St Kilda Word of the Year 2017

by Tom Briglia

Round 13, 2017
North Melbourne 2.5, 2.6, 4.9, 10.12 (72)
St Kilda 5.3, 8.8, 9.15, 12.17 (89)
Crowd: 26,107, at Etihad Stadium, Friday, June 18th at 7.50pm

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There are different types of wins. “A win is a win” is a phrase used to describe a type of win, rather than throw a blanket over wins. The result after a grinding two hours in a concrete dome and four weeks of disappointment generally is probably about right for this.

At quarter-time, Dad, Matt, Richie and I moved from our Aisle 44, Level 1 seats that were being flogged on the cheap to four of the many, many free seats in the several bays immediately next to us, and sat ourselves in Row F. I don’t know how the North fans felt they stacked up in terms of turnout, but even after recent weeks feel like Saints fans still didn’t have an excuse to not rock up to this one. It certainly felt in the lead up as if no-one was left on our bandwagon. Three heavy losses to quality opponents, and then a week that saw Paddy out with a surprise injury, Carlisle under a cloud and Hugh Goddard out for the year, just because. The official crowd number I’m sure was bullshit, and whatever it was by game’s end it was probably deserving of the spectacle, but that’s not really how it works. We have a record membership but things always feel a little volatile at the Saints.

Aggressive /əˈɡrɛsɪv/ adj.

Taggers might just be back. There were a few things to learn out of this one. Jack Steven’s mullet was probably overrated. Not for its size – you can’t argue with physics – but for its supposed cultural impact. The G-Train’s receding hairline plus mullet number was far more organic and conducive to his on-field personality and game style, in an era that Channel 9’s rights to the TV coverage was turbocharging the idea of footballers as glamorous and well-connected celebrities.

Jack Steven’s ability to handle a tag is still a little up in the air. North threw second-gamer Declan Mountford in to watch him and Stuv hadn’t reached double-figures by the time Richo put him forward late in the second quarter (am I giving too much credit to Richo there?). However, Mountford wasn’t with him and Stuv kicked two goals late in the quarter that busted the game apart – the first a classy snap working off Higgins deep in the pocket and the second a crumbing goal via some quick thinking in a tight space in the goalmouth. On a night when Lonie, Mav Gresham and to a point the newly-christened Latte Billings were all having trouble rewarding the hard work up the ground, Stuv had enough quality in him to make the most of his chances.

The improvement of Seb Ross this year has been more than timely. That kind of trajectory is what we’ll be hoping for from players across the ground regardless of whether we land someone like Kelly or Martin, but right now he’s a genuinely good midfielder that can be particularly damaging. “If Steven can’t shake a tag then Ross is still free to do what he does” is a sentence that finished very differently even at the end of last season. Ross doesn’t have the speed of Steven but he has developed an acceleration that probably wasn’t present even last year, and that he’s utilised to good effect this year. The extra second he’s able to hold on to the ball allows anyone ahead of the ground to sort out what they’re doing and provide an option. Until Acres becomes more consistent, and/or Freeman/Kelly etc. come into the team this type of thing will be hugely important to the team. I never thought I’d say this but Ross become a rather dynamic player – his inside game is also strong, he’s now actually a kick and his hair is not that bad.

The midfield set-up sans Jack Steele seemed to work, but again the question about the Saints of 2017 – almost certain to prove the transitional pathway to the Saints of 2018 by personnel and dynamic – is about intent. I don’t think it would have mattered too much if the choice Steele of Dunstan would of made a tangible difference. The hunting in numbers was ferocious in tight, the aggression at the ball

Listen to the fans(?)

Richo was genuinely under the SEN/Twitter/BigFooty “news” cycle pressure for the first time, reflected in a growing divergence between where he publicly appeared to apportion reasoning for the trio of shocker showings and the personnel played, and what the fans believed to be the best thing for the club (this obviously varies wildly). It felt like this had hit some sort of crescendo when Richo revealed in the late-week press conference that Steele would be dropped. The reaction prompted Twitter to have its own article about it trending.

