St Kilda might have walked away winners against North Melbourne on Sunday, but one could have argued the real loser was the sport of Australian Rules Football, after the Saints and Kangaroos combined for one of the most inaccurate displays of goalkicking in recent memory. Sunday afternoon's 4:40 game was hardly going to be an adrenaline raiser, with the battling Kangaroos rank outsiders against the rising Saints, but fans weren't expecting such a wayward display from both teams.
St Kilda's eventual 8.16 (64) to 4.10 (34) victory over North was a slog for fans of both teams, with the Saints snapping a two-game losing skid - albeit in less than convincing fashion. The warning signs were there early at Marvel Stadium after the two teams managed only a combined one goal and 10 behinds to quarter time.
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It was, statistically, the most inaccurate first quarter in the stadium's history, in more than 1000 games played there since it was first used in 2000. The 23-year first was compounded over the subsequent three quarters, with neither team able to get their radars right for the rest of the match.
North Melbourne's final score was also tied for the 10th lowest total every recorded at Marvel Stadium, though they had easily cleared the worst ever mark at the venue - Adelaide's 2.9 (21) against Essendon back in 2021. However it did little to give fans and commentators much to be excited about - with one fan labelling it 'the worst AFL game of all time'.
It'll certainly be a game quickly forgotten in the coming days, with a bemused Nathan Buckley telling Fox Footy afterwards that sometimes, the sport can just be a slog. However he said the unconvincing display from the Saints meant they still had a bit to prove if they wished to remain in the top four.
“A 30-point win isn’t huge in modern day football but it’s nearly double the opposition’s score,” he said. “St Kilda did what they had to — it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t sharp and it had missed opportunities everywhere.
“There were elements that stacked up to what we’ve seen the first seven rounds. They’ll take that one and move on.”
If you’re not watching saints and roos playing one of the worst games of all time right now. 1.8 to 0.6.
Worth watching for car crash value #aflnorthsaints
— Al Paton (@al_superfooty) May 7, 2023
— Anthony Kernich (@AntJKernich) May 7, 2023
Sorry, but the Saints do not look like a top 4 side. #AFLSaintsRoos
— Patrick Ryen (@PatrickRyen) May 7, 2023
This is the worst AFL game of all-time
— Marc McGowan 🗣✍️👨🏻💻📰 (@ByMarcMcGowan) May 7, 2023
— Chris Blackberry (@MILKMANblackers) May 7, 2023
Saints hold on for ugly AFL victory over North Melbourne
Meanwhile, Saints coach Ross Lyon described the game as a "frustrating" contest on Sunday despite perfect conditions under the roof at Marvel Stadium. Captain Jack Steele (20 disposals, nine clearances) and ruckman Rowan Marshall (21, five) helped steer the Saints to a 30-point triumph, with Dan Butler and Jack Higgins kicking two goals apiece.
Marshall finished the match on the bench with ice on his left ankle after Jade Gresham had already been substituted out with knee pain, though Lyon said both would be fit to play against Adelaide in round nine. The result reaffirmed the Saints' (6-2) spot in the top four after losses in two of their previous three matches.
"It was a messy game. Both teams will want to get rid of it pretty quick," Lyon said. "I can't speak for the other team but it was frustrating.
"When we had full opportunities we turned them into half. We tried to take the game on and play quick but we just ran into errors."
The Kangaroos, now on a six-match losing streak, set records for the wrong reasons as they kicked 0.7 from 22 forward entries in the first half. It was the first time they had been goalless at the main break since round 12, 1979.
Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson joked King Charles' coronation would have been a more exciting watch but was pleased his side was more competitive than in recent weeks. "Everyone would've seen some opportunities that we had, particularly in the first half, when there were three chances that were nearly walk-in sodas and somehow we found a way to miss them," Clarkson said.
"The Saints missed some shots too, so in terms of the quality of the game as a spectacle, it wasn't there on both sides. But in terms of the contest ... we were in that game of footy."
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