Saints Overcome Desperate Dockers

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Chris Kowald's picture

The Saint Kilda Saints boosted their finals hopes by grinding out a determined four quarter effort to defeat the Fremantle Dockers. It was the first time in six attempts that the Saints have won at Domain Stadium and the win will give the Saints belief they have the goods to remain in the in the top eight.

Both teams started with a spare man in defense, so it was always going to be tough to score goals. The Saints made it even harder for themselves by missing very gettable shots. The Dockers jumped out of the blocks with their small men Brad Hill, Hayden Ballantyne, Lochie Neale and Michael Walters causing havoc with the Saints’ defense in the first quarter. Despite being beaten in clearances, the Saints were well served by Jack Steven, Sebastian Ross and Jake Gresham. Who found enough ball to set up forward entries. Dockers’ ruckman Aaron Sandilands’ returned from an extended layoff and looked to be working into some form, but after 24 minutes he reinjured his problem hamstring and will not play again this year. Walters kicked two late goals to extend the Dockers’ lead. The only goal for the Saints was kicked by Gresham and a number of Saints were guilty of missing goals they should have kicked.

In the second quarter, in the absence of Sandilands, the Saints’ ruckman Billy Longer got the better of second-gamer Luke Darcy. The Saints improved their work rate to match Fremantle in contested possessions and tackles. Gresham and Jake Carlisle scored consecutive early goals to bring the Saints back into the game. The contest then lifted in intensity with several fiery clashes. The teams traded goals for the rest of the match with no team scoring consecutive goals until six seconds before the final siren. The Saints pressured the younger Dockers players which forced poor delivery and crucial turnovers, which the Saints took full advantage of to launch counter-scoring attacks. The Saints too, turned the ball over far too easily but the Dockers were unable to make them pay. The attack on the ball became a feature in the third quarter as both teams lifted another gear to create a truly enthralling contest. Michael Walters kicked an early goal for Fremantle and then eight minutes later, Josh Bruce led and marked to kick a reply for the Saints, only to see Walters add yet another to his team’s tally a minute later. With three minutes to the siren, St Kilda wingman Sam Gilbert was knocked out in a brutal marking contest with Cam McCarthy. With the resumption of play, Brad Hill found himself on the end of a chain of handballs to kick truly from 50 meters and put the Dockers six points up; which was then reduced to five points after a Jack Steele miss just before the end of the quarter.

In the final stanza the Saints persisted with their strong attack on the ball with Koby Stevens, Sebastian Ross and Jack Billings finishing the game strongly. At the eight-minute mark a Dockers’ turnover resulted in Tim Membry marking and kicking accurately to put the Saints in front for the first time since early in the first quarter. After another ten minutes of desperate play Walters led and marked to give the lead back to the Dockers. A minute later Membry took a strong mark in a pack and kicked truly to return the lead to St Kilda. Then two minutes later Walters marked and goaled to put the Dockers back in front with just four minutes to play. St Kilda attacked again with the Dockers desperately fighting the keep the ball under their control. With less than two minutes to play Josh Bruce threw the ball on his boot, in the middle of a pack, and snapped an outstanding goal. The Dockers threw everything into one final attack, but when the ball was turned over on the wing the Saints headed to their undefended attacking zone to kick the final goal with six seconds remaining on the clock. The Dockers were beaten but not disgraced. The Saints though, had taken a significant step forward by winning ‘on the road’.

Next week the Saints meet Richmond at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. Richmond, having just beaten Port Adelaide, will start favorites, but the Saints can’t be written off yet. The Dockers meet the North Melbourne Kangaroos at the same venue on Sunday. Both the Kangaroos and the Dockers will be fighting to end extended losing streaks.

Scores

Fremantle Dockers 4.3 7.5 10.7 12.8 (86)

St Kilda Saints 1.5 6.8 8.14 12.17 (51)

Best

Fremantle Dockers: Walters, Hughes, B. Hill, Mundy, Johnson

St Kilda Saints: Ross, Stevens, Billings, Longer, Steele 

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