Janet Linn, reporting for AFANA from Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
A withering display of class and teamwork boosted St Kilda’s Premiership rating sky high on Easter Saturday. The Saints were in outstanding touch, completely wrong footing a disappointing and ineffective West Coast Eagles side. Coach John Worsfold must be shaking his head in dismay over the lack luster performance of his senior players who capitulated in dismal fashion under a devastating football lesson handed out courtesy of the unstoppable Saints brigade.
Led by Clinton Jones, ironically a WAFL (West Australian Football League) player recruited to St Kilda’s rookie list only two seasons ago from Perth, the Saints meant business from the get go. Jones played a crucial role tagging Eagle Daniel Kerr who, although still obtaining 27 possessions for the game, could not infiltrate the forward 50 meter zone and failed to have a major impact on the match.
Brendon Goddard was another Saint in scintillating form. His first quarter display in the forward line netted him four goals in a tactical triumph for Saints’ coach Ross Lyon. The pace was fast and West Coast was slow to dispose of the ball under St Kilda’s fierce tackling and powerhouse endeavor. It was sharp, constructive and skilful football from the Saints who dominated possessions winning the ball 50 times more than the West Coast who spent most of the quarter chasing speedier Saints players. Mark LeCras was the only Eagle to convert on goal and the Saints led by 16 points at the first change.
LeCras started well in the second quarter and scored an early goal to bring the Eagles within 10 points. The revival didn’t last for long after a Tyson Stenglein late bump brought Saints’ ruckman Steven King into goal-scoring position from a very costly 50 meter penalty. Minutes later Leigh Montagna showed skilful judgment to intercept a hand pass from a West Coast defender and kick a morale-boosting goal for the Saints. Goals rained down at Etihad Stadium as the Saints unleashed a ten straight goal-scoring avalanche. The Eagles were out-thought, out-smarted and out-played in every position on the ground and at half-time the Saints reigned supreme with a lead of 63 points.
After the humiliation of the second quarter, West Coast players had something to prove when they returned to start the second half. Although they managed to score four goals for the quarter, they had no real answers to stem the Saints’ onslaught. Not only did the Saints play a dazzling attacking brand of football, their defensive skills were outstanding. West Coast forward moves were repelled consistently and easily. Each time a West Coast player got near the ball, there was a pack of Saints to put the pressure on and cause a turnover. St Kilda’s on ball players Luke Ball, Lenny Hayes, Nick Dal Santo, Leigh Montagna, Jason Gram and Clinton Jones were completely dominant and forwards Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke, Nick Riewoldt and Adam Schneider had a field day in front of goal.
It was more of the same until the final siren. St Kilda showed no signs of easing up their physical and mental effort. Their running, tackling, leading and defensive pressure remained intense until the end of the game. With 15 individual goal scorers, St Kilda showed a brand of teamwork and a constructive game plan which will trouble the other top AFL sides. This is a team with obvious intentions on the Flag and judging on this performance, their potential to deliver looks strong. West Coast, on the other hand, must go back to the drawing board and take a good look at their playing list. Senior players Andrew Embley, Chad Fletcher, Ashley Hansen, Adam Hunter and Quentin Lynch struggled to keep up with the pace of the game and, as a whole, the team appeared to suffer a huge psychological battering under the Saints’ awesome second quarter onslaught. West Coast will need to toughen up, physically and mentally, to make any impact for the remainder of the 2009 season.
Scoreboard St Kilda 5.2 15.2 20.7 25.11 West Coast 2.4 4.5 9.7 9.10
Best players St Kilda C Jones, B Goddard, J Gram, L Montagna, J Koschitzke, N Riewoldt West Coast M Priddus, D Cox, M LeCras, B Jones, S Hurn
Article last changed on Sunday, April 12, 2009 - 8:22 AM EDT