Finals-bound Saints conserve energies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Finals-bound Saints conserve energies

By Guy Hand 30/08/2009 06:49:36 PM Comments (0)

It was simply a case of flexing the muscles when they had to for St Kilda, who warmed up for the AFL finals with a comfortable 47-point win over wooden spooners Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.

Six goals to Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt - four just before and after halftime - swung the match his side's way as they ran out 17.12 (114) to 10.7 (67) winners.

The Demons' defeat ensured them a double dip in the upcoming national draft - getting the No.1 and No.2 picks following a second successive season with less than 16 premiership points.

Top of the ladder St Kilda finish the home-and-away season with 20 wins from 22 matches, though there were some worrying signs early against the Dees in a performance bearing little resemblance to some of the Saints' early season form.

But St Kilda coach Ross Lyon said he was happy with his side's performance after a shaky start in their first match this year at the MCG - the ground they must conquer for the next month if they are to win their first flag since 1966.

"We were pretty sloppy in the first quarter, but we got great experience on the MCG with the swirly breeze," Lyon said.

"We weren't silky with the ball ... we were inefficient - maybe it was a bit of nerves, first time at the 'G, a game we were expected to win.

"But we competed really well, won the contested ball. I thought there were some really good signs today."

The Demons more than matched the Saints for the opening quarter and a half - leading by 18 points early in the second term with midfielders Colin Sylvia and Cale Morton and forward Liam Jurrah starring.

But Riewoldt emerged late in the second quarter to lead the Saints back into the match - perhaps aided by the fact Melbourne had benched his direct opponent James Frawley who had kept him quiet until then.

Showing no signs of a knee problem which he had scans on earlier in the week, Riewoldt booted the final three goals of the term, including one on the halftime siren which gave his side the lead for the first time in the match.

He kicked his fourth just after halftime to shift the momentum the Saints' way, and successive goals to Justin Koschitzke and Jason Gram gave them a 26-point buffer.

The Saints started to look more like premiership favourites as they ran out the game, booting the last five goals of the match as the Demons faded.

Melbourne coach Dean Bailey took heart from the fact his young side matched this season's benchmark early in the match as a pointer to better things ahead in 2010.

"As far as moving forward, some of our players showed for two and half or three quarters, we matched it with the best team in the competition," he said.

Saints midfielders Lenny Hayes and Nick Dal Santo were outstanding, with 37 and 39 touches respectively.

The match was the last for Melbourne trio Russell Robertson, Matthew Whelan and Paul Wheatley.

Robertson has been told by the club he is no longer required for next season, while Whelan and Wheatley have retired.

Robertson and Wheatley both booted goals in the final quarter.

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