Blake says Saints lost big AFL opportunity - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blake says Saints lost big AFL opportunity

Roger Vaughan 11/09/2011 06:11:05 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda defender Jason Blake has lamented a big lost opportunity after Saturday night's season-ending AFL loss to Sydney.

Sydney won their elimination final by 25 points at Etihad Stadium to end a tough season for the Saints.

But Blake said St Kilda went into the finals series thinking they had the talent and experience to win the flag.

They narrowly lost the 2009 grand final to Geelong and drew last year's grand final with Collingwood before losing the replay.

"We thought it was wide open - we took it right to Geelong, we took it right to Collingwood," Blake said.

"We thought if we get through this week, we're a big chance - the belief was there.

"It's just disappointing, to think we could have achieved so much.

"I know the quality of the boys, the group ... the opportunity was there, we just couldn't capitalise on it, it's disappointing."

Blake admitted the Saints' well-documented off-field troubles and their poor start to the season had made it a tough year.

Asked if it had been the toughest season of his career, Blake replied: "Personally, it has been - it's been really tough.

"We've faced a lot of adversity and ... it's a credit to the boys, their character and their will to succeed."

The Saints farewelled Michael Gardiner, Andrew McQualter, Robert Eddy and Steven Baker immediately after Saturday night's game and clearly must refresh their playing list.

But Blake is upbeat about the immediate future, saying they had several talented youngsters who would have more chances at senior level.

"We've got some talent," Blake said.

"It's going to be exciting for them to come in and get an opportunity to play, to see what they're made of.

"Nick Riewoldt, Stephen Milne, those guys, they've given all they can - we need these guys to really step up."

Blake said the Saints paid for crucial ball-handling errors against Sydney.

"We were right in the game, we'd had control of the footy and we were all going into the last quarter really mentally-prepared, ready to give it a crack," he said.

"Unfortunately, it didn't go our way - a couple of crucial turnovers and Sydney made the most of them."

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