In terms of trying to draw on some positives? There’s not a lot really, so I’m not going to go there.
Alan Richardson – Holman Coach’s Message for Members Post Game
That the coach might struggle to find many positives after the Saints Round Six defeat at the hands of Hawthorn was hardly surprising. Having been in the tight but scrappy contest for much of the night, the Saints ultimately paid the price for not taking full advantage of the opportunities they created. Where the men in red, white and black, spent much of the match butchering the ball and their chances in front of goal, conversely the Hawks were positively ruthless by comparison.
The pressure and intensity that helped them to a draw against GWS were on display early as they worried the Hawks into a number of errors. Unfortunately, as strong as they were without the ball the same could not be said about when they had possession of it themselves. Even making concessions for the dewy conditions, St Kilda’s ball use in the opening quarter was nothing short of deplorable.
Too often the Hawks were gifted counter-attacking opportunities as a result of calamitous execution by Saints under minimal pressure. The inability of the team to retain possession of the ball best illustrated by the fact that ten Saints had a disposal efficiency lower than the competition average. Despite this, the margin was just one point after Paddy McCartin kicked the first goal of the third quarter.
It would be McCartin’s only goal of the evening but was much better than this would suggest. He led strong and hard all night and crashed the packs heavily, taking more contested marks than any other player on the park. He looks like a man who is benefitting from the confidence that only an unbroken run of games can bring and it appears that a bag of goals is not far away at all.
Jack Steven battled manfully all night collecting 29-possessions to be the Saints best, but was unable to produce his usual run and carry. Jake Carlisle was immense down back taking seven marks and collecting 20 contested possessions as he fought to stifle Hawthorn’s attacking thrusts. Luke Dunstan did an incredible job in drying up Tom Mitchell’s ball-winning after being thrown onto the ball magnet after half-time. Jack Steele, the man Dunstan replaced, continued to throw himself at the contest and was able to have a positive impact with 11 tackles on a night he would otherwise like to forget.
With the Saints soundly beaten, it would prove a milestone to forget for Sam Gilbert. In a sign of the experience vacuum at the club, the 31-year-old from Southport is the last remaining member of the Saints 2009-10 Grand Final team, although he now shares the backline with an opponent from 2010 in Nathan Brown. The old man on the list, he is the sole member of the 200-club and one of just five players to have played 150. In his 200th he proved as impossible to tackle as he has been throughout his career in collecting 19-possessions but would rue his missed opportunity to claim the lead for the side in the third quarter.
Tim Membrey would also like to forget his trip to Launceston too, in the second quarter he produced unquestionably the worst kick for goal since Josh Bruce’s effort at the same ground, 12 months ago. Speaking of goal kicking, after having produced one of the worst goal-kicking seasons in recent times last year, the Saints went out and obtained Ben Dixon to eliminate these woes. With small forwards Jack Billings and Jade Gresham combining for 1.5 last night and the club ranked last for goal-kicking accuracy, when Dixon asks for his pay-check he might well be reminded of this vow he made in the Herald Sun last year. “Any club which doesn’t have proper goal kicking programs, I have got no doubt whatsoever it would deliver unbelievable results and if it doesn’t, I’m confident enough to say they shouldn’t pay for it.”
So while the Saints might not have to pay their goal kicking coach as a result of just 46% of their scores being goals this year, they have paid for it through being last for goals per possession and goals per inside fiftes. Against a Hawthorn side ranked third and second in both categories, the ease at which both sides manufacture goals always loomed as a decisive factor in this game.
While this no doubt played a part in the result, as it has throughout the season for the Saints, more concerning was their inability to stand up when the game was up for grabs early in the third quarter. Having worked their way back into the contest through work rate alone, they wilted when Hawthorn responded. Having shown that they could more than match it with the Hawks, they conceded eight of the last 10 goals of the game to find themselves comprehensively beaten.
After two seasons of being in the finals race until late in the year, hopes were high that this year might be the one that saw the team return to the business end of the season. Unfortunately, just six weeks in, these hopes appear to be nothing more than pipe dreams. This is why for Alan Richardson, and St Kilda fans, positives are hard to find.
HAWTHORN 3.7 4.9 7.9 13.11 (89)
ST KILDA 0.4 3.7 5.10 7.12 (54)
Hawthorn: Smith 4, Breust, Gunston 3, Howe, Impey, Morrison
St Kilda: Billings, Hickey, Long, McCartin, Membrey, Sinclair, Steele
Hawthorn: Smith, Mitchell, McEvoy, Morrison, Howe, Gunston, Breust
St Kilda: Steven, Webster, Savage, Carlisle
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: Donlon, Haussen, Meredith
Official crowd: 15,741 at the University of Tasmania Stadium