The 2018 season has become sadly predictable for St Kilda and their long-suffering fans. Each week the Saints will compete hard for much of the contest only to fritter away opportunities with poor disposal or goal kicking and fall short of victory. So it was again against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. Alan Richardson’s men took the contest right up to the Pies and looked the better side as late as the third quarter before a withering burst of four Magpie goals in six minutes stole the wind from their sails.
While much of the rest of the world was caught up in the pomp and ceremony of a royal wedding, 33,994 hearty souls turned up at Etihad to watch the Saints and Pies Round Nine clash. For their efforts, they were treated to a gripping, albeit scrappy, contest until the Saints blinked and missed their chance to take a stranglehold on the game.
Having stretched their lead to eight points early in the third quarter, with momentum on their side, the Saints had wrestled control of the game from their opponent and had an opportunity to ram home the advantage. Unfortunately, they not only fluffed their lines but also watched their gilt-edged opportunity vanish in front of their eyes. Leaving conversations about some unlucky calls during this period for another day, the Saints lack of game breakers was left painfully obvious with the game all but lost at three-quarter time having conceded seven goals in twenty minutes.
Luke Dunstan was once again a bull in the middle, winning 19 contested possessions for the night. His effort can’t be questioned in any way but he still needs to find a way to be cleaner with the ball. It makes life difficult for the team when their leading ball winner is ineffective with nearly a third of them.
The absence of Jake Carlisle was keenly felt, but the unavailability of him and a few others provided opportunities for some who had impressed at Sandringham recently. A pair of Jacks – Lonie and Sinclair, came in and had an impact. Lonie with a couple of goals and Sinclair’s class was on display as he collected 27-possessions.
The injury curse also meant that Bailey’s Rice strong VFL form could be rewarded with a long-awaited debut. Son of Dean, who played 116 games in the 1990’s, Rice also had the choice of representing Carlton too before being selected by the Saints under the father-son rule in 2015. He was serviceable without being outstanding during his first night on the job but an injury to Nathan Brown could provide him with an opportunity for an extended stay in the side.
The club’s desire to obtain a big fish free agent is far from a secret. Linked with a number of out of contract players in recent weeks, one such player was Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey. With Alan Richardson coaching from the bench on Saturday night, he got to see at close hand what the talented 22-year-old could bring to the club in a match-winning six-goal performance.
At the other end of the ground, Tim Membrey continued to present an option up forward for the Saints. Unfortunately for him and the team, his goal-kicking yips continued. As a result, he is now the owner of the less than flattering figures of 1.8 over the last fortnight. While Membrey’s challenges continued, there were no such troubles for a man better known as a halfback flanker. Jack Newnes revelled in his move up forward, booting four goals and providing the one reliable option up forward.
We just need to persist. The alternative is to give up which we won’t do as a footy club.
Alan Richardson – Post Game
Still without a win since Round One, the next two weeks against teams one and two on the ladder loom ominously. Despite the season not having even reached it’s halfway point, so too do the questions of what can be salvaged from the smoking wreckage of the Saints campaign. The only positive available now is the opportunity the teams’ position gives the club to investigate the abilities of the younger players on the list. Already this season we have witnessed the breakout of Ben Long and the debuts of four players, let’s hope that in the weeks to come we see more young players given their opportunity to prove that they offer a brighter future for the club.
ST KILDA 3.5 7.7 9.9 10.12 (72)
COLLINGWOOD 3.3 7.6 14.7 15.10 (100)
St Kilda: Newnes 4, Lonie 2, Gresham 2, Billings, Savage
Collingwood: De Goey 6, Stephenson 2, Wells 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Thomas, T. Phillips, Pendlebury
St Kilda: Steven, Newnes, Dunstan, Sinclair, Brown
Collingwood: De Goey, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Howe, Crisp, T. Phillips
St Kilda: Brown (leg)
Collingwood: Fasolo (right ankle)
Umpires: Margetts, O’Gorman, Harris
Official crowd: 33,994 at Etihad Stadium