Is Dan Butler the recruit of the year?
With another four goals against the Suns, Dan Butler moved himself into second place in the Coleman Medal and went a long way to lifting his team into the same position on the AFL ladder. His impact in his first 10 games for the club has been incredible with his defensive efforts and goal sense playing a key part in the Saints rise up the ladder.
If he’s not the recruit of the year, we’ve missed the player who has had a bigger impact than him in his first year at another club.
How the Game Was Won
In a thoroughly entertaining contest, Gold Coast controlled the clearances, won the territorial battle and created more scoring opportunities but fell agonisingly short of a fifth victory of the season. In the end the Saints were slightly cleaner with the ball and were better equipped to take advantage of their opportunities.
The story of the match was very nearly something different when the Saints came up empty handed from the first six forward entries of the fourth quarter. When the Suns responded by scoring in each of their first three, they had snuck out to their biggest lead of the match and looked the likely winners.
Enter that man Butler. The former Tiger would give the Saints a sniff with his third goal and, after Josh Battle wrenched back the lead, he all but iced it with his fourth. Izak Rankine ensured a thrilling finish with a well worked goal but the Saints held on and moved into second place on the AFL ladder.
What the Coaches Said
A disappointed Stuart Dew was proud of his team’s effort against the inform Saints. “The overall message was we were in it up to our eyeballs and had our opportunities,” he said post-match. “They’re hurting a little bit because we’re playing a red-hot team and had the opportunity to win, but geez it’s exciting to see them come back.
“When they kicked four goals in a row and to be able to fight back showed real maturity but also some grit. There were periods there were they were well on top and we just hung in but then pushed back.”
“In terms of the messaging to the lads; we can’t fault their heart and effort,” he said.
Brett Ratten was proud that his team found a way but believed they had created a number of their own problems. “A lot of the night I thought we over-handled the ball for the slippery conditions. We fuelled a lot of Gold Coast’s pressure when we had the opportunity to take ground and really turn it around,” he said. “But we tried to get one, two, three handballs extra in the chain and that helped them. I think if we can correct that with a little bit more composure [that would be good] but Clark at the end, he was very good.”
“The maturity of our group, we had a slip but found a way,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect tonight. Aspects of our game were behind the sort of standard we were after and I thought the boys just stuck to it and it was a bit of a grind and we, yeah, we sort of got there in the end but there was aspects of our game which were below par.
“I think the last sort of three, four weeks we have really finished games off strongly and running on top of the ground which is a good sign. We had [Nick] Hind and these blokes really [and] Butler, their speed really shined in that last quarter which it did against Sydney as well.
“It is not just about how far you run, it is maybe at the intensity as well which is pleasing.”
“It is great for our group to be sitting second, but the competition is so tight. Is it not much gap between anybody and the way we played tonight we gave the opposition a real look at winning the game and we don’t want to be doing that too much. It wasn’t perfect tonight. Aspects of our game were behind the sort of standard we were after and I thought the boys just stuck to it and it was a bit of a grind.”
GOLD COAST 2.1 6.5 8.7 11.8 (74)
ST KILDA 3.2 6.2 9.4 12.6 (78)
Gold Coast: King 3, Miller 2, Powell 2, Rankine 2, Anderson, Lemmens
St Kilda: Butler 4, Battle 2, Steele 2, Gresham, Kent, King, Marshall
Gold Coast: Greenwood, Collins, Miller, Ainsworth, Swallow, Powell
St Kilda: Billings, Butler, Clark, Gresham, Steele, Carlisle
Gold Coast: Nil
St Kilda: Geary; replaced in selected side by Phillips