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Steele Marks
Jack Steele (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The St Kilda Saints Played a strong last quarter to outlast the West Coast Eagles in a hard-fought game where the lead changed eight times. After three straight losses, it was the Saints fourth win for the season and they stay in fifteenth place on the ladder; but are now a game clear of West Coast who are sixteenth. Remarkably they are just two games out of the top eight, but would need a drastic turn-around in form to trouble the top sides. Things didn't start well before the game for the Eagles. Their mascot, a majestic wedged-tailed eagle (with a wingspan of nearly three yards) refused to follow the script of flying around the arena and landing in the center of the oval. Instead it reached the center, relaunched to check out various views from the bleachers and finally perched himself near the coaches box, keeping a close eye on coach Adam Simpson. The game started once his handler had him (Ozzie the Eagle) under control. For Simpson's sake, it is hoped Ozzie was not sending a message to the club board by impersonating a vulture.

Perhaps inspired by the mayhem of a wayward Eagle, the Saints started two minutes in with an early goal (worth six points) kicked by Max King, from a free kick. The contest turned into an arm wrestle for the next eighteen minutes with both sides scoring behinds (worth a point each). The Saints kept the ball in their half for long periods, but the West Coast's defense held firm. The home side won the ball at stoppages with physical pressure through Harley Reid, Elliot Yeo and Reuben Ginbey. The Saints relied on running pressure at contests around the field, to stop West Coasts' attacks. The Eagles' Andrew Gaff, returning from a long period in the reserves team, scrambled his team's first goal at the twenty-minute mark. Jack Darling snapped another six minutes later, after a well-judged mark near the boundary, to have the Eagles nine points up at the first break.

Jack Darling
Jack Darling (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

The Saints applied heat early in the second quarter with early goals to Mason Wood and Anthony Caminiti. Their midfielders moved the ball quickly with chains of possessions to work around the Eagle defenders. Jack Steele was a prime mover for the Saints and they regained the lead after just six minutes. Harley Reid played a strong first half, giving the Eagles first use of the ball with Bailey J Williams using his body well in the ruck, against his opponent Rowan Marshall. At the fifteen-minute-mark, Williams put the Eagles back in front with a steadying goal before the Saints regained the lead via a Liam Henry goal. In a remarkable final thirty seconds, Jamie Cripps kicked truly from the boundary before Liam Ryan scrambled another goal from the goal square with just six seconds to play.

Early in the third stanza, Max King combined with Sebastian Ross, to gift Ross a close-range goal to bring the Saints back within nine points. King followed up with his second goal seven minutes later, after a one-two handpass exchange with Henry. Then, two minutes later King was out of the game after hurting his knee in a Tom Barrass tackle. This didn't slow the Saints who controlled territory and regained the lead with a Jack Steele mark and fifty meter goal, with six minutes to play. A minute later Liam Ryan marked on the boundary of the forward pocket, then sold candy to the man on the mark, to run around and snap truly from close range to level the scores. Not finished for the quarter, Ryan scrambled a kick on the goal line a minute later, to have the Eagles up by a goal at the final change.

pies saints spuds game
Max King (Dave Woodley/AFANA)

Things started well in the final quarter for the home team. Yeo cleared from the center to Jamie Cripps who booted his third goal. From there the Saints dominated for the next sixteen minutes, winning in the midfield with Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Jack Sinclair, Paddy Dow, and Josh Battle rising to the challenge. The Saints added four goals and two behinds. West Coast belatedly fought back with a goal to Jack Darling. However, with four minutes to play, Mason Wood sealed the match with a goal, after a relayed free kick from a late Harley Reid bump on Marcus Windhager. Windhager's tag on Reid had kept Reid out of the game in the second half. The Saints controlled the ball for the last four minutes, giving their coach Ross Lyon something to smile about in what has been a tough season for St Kilda.

Next week, the Saints return home to Marvel Stadium to meet the Gold Coast Suns. The Eagles will remain at Optus Stadium where they will start favorites against the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Another loss to the Eagles may result in Ozzie the Eagle again impersonating a vulture, as pressure on coach Simpson builds.

Scores
West Coast Eagles: 2.5 6.6 8.7 10.8 (105)
St Kilda Saints:   1.2 4.4 7.8 12.10 (70)

Best
West Coast Eagles: Yeo, Duggan, Ginbey, McGovern, B.J Williams
St Kilda Saints:   Wood, Steele, Wanganeen-Milera, Windhager, Battle

Goals
West Coast Eagles: Ryan, Cripps 3, Darling 2, Gaff, B.J. Wiliams
St Kilda Saints:   Wood 4, King 2, Caminiti, Henry, Higgins, Membrey, Ross, Sinclair

Article last changed on Saturday, June 01, 2024 - 7:43 PM EDT


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