MATCH REPORT: St Kilda vs Brisbane | Round 15, AFL, 2023.
Marquee games and prime-time football. Never has there been a greater recipe for disaster when it comes to the St. Kilda football club. The performance that was dished up tonight is spirit-crushing at its finest. Over one-hundred posts were made on the Saints forum during the match, and this article will echo the shared sentiments of all supporters, young and old, across the country. Albeit with less fruity language. Any semblance of hope and determination that was shown early in the season feels like nine life times ago, this team is not the same. In an almost carbon-copy simulation of last year, we were strong early but have disappeared off a cliffs edge. All I can envision is Homer trying to clear the canyon on a skateboard, but tumbling down and hitting every rock and jagged edge along the way.
Let’s pretend, for just a moment, that the meerkat from those insurance commercials is speaking:
Max King and Anthony Caminiti: 1 goal, 15 disposals, 5 marks (all to Caminiti), 289 meters gained.
Eric Hipwood and Joe Daniher: 6 goals, 30 touches, 13 marks, 746 meters gained.
Statistically, St. Kilda has the worst midfield in the AFL this year and it has been spoken about at length by the media this week. If a clearer indication of this was needed, look no further than the opening half of Friday night. Against Richmond we had the most clangers of any team since 2011, and at half time this week, we were on track to concede an AFL record for intercept marks to Harris Andrews. The team appears to be lost, and the only Jack-of-all-trades at the moment is Sinclair, who can’t be expected to single handily win games.
Three seconds into the game, Neale had a clearance into the forward fifty. We went forward after this, but as the statistics will show, we are ranked 18th in the comp for conversion once inside forward fifty, and our first entry hit a Lion on the chest. Our midfield is in such disarray at the present moment that Oscar McInerney was able to grab the ball from the bounce and kick it five times in the first quarter. It is no coincidence that our first clearance of the game came after Sinclair was moved into the middle, and he continued to show his ability throughout the half as he spent large chunks on the inside. When it comes to trade time, we need to be begging any player in the league with a slither of clearance capabilities to come and join us, it is getting dire. We were lucky to be as close as we were when the siren rung, as the Lions had seven marks inside fifty for the term when the league average is only 12 for a whole game.
Apart from an almost costly blunder close to home, Josh Battle was our backline general. Fifteen touches, five marks, and leading both teams for meters gained at half time was a solid effort. He was helped, in part, by Brisbane’s dominance of forward half possession. The ball barely left their half of the ground, and the times when it did, would often find itself back there within a few passages of play. Josh Battle would only register a further four touches for the match.
Max King and Liam Stocker were both reported early, showing the frustration that fans across the country were emulating. Max will be fine, but Stocker’s case is less of a sure thing. Who knows what the MRO is doing these days, Hipwood’s head didn’t hit the ground but he was still swung. Speaking of Hipwood, he was ranked 150 out of 150 in the AFL for all forwards in the comp, but he played Jonathan Brown-esque against us.
The boys were feeling a lot of pressure even when there wasn’t any. King snapped from 45 out instead of running into an open goal, and many times players blazed high and long to a situation where we were outnumbered. I feel like I can copy and paste that same sentence every week. When Josh Dunkley got the softest free kick and slotted a goal, it was not looking good.
For all the good footy we produced in the third term, it was undone by Daniher kicking a goal after the siren. We would be the number one team competition wide for conceding goals in the last thirty seconds of a quarter. It took us twenty-five minutes to get the margin finally back under three goals, and then it was taken away in the blink of an eye.
Last week, I said we are very good at making average players look like great players – I know I keep waffling on about it, but please look at Eric Hipwood’s stats. When the three-quarter time siren sounded, Jade had 5 clangers, which isn’t too bad in isolation, but when you consider he had only touched the ball nine times to that point, it isn’t great.
One millimetre of pinkie finger was all that stood between us being ten points behind, and Brisbane being five goals up. The entire soul was sucked out of the stadium at that very moment, and any glimmer of a comeback faded into the Marvel Stadium roof. I don’t think anything can better sum the game up than Charlie Cameron kicking a goal in the final five seconds.
Jack Sinclair is phenomenal. I feel so bad for him, how can he be so, so good, and continue to be let down by everyone else? I’ve written Jack a haiku
Please never leave us
I’m sorry we keep losing
Your mullet is great
3 – Sinclair
2 – Hill
1 – Wood