Freo fade against Saints
St Kilda 3.8 7.11 10.13 16.17 (113)
Fremantle 1.3 7.7 10.10 10.12 (72)
St Kilda: Milne 4, Koschitzke 2, Schneider 2, Dal Santo 2, Ray, Gram, Fisher, Goddard, Armitage, McEvoy
Fremantle: Mayne 2, McPhee 2, Ibbotson, Barlow, Johnson, Grover, Mzungu, Suban
St Kilda: Jones, Dal Santo, Fisher, Koschitzke, Milne
Fremantle: Barlow, Mzungu, Clarke, Mayne, Johnson
St Kilda: Gamble (ankle), Polo (finger)
Fremantle: Mayne (cut head)
St Kilda: Ryan Gamble (ankle) replaced by Jarryn Geary in the third quarter.
Fremantle: Clayton Hinkley replaced by Dylan Roberton in the third quarter.
Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Mollison
Official crowd: 26,181 at Etihad Stadium
St Kilda has moved closer to securing a place in this season’s finals with a determined 41-point win over Fremantle in front of 26,181 fans at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
In an always entertaining and at-times spiteful contest, the lead changed nine times before the Saints booted six goals to none in a blistering final quarter to run out 16.17 (113) to 10.12 (72) victors.
It was the Saints’ sixth win on the trot and moves them ahead of the Sydney Swans into sixth on the AFL ladder.
The final margin was cruel to Fremantle, which trailed by just three points at three-quarter time and had admirable performers across the ground but eventually ran out of steam.
Earlier, they’d overcome an error-riddled first term to boot six of the first eight goals in a sparkling second quarter to open a 10-point break early in time-on.
St Kilda steadied via a brilliant snap by in-form midfielder Nick Dal Santo, followed soon after by an easy set shot by Justin Koschitzke courtesy of a 50-metre penalty, and took a four-point lead into the main break.
The teams then booted three goals apiece in the third quarter to set the game up for the Saints’ barnstorming finish.
Despite its valiant effort, Fremantle has now lost its past eight meetings with St Kilda, and has won only two of its last 15 starts at Etihad Stadium.
Tagger Clinton Jones was superb for the Saints, shutting dangerous Fremantle playmaker Stephen Hill completely out of the match while gathering 29 possessions himself.
Nick Dal Santo (25 possessions) had an enthralling battle with Tendai Mzungu.
Although not quite as prolific as in recent weeks, Dal Santo’s polish when in possession was telling in the final result, and his two goals – both at important moments – oozed class.
However, the first-year Fremantle recruit was far from disgraced, finishing amongst the visitors’ best performers alongside ball magnet Michael Barlow (26 disposals).
Small forward Stephen Milne was closely shadowed by Antoni Grover and was well held in stages, but still managed to bob up and boot four important goals to be the game’s leading forward.
The haul took Milne’s career total at Etihad Stadium to 299, leaving him equal with Matthew Lloyd as the AFL’s highest goal-scorer at the venue.
Adam McPhee booted two goals for Fremantle, as did Chris Mayne, who went toe-to-toe with Saints star Brendon Goddard in another entertaining match-up.
What it means
If Essendon or North Melbourne win this weekend, Fremantle will be out of the eight and, with a testing run home that includes meetings with Carlton and Collingwood, they’re no certainty to fight back in.
Fremantle: Carlton (PS), North Melbourne (ES), Collingwood (PS), Western Bulldogs (ES).
Toyota AFL Dream Team highlight
Fremantle: Midfielders Mzungu (114 points) and Barlow (110) led the way for the visitors.
What the coach said
“It is just a little bit frustrating to fall away, in games like that. The reality is we are just lacking in some class but I can’t question their effort.”
Quarter by quarter
St Kilda controlled the opening term, its pressure creating plenty of errors from Fremantle. The Saints dominated the inside 50 count 20-9 in the first quarter, and only inaccuracy cost them a bigger lead at the first break. The Saints opened their scoring account through Stephen Milne, with two more goals coming from Justin Koschitzke and Farren Ray during the quarter. Fremantle’s only goal for the term came from Chris Mayne, who earlier in the term had been forced from the field to have stitches in his forehead after a clash with Jason Blake.
The contest heated up considerably in the second term, with a heavy bump by Adam McPhee on Sam Gilbert sparking a period of push and shove between the sides. Fremantle lifted their intensity and started the quarter by kicking the first three goals of the term to wipe out a 17-point deficit. Zac Clarke was good in the ruck, while Fremantle started to exert pressure with their tackling. The Saints worked their way back into the contest midway through the term, and the two sides swapped the lead on six different occasions. The Saints kicked the last two goals of the quarter to give themselves a four-point lead at the major break.
For the first eight minutes, neither side could break free and impact on the scoreboard. It took a superb effort from Saint Adam Schneider to break through and snare his first goal of the night. A minute later, Milne kicked his third goal after winning a free kick for being legged in a tackle. St Kilda’s 15-point lead was its largest since the first term, but Fremantle hit back quickly with goals to Tendai Mzungu, a lovely snap from Nick Suban and then a long goal from McPhee returning the lead their way. Milne’s fourth goal late in the quarter was the ninth lead change for the match and gave the Saints a three-point edge with a quarter to play.
It took more than nine minutes before St Kilda could break through for the opening goal of the term. Both sides missed early shots, and it was Schneider who broke the stalemate when his set shot from 30 metres out extended the Saints’ lead to 10 points. St Kilda really started to exert pressure in their forward zone, and Fremantle started to find it difficult to clear the ball out of danger. Sam Fisher’s dribbled goal gave the Saints a 15-point lead, and the floodgates opened soon after. After Brendon Goddard pushed out Alex Silvangi and then ran into to an open goal, further goals in quick succession to Dal Santo and David Armitage took the lead out to 33 points, breaking Fremantle’s resistance.