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St Kilda beat the Gold Coast Suns by 26 points, 13.9 (87) to 9.7 (61), for their fourth straight win to move up to third in the AFL ladder.
He came behind a career-high five goals from Jack Higgins in an otherwise solid team performance as the Saints gain momentum in their season.
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The Suns will lick their wounds after a promising win against the Blues last week, while an adductor injury to Mabior Chol added to their woes.
After a tight first half, St Kilda opened the game in the third and fourth quarters, scoring seven goals to three for Gold Coast.
Ryan Byrnes (St Kilda) and Rory Atkins (Gold Coast) have been named medical replacements.
Ben Ainsworth hit the opener with the game’s first goal from a tight angle as Suns pressure was on early before Izak Rankine added another.
“Good pressure in the first half by the Suns. if they maintain that type of intensity, it’s going to be a scorching outing,” Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton told Fox Footy.
But St Kilda’s Jack Higgins responded with the next two goals within a minute in a quick game at Marvel Stadium.
Touk Miller started hot for the Suns, racking up nine assignments including three in the 50s, to set up two Gold Coast goals in the first term.
“That’s what has made Miller one of the best players in the competition in recent years, is kicking to a whole new level,” Saints great Leigh Montagna said on Fox Footy.
“He was always able to find the foot and had that running power, but now he does so much damage when he gets the ball back.”
Playing in her 100th game, Jade Gresham, who Fox Footy’s Kelli Underwood called the ‘energizing bunny’, kicked a goal out of thin air after a ball rolled over inside 50, with Montagna noting “That’s why you can argue that he is St Kilda’s most important player. »
“That ability to move the contest forward, he’s got class, he’s creative, he’s changing angles,” he said.
The Saints led by two points in the quarter, 3.3 (21) to 2.1 (19).
Watch it live on Fox Footy (channel 504) starting at 11:30 a.m.
Max King made his mark early in the second quarter, taking a huge hold and converting the set-piece to get the Saints fans moving.
But the Suns were ready for the fight, responding with the next two majors by Brandon Ellis and Nick Holman to regain the lead.
Mabior Chol kicked a brilliant banana goal to elevate his 10th career major for the season, which had a significant impact for the Suns on offense.
King scored his second goal despite a dubious no-call for a back push.
“I agree with that, I think Ballard threw his momentum forward to try to accentuate the free kick.”
However Brereton disagreed, saying: “Anything that advances the player should be penalised.”
The Saints scored another goal after brilliant play in midfield led to a saved shot from Jack Hayes.
“It’s the efficiency of the Saints this quarter that has put them back in the game. Only the 11s in the 50s, but they threw 3.4, so they had seven shots and one out of bounds in total,” Montagna said.
“That’s been their strength all year, the number one team in the competition to score when they have the ball under 50. They move it so fast on the retransition down the hall, it’s going to be difficult for anyone. any defender to stop this.”
St Kilda led by six points at the main break, 6.7 43) to 6.1 (37).
Fox Footy pundits noted the third quarter was an “arm wrestle,” with neither team giving up an inch.
Higgins eventually broke the deadlock, truly finishing on a set piece after a brilliant kick from Jack Sinclair.
Almost immediately after, Higgins had another chance to extend the Saints’ lead after taking a free kick, but he was unable to convert the shot.
But St Kilda scored two more after Brad Hill capitalized on an ill-fated rebound from Will Powell to set up Higgins’ fourth, while King followed with his third major of the day to make it five in a row to St Kilda.
With it, King scored his 16th goal of the season to tie for first place in the Coleman Medal standings with Joe Daniher.
The Saints took a 16-point lead in three quarters, 9.8 (62) to 7.4 (46).
St Kilda extended their lead to 28 points after back-to-back goals to open the fourth quarter thanks to Tim Membery and Seb Ross to really take control of the game.
Adding to Gold Coast’s woes, Mabior Chol was substituted early in the fourth term with an adductor problem as Atkins entered the game.