Perhaps Richo was thinking it was time for some tough love. Dropping Bruce had prompted his best game on his return, on a night in which we’d only kicked three goals at the final change. Perhaps the coaches are it will have the same effect on Steele? And maybe put others on notice too.

Dunstan has been see perhaps too one-dimensional and I think right now we’re hoping for a Seb Ross-style stealth development from him, gradually adding layers to his game. He showed off the upside of his inside work early as well as his newfound decent disposal, running to receive the footy that was turned over by Lachie Hansen’s chest mark drop on the wing and kicking beautifully to Bruce. The kick at goal was a huge reward for the passage that signalled the team’s intentions. Shortly afterwards he bulldozed through traffic on the opposite wing for two hard balls with a dish out to Lonie who kicked the first of incredibly rare back-to-back bullet passes. Gilbert to Billings was the second, and you can throw in Billings’ finish for the third if you like.

It was the lowered kicks and a distinct lack of clang that made Dunstan’s game seem much more like the Luke Dunstan of early 2014; a bolter in the 2018-2022 Premiership Captain stakes and what appeared to be our first draft pick since the Roo, Kosi, Lenny, Dal, etc. generation to make an immediate impact. The fear has been the ceiling was reached far too early, but if Seb Ross is what Seb Ross is now then I’m willing to accept Dunstan could follow a similar trajectory. His numbers of 18 possessions, six tackles and the token skewed set shot at goal felt like they said a lot more than his 28 touches against Carlton.

Maybe Dunstan will be one of those that answer the wake-up call of being dropped back to the broken-down Sandy. Bruce has now played his best two games for the year since returning from his omission.

A couple of issues come out of this immediately. Firstly, Sandy has the bye, meaning Steele has to wait at least one more week just to get the chance to prove himself, and I doubt he’ll come straight back in if Dunstan and Koby Stevens are still fit – not to mention Armo looking at a return to Sandy in a couple of weeks. That leads us to the second issue, which is team balance. I doubt our midfield can get by with all of Steele, Stevens and Dunstan in the same side, let alone throwing Armo in there as well, as much as I think Armo is quite possible cooked.

With the ongoing My Favourite Hair in the AFL and Joey situations, team balance is going to be a talking point throughout the rest of the year, regardless of how our season is travelling. Richo rather candidly said in the post-match that Paddy wouldn’t play in the same team with Roo, Membrey and Bruce. . “It’s unlikely, I reckon. That would be a bit unbalanced for us.” Usually the coaches give something a little more open-ended but Richo really put the acid on the forwards to perform, even if it’s only injury that takes them out of the team rather than form

Roo collected 21 possessions and kicked 0.3 – if he’d kicked straight we’d be praising him but instead we’ve got Sam Edmund going straight for the proverbial on the issue before the players have had time to hand the footys out to whichever smaller, younger humans are near the fence after the game. He played his roaming game and it still looks a little undefined but there’s no one with the same versatility and presence as him at the club.

Bruce didn’t have the stats guys working too hard but seven marks and two goals belied the quality of his contributions. His opening goal reminds not just his teammates but the opposition that anywhere up to 55 metres out from goal can be a dangerous part of the ground, and it was his strong contested mark at the back of the centre square and excellent kick to Roo on the wing that allowed the play to turn from Sam Gilbert being tackled hard up against the boundary in the back pocket to a Membrey goal in short time.

For his part, Membrey was one who set the tone early with very simple, straightforward attack on the ball. Much of it was working up the field and at ground level, showing a more agile side. We know he has good body strength given his presence in one-on-one contests (in tandem with his positioning instincts) and it was refreshing to see him use it differently, forcing a contest from a spilled ball or just making sure it was a Saint that was first to it even with contact or the boundary coming. That’s the kind of thing that says something to rest of the team, and again, the opposition.

