Round 8 – St Kilda v Carlton: Saints Jump Over Blue Hurdle Under Roofless Dome

    By Braham Dabscheck

Saturday 13 May, 2.10 PM

Etihad Stadium  

A game on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Melbourne in autumn with the roof at Etihad given a half holiday. The fresh air had an odd impact on both teams.

There are games where both teams move the ball with ease which results in high scoring. Then there are games where things go awry, with both teams having trouble going forward with any fluency, turnovers galore, handballs putting the recipient under pressure, fumbles, players getting in each others way, short kicks missing their mark; in short, where defences are on top and the game is hard slog from go to woe. The Saints versus the Blues under the roofless dome was a prime example of the second sort of game; with a high degree of tension and anxiety from start to finish for all concerned.

Both teams were in good form, having won their last two outings. While the Saints dominated the possession count and the inside 50’s 55 to 33 they struggled to convert this into scoreboard pressure. Their quick movement of the ball was breaking down as a result of poor execution and pressure from the Blues’ defenders. In both the first and third quarters the Saints were several goals to the good. Both times the Blues slowed down the play and reeled the Saints back in with late goals in the quarter. There was an all-in brawl near the end of the third quarter when something unmentionable happened to Jake Carlisle, who had his best game for the Saints. In the second quarter the Blues were in the ascendancy, chipping the ball around, with things looking bleak for the Saints. The Saints held on with the backs performing well with both teams scoring two goals apiece.

The Blues kicked the first goal of the last quarter and took the lead for the first time since the opening goal of the game. The Saints steadied, and dominated until the final siren. Seb Ross scored with a long bomb to put the Saints back in front; Josh Bruce marked on his chest in front of the pack for another and Jack Steele coolly slotted one from a free and a 50 metre penalty.

The Saints won for three reasons. First, the Saints midfielders prevailed over those of the Blues. Seb Ross had another outstanding game, closely followed by Jack Steven, Jack Steele and Luke Dunstan. Jack Newnes provided a lot of drive from the back line. Second, the Saints’ forward talls outscored the Blues’ talls four goals to two. In a close fought game this proved to be telling. The third and major reason for the win was Jack Billings; he was the crucial difference between the two teams. In his 50th game, he kicked five, one a long bomb, which took everyone by surprise. He seems to at last overcome his kicking yips in what was undoubtedly his best game for the Saints.

The win is meritorious in that the Saints lost Jimmy Webster early in the first quarter with a broken hand and will miss several weeks. The Saints’ ‘Jack of all trades’ Sam Gilbert was used in defence to fill this void, with Josh Bruce spending some time in the ruck. It is to be seen how the Saints’ brains trust will respond to Jimmy’s absence, as he has given the Saints so much run out of the back half. The Saints ground out a win in a tight and hard fought contest; contests that need to be won to have a successful season. They are now 5 and 3. They take on the Swans next week, again at Etihad on a Saturday afternoon. Will the powers that be, metaphorically and administratively speaking, put the roof back to work? We will have to wait and see. Go Saints!  

St. Kilda   4.3   6.5   9.8   12.13 (85) Carlton     4.0   6.1   9.3   10.6 (66)  

Goals: St. Kilda: Billings 5, Ross 2, Bruce 2, Membrey, Riewoldt, Steele. Carlton: J. Silvangi 2, Murphy 2, Cripps 2, Weitering, C. Curnow, Williamson, Gibbs.  

Best: St. Kilda: Billings, Ross, Steven, Newnes, Gilbert. Carlton: Cripps, Murphy, Docherty, Simpson, Gibbs.  

Umpires: Foot, Margetts, Meredith. Crowd: 38,014  

Our Votes: Billings 3 (St. Kilda), Ross 2 (St. Kilda), Cripps 1 (Carlton).


  1. John Butler says

    Braham, it was a source of some curiosity to me why Saints supporters were so nervous about this one. You’d accounted for us without any troubles last year.

    Personally, I was semi relieved not to cop another belting. I was pleased we could interrupt your momentum once you led 4 goals to 1 and looked like breaking it open. We couldn’t manage that last year. But when the whips got cracking in the final term we couldn’t match you.

    Reiwoldt looked proppy to me. Why would they not rest him? Bigger fish to fry later on surely.


  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Braham and John,

    Saints will always be nervous John. It’s in our nature and to me, the Blues looked, until the last quarter, as if they were capable of taking this game.
    Great report as always Braham.

    Go Saints this week. We’ll need some luck.

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