Higgins scored his fifth career goal after netting a long-range shot in the dying minutes to put the icing on the cake for St Kilda.
THE 3-2-1 (what we learned)
3. SAINTS TRADE RECRUITMENTS SHINE
St Kilda’s commercial rookies of recent years have come under scrutiny, but they delivered and more in this one.
Jack Higgins lit up Marvel Stadium with his career-best five goals in a best-on-the-ground performance.
And the striker has garnered plenty of praise from Fox Footy pundits.
“Bravo to Jack Higgins, he started them in that first term when Gold Coast had all that momentum,” said Saints great Leigh Montagna.
“He’s a confident player, he’s a bit of a spark plug. He was so strong throughout the game.
“High off the ground, deep, coming out the back, leading like a forward taking on contested narks, he did a bit of everything. I was the best player on the pitch.
Kelli Underwood underlined how important he was to Higgins after overcoming adversity throughout his career.
“You can’t help but be happy for him, everything he’s been through. He fought to get a game against the Tigers, then he had brain surgery, he had a concussion a few weeks ago,” she said.
“To respond and score five goals shows the character of the person.”
Meanwhile, Brad Hill has found his best role for St Kilda on the flank half-forward.
Although he doesn’t necessarily rack up massive numbers, including 19 assignments in this one, his impact up front has been a revelation.
It comes after Hill was moved from his usual halfback role to front halfflank last week against the Hawks with great success, scoring a career-high four goals to go with 23 eliminations.
As Montagna pointed out, St Kilda doesn’t need Hill to be a huge hoarder to make his mark on games.
“He gets up in stoppage time and then uses his running ability to follow the foot,” he said.
“When you look at his numbers in that first half, 10 eliminations and four inside 50s shot on goal.
“That’s what the Saints want to see from him, the fact that he uses the ball inside 50 is probably a better option than him coming out of defence.
“Not as many eliminations as he would get at halftime, but more quality.”
2. ‘GREAT BATTLE’ BETWEEN KEY STARS AS KING CHARGE IN COLEMAN RACE
Football fans were treated to an exciting match between two stars of the competition in Max King and Sam Collins.
King scored three goals and took advantage of crucial opportunities, although Collins also had his moments with 13 eliminations and eight points.
“The Gold Coast took a lot of interception marks in their defensive 50 but Max King in that second term started to take over. He had a quiet first term and then came to life,” Saints great Leigh Montagna told Fox Footy at halftime.
Hawks legend Dermott Brereton added: “It was a great battle and King probably gave his team what they needed, but damn it, he hasn’t lost a friend here, Sam Collins.”
It saw King tied for first in the Coleman Meal standings with Joe Daniher to continue his brilliant start to the season.
And as good as King’s individual form is in 2022, Montagna thinks the Saints have done a better job of giving him the ball.
“They know he just needs a bit of running and work, they put him on his way, he was able to take a look and take a chance,” he said .
“We talked about Max King who scored a lot of his goals in the fourth quarter maybe when the game is over and dusted, but in that second term he came to life.”
1. WASTE SUNS CONTRAST “HIGHLY EFFECTIVE” SAINTS
The Suns had plenty of chances to hit the scoreboard in this one, but just weren’t as effective as the Saints center forward.
Gold Coast actually won the 50 count inside 56-53 but had just 16 shots to score against St Kilda’s 22.
It didn’t help that Mabior Chol, who was Gold Coast’s sharpest striker that day, was substituted in the fourth quarter through injury.
Ben Ainsworth and Josh Corbett had two goals each, but sadly the Suns were only several scorers in the competition.
St Kilda great Leigh Montagna in the third quarter highlighted the contrast in efficiency between the two teams as his former club took the upper hand.
“The 50 inside are in favor of Gold Coast, they had it 14-8 in that third term, they had nine more for the game (at the time),” he said .
“But the problem is, the Suns can’t convert when they go under 50. Conversely, the Saints’ eight starters are very effective when they get it in their own half.”
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