When it matters

An encouraging aspect of this one was that there was no particular stand-out player that had to carry things. Membrey certainly wasn’t the only one playing their part and showing the oft-mentioned aggression that had been lacking in previous weeks. Stevens, Weller, Dunstan, Ross, Geary (C), Gilbert and Newnes all showed it from the start and through the first half in particular. Like Ross, Newnes has slowly grown his game to the point where each of the key elements of his game have become better and better over time – his decision making with the ball, his kicking, and particularly his attack at the ball at the contest – we could hear the hit of his contest with Tarrant from our seats in the pocket at the other end of the ground. In that space, Geary was excellent in picking his moments to go and when to leave his man and hit a contest again, and is obviously leading the 2018-2022 Premiership Captain betting as the incumbent, but for mine Newnes would be leading the rest.

It’s been made clear by Richo that when he talks about “aggression” it’s in reference to how we are with the footy, not just defensively. A little strangely this might have been best epitomised by Billings’ solo effort in the first quarter that resulted in his first overturned goal. A long kick to square had him outpositioned for the mark so he force the ball down front and centre. As Mav came though with his bandaged head (probably feeling pretty excellent about himself for it, too), Billings had spun around in the area and landed without any inhibition, and immediately stepped into the dangerous space to get the handpass from Roo.

Hotline Latte finished with 2.4 and eight tackles, and looked distraught when he fluffed his shot late in the game that looked set to deliver his third goal (for the third time that night). I thought someone should have given him a hug – he’d made a huge impact across the ground when the game was alive – but I’m hoping he’s well past letting those non-goals get to him in future games. Richo said after the game about the reviews, “If that happens in a Grand Final, then it’s a good thing”. It was frustrating on Friday night but I think we’d all agree with that. We’ve been there before.

The small forward line-up remains in limbo. Mav is still trying to do far too much when he gets the ball and not impacting the scoreboard enough. Gresham kicked 1.3 and would have had a much more if he’d kicked straight and like any forward, your game becomes a lot different if those numbers are improved on paper. He probably made an impact high up the ground for the first time in his career – his soccer-style control of the ball off half-back was a good one for the highlights reel – and I’d be keeping him after this one. Lonie had been anointed by the customary posting of a VFL highlights package to the club site during the week, followed by “In the Mix” hero shot. He’s kind of like a Gresham but way too excited. A couple of handy possessions here and there were ok but he, too can try and do too much with the ball. He tried to outdo Jeremy Howe in the last quarter when he simply should have stayed down from the pack, having a few minutes earlier attempted a 40-metre dribbler close to the boundary without looking inboard. Fortunately the game was already done. You could say he just needs to calm himself down and his missed shot from close range in the second quarter would suggest that. Interestingly it was Acres, Mav, and Lonie that all contributed something commendable to the chain that ended with Gresham’s goal late, with Lonie thinking his way through a tackle expertly.

He was one of our better players throughout and it was Jack Sinclair that had enough composure to kick the goal on the run and effectively ice the game just before the final change, after eight straight behinds from late in the second quarter. Since coming into the team in Round 6 he’s shown class and quality across the ground, delivering on the promise he’d shown in 2015, and in a role he’d struggled a little with last season. He makes purposeful, creative decisions and delivers on them. It’s a simple equation but players who can do that regularly really do stand out.

The rear end

Aside from a few nervous moments early when Waite got off Carlisle to kick the first and it looked as though Jake might be carrying more than he’d let on through the week. Richo said in the post-match that that he didn’t mention many individuals to the group after the game, but that he did point out Carlisle (incidentally, he said Bruce was one other that he mentioned). This appeared to be more to do with how he approached the week and the preparation, which is an excellent sign in itself. But by three-quarter time he was part of a defence that had only given away 4.9. Nathan Brown didn’t get a kick and only had six handballs for the game – going head-to-head with ball repellent Billy Longer – but they both did what they had to collectively on Ben Brown and Waite, and allowed Webster, Gilbert and Roberton to ply their trade as rebounding defenders, with Roberton back to his better form and Webster establishing himself as one of our most important and best-skilled players. The Carlisle and Brown combination is good if the midfielders and any players around the stoppages are aggressive (St Kilda Word of 2017) and use the ball cleanly going forward; i.e. if they give Carlisle and Brown an even shot at things. With Hugh out for the season again we’re going to really be hoping they both stay fit this year.

