MATCH REPORT: St Kilda vs Richmond | Round 22, AFL, 2023.
We are alive. There is a pulse. Phase one of our three-step feline family demolition is complete. The Tigers have been put back into their enclosure, and now the Cats and Lions await. It all comes down to this – a year of ups, downs, injuries, more downs, is now solely in our hands – win and we’re in, lose and we’re toast.
Against Richmond at Marvel on Sunday, everything just worked out nicely. We kicked straight for the first time in a long time, with our first behind coming courtesy of Jack Higgins after eight straight. The midfielders were out to rectify their horrible fourth quarter effort from the week before, and Max was splitting the middle with his slow and studious approach. Jade Gresham played the best game of his season so far, and potentially his best game for several years. He had two on the board before Richmond had a chance to even tie their shoelaces up and ended the game with three goals and 22 touches. You know when Gresh nails a set shot that he means business. Max bopped up with his two of his own after Gresh, and then Pou joined in on the party. Three of our first four goals were launched from the defensive half, and our ball movement was quick and skilful. Players were finding space, working for each other on the overlap, firing our quick hands to targets on the move and piercing the Richmond zone with ease. It was marvellous to watch but had all us wondering – why don’t we do this all the time? We’re clearly capable of moving the Sherrin down the ground, but too often go into our shell and fade away – to be able to recapture this form on a consistent basis would yield results more often than not. We laid 22 first quarter tackles while Richmond only had 8, our pressure was hot and there’s was not.
Four minutes into the second quarter and Marshall kicked truly, but it wasn’t just his goal that was good. By that stage of the match, he led both teams for marks, with six, as well as four tackles, three intercepts, and four hit-outs to advantage. Nankervis took the chocolates last time they met, but this day belong to Ro. 23 touches, 9 marks, 6 tackles, these numbers are just so damn good for a ruckman, and he has produced these numbers week after week after week. Why is no one outside the Saints pumping up his tyres?!
Max kicked another two this quarter and Gresh kicked his third, but once again we gave up a goal in the last minute of the quarter. We are the kings of this domain, it is so incredibly frustrating.
We came out of halftime with a 43-point lead but were not able to sink the boot in, and Richmond ended up outscoring us in the second half. It would have been good to bury them, but alas, not to be. We scored ten goals in the first half and only four in the second – this is an area of concern; we are going so hard on the attack that we are running out of steam. Carlton ran over the top of us, but Richmond is not a very good side, so we were never threatened, but the drop off needs to be addressed. Clearly, our game style is not sustainable for four quarters, and a big preseason is in order.
Let’s talk about the name on everybody’s lips – Zaine ‘the big brick wall’ Cordy. Without a shadow of a doubt it was his best game for the Saints, and a sign that he might have a place in the team moving forward. This writer has been quite anti-Zaine this year, on the back of two games with one disposal and a couple poorer efforts, but let’s all bow down before the big fella – he was immense. 10 intercept possessions, 8 spoils, 7 marks and 14 touches were all season bests. He was effective by foot and hand, and even weaved his way through some very busy Tiger traffic at one point and fired off a sizzling handball. It brings me a lot of happiness to throw him into the votes this week.
Membery and King played together for the first time this year, and although Skunk didn’t trouble the scorers, he got involved and worked hard but really it was just a pleasure to see him out there again. There is lots of talk about Membery leaving at the end of the year, and who knows what will happen, but for the moment let’s just stop and appreciate the man and how good he is when he’s up and about.
The usual suspects were up to their ball winning standards, with Sincs leading the way and Nas not far behind. Crouch and Steele were a bit off the pace disposal wise, but Steele laid a lot of tackles and had five clearances and four inside 50’s so he was working hard. Butler didn’t hit the scoreboard, but his pressure around the ground was crucial – he had five tackles inside fifty, and even sent the ball inside five times as well.
In 2022 we were the last team to beat Geelong, can we be the team this year that ends their finals aspirations? A lot of people were bought so much joy seeing Carlton miss out on finals in the last minute of last season, but if we don’t get up next week there’s every chance we will repeat the unfortunate. Geelong won’t lie down as easily as the Tigers, but if we’re on from start to finish, you never know.
3 – King
2 – Cordy
1 – Gresham