MATCH REPORT: St Kilda v Port Adelaide | Round 7, AFL 2023

Matt Tiffen
April 29, 2023
Ah yes, nothing like a little bit of prime time action against Port Adelaide to give us a small jolt back to reality. Last year it was by one point, this year it was by seven, in the 2004 prelim it was four points and when Paddy Ryder slapped it backwards to Robbie Gray with a few seconds to go in 2017, it was also four points. We beat Essendon this year, but getting victory over two bogey teams in the space of a month was perhaps a bridge too far. This one really stings.From the ground, it felt like we dominated the first quarter and a half. We were in front for the first forty minutes of the game and the confidence of heading into the weekend on the winners list was high. We were smashing Port in all facets of the game, and then we weren’t. Port kicked four unanswered goals in the space of six minutes and made us look second rate. The second quarter was our first goalless quarter for the year, even though we won inside 50’s 16-10. Our defence was incredibly easy to score against, and incredibly un-St. Kilda like; with the Power scoring from 90% of their entries.The second half was a real tight tussle, with the lead changing hands multiple times, but it seemed like every time we got a slight ascendency in the game, Port would reply with a quick goal in the blink of an eye. The boys looked sore. Nas hurt himself late in the first half and had a heavily bandaged thigh afterwards, Wilkie was also limping and struggling to get into a stride. When the game needed us to find another gear, we simply couldn’t. The five day break didn’t help, but Port were simply too hungry for us and players who had starring first half’s dropped off. Brad Hill was killing it at the start of the game, but only had four touches in the second half. Nas was on track for thirty possessions at half time but only managed to get to twenty, and Josh Battle had his most underwhelming game of the year after copping a defensive tag for the entire match. It’s notable that touches aren’t everything, but pressure acts, tackles and intercepts also dropped off.
Zaine Cordy had his second one possession game of the year, and you have to wonder if Cooper Sharman ran over Ross’ cat, because how long can he stay out of the team while Cordy is preforming at this level? It might also be time for Pou to have a rest. The young gun has tried his heart out across the first seven weeks, but looked out of sorts tonight. He got his hands to lots of kicks but couldn’t pull down any marks, and from his 13 touches only had twenty meters gained.When the game was on the line, it felt reminiscent of years gone by, as our strategy was to bomb it long to nobody in particular. Miles Bergman was the recipient of many forward forays, taking four marks in defensive fifty from our kicks in the last quarter alone. There was a loud and collective groan time and time again when we went forward, only to have it come straight back out. If there was ever a sign that Max King is desperately needed, and will not be lining up for Sandringham, it was tonight.Moving on, there’s an elephant in the room, let’s talk about it. Jason Horne Francis absolutely tore us to shreds tonight. His clearance game was miles above anything we dished up, his ground ball gets were elite, he even kicked a snag. If you’re reading this, and you booed him, be embarrassed. For the first time in a long time we were getting good media attention, but after tonight, we came across as salty and out of line and will no doubt get slammed for it. Poor form, and also pointless form. It achieved nothing except to gain negative consequences for the club. Kane Cornes has been waiting for a reason to go to town on us and you just provided him with a weeks worth of ammunition.
Positives out of the night:
Rowan Marshall. What a beast. Big Ro is such a tank that Duursma kneed him in the guts, but then Duursma got subbed out with a knee injury, true story. Ten tackles for the smiling assassin is monumental. 26 touches, 28 hitouts, three spoils, six marks. Insane numbers.Mitch Owens. Another two goals for Mitch, he tried hard all game, presented strongly, and did has chances of the rising star no harm at all.Next week we are back in our spiritual timeslot, Sunday at 4:40, against the Kangaroos. The only people in the world who’ll be watching this game are Saints and Roos fans, so the spotlight will, thankfully, be well and truly off of us. We can take what happened on Friday, use it to fuel some refinements in our game plan and hit North hard.
Votes: 3 – Marshall 2 – Steele 1 – Owens