Saints struggle as Dees scale new heights

May 14, 2022 by
Filed under: AFLM, NSW Demons, Sponsoring James 

Round 8 – Melbourne V St Kilda

Liam Chambers

It took twenty eight seconds for Kysaiah Pickett to open the scoring for Melbourne after he scooped up the loose ball and booted it off his right foot, 20m from home.

It took another fourteen minutes and another small forward in the right place for the Dees’ second. Charlie Spargo marked the ball on the edge of the square from a brilliant James Harmes kick, which was launched from deep in the pocket. Spargo played on quickly to secure the major.

By now the Saints were locked into their defensive half with Melbourne chasing the next goal. It came almost by accident with a Trent Rivers’ kick from just outside 50. The ball landed about a metre from the line before bouncing across unaided.

St Kilda continued to pressure the Dees but was unable to get near the goal. It was all Melbourne with Pickett having another couple of shots before his running kick from 40m found the target.

Then with fifteen seconds remaining, Tim Membrey marked just outside the goal square. Frustratingly for St Kilda, his kick was deemed touched by Harrison Petty and the Saints finished the term goalless.

While the Dees were impressive in the first quarter, they moved up a gear in the second. The footy was flowing one way and it was all Melbourne. Ben Brown found himself with plenty of space in front of goal when he marked a Tom McDonald kick. Brown had the luxury of a few extra steps before tapping into the open goal.

Rowan Marshall provided some hope to the Saints’ fans with his mark and conversion 15m to the left of goal. That would be their last reason for optimism for some time, as the hosts moved into the Demon zone. Tom McDonald got the ball rolling with his beautifully timed mark. His shot from 35m brought up the first goal of his 200th game.

Angus Brayshaw got the next when his running kick from 45m crossed the line. One of the Dees’ best and most versatile players, Brayshaw can do it all.

Young Jake Bowey just keeps improving. His run on to mark the clearance ball was perfectly timed. Then his considered kick to the pack in the pocket allowed Ben Brown to collect the Bayley Fritsch touched ball. Brown was able to run into enough space enabling him to snap an around the corner kick on goal.

It sounds counter intuitive, considering their fourteen wins in a row, but Melbourne were playing their best football of the year. They were everywhere and everything was going right. Tom McDonald kicked his second with a shot reminiscent of Ben Brown’s previous effort. The margin was now out to forty five points.

Tim Membrey was able to arrest the flow with his gathering of the ground ball. His turn and snap allowed the Saints some breathing space. From then on they managed to spend more time in their forward half, as Melbourne’s intensity dropped. They finally got rewarded when Paddy Ryder secured a free kick in front of goal.

With the Dees having played their third quarter in the second term, the expectation was St Kilda would push hard and claw back some momentum.

From the start of the second half, the Saints were more in control. However their pace was slow and their constant passing across the field allowed Melbourne plenty of time to get players behind the ball. Eventually though the pressure told and Max King was able to mark right on the top of the square. With that goal, the Saints’ confidence was up and they were re-energised.

Bayley Fritsch was having a quite afternoon but almost had a chance when his mark in front of goal was originally paid but then overturned after the Umpire cited the ball had been previously touched.

Max King had his second chance when awarded a free kick 30m from goal. Melbourne’s previously high lead had been cut in half and the game was back on. When Tim Membrey had a opportunity to make it a three goal match, he pushed his shot to the right and behind.

The quarter was all one way traffic until Ben Brown marked a touched ball 30m in front. Hemmed in, he had no choice but to turn and snap it off his left boot, toppling over in the process. Fortunately the kick went sailing through and Ben celebrated from his ground level position. The goal took the wind out of the St Kilda’s sails. With the impetus drifting back to the Dees, the Saints were left to rue not being able to take full advantage of their third quarter dominance.

As stated previously, Bayley Fritsch was having a quiet game but he only needs a sniff of a chance and he’s away. His ground ball gather and subsequent rove through the pack saw him find the perfect spot to launch for goal.

It was looking less and less likely that St Kilda were going to kick anywhere near enough goals to catch Melbourne. However, young gun Marcus Windhager did reduce the margin when he kicked his debut for the Saints. Rowan Marshall reduced it further when his set shot from 40m just slipped through.

It was still a four goal game but a hint of optimism had crept back in the visitor’s camp. They kept the pressure up but the Dees absorbed it and then launched a counter offensive. It took awhile but finally Kysaiah Pickett got a chance to add to his tally when he was taken in a high tackle. The set shot from 30m went through and he notched up his hat trick.

St Kilda still didn’t give up and Jack Higgins steered through a set shot that kept the flame flickering.

It was finally snuffed out when James Harmes took an intercepted mark and went back to convert from 40m. Harmes has scored back to back goals a few times this season and when he was awarded a free kick on a tight angle, he did it again.

A great result and a great performance from a great team. Next week the lads travel to Perth. The smart money will be on the Dees for their sixteenth win on the trot. However the Eagles still have the capacity to surprise and the storm interrupted game in 2021 turned from a walkover before the enforced break, to a slim Dees’ win in the end. We should be good though, providing lightning doesn’t strike twice…

Go the Mighty Dees!!!


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