It’s also given more impetus for those keen on Joey to maintain his place in the team. All the Dermie faff from the previous weekend aside I’d been thinking that after all these years his experience was still only good for his loopy kicks no matter what the situation. Friday night didn’t particularly change my mind. Despite a couple of really good contributions, including a brilliant long kick on the rebound to Roo on the lead (Roo missed the goal of course), he still made some weird errors (not as weird as the 50-metre penalty Billy Longer gave away in the first quarter though). Most of these were confined to the first quarter – a high kick loopy out of defence to a contest featuring tall timber Jack Lonie, which came back with interest to Higgins for a shot at goal; he got the ball kicked up his arse by Newnes on the forward 50-metre arc because he couldn’t pick between shepherding and providing a handball option over the top of the opponent; and with 37 seconds left and a string of Kangaroos behinds that tempered the frustration of Billings’ first overturned goal, Joey took the kick-out and just had to hit a target, and we’d go into the first change with a lead of 22-point lead that even then wasn’t where it should have been. He bemusingly hoisted it to a pack not actually that far from goal, and from the throw-in Ryan Clarke snapped a very nice goal. Richo talked about what he brings to the team in a directive and leadership sense on and off the field, and his output certainly improved throughout the game. At what point do you need to start bringing in guys like Rice, White and D-Mac though? For as long we have a sniff of finals Joey simply won’t be dropped this year.

Richo watch

How are we feeling about him this week? Do we give him the credit for putting Bruce back into the VFL and sparking him back into action? What about Steele? Who is responsible for the drop-off in the last quarter? Which apparently season-defining and different questions will we be asking today/tomorrow/this week/next week about Richo and the players and the club? All this and more on Footy.

Daniel Cherny on the Saints

by Richard Lee

Sports journalist at The Age and St Kilda fan Daniel Cherny has been quickly making a name for himself in sports media landscape, and he was excellent enough to answer a few of our questions about the where the Saints are at in the lead up to tonight’s game against North Melbourne.

Be sure to follow Daniel Twitter here @DanielCherny

Richie Lee: If you had to win a final this week, and could only select (a maximum of) 3 out of Riewoldt, McCartin, Bruce and Membrey, who would you select?

Daniel Cherny: Riewoldt, Bruce and Membrey (assuming all fit). On exposed form all are still ahead of McCartin.

How much would you say the Saints have actually improved on last year? They’ve knocked off the Giants, but otherwise come up short against quality opposition.

Not much, if at all, which is frustrating. I think overall the midfield output has been similar, perhaps a slight improvement, while the backline is slightly improved and the forward line has regressed. A lack of polish remains an issue, as does one-way running.

Dylan Roberton and Seb Ross have had outstanding years to date. Which players need to lift the most in the second half of the year for the Saints to break into the 8?

Pretty much all the forwards. If McCartin can start imposing himself that will make a big difference as it will allow others off the chain. Elsewhere it would be great to see more consistency from Blake Acres, who at his best has been excellent, while Tom Hickey needs to win his spot back and show the form he did at times last year.

Are the Saints a big FA or two away from making the leap to becoming a genuine Finals participant? Is it that simple?

I think the addition of a Josh Kelly or player of that ilk would make a big difference. The team still lacks class, and one or two guns should see three or four more wins. Most players in the team are yet to reach their peak, which suggests improvement is likely, but having said that there is doubt about the future of a transformational player like Riewoldt, who is still worth 2-3 wins a year IMO.

The Dees and Saints’ lists have been compared a lot over the last few years. As it stands who’s list would you prefer to have?

Melbourne’s. They have more players under 25 or under who look like genuine A graders. Petracca, Oliver, Hogan, Gawn, Viney, Tom McDonald and Salem have all shown star quality, while they could yet land Jake Lever too. Who at the Saints fits the bill? Billings is showing it this year. Ross, Roberton yes. But few others have shown it for more than a week or two. Webster is coming along nicely though.

St Kilda’s original/current five year plan center around 2018. At this stage, do you think that timeline is still in play?

Top four next year? I’d say it’s far from impossible, but a lot would need to go right.

