Saints beat Dogs in fight for survival - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints beat Dogs in fight for survival

Roger Vaughan 10/06/2011 11:52:22 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda won the fight for AFL survival on Friday night, beating the Western Bulldogs by 24 points at Etihad Stadium.

The two out-of-form teams blew plenty of chances between in a scrappy game before the Saints pulled clear in the final term to win 12.9 (81) to 8.9 (57).

While St Kilda remain within touch of the top eight, their fellow preliminary finalists from last year have slumped to three wins from 11 games.

The Bulldogs could manage only 2.7 in the second half as St Kilda, with the same number of scoring shots, kicked 6.3.

When Liam Jones goalled four minutes into the final term, it was the Bulldogs' first since 16 minutes into the second quarter.

The Bulldogs continued to press but their efforts resulted in just another three behinds.

Immediately after the third miss, a poor set shot by Ryan Griffen, Brendon Goddard broke clear through the middle and goalled after three bounces to put the Saints 16 points ahead.

Jones kicked his second goal of the term to keep the margin tight, but Saints defender Steven Baker goalled after a holding free at 22 minutes to seal the win.

St Kilda broke clear with the first two goals of the third term, extending their lead to 16 points.

Then came one of the pivotal moments in the match; as Bulldog Nathan Djerrkura was paid a free kick near goal, the ball spilt free and Daniel Cross took possession.

Cross took a couple of steps forward and the umpire signalled advantage under the AFL's controversial rule change this season where the player, not the umpire, decides whether play should continue.

Cross immediately lost possession in a tackle and the Saints rushed the ball down the other end of the field for Nick Dal Santo to goal and put them 22 points ahead.

The Bulldogs had several chances during the term to narrow the gap, but fluffed them all.

They could only manage four behinds and the Saints led by 19 points at three-quarter time.

Bulldogs defender James Mulligan, a late inclusion for Adam Cooney, departed in the third term with a hamstring injury.

Luke Dahlhaus was subbed on and made an immediate impact with an impressive senior debut.

The lead had changed four times in the second term as Saints small forward Stephen Milne kicked two goals to give his team a four-point break at halftime.

The Bulldogs rallied from a slow start to pressure the Saints, but again let themselves down with too many skill errors in the second term.

Clint Jones shut down Ryan Griffen to be St Kilda's best, while Goddard was solid and Baker played a crucial role when he went onto Shaun Higgins as a defensive forward in the second half.

Bulldogs captain Matthew Boyd had the most possessions for the match with 39.

Cross had a defensive forward role on Saints half-back Sam Fisher and the two broke even.

While the Bulldogs are in dire straits, they remain at worst three games out of the top eight with 11 games to play.

Coach Rodney Eade said the goal remained to win, rather than redevelop the team.

"That (finals) will look after itself, we have to take it week-by-week and try to win as many games as we can," he said.

"We're out there to win every game and at least we got a four-quarter effort tonight, so most of those players will survive and we try to get some continuity.

"Obviously that's tempered a bit with horses for courses, depending on who we play, but basically I was pretty pleased with the effort of the most of the guys tonight."

Saints coach Ross Lyon said the scrappy match highlighted where the two teams sit in the AFL pecking order.

"It just highlights where we're at and we're still trying to pursue being a lot better than what you saw tonight," Lyon said.

"You saw some glimpses, but it's quite frustrating, the gap between our best and our worst, even within games.

"Again, the third quarter highlighted our midfield clearance work is really inconsistent, we need to improve those things.

"We fought it out and we took some opportunities, but I'm certainly not walking away thrilled with that performance, bar our overall effort."

St Kilda's next opponents on Saturday night will be unbeaten Geelong and Lyon said he hoped the class of the Cats would bring out the best in the Saints.

"What's good is you have a formidable opponent, so there will be no mental lapses there," he said.

"We know what's coming and we've had some fierce battles.

"From my end, it would be great to be able to produce an effort to get into a battle, quite simply."E

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