St Kilda Saints surge to upset win against Western Bulldogs
If they haven’t already, Saints fans will soon fall in love with Phillipou, who kicked three crucial goals when the game was at its hottest. In just two games, the South Australian number 10 has already shown why he is such a highly-rated junior, having been a solid forward last year who sparked with his ground-level verve and nous around goal.
Mattaes Phillipou gave an outstanding performance.Credit:Getty Images
Or maybe the kids will iron the No.10 of Owens on the back of their jersey. Like Phillipou, the second season Saint also kicked three. If they like their cult heroes, Caminiti is their man. Signed as a pre-season supplementary pick just over a month ago, after Saints list boss Jack Silvagni unwittingly snubbed his father, Caminiti bagged two, troubling the Dogs with his length and speed.
The highlight was his team-raising goal of 50 out, which capped off a thrilling stretch of play that had been started by Dan Butler’s desperate tackle on Liam Jones in the middle of the ground.
“I always tell players, if I see it at practice, good or bad, I’ll see it in the game,” Lyon said. “I saw Mattaes kick it from outside 50 at the training. I experienced Mitch Owen’s work rate. We didn’t hope with Caminiti.
“He came into training the first day and took those points, he has that speed. We picked them based on what we saw and they did it in AFL football.”
It was an excellent performance by the Saints, who, apart from a brief spell late in the second quarter, were clearly the better team.
They were too tough and too hard for a Dogs outfit that played with little of the spirit they showed in their march to the 2021 grand final.
Their senior quartet of Jack Steele, Brad Crouch, Seb Ross and Rowan Marshall outnumbered the dogs at the breaks.
After the Dogs closed within three points, the Saints responded to Lyon’s half-time challenge and broke the dam with five goals in a row in a match-winning burst.
Once king of the competition, the Hounds were once again found wanting in that area. Bailey Smith, Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli and co are generating numbers on the stat sheet, but their forwards are hungry.
Out of 37 entries, the Dogs only scored five goals. Their vaunted long wood doesn’t mark it, and the ball spills out far too easily.
Beveridge has plenty of questions but few answers after another ordinary performance by his men, who followed up a 50-point hiding last week with another shocker.
After finishing poorly against Melbourne, the Dogs gave up nine of the last 10 goals of the game. Asked if fitness was an issue, Beveridge questioned his team’s work rate.
“I think you would have to say that the first two rounds we were outworked,” Beveridge said. “So we’ve had a really solid pre-season, but a few surprises coming into the year with a few boys. We have 11 on the injury list at the moment, but that’s not an excuse, it’s just the way it is. You need a deep team.
“But there’s no doubt that when we compare our output in terms of the ground cover and the intensity and the speed of it, we haven’t been at the level of the first two teams we’ve played.
“It’s a combination of things now – it’s certainly not because we haven’t worked hard enough. So it is difficult to analyze, but we just have to face it.”
Beveridge said he will back his players but is looking for an antidote to their early-season slump.
“The main message, the clinical message, is to believe we can turn it around quickly and it’s only round two so there’s a lot of the season left to make a mark and we really believe we can, so that’s one ,” Beveridge said.
“And two: I will always be completely in our players’ corner. I am here to support them and I am their ally, I am not their hammer. We analyze and we look at performance, but ultimately my aim is always to pick it up and pursue the improvements and the development in it.
“They’re a very close group so they feel they’re letting each other down as much as we’re big supporters and so they absolutely revolve around being better teammates and us being a better team and we’ll facilitate that and we’ll look to bring it against Brisbane.”
The tenacious, defensive football synonymous with Lyon was on display in a brilliant opening by the Saints, who had the greater appetite for the contest.
They were harder on the ball, and if it wasn’t in possession, the Dogs made costly mistakes. Players like Smith and Ed Richards, who are normally assured with the ball, coughed up shocks that led to Saints goals.
It was only about halfway through the second quarter before the Dogs, through leaders Bontempelli, Liberatore and Smith, matched the Saints’ intensity.
Goalless for the first 47 minutes of the game, the Dogs kicked three in a hurry, and when Tim English converted after the siren, a game that had looked well under the Saints’ control was wide open.
English’s goal after the half-time siren sparked a melee in which two players familiar to both clubs figured centrally. Josh Bruce was spot on, along with English, but it was the heated words between Zaine Cordy and Dogs pair Bontempelli and Aaron Naughton that will make for an interesting conversation when the former team-mates next meet for a coffee. Whatever the banter was, Cordy was so incensed that he could keep ranting while both parties went their separate ways.
CORDY LAUGHES LAST
Lyon revealed that Cordy, an unlikely game-breaker for his new club, played a key role in helping the Saints plot the Dogs’ downfall.
“I know for a fact that he gave us some great insights by the way,” Lyon said. “I’ve been out of it for a while. He said, “look, this is how they play” and he really helped with the planning, no doubt about it.
He also played an important role in the execution of the plan. Cordy was better known as a defender, despite being a forward in the Dogs’ 2016 premiership, and was influential in the third quarter. From his six touches and four marks, Cordy kicked two vital goals in a makeshift forward line that was missing the injured spearhead King.
WESTERN BULDOGS 0.1 4.5 5.8 5.11 (41)
ST KILDA 4.1 5.4 11.5 14.8 (92)
Western Bulldogs: Naughton 2, Baker, English, Garcia
St Kilda: Phillipou 3, Owens 3, Cordy 2, Gresham 2, Caminiti 2, Wood, Steele
Western Bulldogs: Smith, Naughton, Bruce, Jones.
St Kilda: Steele, Marshall, Sinclair, Ross, Crouch, Wood, Owens.