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Saints smash through

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Martin Blake

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Small forwards inspire big win

St Kilda's small forwards dominated in their win over Carlton on Monday night, our footy experts review the fiery encounter.

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ST KILDA emphatically tossed its hat into the ring of AFL finals aspirants with its most significant win of the season, a surprise 24-point victory against Carlton at the Docklands last night.

The four points were enough to elevate it into the eight, at Hawthorn's expense.

St Kilda looked more comfortable with Scott Watters' new method than they have all season, with small forwards Stephen Milne (four goals), Ahmed Saad (two) and Terry Milera (three) pivotal to the new look.

Stephen Milne shows his joy after kicking a goal.

Stephen Milne shows his joy after kicking a goal. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Watters said that despite the attractive way St Kilda played, it was old-fashioned aggression that won the game. "First and foremost it's about the contest," he said. "I thought our guys were terrific in that regard. Unless we took care of business there, it wouldn't have mattered what forward structure we had in front. Having said that, we're starting to see some progression in some different types of forward set-ups. We need that."

The first-year coach said St Kilda was not about to transform itself into a free-wheeling and high-scoring team. "There's been a lot said, probably incorrectly, about wanting to play a game with flair and offence. You take that statement in isolation and it's incorrect. We want to be a strong defensive side.

"That will be the basis for anything that we do. But I've said this a number of times, we want to be a side that hurts oppositions on both sides of the coin. We want to become an offensive threat."

St Kilda ran and carried the football with more daring than it has showed since 2009, when it was the dominant team in the AFL before losing the grand final to Geelong. Watters' new game plan embraces the fanatical defensive pressure evident under former coach Ross Lyon, but has added leg speed and panache through the recruiting of mature-aged players Saad and Milera from the VFL and the SANFL.

It was a lost opportunity for Carlton, which would have taken top place on the ladder for the first time in three years had it won as most pundits expected. The Blues were generally subdued, conceding 11 goals in the first half and failing to apply sufficient defensive pressure.

Key Carlton playmakers went missing, notably Marc Murphy, who was obliterated by Clint Jones' heavy cloak. Captain Chris Judd was the only Blue to stand up throughout, winning 30 possessions and trying in vain to inspire his teammates.

Interestingly, St Kilda's win was achieved without heroics from skipper Nick Riewoldt, who was well held by Lachie Henderson, Nick Dal Santo or even Lenny Hayes, who spent most of the match manning up with Judd. The Saints were also without Sam Fisher, James Gwilt, Ben McEvoy and Adam Schneider.

St Kilda's heroics came from the likes of the 24-year-old Milera (recruited from Port Adelaide), Saad, 22, picked up from Northern Bullants, and Farren Ray, who came back into the side and played one of the best games of his career.

Earlier in the night, the Saints denied suggestions they have a looming salary cap problem with president Greg Westaway saying: "Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no crisis at the Saints. Every year there are 15 to 20 players coming off contract. It's the nature of the business."

28 comments so far

  • Well done Sainters. Great to watch last night.

    The Big Blue puffheads have got ahead of themselves once again. Proves that a dozen number one and priority picks still can't conjure success.

    Maybe they need another spoon or two again...

    Commenter
    Mozza
    Location
    Highton
    Date and time
    May 15, 2012, 8:34AM
    • @ Mozza - couldn't agree more. It was great to see the Saints lift last night and play with a tenacity and intensity that has been sorely missed to date, this season. As for the Blues, they fell prey to the praise of the press and fulfilled this year's March champions mantle. I'm sure they'll still be competitive going forward but I doubt they have the motor to keep iot up all season. Happy to be wrong. Just saying.

      Commenter
      Hardfelt
      Location
      Melburn
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 9:29AM
    • You talk like you guys have just won the flag?? Settle petal...Saint's didn't win - Carlton lost, so I guess it was your lucky day.

      Commenter
      J s Bach Jr
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 11:14AM
    • Pardon, Bach? I see no such comment.

      Watch the game again. St Kilda won.

      Commenter
      BeachBoy
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 11:49AM
    • Hey Mozza, if anyone should know about failures despite a horde of top draft picks, its your lot. At least the Blues' No. 1s are still young - your lot are just about finished with nothing to show for it despite being there a decade!

      Commenter
      Go Blues
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 1:28PM
  • Looks like Watters just watched a rerun of the Essendon/Carlton game and employed the same tactics. Guess what, same result. Ratten has no plan B. Going to be easy for the rest of the teams to destroy Carlton when Calton has no abiltiyn to change and adapt.

    Commenter
    DMR
    Date and time
    May 15, 2012, 8:59AM
    • Can any team's supporters afford to brag this year. As soon as one team's supporters start getting carried away, they come back to earth with a thump. Hate to be the crows this week with the Blues on the bounce.

      Commenter
      kepler22b
      Date and time
      May 15, 2012, 9:04AM
      • Interesting that the top 5 teams on the ladder have the softest fixture. Well done Saints,

        Commenter
        Jenz
        Date and time
        May 15, 2012, 9:25AM
        • how exactly is essendon's fixture easy?

          GWS, Gold Coast and Melb we only play once - with both interstate teams are away games for us.

          We play Coll & Carl twice, both top 4 teams.

          We play Freo in Freo, Adel in Adel - both top 8 teams likely with Adel likely top 4.

          Coming into finals we play Geel, Haw, Carl, Coll in our final 7 games.

          You'll find we ar emiddle of the rung when it comes to easy draw my friend.

          Commenter
          matty
          Location
          melb
          Date and time
          May 15, 2012, 12:50PM
      • Saints - bold, measured, aggressive, disciplined yet attacking (Watters) , yet Goddard and Del santo quietish. What a far cry from the former coach - Lyon -a morbid, uninspiring persona with a negative, defensive mentality. On that form and that team balance, Watters can be confident against all comers
        The Blues new theme song:

        'We are the shaky blues,
        we're the old dark shaky blues
        we're the team that always lets you down
        Were the teammmm goin' down
        We are the the pampered
        they'll all get it up us
        And they will know that we've been failing
        because we're wailing old dark blues

        Commenter
        tezza's wisdom
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        May 15, 2012, 9:43AM

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