Will Nick Riewoldt play another final as a St Kilda player?

I’d like to say yes. And given his work ethic, I think he’ll make it.

What’s more likely to happen – Josh Bruce ditches his man bun? Or, Nathan Freeman makes an AFL appearance for the Saints?

Ha! Hopefully the latter. I think Freeman’s run of games at Sandy this year suggest he will eventually play.

 

Follow @lethalfooty for all the latest.

Croweaten

by Tom Briglia

Round 12, 2017
Adelaide Crows 5.6, 8.9, 11.11, 16.15 (111)
St Kilda
 1.1, 2.4, 3.10, 7.12 (54)
Crowd: 46,082 at Adelaide Oval, Friday, June 9th at 7.20pm CST

Croweaten

One year and four days before Friday night, St Kilda was hammered at the Adelaide Oval as the Crows welcomed us to what was set to be long, cold winter.

The 88-point loss came just three weeks after a 103-point loss to the Eagles, also on the road, which in turn followed a seven-point loss to the unbeaten North Melbourne that ended murkily. Two wins against the bottom two teams in Essendon and Freo had steadied things leading into the Adelaide game, but we were shown up in a big way by a much classier and smarter football side.

The Sunday evening in 2016 was further dulled by Goddard (H.) who, in his first game for the season, vaguely changed direction and in one second lost his next 12 months of footy. We were thus staring down a much wider, deeper barrel of weekly novelty 22s that come with the back half of lost seasons in a rebuild. There was no Carlisle and Brown yet, and Goddard offered the only real opportunity to get the development process in the back half ticking over from Dempster, Fisher and the forgotten Delaney. Were we going to be watching a combination of any and all of Coughlan, Payne, Rice and White, with maximum Minchington, Lonie, O’Kearney and Holmes?

Adelaide Oval’s introduction to the AFL as a full-time venue coincided with our 27th wooden spoon, and our average losing margin there had been 63 points ahead of this weekend. Meanwhile, Adelaide this year had kicked the late 1970s-esque scores of 147, 153, 140 and 143 at the venue. It was an ominous formline. Which has a strange thing to think and feel; a month ago we’d beaten GWS on a Friday night in what felt to be a stirring occasion for the club. Three weeks later the bye couldn’t come quick enough.

Further compounding things was that Adelaide was celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1997 premiership. We were only happy to oblige by wearing our faux-throwback clash guernsey (as magnificent as it is) to really help the Crows celebrate and, as Cameron Ling pointed out on the broadcast, their three-quarter time score of 11.11 (77) was the same as their own in the 1997 Grand Final. Our three-quarter time score on Friday of 3.10 (28) was just shit.

(more…)

Time to recalibrate, restock, rethink

by Richard Lee

Round 10, 2017
Bulldogs 2.2, 5.6, 10.9, 10.8 (90)
St Kilda 2.1, 3.2, 5.5, 7.8 (50)
Crowd: 34,685 at Etihad Stadium, Saturday, May 27th at 1.45pm

I think the Bye has come at the perfect time. Not just for players, but for fans, administrators, Twitterati, trolls. We played the Premiers and we got TKO’d in almighty fashion; we were unsteady on our feet even in the opening stages.

There’s a flimsy quality to the team defence right now; a lack of incisiveness in our attacking movements. Two weeks off, may just give us a fighter’s chance to make the Crows sweat over on their deck.

I’m not sure the Dogs are the titans that reigning premiers of the recent past presented themselves as (see Hawthorn, Geelong) but they are the gold-standard in running football. And they ran us ragged.

By the end they were queuing up to rub salt into the wound. Stringer had 5 goals of his own, but there were 8 other goal kickers. The forty point margin felt flattering. Midfielders and utilities alike were pouring forward, sharing the ball and finding space with ease. Even debutante Tim English looked like he was going to score at one point.

With this in mind it’s apt that Jack Newnes was our best. He had 35 touches (7 marks, 8 tackles and a goal) and he didn’t stop running. Most at The Club claim he’s our best in that space (alongside Captain Jarryn) and it rang true yesterday. He was possibly the only of our engine room that could go the distance running-wise.

