St Kilda has returned to the winning list after prevailing against the lowly North Melbourne Kangaroos in a Saturday afternoon scrap.
In search of a bounce-back victory and desperate to repair a percentage severely damaged by an embarrassing 111-point loss last week, the Saints won ugly as inclusions Luke Dunstan and Mason Wood staked their claims as best-22 material.
Dunstan, back on the big stage for only the second time this season, was best afield with 13 tackles, 22 kicks and six marks, while Wood, who was delisted by North Melbourne at the end of last year, booted three goals and took eight marks.
The Saints were also led well by captain Jack Steele (24 disposals and 12 tackles), while Bailey Scott restricted Brad Hill to just six touches after being brought back into the Kangaroos’ line-up.
The early stages of the match showed that not even the fast Marvel track could save the spectacle from its scrappy beginnings, while the lockdown saved the eyes of a would-be crowd from an ugly first quarter.
A classy Tim Membrey set shot on the siren produced a rare first-term highlight, as the Saints — dominating clearances and inside 50 entries — started to take control of the scoreboard.
Then, when Jack Billings snapped truly from deep in the pocket, North Melbourne were forced into a position it has become far too well-acquainted with this season, as the deficit grew to concerning levels early in the second stanza.
St Kilda’s mediocre kicking for goal, as well as a pack mark and major from the ever-competing Nick Larkey, softened the Roos’ woes to an extent, before a miskick from big man Tom Campbell, failing to make the distance with a snap from no more than 15 metres out, added to the first half’s comedy of errors.
North wasted no time bridging the gap in the second half, when back-to-back goals from Larkey and Cam Zurhaar sparked memories of the Roos’ come-from-behind win against the same opponents — at the same empty Marvel Stadium — last year.
But any hopes of injecting the Saints with a bout of déjà vu were quickly quashed when a simple set-shot miss from Tarryn Thomas was followed by a pair of Saints majors, ballooning the lead out to unassailable levels by the last break.
Tempers flared in the clash of two struggling sides. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
He wouldn’t, Wood he?
Since being delisted by the Kangaroos at the end of last season, Mason Wood’s talents have been mostly restricted to VFL level, aside from a four-goal effort against his former team in the pre-season. But in his first official outing against his old mates, fortune was again favouring Wood, who booted the second goal of the game after being found fortuitously by a Jack Steele miskick. The lead-up forward ultimately played his best game of the season, with his three goals, eight marks and four tackles securing his spot in the side for the foreseeable future
Brad’s uphill battle
Brad Hill thrives on space, but a Bailey Scott tag ensured he had none for most of the contest. The lavishly contracted Hill will be met with critics again through the week after he was restricted to just six touches.
Not done and dunsted
Luke Dunstan was brought in for his second game of the season after a string of impressive VFL performances, and at 26, the on-baller still has time to revive a career which once looked on track for stardom. He did his chances of cementing his spot in the best 22 no harm on Saturday afternoon with a best-afield performance.
Umpire Meredith’s face of steel
Not even the umpires were safe from the error-laden contest. Simon Meredith found out the hard way, when the ball thudded into the veteran umpire’s face in the centre square in the final quarter. But, true to his stalwart status, Meredith umpired out the game fuss-free.
ST KILDA 3.6 7.11 11.14 12.16 (88)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 3.4 5.7 10.8 (68)
Saints: Wood 3, Membrey 2, Billings 2, Higgins, Byrnes, Crouch, Geary, Ross
Kangaroos: Larkey 2, Thomas 2, Ziebell 2, Zurhaar 2, Garner, Taylor
Saints: Dunstan, Steele, Wood, Crouch Membrey, Billings
Kangaroos: Hall, Simpkin, Ziebell, Scott, Cunnington
OWEN LEONARD’S VOTES
3 — L.Dunstan (St Kilda)
2 — J.Steele (St Kilda)
1 — M.Wood (St Kilda)
Umpires: Deboy, Meredith, Glouftsis
Venue: Marvel Stadium
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