Demon Jack Watts and Saint Jake Carlisle clash during their round one AFL match.
Demon Jack Watts and Saint Jake Carlisle clash during their round one AFL match. MAL FAIRCLOUGH

Saints 'humbled and embarrassed' by Demons

IT WAS all going St Kilda's way.

Playing the type of 'Saints Footy' that fans have become accustomed to seeing at Etihad Stadium, the hosts looked unstoppable at quarter time.

Having kicked five unanswered goals to end the opening term, St Kilda broke the game apart to lead by 24 points - but that would be where the momentum stopped.

Instead, Melbourne wrestled back control of the contest and went on a run which Fox Footy analyst David King said "humbled and embarrassed" St Kilda.

The Demons would kick 10 straight goals to open up a 34-point lead at one stage, ultimately recording a 54-point turnaround to secure victory in routine fashion.

"If I'm a St Kilda fan, I'm really disappointed with the work between the arcs since quarter time - they've dropped right off," King said.

"It's really humid down here and they are difficult conditions, but they've been outworked and out-hunted. They've been humbled and embarrassed since quarter time."

Melbourne's midfield was at the heart of everything throughout that period, with the likes of Clayton Oliver, Nathan Jones, Jordan Lewis and Bernie Vince all dominant.

"They asked the St Kilda midfield: 'Are you prepared to work? Are you prepared to cover us on the spread? Can you cover our short kicking into the forward line?' The answer was no," King said.

"They ran harder, they used the ball smarter and St Kilda hasn't had the answers.

"I think the coach would be really disappointed with the work rate the Saints have brought today, given the positive build-up to the game.

"This is their venue. They don't lose to Melbourne here. It was huge stakes today and Melbourne walked away with all of the aces."

JUST IN TIME

THE Saints are no strangers to rocking up to games fashionably late.

But the club took its tardiness to new extremes to start the 2017 season.

With Melbourne already out on the field and in position waiting for the match to start, St Kilda didn't break the banner until 4.34pm - 60 seconds before the match was set to begin.

Instead, the Saints were waiting in the rooms until literally the last minute.

"The siren has sounded, the Melbourne players are on the field, this is the latest I've ever seen a team come out on the field," Fox Footy analyst David King said.

 

Melbourne's Jesse Hogan (left) and Nathan Brown of St Kilda.
Melbourne's Jesse Hogan (left) and Nathan Brown of St Kilda. MAL FAIRCLOUGH

"They'll almost have to go straight to position as soon as they break the banner. The anticipation out here is enormous."

The lateness was also a feature of the side's 2016 campaign, with St Kilda often remaining in the changerooms far longer than their opposition.

"They tried this last year, but this is as late as any side have ever come out," Western Bulldogs great Brad Johnson said as the time ticked away.

"This game should really be under way."

RUCK BATTLE

TOM Hickey was lauded as Max Gawn's kryptonite.

One of few ruckmen to get the edge over the All-Australian last year, many thought the Saints big man might repeat the feat against the Demon once again in Round 1.

How wrong they were.

Instead, despite battling a sore back throughout the first term, Gawn got the upper hand - in more ways than one.

He finished with 49 hitouts to go with 12 disposals, easily defeating Hickey (18 hitouts and eight disposals) both in the air and around the ground.

"Hickey played him really smart (in 2016)," King said.

"He drove the left leg up, negated with the right hand, and flicked the ball over with his left.

"Hickey challenged him. He didn't mark a lot of the ball, but he got a lot of loose ball gets and handball receives, which for a ruckman is a great asset."

Former Melbourne coach Paul Roos also spoke about the challenges Gawn faced when going up against Hickey and how he would have planned to overcome them.

"I think both ruckman are going to challenge each other," Roos said.

"When Max Gawn gets going, he can seriously catch the ball at both ends of the field.

"He'll try to slide forward at the fat side of the ground and I reckon Hickey will try and challenge him at the other end."

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