St Kilda have kept their finals hopes for 2012 alive with a commanding 76 point victory over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.
In star player Brendan Goddard’s 200th game the Saints put on a clinic in the second half, building on a 24 point half-time lead and kicking 9 goals to 2 in the second half.
The margin could have been much bigger if not for some wayward kicking for goal.
Goddard starred in his milestone match, gathering 33 disposals and laying 9 tackles in his best game of the year. He was ably assisted through the midfield with strong performances from veteran Lenny Hayes (28 disposals, 7 tackles, 3 goals), Leigh Montagna (32 disposals, 1 goal) and a classy display from Nick Dal Santo (28 disposals, 2 goals).
The Dogs struggled for winners on the park, with captain Matthew Boyd not damaging the Saints at all in his head-to-head clash with Goddard and Ryan Griffen being well held by Clint Jones.
Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt set the tone for the game early, booting the opening 3 goals of the match. The Dogs tried to stay with them and were within 8 points at quarter time, but could only double their quarter time score for the remainder of the game.
Brendan McCartney lamented the Dogs poor form, saying that their inability to stop opposition teams blowing them away was “unacceptable”.
The Saints got their run on late in the second quarter, with a beautiful piece of play and a sublime finish from Dal Santo leading to a run of goals. They held the Dogs goal-less for almost an hour, not that they didn’t have their chances.
Tom Williams kicked consecutive shots out on the full and their inability to make the distance and take advantage of opportunities was worrying. With Roughead and Grant playing further up the ground and spending time in defense, there was very little for the Bulldogs’ players to kick to when they managed to escape the stranglehold of the Saints’ forward 50.
The loss was compounded by a season-ending injury to hardened midfielder Daniel Cross. His shoulder was damaged in a crunching tackle by Saint Beau Wilkes and he was visibly distressed as he came off the ground.
The frustration got the better of some players. Robert Murphy played a strong defensive game on Stephen Milne, restricting him to one late goal. Milne incited a melee with Bulldogs’ defender Brian Lake, and another melee erupted in the third, during which Riewoldt lost his jumper.
The Saints’ gained a much coveted percentage boost and are now one game outside the 8. They have an extremely tough fixture against Collingwood at the MCG next weekend, while the Bulldogs face a surging North Melbourne outfit at Etihad.
3. Lenny Hayes (STK)
2. Brendan Goddard (STK)
1. Nick Dal Santo (STK)
St Kilda: Riewoldt 4, Hayes 3, Dal Santo 2, Koschitzke 2, Schneider 2, Montagna, Steven, Milne
Western Bulldogs: Giansiracusa 2, Dickson 2, Tutt, Gilbee
St Kilda: Montagna, Hayes, Steven, Dal Santo, Goddard, Jones, Riewoldt
Bulldogs: Griffen, Boyd, Murphy, Wallis, Minson