St Kilda fans were left shaking their heads after the Saints blew a six-goal quarter time lead to Fremantle on the weekend, but behind the goals vision explaining exactly how it happened will only serve as salt in the wound.
Breaking down the play that resulted in the match-winning goal from small forward Lachie Schultz on the AFL-produced The Round So Far segment on Saturday, former Port Adelaide champion Kane Cornes said two Dockers players had taken a massive gamble that ultimately paid off.
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Schultz and Dockers teammate Blake Acres stayed forward of the ball when St Kilda won the penultimate centre bounce of the game, but the ball was intercepted on their half-forward line.
All of a sudden, Acres and Schultz found themselves wide open forward of the ball, combining with Michael Walters and Bailey Banfield to set up Schultz’s match-winning mark and goal.
Cornes said the pair had taken a risk which would have backfired on them badly had the Saints managed to keep the ball in the forward line.
“Some will say that’s cheating, I would say that’s incredibly smart,” Cornes said.
“They know there’s two minutes to go in this game, they know with the situation out on the field they can’t influence the direct contest inside St Kilda’s forward 50.
“So they think ‘I’m just going to sag back here and hope’ – and yeah it’s a hope and it’s a gamble that (the Dockers) are going to win the footy, but it’s a smart move to take and one that pays off.”
Saints filthy after Fremantle loss
On the flipside, St Kilda’s defenders had pushed too far forward in their bid to secure a match-winner of their own - something Cornes was critical of.
“You have to ask where St Kilda’s defenders were because, with a couple of minutes left, you can’t just throw all your defensive action out the window,” Cornes said.
“It was poor defending from St Kilda, who also took a gamble to run forward off their direct opponents.”
The loss dropped the Saints out of the top four, leaving them with a 3-3 record after six games.
Fremantle are 2-4, 14th on the ladder.
Compounding matters for the Saints, young gun Ben Long has been sent directly to the Tribunal for his high hit on Dockers ruckman Sean Darcy.
Darcy was bending over a loose ball when he copped a fierce hip-and-shoulder from Long.
The Fremantle big man was concussed by the hit and is no certainty to play in next Sunday's western derby against West Coast.
The incident was assessed as careless conduct, severe impact and high contact, and will now be judged by the AFL Tribunal.
North Melbourne great David King has urged the AFL to make a stand by banning Long for four matches.