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by Troy Thompson, reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

In a closely fought match, the Saints gradually took over and eventually wont by 14 points, keeping their season alive in Round 4 of the AFL. For Collingwood, it looks increasingly grim.

The first quarter of the Easter Sunday clash was tight, played around the boundaries and peppered with inaccuracy despite being under the closed roof. It started off with more promise though as Travis Varcoe's clever little checkside kick on the run found Fasolo on a better angle. Fasolo ran around to improve the angle a little more and kicked Collingwood's first. Misses from set shots by Moore, Greenwood and Pendlebury meant the Magpies missed an opportunity to take the game away from the Saints early.

When the Saints did turn it over it was into Collingwood's numerically superior backline. Josh Bruce was double teamed when the ball did come down. Grundy was beating Hickey in the ruck but the saving grace for St Kilda was that they were winning at least half the clearances.This coupled with the fact that they were getting first to the contested ball started to bring St Kilda into the game. But they too also struggled to find a 6 point result. Billings long set shot from 51 went across the face. From that kickout the Saints added a rushed behind when Collingwood's clearance was almost overturned at the goal square, and Sam Gilbert kicked a behind under pressure.

At the other end Elliot marked on the open side of the 50 out in front but his kick from 35m out also missed. Another chance shortly after for the Pies was thwarted when after Varcoe turned over the ball inside 50. On the turnover St Kilda looked like they would score after a quick turnover but Josh Smith's big tackle on Acres who had spilled an easy mark in back pocket saved the day. Leigh Montagna eventually broke the Saints drought with 24 minutes on the clock. His snap shot went through the big sticks after the leading Reiwoldt dished a handball outside to the fellow veteran Saint.

The Saints first goal though seemed to spur the Magpies into action and Greenwood's long handball out to a running Hoskin Elliot resulted in a major score from 40m for the goal. Jeremy Howe had a good period late in the quarter taking a great defensive mark on the last line of defense and then getting a sold fist in to stop Josh Bruce marking.The Magpies took just a nine point lead into the first break.

Josh Bruce promised big things to come for the Saints when early in the second Jack Steele dished out handball to Bruce on the boundary line and he confidently belted a kick from 25m out for a goal.The Saints were starting to look confident and Collingwood held off a growing number of attacks. The Pies better link up with ball in hand was keeping them in it but the Saints continued to create the turnovers and more often were getting hold of the contested football first.

The deadlock was not to be easily broken, behinds to Bruce and Lonie for the Saints followed by Fasolo hitting the post for the Magpies failed to inspire. The first Collingwood goal of the quarter came after the Pies defense chipped the ball around before a long clearance kick to Elliot on the wing. He found Darcy Moore who chipped it to Crisp at the top of the 50 and he made the most of his set shot goal. Seb Ross was racking up possessions around the ground, and added to this when he kicked a great roving goal intercepting the spoiled ball in front of the pack at the top of the square and then squeezing a low kick through the middle. That leveled the scores and the Saints went one better when Billings quick kick from half back to the running Armitage down the wing ended up with Bruce on edge of the goal square. A one goal lead to the Saints as half time was a fair reflection on an even first half.

The third quarter belonged to the Saints, but it was Jesse White for Collingwood that goaled with a snap across his body after the ball fell in his hands from a long kick to the square. Membery got the Saints going with a goal after Weller ran around two defenders on the 50m arc, and delivered the ball to him in the square.Nick Reiwoldt looking in form, kicked his first for the Saints for the day after marking on the lead to Membrey. The Saints were moving the ball better than the Magpies. Blair clawed one back for Collingwood roving the pack and snapping a nice goal but that was to be the Pies last for the quarter.

Acres intercepted a bad handball from the a Collingwood defender in the goal square from the stoppage and took the opportunity to kick a quick goal. The Saints had the ball in their half for most of the quarter and continued to pressure Collingwood. Both sides seemed to sense it was now or never and the intensity of both sides lifted. Dunstan's run down tackle on Blair was a highlight but he missed the set shot for goal that followed to the right.  A rare turnover ended up with White for Collingwood but he could not do much damage as his shot from outside 50 drifted right for behind.

Goldsack had shown good form in the match in defense so far and his spectacular spinning mark over the pack and Howe's own hanger over the pack shortly afterward demonstrated their aerial abilities. But the assault kept coming with long kicks into the 50 by St Kilda. Membrey marked but missed the shot but Weller's kick into Billings was converted for the 6 points. St Kilda continued to mark up forward in comparison to the inexperienced Collingwood forward line who struggled to put up much of a fight. Fortunately for Collingwood the next two shots by the Saints were wide and they were still a chance going into the last with a 22 point deficit.

In the last quarters St Kilda continued to press forward. Reiwoldt who had been well held by Reid all day showed his physical brilliance when he plucked the ball inches from the ground on the run. Unfortunately though he was unable to make the distance from the set shot. Collingwood needed goals and on the turnover Maynard ran the ball up the middle, found White on 50, he played on and chipped across to Fasolo and his set shot from 50 missed to the right. Reiwoldt on the lead again beat Maynard in somewhat of a mismatch but again Reiwoldt's kick faded to go out of bounds on the full, it seemed that his knee bruising is hampering his kicking power.

Just five minutes into last quarter St Kilda were already looking to chew up time with chipping the ball across half back. Even when Collingwood did go forward halfway though the last they were locked up in tackles or kicked the ball out of bounds on the full. Finally Collingwood did get a turnover at half back and were able to transfer the ball into the middle to Moore, and his long kick found the goal kicker in Hoskin Elliot just 15m out. But it all looked too late  When Reiwoldt on the forward flank kicked long to the goal square and the third man up in Membrey marked and goaled from 25 out it looked over.

Treloar signature run from center clearance gave a flicker of hope, but the long kick faded right. To make things worse for Collingwood Fasolo was hurt flying for defensive mark. The consolation goal from Schade from outside 50 brought the margin back to 16 points. Collingwood had chances in the dying minutes but behinds to Hoskin Elliot and Fasolo (kicking his third behind for the match) were never going to be enough and St Kilda ran out winners by 14 points.

Collingwood did not come with the intensity they showed against Sydney last week and their tackle count was well down.Their forward line setup was generally ineffective and unable to regularly make the most of their chances when the did come. They play Essendon at the MCG on ANZAC Day. St Kilda were also wayward up forward at times but looked to have good targets up forward in Bruce and Reiwoldt. They showed a desire to be hard around the ball and to want to play the majority of the match in their own half. They play Geelong next week and will give themselves a good chance of defeating the Cats.

Collingwood 2.6 3.7 5.8  7.13 (55)
St Kilda    1.3 4.7 8.12 9.15 (69)

Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 2, Fasolo, Crisp, White, Blair, Schade
St Kilda: Bruce 2, Membrey 2, Montagna, Gresham, Riewoldt, Acres, Billings

Collingwood: Howe, Grundy, Sidebottom, Adams, Reid, Treloar
St Kilda: Geary, Ross, Billings, Roberton, Newnes, Steele

Collingwood: Tom Phillips (illness) replaced in selected side by Jarryd Blair, Will Hoskin-Elliott (left wrist)
St Kilda: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Nicholls, Hay, McInerney

Crowd: 36,650

Article last changed on Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 2:03 PM EDT

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