ST KILDA 6.2 9.5 10.11 15.13 (103)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.1 9.3 13.5 21.10 (136)
North Melbourne have stamped their claims as finals contenders, defeating and displacing St Kilda in the top eight with a 33-point win at Etihad Stadium.
It was a game filled with high emotions, as tensions threatened to spill over numerous times.
Daniel Wells (34 disposals, two goals) excelled in the conditions, receiving excellent help from Leigh Adams (32 disposals, two goals) and Drew Petrie up forward (nine marks, four goals).
North Melbourne was quick to get out of the blocks, with Lachie Hansen and Petrie kicking the opening two goals of the match.
St. Kilda managed to respond with the next two before Lindsay Thomas again put the Roos in front.
Ahmed Saad than went to run in to an open goal before a terrific chase from Michael Firrito resulted in a holding the ball decision, with the ball blitzing back to the other end.
Robbie Tarrant got on the end of the transition, however his flying shot failed to score.
It sparked a change in momentum; with St. Kilda star Lenny Hayes kicking an easy goal, followed by another three goals to the Saints to gain a 19-point quarter time lead.
When Milne kicked the opening goal of the second quarter and St Kilda’s fifth unanswered, the warnings signs were flashing all over for North.
A goal to maligned No 3 draft pick Lachlan Hansen revitalized the Roos, who started to get back in the game with further goals from Wells and Petrie.
When Hansen put through his third goal for the half, the margin was cut to a slender two points.
St Kilda responded with goals to Montagna and McEvoy to restore the lead before Adams stabilised for North.
Tensions started to spill over when North skipper Andrew Swallow was collected late in a marking contest, which resulted in a 50-metre penalty.
Stephen Milne then proceeding to continue attempts to roughen his North opposition up, resulting in another 50-metre penalty to Swallow that took him all the way to the goal line.
Swallow kicked truly, leaving the game and tempers on a knife-edge as St Kilda saw their lead reduced to two points at halftime.
The third quarter well and truly belonged to North Melbourne, as their hand pass-happy game plan began to run rings around a tiring St Kilda.
North managed to pile on four goals to St Kilda’s one, to set North up for a rousing win, with the three-quarter time lead standing at 12 points.
Lenny Hayes managed to get St Kilda off to the perfect start in the last, kicking the first of the quarter to bring the margin back to within five points.
North Melbourne were not to be denied however, kicking five of the next six goals to establish a seemingly match-winning lead of 31 points.
St Kilda rallied for one final fight, bringing the margin back to within 14 points, before North skipped away, kicking the final three goals of the match to run away 33-point winners and gaining a place in the top eight.
St Kilda will now face a huge test next Saturday night at Etihad against Essendon, while North Melbourne will host West Coast at Blundstone Arena.
3) Daniel Wells (North)
2) Leigh Adams (North)
1) Drew Petrie (North)
St Kilda: Armitage 2, Hayes 2, Milne 2, Montagna 2, Steven 2, Gram, McEvoy, Milera, Riewoldt, Schneider
North Melbourne: Petrie 4, Hansen 3, Thomas 3, Adams 2, Wells 2, Bastinac, Harper, Harvey, MacMillan, Swallow, Tarrant, Wright
St Kilda: Hayes, Armitage, Geary, Montagna, McEvoy, Steven, Schneider
North Melbourne: Wells, Adams, Petrie, Swallow, Ziebell, Goldstein, Bastinac, Anthony, Thomas
St Kilda: Stanley (hamstring), Blake (ankle)
North Melbourne: Nil
St Kilda: Rhys Stanley replaced by Terry Milera in the third quarter
North Melbourne: Kieran Harper replaced by Matt Campbell in the fourth quarter
Umpires: Rosebury, Pannell, Bannister