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SAINTS HELL IN DEES HEAVEN by GOTO



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The last of this year’s indigenous games was played in the red heart of the country and could well have determined Melbourne’s finals aspirations but it was St Kilda that had its top four hopes dashed after a nail-biting finish in Alice Springs which saw them unceremoniously marched out of the position in football heaven occupied by them for much of this season.

It all came down in the end to a goal-line decision as to whether a freakish shot by Christian Petracca was touched and the goal umpire who stood barely a metre away got the decision right. In all probability, the ball had no right to roll through the big sticks but it took a right-angle turn, worth of a Shane Warne leggie, to head across the line for the six point outcome.

The Saints should know all about footballs bouncing around in front of goal after their loss in the 2010 Grand Final, and this time it was the Demons who were the beneficiaries. That score put Melbourne 10 points up with six minutes to play. The Saints still managed to score another major to whittle the lead down to less than a goal and the last two minutes just became a battle of the wills.

WATCH THE LAST 2 MINUTES OF MELBOURNE VS ST. KILDA


It is worth looking at the number of telling individual efforts in those two minutes to save the game for the Demons. Jake Lever, Charlie Spargo, Michael Hibberd, Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Ed Langdon, Adam Tomlinson, Max Gawn, Christian Salem and Oscar McDonald all threw themselves at the ball and contest to deny the opposition.

For most of the match, it was much the same, as apart from the first quarter, the scores at each change were separated by barely a goal. The Demons came out of the blocks early and with straight kicking opened up a 15 point break courtesy of Petracca and Weideman.

It was much the same for most of the second term but in the final minutes before the main break three successive fails on behalf of Tomlinson, Nathan Jones and Christian Petracca gifted the Saints goals and the difference was back to two points.

The Melbourne supporters went to half- time to top up their Valium supplies, as all too often they had seen the same before. Easily accounting for the opposition, only to let them back into the game, eventually to be over-run.

Fortunately, the backline held together despite an inside 50m deficit of 30 to 46! Steven May, on his own, made sure that Max King, St.Kilda’s great hope for the future, was given the customary bath that May reserves for opposing full-forwards, conceding only three disposals for the match. He amassed 22 touches of his own including nine marks, six of which were intercepts and held the defence together.

Combined with Lever, Salem and Hibberd the ball was forced back again and again, while up the ground Tomlinson and Langdon always seemed to be the outlet, Langdon having 22 touches, but his run, spread and carry was telling throughout the match.

In the middle it was Max against the rest. He held up, but one does question how he did as team selections meant he had to do it all on his own against Ryder and Marshall. They won the hitouts and clearances which has been a failing for the side who prides themselves on contested ball. Tellingly their ruckmen each scored majors while resting in the forward line, because they can do that when there are two of them. Poor Max had to spend his time taking on both in succession.

The forwards, particularly the smalls left a lot to be desired. Certainly their forward pressure was much improved from last week, to deny St.Kilda’s run and carry from the back half, but there was simply not enough output from any of them. Tackles from the forwards were up from a low base, but most were further down the ground. It is well below standards required inside 50m, at least for a side that has finals aspirations. Three goals alone came from the big forwards, and they need more support around the fall of the ball to be able to win matches consistently.

Having gotten over this hurdle, and with the Bulldogs dropping a game, the chances for a finals berth have opened up again. The winning of this match now must be followed by emphatic performances in the coming week or so against Sydney and Fremantle in the heat of Cazaly’s Stadium because only in that way, will we see Demons marching into Finals Heaven!

MELBOURNE 4.0.24 5.1.31 7.3.45 8.4.52

ST KILDA 1.3.9 4.5.29 6.6.42 7.7.49

GOALS

Melbourne Petracca 4 Weideman 2 Brown Gawn

St Kilda Battle King Marshall Membrey Phillips Ryder Steele

BEST

Melbourne May Petracca Gawn Oliver Langdon Rivers

St Kilda Steele Hill Jones Coffield Wilkie

INJURED

Melbourne Hibberd (right ankle)

St Kilda Nil

REPORTED

Melbourne Nil

St Kilda Nil

UMPIRES Nick Foot, Andrew Stephens, Brendan Hosking

VENUE TIO Traeger Park

ReportRd142020.png

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