Generally, we looked slow. Our tackles were broken. Tom Boyd was sidestepping through us like David Campese, we made Daily Bale look like Magic Johnson.

It wasn’t until very late in the last term that we were able to replicate our own arc-to-arc run and carry. Minchington, Acres, Gresh, Minchington, to Gresh (or something). What happened? Gresh mistakenly turned down a set shot from 40 meters in order to try to hit McCartin with a flaccid drop-punt that ended up in a no-mark and the umpteenth potential rebound for the Dogs.

That felt like a telling snapshot of the game. Good intentions, effort, but no efficiency in any of the execution. Even the chain of handpasses between Gresh, Minchington and Acres seemed to happen at a snail-like pace. I think Hugh Goddard recovered from knee surgery and re-injured his knee several times in that space of time.

That was the fourth quarter, when the result was beyond doubt, but the real damage had already been done.

The thing I keep coming back to is: we keep hearing from all and sundry about how good our depth is now. Steele must have done about 5 articles/interview alone describing this. Depth is one thing, but depth in quality is another. We’ve witnessed what a big drop off there is between Webster and the rest of our other back flankers; half-forward flankers continue to get rotated in and out of the side on a near weekly basis; Longer presence instead of Hickey presents crimes to ball sports around the globe. And those midfielders? They’re just not there.

In regards to our midfield: More often than not this year though we haven’t gotten good enough returns from the supporting cast. And by supporting cast, I mean anyone outside of Jack Steven and Seb Ross. On the, oft-contemplative walk across the Etihad bridge yesterday I voiced how “if you lock down Jack Steven you are 90% of the way to beating St Kilda”. For all his flaws, and I’ll come to them, the three time Trevor Barker Award winner still possesses skills that our others can only hope to achieve in AFL Evolution. The break-neck speed, the relentless running; our midfield outside of his output there can look decidedly blue collar.

And yesterday was the complete crystallization of that reality.

The full-time stats describe that we had 32 more tackles than the Dogs (we had 95), yet our pressure game was completely dismantled. Tackles were laid but they were of a Jack Lonie quality: a nuisance and half-baked.

Yet things looked so promising early. Two of our early goals (Billings and McKenzie) came from virtually point blank after we had gotten through and out the back of the Dogs defence. This usually signals that you’ve picked apart the other team’s system. The backline trio of Geary, Roberton and particularly Carlise were marking nearly all the Dogs entries, and from there, we seemed to have options galore on the spread.

Per our whole 2017 to date we didn’t make hay whilst the sun was shining. Paddy and Gresh were the main offenders; the latter missing a set shot from barely 20 meters out. An ensemble of Mav, Billings, Newnes, Gilbert etc continued to run rings around each other in order to handball or shank to the next stationary person. Some of it was worthy of Benny Hill background music.

It wasn’t just ominous in that we didn’t take our opportunities, it was that you knew the Dogs would respond with vigour. The Bulldogs story this year has largely revolved around slow starts, clawing back and then just doing enough. They hit 4th and 5th gears on Saturday.

Johannisen was outstanding. He was the main conductor in their half backline and midfield sweeping and cutting through our press like butter. Murphy, Easton Wood, Caleb Daniel and many others got in on the act and ran rings around and through us.

That was the startling thing actually. The Dogs’ early goals did come on the rebound, but by and large we were able to hustle back and force them wide. I’m presuming that’s what Richo was referring to in the post-match when he said he was happy with our “method” particularly in a defensive sense. But the shift in the game came when the St Kilda pressure cooled such that the Dogs could routinely go through us; handballs were being made in the tackle, sidestepping galore, speed and lots of it.

There are so many numbers that are dished out and consumed en masse these days. If you dive into any stats break down of a game or a team, you can find yourself in some sort of rabbit hole inception type scenario. However, one stat that does seem bang on is our 5-5 win loss ratio. That sits us in 10th (as of Sunday May 28th 8:05AM). Middle of the ladder, middle of the road; fighting, alongside the a cluster of sides, to sneak into the very bottom of the eight.

