Ross Lyon has had his decision to leave the Saints validated, coaching Fremantle to a 13-point win in their first clash since he left.
In a close, hard-fought game where the lead never reached more than 15 points, the Saints will rue their missed opportunities.
St Kilda lead the clearances, contested possessions and inside 50s but a combination of inaccurate kicking, poor disposal and good Fremantle defence meant that they could not capitalise on their chances.
Fremantle on the other hand were efficient in front of goal and always seemed to be able to score against the flow of the game. They never allowed St Kilda to kick more than two goals in a row.
The Dockers looked dangerous whenever they were able to get the ball into the corridor as their run and spread lead to many goals. This was exemplified by three end-to-end goals from kickouts.
The game began with one of the worst first quarters of the season, both teams butchered the ball and at times it looked like they were trying to kick it to the opposition. The only upside to this was once each team managed to get it forward, they were usually rewarded with a goal from a turnover.
The skills of the first quarter carried into the second as disposal still remained terrible while the game also became more congested with large numbers around the contest leading to very open forward lines.
This style suited St Kilda as they were able to win the contested ball, however they could not convert – kicking 2 goals 6 compared to Fremantle’s 3 goals 1 – and it was only Justin Koschitzke’s goal on the siren that split the teams at the half.
After half-time the Dockers came out firing, they exposed St Kilda in the corridor and on the switch as they looked like they were going to run the Saints off their feet with their run and spread.
By raising their disposal efficiency up to 80% in the third quarter Fremantle were able to take advantage of the space they had created and hit the scoreboard, kicking 5 goals for the term.
At the beginning of the final quarter St Kilda trapped the ball in their half and looked like running away with the game but they could just not finish. This allowed Fremantle regain their composure and hold off St Kilda, kicking 3 of the last 4.
For St Kilda Lenny Hayes was the best, he continued his amazing return from a knee reconstruction, gathering 30 disposals and 9 clearances. Brendon Goddard was also excellent off the half-back line, racking up 27 disposals and 4 rebound 50s.
In a night where the likes of Nick Dal Santo and Nick Riewoldt were quiet, Koschitzke provided the big target, kicking 3 goals while Jack Steven was also impressive with 21 possessions, 10 contested.
While Fremantle will be buoyed by a great team effort, their stand-outs included Tendai Mzungu who kicked 2 goals and was involved in many others, Ryan Crowley was also able to shutdown Dal Santo to hurt the Saints the other way.
Their ruck duo was also dominant, Aaron Sandilands was able to acquire his usual 44 hit-outs while Zac Clarke kicked 2 goals and provided a reliable target. Michael Barlow was the main beneficiary of their work, gathering 30 disposals.
The Saints will be extremely disappointed that they lost a game they were in the box seat to win while Fremantle – who have won their first game in Melbourne against the St Kilda – will see this as a step forward on their journey towards the top eight.
3- Tendai Mzungu
2- Ryan Crowley
1- Lenny Hayes
ST KILDA 4.3 6.9 8.10 11.13 (79)
FREMANTLE 3.2 6.3 11.6 14.8 (92)
St Kilda: Koschitzke 3, Gilbert 2, McEvoy, Riewoldt, Dal Santo, Stanley, Cripps, Milne
Fremantle: Anthony 2, Clarke 2, Mayne 2, Mzungu 2, Crowley, Pavlich, Sandilands, De Boer, Pearce, Broughton
St Kilda: Hayes, Steven, Geary, Goddard, Koschitzke
Fremantle: Mzungu, Crowley, Barlow, Clarke, Sandilands
Umpires: Stevic, McInerney, Mollison
Official crowd: 30,172 at Etihad Stadium