Weller, Billings.
North Melbourne: Brown 2, Petrie 2, Higgins 2, Wood 2, Cunnington, Harvey, Waite.

St. Kilda: Riewoldt, Montagna, Gilbert, Savage, Dunstan
North Melbourne: Ziebell, Cunnington, Atley, Swallow, Goldstein, Petrie

Umpires: Hay, Kamolins, Stevic.

Crowd: 27,254.

Our Votes: Riewoldt 3 (StK), Ziebell 2 (NM), Cunnington 1 (NM).


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  1. Petrie: an absolute champion – player and person.

  2. St Kilda fans and players alike were fantastic in their appreciation of Drew Petrie on Sunday. First class Saints, that was great sporting behaviour. You did yourselves and your club proud.

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