In 2001, Stewart Lowe kicked seven goals to set a ground record at Manuka Oval; that his record still stands after St Kilda’s round seven defeat to GWS is one of the few positives from a disappointing visit to Canberra. Despite dominating territory throughout the contest, the Saints could not come anywhere near the efficiency of the Giants who gave them a footballing lesson while handing them a 44-point defeat.
Ben Long was prominent early in the match, and it was smart hands from him that led to a Tim Membrey goal to open the Saints account for the day. Through some committed defensive play, most notably Daniel McKenzie, Jack Newnes and Dean Kent, St Kilda was able to register a number of repeat inside fifty’s in the early stages of the match. This fact reflected in a large 12-6 Inside 50 discrepancy by the middle stages of the first term.
Unfortunately, rather than set them up for a match-winning advantage, the Saints were left in the Giants wake with the home team scoring five goals from their six forward entries. By quarter’s end the deficit had blown out to 37-points and the Saints defence left with the unwanted distinction of conceding the third highest score in a quarter this season.
Presented his first St Kilda jumper by Nick Dal Santo, Jonathan Marsh played his first game for the club bringing to an end his 979-day long stay in the AFL wilderness. He presented strongly all game but took a while to impact the contest. His highpoint came in the second quarter when he earned two shots at goal in a minute. The second, coming from an intercept mark and sharp pass from Jack Billings, saw him kick his first AFL goal.
A brave effort shortly afterwards by Rowan Marshall, followed by a brain snap from Shane Mumford, saw the ruckman kick a second successive goal for the Saints. The goal saw the margin reduced to 24-points in the shadows of half-time. The 23-year-old was engaged in a day-long slog against the more experienced Mumford in the ruck. While he may have lowered his colours to the Giants’ ruckman, his work around the ground made him one of the more influential Saints on the day.
With the Orange wave stymied, there was a sense that a big third quarter could give the Saints a chance at a victory that seemed completely fanciful thirty minutes earlier. With this feint sniff in the nostrils, the Saints came out intent on making further inroads into the deficit. Unfortunately, a pair of Dean Kent behinds was the net result for a dominant start to the quarter.
Despite strong options provided by Tim Membrey and Josh Bruce, countless forward entries were squandered as delivery to them was nothing short of shambolic. Often outnumbered, the key talls would fight to bring the ball to ground only to see it continually swept away by Giants defenders.
After 13 minutes of domination, in which they registered 11 inside 50’s to 3, the Saints were finally able to reap a reward for their effort through Blake Acres. Coming from a stoppage inside attacking fifty, Jack Steele worked his way through some tight spaces and got the ball to Acres who finished truly. One of the Saints cleaner users of the ball all day, Steele was his regular busy self throughout a tough afternoon.
Two minutes later Matty Parker had a gilt-edged opportunity to build on the momentum and cut the margin to just 10-points. The electric Parker kicked two goals for the day but in this instance, he missed from point-blank range. As if to rub salt in the wounds, a soft fifty to Jeremy Cameron saw the dominant Giant kick their first goal since the second minute of the second quarter
Despite being rocked by the blow, the Saints continued to press. Unfortunately, like has so often been the case in recent seasons, they squandered opportunities to bridge the gap. Jade Gresham, below his best after a sorry first half, the main culprit, missing everything twice in short time as the Saints tried in vain to answer Cameron’s goal.
Having failed to land a blow of any significance whilst in the supremacy, they were made to pay for their profligacy by a Giants team that was in no mood to repay the favour. With his fifth goal, on the back of Gresham’s second miss, Cameron extended the Giants lead to 27-points. When Harry Himmelberg kicked two more in two minutes, the Saints feint hopes were officially extinguished.
With the heat completely out of the contest, the only interest in the final quarter was how many goals Jeremy Cameron would kick. The Giants forward had seen off Darragh Joyce early in the day, and despite finding less success against ‘The Accountant’, started the quarter with five goals to his name. He would finish the day with six to help sink the Saints and increase his lead in the Coleman Medal.
When the siren finally brought an end to the misery, the final margin was 44-points. An almost absurd result when contrasted with the fact the Saints won the Inside 50 count 62-42. While it is important that we remember the club is missing a large number of their best 22, it is vital that find a way to take better advantage of their opportunities in coming weeks. If they can, there remains a chance for something special to be made of this season.
AFL ROUND SEVEN
GWS GIANTS 8.2 9.4 13.6 18.6 (114)
ST KILDA 2.1 5.4 7.8 10.10 (70)
GWS Giants: Cameron 6,Greene 2, Himmelberg 2, Finlayson 2, Coniglio, Tomlinson, Reid, Taranto, Lloyd, de Boer
St Kilda: Kent 2, Marshall 2, Parker 2, Membrey, Marsh, Acres, Sinclair
Greater Western Sydney: Cameron, Williams, Taranto, Haynes, Taylor, Reid
St Kilda: Steele, Ross, Marshall, Newnes, Kent
Greater Western Sydney: Kennedy (concussion), Corr (ankle)
St Kilda: Nil
Umpires: Brown, Mollison, Meredith
Official crowd: 12,633 at UNSW Canberra Oval