Another big Saturday of AFL action has come to a close and the Saints have clearly emerged as the big winners.
Heading into their second trip to Adelaide Oval in the space of six days, and having lost all 10 of their games there before beating the Crows on Monday night, the Saints once again refused to allow the weight of history to burden them.
Brett Ratten’s men were engaged in a tense arm wrestle with top-of-the-ladder Port Adelaide for three quarters, but then blew them away in the final term with five goals to nothing to run out convincing 29-point winners and end an eight-game losing streak against the Power in the process.
The result was just the Power’s second loss of the year, and saw the Saints, who were led superbly by twin towers Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder, climb to third spot on the ladder heading into Sunday and Monday’s games.
In the early match, Carlton managed to stay in touch with the top eight after a nervous encounter with North Melbourne in the wet at the Gabba.
The Blues shot out to a five-goal lead early on, but the badly undermanned Kangaroos fought back manfully to push David Teague’s side right to the end, before gallantly falling by seven points.
Despite the admirable performance, North Melbourne have now lost six games in a row and are anchored to second-last spot on the ladder.
Finally, in the afternoon/twilight game, Sydney snapped their four-game losing streak by also holding on for a gutsy seven-point win against Hawthorn at the SCG.
After trailing by 14 points late in the second quarter, Tom Papley took matters into his own hands and proceeded to kick four goals in roughly half an hour of footy to turn the tide dramatically in Sydney’s favour.
They wouldn’t yield the upper hand for the rest of the contest and ended up kicking six of the last eight goals to hand the Hawks their fourth loss in a row. Hawthorn could nowdrop to as low as 16th on the ladder by the end of the round.
Thanks for following our rolling coverage throughout the day, be sure to join us next weekend for another bumper Saturday of footy.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley spoke to the media after his side’s five-goal loss to St Kilda tonight…
A: I think the contest stuff was the biggest challenge for us. We weren’t able to be as hard and strong as we needed to be. They were much harder and much stronger. They were making us pay more than we were making them pay with their movement of the ball when they went forward.
Q: That was unusual though for your, I guess, midfield colours, lowered collectively.
A: Yeah, there is no doubt they were better than us around the ball tonight. They had dominance from the rucks and then they were able to get ground level dominance as well. They were physically stronger. That’s a challenge for our boys. A couple of times we have been beaten. It’s not that we’re not capable, but there has been nights we haven’t been able to perform at the level we want. So I don’t want anyone to go, “we’re not hard enough”. We’re genuinely a pretty hard team. Tonight, we weren’t.
Q: So is it too much to ask of Peter Ladhams tonight?
A: He had a massive challenge up against two good ruckmen and, you know that was our challenge last week. We had to rise to that and the challenge doesn’t get any smaller for the next game or the game after. He’s a work in progress and, you know, he found enough of the ball himself, but he’s – the ruck work contest was clearly dominated by St Kilda.
Q: Did you have enough height in your backline tonight? I guess that’s something that people said after the Brisbane game, that you maybe need another key defender or another tall defender. Did you feel like you maybe were a bit smaller?
A: Tell me why.
Q: They felt that [Rowan] Marshall, [Tim] Membrey, Max King…
A: I think if you look at the way they got their goals, they went for marks. They had, I think, four marks inside their forward 50. I don’t think it was an in-the-air issue for us, I think it was a supply issue from them coming down. We’re taller tonight than we have been in previous weeks. I don’t think height is the issue. It is the way the ball comes that will cause you problems. To be fair, I think they kicked one point, didn’t they? They didn’t miss. Even the goal reviews, we’ve spoiled the ball. That’s not a height issue, is it? It’s just their ability to be effective when they got it in there. That’s what they’ve been good at all year.
Q: Do you know why they were so jumpy in handling the ball?
A: No, I think the conditions made it equally as challenging for both sides. But we certainly didn’t look as clean as they were.
Q: That last quarter, you just couldn’t get your hands on the ball…
A: Yeah, we couldn’t get it in our part of the ground. We typically do that. We’re typically the team that dominates that part of the ground. The third quarter at the start showed that. We were playing a game a little better than we had been most of the day, but we weren’t able to put the score on the board. They kicked incredibly accurately, we probably wasted one or two opportunities that would have made it feel slightly differently at times.
Q: How pivotal was that moment when ‘Westy’ [Justin Westhoff] shanked it straight to [Dan] Butler?
A: Turnovers are always pivotal when they cost you a goal, they hurt a bit more. But turnovers happen throughout the night all the time. When you reflect, you will see lots of poor turnovers from both sides at times. That is what we don’t like to have as coaches and we don’t like them at any time, but particularly when they happen like that. It is not one person’s fault, it is what happens in a game of footy.
Q: What discussion do you have with Westhoff? Not just about that moment, but you didn’t have him in the side, his form hasn’t been great in recent weeks. What sort of discussion are you having
A: Exactly that conversation, that his form’s – he’s struggling a little bit to find the ball when he needs to find the ball, whether that be in the forward line or his ability in the ruck. You know, tonight he went down back and he was OK down back. He won some battles. There was enough coming down, but he didn’t win all his battles. ‘Westy’ has played a lot of footy. He doesn’t need too much coach feedback, to be fair.
Q: Robbie Gray, last week, the match winner, probably bit quiet to today. Seems to be a bit quiet by his lofty standards in 2020 so far.
A: You play him every game of the year nearly because of last week’s ability to finish like he did, he
had the ability to put that ball through. He’s like a lot of people up in the front half, they need the supply to be better and our supply tonight wasn’t enough and wasn’t good enough when we had enough.
Q: Do you get him more around the ball to get creativity, get a bit of spark from him?
A: Rob spends a mixture of time in any game – he spends some moments around the ball, and that’s depending on what the game is doing at times. We use him to our advantage as best we can.
Q: Are you rotating more guys on your wings now than ever before? Those four that… Is that standard for you to do that?
A: Yeah, pretty much. We pretty much have three to four wingers most weeks. We have a couple that play a lot of wing time. We mix and match a little bit through the rest of it.
Q: I know it’s not your concern, but how impressed were you by the Saints? You know, they were good here against the Crows on Monday night.
A: It is not my concern. It is [St Kilda coach] Brett’s [Ratten’s] job to worry about that. We have to do a lot of work to get ourselves right for next Thursday. I spend my time worrying about us. But the Saints, like every team you play in the competition, when they have their night, they look a really strong team.
What a memorable win it was for St Kilda tonight.
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten spoke to the media after his side’s sensational 29-point win. Here’s some of what he had to say…
Q: That is next level tonight, I guess, more evidence of that from your side?
A: Yeah, it’s – I suppose when you look at your season and you probably, you know, look at some games, you think, “Jeez, we had some opportunities to win those games.” I think it’s, you know, really allowed us to look and grow and educate the players and, you know, even us as coaches about what’s, you know, the right way for us to play and how do we play and when we’re under pressure, what do we do? A couple of the losses we have given up big leads, been ran over. So I think that’s really held us in good stead moving forward. You know, for us it is about consistency. I thought our work around the stoppages and the contest was really, really pleasing. You know, [Paddy] Ryder really set the scene. To have those two boys [Ryder and Dougal Howard] come across here and, you know, come to our football club and then come back to here and play and play against their old team and play so well was, yeah, very pleasing for them.
Q: Is that the best you’ve ever had a team in stopping an opposition come through you? Like, you can’t be pierced at the moment. You make the teams switch and switch to try to find a way through.
A: Yes, I think it’s – sometimes it’s the decision of the bloke with the ball. So sometimes you think the middle is open, but they don’t take it, so you get away with that one. I thought we defended really well. We probably got some lessons from last week’s game as well. It wasn’t perfect for us, but, you know, how to play this ground, you know, to come back two weeks in a row allows you to adjust to the venue.
Q: When you went out during the third quarter and started waving your arms, were you telling them to slow down the game?
A: Just a little bit of composure. I thought we had the ball in our hands at times and then we just gave it back. It was sort of like just ease up, just take a breath. You know, some of the things we did, we just put ourselves under pressure when the game was telling us Port have come at us with high
pressure, which is a credit to them. They’re a very good team and, you know, we kicked straight, they didn’t. But the pleasing aspect was we kept them to 36 inside 50s and they averaged 50. So we got a lot right tonight, which is good.
Q: Are the players also feeling more adrenaline because of a crowd being out there again?
A: Maybe. Yeah, maybe, I’m not sure. You know, I think the players enjoy playing in front of the crowd and probably a bit different when you come here against Port, the crowd is probably against you a bit. But, yeah, it was great to hear the Saints supporters again up, singing the song. They haven’t sung the song much here for the last 10 years or 10 outings, so that’s a plus as well.
Q: You talked about trying to get them to calm down. Given that’s the way attack is so fast and frenetic, is that something you have to work on? I guess kind of picking your moments, when to maybe slow it down, rather than go 100mph all the time?
A: Yeah, we played on 24 percent or something like that for the game. It wasn’t like we were just
playing reckless footy all the time, but, yeah, it is just that patch in the third [quarter]. When we had the ball and we just made one error after the next after the next, you can make errors, but if you have multiple, usually the opposition scores. So we just wanted to clean that up a little bit and make sure that we had a bit more calmness in our play. If the ball is alive, sometimes you haven’t got a choice to play slow or fast, so you’ve just got to play to what’s in front of you or what’s around you. So what we have in our team is some real leg speed and I think those players use it to get out of trouble and sometimes that’s out the front as well. So it does look like we’re playing faster, but that’s players playing to their strength.
Rowan Marshall was one of St Kilda’s best and he spoke to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: Well played, congratulations.
A: Thanks, lads. Great win tonight, great to see Paddy [Ryder] and ‘Doug’ (Dougal Howard) get a win against their old side, so awesome.
Q: Well done. Two wins in a row in Adelaide, a ground you had never won at before. The
feeling within the four walls must be superb.
A: That’s right. You know, we came here last week just hoping to get a win and then tonight was just awesome. We played hard, contested game of footy. Yeah, came away with the four points which is the first time we have done it in Adelaide for a long time.
Q: Rowan, outstanding game. Your combination with Paddy Ryder is really building, four goals between you guys tonight. Are you learning a lot about ruck craft off Paddy? He’s been a great ruckman for a long time now.
A: Yeah, definitely. I think his centre bounce work is awesome. So that’s sort of one area I struggled in last year. I’ve been able to improve it over the pre-season and he’s taught me a lot. He’s been really beneficial.
Q: What’s the mix there, Rowan, at the moment? Is it sort of 50-50 forward-midfield for you or is Paddy staying in the ruck longer?
A: Yeah, just depends on who we come up against each week. It might be 50-50 one week, 60-40 the next. Just depends. He is a good centre bounce ruckman, so he might take that, spit forward and vice
versa. Yeah, it worked really well tonight.
Q: It is a great combo because you guys draw so much attention and allows Tim Membrey to get more space when you go forward. Then you wear other ruckmen down, come up against you and to have the next one, the quality of Paddy Ryder, it is a pretty formidable combination you have going.
A: It’s working really well. (Port Adelaide’s) Peter Ladhams is obviously an up-and-coming ruckman, I think he had 20 touches tonight. So he played pretty well as well.
Q: We know it is hard being away from family and friends and out of Victoria, but there’s a fair few positives in it when you jump on a plane tomorrow and you head back to beautiful Noosa to do your recovery.
A: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Looking forward to getting back to Noosa. You know, you get to spend it with 48 of your best mates. It’s been really fun up there in Noosa.
Q: Twelve goals, one [behind], by the way, that is accuracy that is quite insane. Your own set shot work is brilliant. Have you always been a really good set shot kicker or worked hard on it since getting to the Saints?
A: I worked pretty hard on it since I got to the Saints. I sort of struggled with it at times in my first year, but sat down, worked with (assistant coach) Jarryd Roughead over the pre-season, and he’s helped me a lot.
Q: I was watching [St Kilda coach] Brett Ratten get around all the boys when you were out on the ground celebrating. He just seems to have great connection with all you players. He looks like he would build really good relationships with you.
A: Definitely. He is just like one of the boys. You can joke around when there is times to joke around, but he is really serious come game day and has a great relationship with everyone on the list. ‘Ratts’ has been awesome.
Here’s some more reaction to St Kilda’s stirring victory…
It was a stirring rendition of the St Kilda theme song after the game!
Zak Jones played an important role, too, and he spoke to Channel Seven as well…
Q: Pretty remarkable. Five days, you’ve been here twice and you’ve got them both.
A: It’s been fantastic. I think we embraced it from the start, knew we were coming back down here. So the boys were really excited to get back down here and we got a good win the first week.
Q: How much belief did you take out of that game last week when Adelaide came close within those nine points and being able to get away from them again and again Port challenged you in this third quarter?
A: I think we were very confident. We spoke about it during the week against Fremantle that we didn’t execute our game plan and then the following week it was a big focus for the week coming in.
We needed to execute and felt like we did that against Adelaide. We held them off when they came and we had opportunities to strike back.
Q: New club for you, some targeted recruiting with [Dan] Butler and [Paddy] Ryder as we saw there and Bradley Hill, Dougal Howard, great night for him. It’s been very nicely done by St Kilda.
A: Yeah, I think we fit in pretty well. They welcomed us with open arms, so a great opportunity to be part of the club.
Paddy Ryder was fantastic for St Kilda tonight and he joined Channel Seven after the game…
Q: You personally have played a lot of footy at Adelaide Oval, but for the Saints, they hadn’t won here ever and now you have two wins in just the week. How proud are you of your boys and performance tonight?
A: Look, we know the journey we are on. You know, we’re not one of the top teams going around, but that’s what we’re striving for. We just keep putting in the work every week and believing in ourselves and go after our game. Really proud of the boys tonight. Hard to come down here and get a win against Port, especially with the crowd in here. I’m not sure how many Saints are in here, but, yeah, a bit daunting.
Q: You’re currently a top three side, so that is very, very impressive. What was the plan coming in tonight against Port Adelaide? As we know, they don’t have too many weaknesses in their side. But you guys have played them beautifully tonight.
A: Yeah, look, obviously we saw an area where we can get on top a little bit, so myself and Rowan [Marshall] try and give the boys first use, then try and match them all over the ground. Port, they’ve come out, played really well this year. No weakness all across the board from them. We just had to match them and for us, we ended up doing that most of the night.
Q: You personally, are you enjoying life as a Saint? You really seem to be enjoying your footy at the moment.
A: It’s good. Into a new club, you know, takes a little bit to fit in, but the boys have welcomed me in. It’s awesome to come down here. You know, I miss playing at this place. I love this oval. Yeah, good to come and get the win.
Here’s some of the social media reaction to St Kilda’s magnificent victory…