Good signs for Saints

March 2, 2019 5:30 pm in by

A SECOND-quarter blast from St Kilda has helped them cap off a forgettable week on a high note with a 25-point victory over North Melbourne in their practice match in Werribee.

The Saints were hit for six earlier in the week with four-time best-and-fairest Jack Steven stepping away from the club to deal with mental health issues and the revelation that Jake Carlisle was likely to miss a significant chunk of the season due to a back injury.

But Alan Richardson’s troops put those worries behind them on Saturday, piling on nine of 11 goals after quarter-time – including seven in a row – to eventually run out 15.11 (102) to 11.11 (77) victors in warm conditions.

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The significance of the result wasn’t lost on club chief executive Matt Finnis, who took the unusual move of addressing the players post-game.

“I can’t remember the last time Matty Finnis spoke to the group and I thought it was important,” Richardson said.

“That was Matty’s message – ‘well done boys, you’ve done a pretty good job in terms of making the whole business work so that fans can see that they’re going to turn up, we’re going to be competitive and we’re going to be strong and be aggressive week in week out’.”

St Kilda’s midfield got right on top after the first term and their pressure forced the Kangaroos into numerous turnovers. Brad Scott’s men over-handballed the footy, ending up with 123 more disposals (461-338).

The Roos also ended up with 15 more inside 50s (58-43) but St Kilda defenders Nathan Brown and Josh Battle barely gave them a sniff.

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St Kilda had six multiple goalkickers, including Jack Billings (20 touches), Jack Steele (18) and Paddy McCartin (seven marks) who were among St Kilda’s best.

Dylan Roberton also played his first game since a heart scare last year.

St Kilda got off to a bright start and jumped out to a six-point lead, but North Melbourne’s class and polish with the ball turned the tide until a second quarter in which the Saints hit the accelerator to open up a 27-point lead.

Scott was nevertheless pleased with his troops, particularly 2018 draftees Tarryn Thomas and Bailey Scott, who remain in round-one contention.

“We’re very keen to see Bailey and Tarryn (at senior level),” Scott said.

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“They bring a fair bit of what we need as a footy team so whether they play a lot of footy or a little footy, they’ll definitely play some footy throughout the AFL home-and-away season.”

© AAP 2019

ST KILDA 2.2 10.4 11.8 15.12 (102)

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 6.1 9.7 11.11 (77)

Goals: St Kilda: D Kent 2 J Billings 2 J Steele 2 M Parker 2 P McCartin 2 T Membrey 2 E Phillips J Battle J Gresham. North Melbourne: N Larkey 2 S Atley 2 B Brown J Pittard J Ziebell K Turner T Campbell T Goldstein T Murphy.

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Best: St Kilda: N Brown J Battle J Billings J Steele P McCartin S Ross J Newnes. North Melbourne: J MacMillan M Williams L Davies-Uniacke J Polec P Ahern T Dumont.

Umpires: Chris Donlon, Leigh Haussen, John Howorth.

Venue: Avalon Airport Oval.


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