Playing further away from St Kilda than they ever had before, the Saints hosted the Power with the winner getting back ahead of the ledger heading into the mid-season bye. Unfortunately for Alan Richardson and his men, rather than intrepid travellers, they instead put new meaning to the term ‘Shanghai Surprise’ for all the wrong reasons. The perilous health of up to six players and the coach evident in a last minute SOS to fly Ben Paton and Nick Hind half way around the world in case they might be needed to deputise for incapacitated team mates.
The full misery of what was to unfold was not immediately apparent though, with the opening quarter a free-flowing but relatively even affair. What was on show, almost from the opening minute until the final moments of the game, was a St Kilda side hellbent on driving the ball indiscriminately into its forward third. Rather than Tim Membrey or Josh Bruce, it was Scott Lycett and Tom Jonas, who prospered most from the Saints attacking thrusts.
In a season where slaughtering the ball has been a common occurrence this was at a level that would bring dishonour to a trade to describe it as butchery as this kind of wastefulness often is. By the time the final siren rang out to finally end the misery, the Saints had managed just eight less forward entries despite losing the game by 70-points.
When responses from some Saints fans for best news of the day included Dan Hannebery and Max King’s performances at VFL level it is fair to say that highlights were few and far between at Adelaide Arena. Far from the fitting reward for the Saints fans who had ventured to China and who had the prospect of 22 hours in transit once the final siren sounded.
Matty Parker did his best in the first quarter to keep the Saints hopes alive in making a difficult shot look like child’s play. With the quality of ball coming into the forward line however, he had limited opportunities to display his wares.
The same could not be said for Rowan Marshall who continues his outstanding 2019 season with an almost one man effort against the Power. He was so good in a badly beaten side that a case could be mounted that the judges got it badly wrong in awarding him just one vote for the Shanghai Medal awarded to the best player on the ground.
Marshall aside, Jade Gresham was the only other Saint to accumulate 20 or more possessions. He did much of his best work in the second half of the match, with all three of his goals coming after the clock ticked into time on in the third quarter. Perhaps the most exciting prospect on the list, it was pleasing to see him produce some classy moments including a quality goal after some smart work at a stoppage.
The worst moment of the afternoon came in what was meant to be the days most heart-warming. Less than six weeks after requiring surgery to prevent the loss of his leg, Jarryn Geary returned to action against Port Adelaide. Bearing a scar that would turn even the most iron stomach, the skipper led the team into action in a stunning achievement of resilience and determination. Sadly, a freak accident in the final term resulted in a fractured fibula which will see Geary return to the injured list for another extended period. A bitter pill to swallow at the end of an otherwise dirty day.
AFL ROUND ELEVEN
ST KILDA 3.4 5.8 7.10 9.15 (69)
PORT ADELAIDE 5.1 12.3 18.3 22.7 (139)
St Kilda: Gresham 3, Newnes, Billings, Parker, Membrey, Long, Marshall,
Port Adelaide: R.Gray 3, Bonner 3, Ryder 2, Boak 2, Farrell 2, Howard 2, Butters 2, Rozee, Westhoff, S.Gray, Duursma, Lycett, Motlop,
St Kilda: Marshall, Ross, Newnes
Port Adelaide: Boak, R.Gray, Howard, Lycett, Jonas, Amon, Houston
St Kilda: McKenzie (ill) and Marsh (ill) replaced in selected side by Coffield and Joyce, Geary (lower left leg)
Port Adelaide: Nil
Umpires: Williamson, Findlay, Gianfagna
Official crowd: 9412 at Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium