“If you are going to have goal-line cameras you probably need them at every game,” Channel Seven commentator Matthew Richardson said.
The Saints replied when Tim Membrey marked and converted but the Demons held on in the frantic final minutes.
The Demons’ seventh win elevates them into the top eight but leaves the Saints, with eight wins, suddenly vulnerable. If nothing else, their hopes of a top-four finish appear dashed.
In a contest where both sides struggled to generate clearing run from half-back, Demons defender Steven May was best afield by not only silencing Max King but he had 22 touches, six intercept marks and generated counter-attacking run.
Michael Hibberd was helped from the field in the third term with an ankle injury but returned on a night the Saints had 16 more inside 50s.
In a reconfigured forward line missing the axed Tom McDonald and Bayley Fritsch, Petracca threatened to take control with a dynamic first term, where he booted two goals. Christian Salem, Ed Langdon and Clayton Oliver found plenty of the ball through the night.
Jack Steele was superb through the midfield for the Saints but they could not generate their typical run despite Brad Hill and Zak Jones working hard.
Nathan Jones was a late withdrawal with a quad issue last week but there was no such issue against the Saints, ensuring he had the chance to take on younger brother, Zak. Nathan had a moment he would rather forget when his attempted pass to Langdon was intercepted by Steele, who marked and converted with 21 seconds left in the second term. When Jack Sinclair burst from the ensuing centre bounce and big man Rowan Marshall pounced on a loose ball over the pack to dribble his first goal through, the Demons had lost control, leading by two points at the main break.
Max Gawn returned after a three-week absence because of shoulder and posterior cruciate ligament issues. He had strapping on his right knee which he said was “probably more mental than physical”. It could also be a good-luck charm, for he had no problem kicking straight from about 35 metres in the first term, notching his first goal of the season.
In a week where the sling tackle – whether that be technique or penalties – was in the headlines, match review officer Michael Christian may take a look at Charlie Spargo’s tackle on Nick Coffield in the first term. Coffield had his arm pinned when he was taken to ground but there appeared to be little, if any force, when his head hit the turf. It’s likely Spargo has nothing to worry about but confusion continues over what constitutes a punishable offence.
The run home remains intriguing. The Demons have Sydney in Cairns on Thursday, Fremantle (Cairns), Greater Western Sydney (Gabba) and Essendon (TBC) to come. The Saints have a bye in round 15, then face Hawthorn at Metricon Stadium next Sunday, West Coast (Gabba) and Greater Western Sydney (TBC).
MELBOURNE 4.0 5.1 7.3 8.4 (52)
ST KILDA 1.3 4.5 6.6 7.7 (49)
Melbourne: Petracca 4, Weideman 2, Brown, Gawn
St Kilda: Phillips, Membrey, King, Marshall, Ryder, Steele, Battle
Melbourne: May, Petracca, Oliver, Langdon, Salem,
St Kilda: Steele, Hill, Jones, Marshall, Coffield
CROWD 1917 at TIO Traeger Park
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.