Currently only one of our wins comes against a side above us (Giants); against the Cats and Dogs we ended up woefully short. Four three quarters against the Cats we withstood the heat, and we went toe-to-toe. Yesterday was much different. We got dismantled and manhandled, and our defensive system was picked apart with ease.

The main conundrum right now is, what the approach is in regards to the team’s outcome for this year. I feel like that answer will dictate a lot of selection dilemmas that are starting to arise on a weekly basis. Up forward presents the most obvious questions. Do we go with Bruce? How much time does Riewoldt spend up forward? Are we prepared to develop Paddy McCartin in the 1s whilst he’s still learning, still adapting to the Big Time?

This might be stating the obvious to some but, we are not going to win the premiership this year – as open as the competition is. Of course, I would be happy to be proven wrong on that one (#freemanwildcardsecondhalfoftheyear). So if we’re not going to claim the big prize, and that is what the Road To 2018/Whatever five-year-plan we’re on now boils down to, then what are we doing this year? I think most would agree that Paddy, Goddard, Freeman are (if fit) must-haves in our next contending side. Rice, White, Marshall and a few others might be too, pending opportunity. The current lineup still feels like it has a fair few placeholder players; they’re there and they’re decent, but when it comes to the crunch they’re not what we need. Are we going to just bunker down and hope that the last legs of the elder statesmen can pull this team into the finals?

So that’s where we’re at. Different parts of the team are currently pulling in different directions. McCartin still needs time, as does McKenzie (if we think he’s going to make it), as do several other players who ultimately will need to come in if we’re serious about winning a flag. Fans, however, are going to have to be content with said players making mistakes – possibly at the detriment of us winning games in the now – in order for them to grow. The easy thing is to say “we need Dusty/Fyfe/Kelly”. Would I like one of them? Of course. Do we need one of them? Most probably. But no matter how that situation plays out, we’re still going to have to also watch guys like McCartin, Goddard etc go through growing pains. We just witnessed the likes of Billings, Acres, Dunstan and a raft of dudes go through that over 2 or 3 years, so of course that’s hard to swallow. (We still see Billings etc make soul-destroying mistakes – so go figure.) That’s just how it works. The fact that we’ve started winning some games, and competing more regularly, doesn’t change that. McCartin has played 21 games, unfortunately he’s not Chris Judd, he’s not ready-made. Joe Daniher has just become a reliably decent forward (after 80 games) on the back of playing 4 years of consistently playing in the seniors.

(For what it’s worth I thought Paddy was one of our shining lights yesterday. Obviously he made some glaring mistakes. But we had 22 players that did, it’s just that Paddy’s unfortunately happened with the goals beckoning. The great thing was that Paddy was involved, active and up for it for four quarters – which isn’t something that could be said for many of his games to date. He also was effective both up the ground and within the 50m arc. His final quarter goal from 50m was just desserts for a promising performance. He was unlucky in hitting the post from a similar angle 2 minutes later. Like Richo mentioned post-match, anyone who has actually followed Paddy properly to date knows that his marking is the very least of our concerns. He’ll be fine in that regard).

The omission of Josh Bruce was derided by some dimwitted pundits like Terry Wallace, for putting the individual (presumably McCartin) above The Club. Anyone who has actually watched the side properly over the last two years though knows that’s rubbish. The Bruce omission was the recognition of ongoing problems with the team. Outside of the Hawthorn game, win or lose, we have struggled to maximize our good play. And that doesn’t specifically mean the tall forwards, but the smalls too.

Losing yesterday, in comprehensive fashion, should again reinforce to the Footy administration at The Club that there are more fundamental issues for us to overcome outside of whatever the win-loss column represents.

 

Dogs 90 Saints 50

by Richard Lee

** THE MATCH REPORT WILL BE UP THIS AFTERNOON. STAY TUNED. **

Boy, oh, boy. That was a doozie.

That was quite soul-crushing. I want my Saturday afternoon back! Much to think about for the Saints.

Jack Newnes was really good. The 21 others? Question marks galore.

Stay tuned for the report.