MATCH REPORT: St Kilda v Gold Coast Suns | Round 4, AFL 2023

Matt Tiffen
April 9, 2023
There’s a lot to love about the Gold Coast. Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Wax Museum, the weather? But possibly the best thing about the bogan epicenter of Australia is the fact that they are yet to find a way to beat us. At one point, Suns v Saints was the undeclared biggest rivalry in the league. If Sydney and West Coast are lauded for their close encounters, our battles were unjustly unheralded. Many times before, our Fresh Prince Jade has been the hero in this clash, but on Saturday night new heroes emerged. The St. Kilda Football Club made a statement at Marvel – this is real and we are not to be messed with. I hope you’re not afraid of heights, because the view from the top of the ladder is vertigo inducing. Not since 09-10 has such an air of confidence radiated so convincingly through the success-deprived walls of Moorabbin. Players and fans are beginning to strut, but we’re a way off the Conor McGregor strut for now; we know too well – better than most – how quickly tides can change in football. So, soak it all up, take some deep breaths, be grateful and joyful but strap yourselves in for what is panning out to be a defining season for this historic club. The Suns bought the grunt for the first quarter and a half and it was shaping up to be a tussle. The boys looked a little flat after such a glorious celebration last weekend and took a minute to kick into gear. Owens had the first couple of shots on goal without converting before his best mate Windy slotted home a nice set shot. This year, Windhager has been a dead-eye-dink when lining up which is very refreshing. The highlight of the first quarter was Sebastian’s fend-off and snap, exquisite stuff really. The Suns took the lead into the first break by two points and were up on F50 entries 18-11. To start the second, Gold Coast kicked the first three scores and were looking lively, but would only register two more behinds for the quarter as the lads slammed home five unanswered goals. Higgo started us off, then Hammer took a nice mark and slotted a goal which was good for his confidence, as by that stage of the game his opponent Collins had been having a real good crack. Phillipou snagged the last of the quarter but the star of the show was Jacky Higgins with three. I was standing behind Aisle 29 and for the first time got the experience the love and energies of the aisles faithful.  I have not been able to stop singing ‘ooooh Jacky Higgins’ since I left Marvel last night. Marshy and his troops were spiritual BOG’s, yip-yip. We smashed the Suns 21-6 for inside 50’s this quarter and were in full swing.
Another five goal to one term eventuated in the third and it was party time. Sincs got moved forward for a while and slotted one before Hammer sent home his second of the game. Half way through the third Pou had twenty pressure acts next to his name and was bringing the heat. Matteus is a jet, but we all know this. There were five or so kids sitting near me who all had the number 25 on their back – a trend that will most likely explode in years to come. Come the siren, we’d put through 11 of the last 10 goals and Saints footy was alive and thriving. The final quarter was a tighter affair, as some of the steam started to come off and a few kicks and handballs missed targets they’d usually hit. We still won the term by a goal, with Mitchy, Buts, and Higgo at the forefront. Our pressure rating for the game was miles above the league average, and we scored 74 of our 113 points from intercept possessions. This was the first time for the year where we really smashed a team – winning by nine goals come the games end. The usual suspects had amazing games; Brad Crouch notching over thirty touches once again to go along with his team high eight tackles. Crouch does most his work at the coal face with slick hands and clearance work and is really stepping up in Steele’s absence. Wilkie was dominate, equaling his season high tally of 24 possessions as well as collecting eleven marks, five tackles and five spoils. Liam Stocker had a season high 26 touches and is proving to be an incredibly valuable off-season recruit. Dougs and Battle were also rocks in defense, with 19 marks between them. But the man of the moment, who everyone will be talking about, is our surely-to-be-named Rising Star – Mitchito Owens. 27 touches, five marks, five tackles, five hitouts, two goals and a couple of points – 3 Votes…. M. Owens. This guy is only nineteen years old and is playing like a seasoned pro. His contested possessions were outrageous, his aerial prowess impossible to defend, second and third efforts were there all night and was just outright unstoppable. It’s looking like they’ll be making YouTube videos in years to come and titling them ‘What happened to the 32 players drafted before Mitchito Owens.’ We might not have any valuable stars in our history of father son’s – but our NGA is proving to be a bottomless resource of talent. Him and Windy can lead us far into the future and we can rest assured we’re in safe hands.
We sit alone on top, the only undefeated team in the league, and next week we are presented with our biggest challenge of the year. Ruckman-less Collingwood will become our next target on Sunday at the Adelaide Oval and we are ready. This game will go a long way to showing us where we really sit in the grand scheme of things and I am feeling pumped up for it. Marshall could and should absolutely dismantle the Pies, both in the center and around the ground and our backline matches up fantastically well against their forward line. Collingwood are immense with their defense, led by Darcy Moore, and it will take everything we have to overcome what they throw at us. Anyone else feeling Round 6 2004 vibes? Who is going to step up and have their Troy Schwarze moment?
Go Saints
Tiff’s Votes 3 – Mitch Owens 2 – Jack Higgins 1 – Brad Crouch