MATCH REPORT: St Kilda vs GWS| Elimination Final, AFL, 2023.
The season has ended. We made the finals when no one thought we would, yet dished up one of our worst performances of the year when it mattered the most. Only a small number of players beat their direct opponent on the day, and most others were well below what we have come to expect of them. The media said we weren’t good enough to make the top eight, we proved them wrong, they then said we didn’t stand a chance of doing anything in September, on that front we proved them right. 2023 was always dubbed ‘the year of discovery’ but in this period of discovery, we played the least number of players in the whole competition, so really how much discovery was taking place? We have over six months now until our next game, and it’s glaringly obvious we need to bring in some high-end talent, especially around the middle, and this year’s trade, free agency and draft windows will go a long way to shaping our future. Hello Liam Henry, nice to meet you.
For the first time in over a decade, the St Kilda faithful got to watch the lads play a final in Melbourne. Sixty-five thousand tragics poured into The MCG with great hopes and expectations, and the roar when Sharman kicked the first of the game was enormous. But fifteen seconds later the flat silence after a Toby Greene goal was omniscient of what was to come. From half way through the first quarter, to a long way into the second, the Giants had a run of eight consecutive goals the life was sucked out of the team and the crowd. It was the Giants highest ever score in a first quarter at the G, and our 7th losing first quarter in two months. From the wing on level one, I barely heard a peep from the crowd for an hour, everyone was shell shocked and afraid to make any noise. Some life was pumped back into us when we kicked four of the last five goals of the term to set ourselves up with a chance.
We came out in the second half and dominated possession around the ground but couldn’t convert. We kicked the opening two points, and then from the ten-minute mark onwards, GWS had the next eight scores including three goals. Once again we had a flurry of scores in the final few minutes, and kicked snags thanks to Owens, Hill and Nas. We were 25 points down going into the last and crazier things have happened (well, not since 1945, which was the last time a team came from 25 or more down to a win a final in the last quarter) but still, it was possible. Higgo slotted home a goal after two minutes and the dream was alive, until it wasn’t. we wouldn’t score again until King goaled 20 minutes later, and that would remain our last snag for 2023.
The game was won and lost in the center. The orange brigade in the middle was too much for us to handle, and besides from Steele, no midfielders really stood up. Josh Kelly took the absolute micky out of us in the first half, having twenty touches and two goals and Tom Green, Lachie Ash and Lachie Whitfield ran riot. Windhager went to Kelly in the second half and kept him to only seven more touches for the entire game so huge props to Windy.
There were so many instances where it appeared like the boys didn’t go in as hard as they could have, and the Giants escaped easily. At one point on the wing, we had five players next to each other and no GWS player in sight, so they were able to work it up the ground with ease without any pressure from us.
The forward line wasn’t up to scratch. With only one goal between Higgins, Butler, Caminiti, Phillipou and Gresham for the whole day. Pou would be really disappointed with his output, he’s only a first year player so he will grow and he will learn, but he had no impact, no tackles and only one mark. Butler finished with seven touches and also no impact, but did take a nice hanger which was nice. King finished with three, but he dropped a lot of gettable marks and his follow-up efforts once the ball hit the ground were really poor. Our most lively target was Cooper Sharman, who has really found his place in the side. After spending the early chunk of the season out of the team, he looks to have found a place in Ross’ good books. He is, hands down, our best set-shot at goal. Here’s hoping for a massive 2024 for the lad.
Jack Steele was a lone hand in the middle, finishing with a game high 38 touches. 25 of those were handballs, and he only had 256 meters gained, 23rd least overall out of both teams. Crouch was quiet, and Sincs was below his normal standard, getting beaten in the contest on multiple occasions which rarely happens.
Rowan Marshall is a freak, finished with 31 and a goal. But there for different stages throughout the game where Briggs manhandled him and got the clearance. Brad Hill played his best game for the year, 29 touches and two goals was massive.
We’ve all been hyped up about Cordy for the last few weeks, but perhaps Dougal was needed. We forget that Dougal is an incredible defender without ball in hand. He led the whole comp for spoils last year. Zaine had 4 touches and his direct opponent Riccardi dominated for the Giants and was dangerous all day.
If you have been a reader of the articles this year, I thank you for sticking with me. They’re not posted on social media so if you do read these, I know you’re a true day onner who seeks them out. Thank you for staying with me as I vented, ranted and overhyped. It has been a good year, despite the loss, and I am thankful for the opportunity to write about it every week.
I am a die-hard saints nuff. If you Google ‘crying st kilda fan’ and go to images, my photo from the 2009 grand final is the fourth picture. I suffer with everyone; I rejoice with everyone. We are St Kilda and we love the pain, we are accustomed to it, and it will make it all the sweeter when we finally get the chocolates.
3 – Hill
2 – Sharman
1 – Steele
The inaugural winner of the Tiffen Trophy (good name to be honest) for best Saints player this year is……..drum roll…………
1st Callum Wilkie – 15 votes
2nd Sinclair & Wood – 13 votes
4th Owens – 8 votes
5th Marshall – 7 votes
Thanks and seeya!