Ryder steers ‘classy’ St Kilda to win; Cats’ double-edged sword, injured Saint fears: 3-2-1

Mooney delivers blunt message to Moore | 02:23
Catherine Healey from Fox Sports

St Kilda recorded an impressive 10-point win over Geelong on Saturday, with Paddy Ryder back to his best with three goals.

The Saints exploded in the third term, kicking seven goals to two to set-up the 13.12 (90) to 11.14 (80) victory.

The defeat ensures Geelong’s win-loss pattern in place since Round 4 continues, after last week’s victory over GWS.

Despite looking “a bit off” in the opening term, St Kilda continued to find a way to score as forward duo Max King and Tim Membrey finished with four goals between them.

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St Kilda were off to the perfect start against the Cats, when big man Paddy Ryder won a free kick for ruck block and made no mistake with his shot on goal.

But Geelong’s Tom Hawkins had the instant reply after the Cats won the centre clearance and the ball spilled to Hawkins at the back.

“Just brute strength,” commentator Jordan Lewis said.

“That’s just too easy.”

Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown said the early goal to Hawkins would be a concern for the St Kilda coaching staff.

“Four goals they conceded from centre bounce against Melbourne. They’ve already conceded one today,” he said.

With St Kilda looking “a little bit off” in the first term, Isaac Smith took full advantage as the Cats went through the corridor and he was able to goal on the run.

“If the opposition gives them something, they will take it,” Brown said.

“Geelong last week we looked at 143 marks they took, and we thought they might be going back to that old style, but I don’t think they are.

“They are happy to move it forward.”

Max King was able to get St Kilda their second in the free-flowing clash, but Gryan Miers added Geelong’s fourth and suddenly there were more concerns for the Saints.

“What would be concerning Brett Ratten is the ease Geelong are moving it from end to end. Fifty per cent of the time they are moving it into their forward line (coming straight from St Kilda’s attack end),” Brown said.

Geelong ruckman Rhys Stanley was an early injury concern as he went down to the rooms in the first term.

He emerged a short time later and was seen doing run throughs on the sidelines, but failed to return to the contest until after the quarter time break.

That left Mark Blicavs to once again ruck solo – as he did in the Round 8 win over GWS.

“(Geelong’s midfielders) are getting right in that hit zone. Yes, they are losing the majority of those taps but their clearance work has been first class,” Lewis praised in Stanley’s absence.

The Saints were able to stem the Cats’ run in the second term, and managed to even up the clearance count.

Rowan Marshall made up for a marking blooper on the wing to kick his side’s first for the term, and Jade Gresham had the chance to close the gap further when he won a holding the ball free kick.

But like the first term, the Saints couldn’t make Geelong pay for their mistakes.

A turnover in the middle of the ground ended with Cam Guthrie alone outside 50.

And he made no mistake on the run as teammate Hawkins ensured he did the bodywork on the line to allow the ball to sail through.

“The Cats able to utilize that open corridor. (St Kilda) turned it over at the wing … and then they just attack,” Brown said.

“(Hawkins) just nudged (his opponent) out of the way, knew it was going to carry.”

Lewis said the Guthrie play was the difference between the two sides in the first half.

“When St Kilda have turned the ball over, they’ve gone straight into the traffic. Geelong went to the open side. Give yourself some scoring opportunities,” he said.

St Kilda lost Jack Higgins late in the second quarter about a solid bump from Cat Jake Kolodjashnij, with Higgins subbed out of the match with concussion.

Teammate Jack Steele came from the ground a short time later clutching his shoulder after a heavy tackle over the sideline.

By half-time, the Saints trailed by 16 points.

But it was a different St Kilda who emerged in the third term, as the Cats’ centre dominance suddenly came to an end.

Instead of the Cats having first use, it was Jade Gresham who got hands on it.

After Hawkins pushed Geelong out to a game-high 21-point lead early in the third, St Kilda kicked five goals to take the lead.

Zak Jones was the first with his goal “against the run of play”, before Cooper Sharman added another.

When Ben Long kicked his first for the day, Geelong couldn’t stop the Saints’ run from the middle.

“Their high half forwards are getting up at the contest and then taking off,” Brown praised.

“They really took off hard. All of sudden, you don’t see the spare Geelong defenders”

Jack Billings gave St Kilda the lead before Mason Wood extended their lead, on the back of a 20 to nine inside 50 count.

Sharman could have pushed the lead out further late in the third but pushed his shot wide. Tim Membrey made no mistake after the three-quarter time siren to ensure the Saints held a 16-point lead at the final change.

After a three-quarter time spray from coach Chris Scott, the Cats came out firing. Tom Hawkins hit the post before Dan McKenzie coughed it up to Hawkins, who made no mistake on his second attempt.

When Hawkins had his second for the term moments later, the Cats had closed to within three.

But a moment of confusion in the Geelong defence, which ended with Paddy Ryder alone and players pointing and looking at each other, ended the Cats’ run.

Ryder added his third to regain their 15-point lead as Jonathan Brown praised the Saints’ changed approach to forward entry.

“They’ve haven’t just gone in a straight line and allowed the Geelong defenders to set up,” Brown said.

Despite a late score to Jeremy Cameron, St Kilda held on for their sixth win of the season.

THE 3-2-1 … (With David Zita)


Trailing at half-time and looking on the edge of falling too far behind, the Saints changed things up in a third quarter that stamped them as a genuine threat to the top four.

Seven goals and four behinds marked the Saints’ highest-scoring quarter since round 16, 2017 against Richmond. That match resulted in a stunning Saints win but proved a false dawn of sorts for the side.

Regardless of the end result, the Saints have to be happy that, at the very least, they’re capable of taking it to fellow contenders on their day.

By three-quarter time, the Saints held a 16-point lead after trailing by that margin at half-time.

Additionally, the side led disposals by 51, contested possession by 14, clearances by seven and inside 50s by 11. They were thumped by Melbourne on the scoreboard last week but still showed signs of being able to match it with the Dees for stages.

It still might be a bit sporadic from the Saints, but the signs are well and truly there.


Last week was a fascinating case study for the Cats, who opted for a more possession-heavy and conservative method of football. Coach Chris Scott said he was proud of the side‘s ability to win under adversity with some late changes upending the side before it eventually won convincingly.

Geelong has been open heading into this year that a more risk-heavy and attacking style of game would be played as the side looked to break through for that elusive flag in life with stars Patrick Dangerfield and Jeremy Cameron.

After such a convincing win playing that old method, it would be tempting to revert to it moving forward.

Instead, they played with flair once more and a willingness to take on the corridor in a move that, until half-time at least, looked to be paying off.

“Geelong very early on in the game were moving the ball far too easily from their defensive 50 to their forward 50. They utilised the corridor,” Jonathan Brown said at quarter-time.

The issue with such an attacking style of play however is that it exposes the defence when not firing on all cylinders. It happened in the third term against St Kilda and it’s not the first time this season they’ve conceded an alarming run of scores.

The Cats will be at least a game out of the eight by the end of the round and potentially two depending on results. Now will be the ultimate test for Chris Scott and the coaching group to stay the course with this new method or revert back to the old and risk suffering the same finals fate they have for the better part of a decade.


That’s two concussions in five weeks for Jack Higgins, which is virtually the only thing stopping him from becoming the best small forward in the game.

He was subbed out of the game in the second quarter after a bump from Jake Kolodjashnij.

After a goalless opening round, Higgins had kicked 16 goals from six games, becoming a dominant scoring source that partnered Max King perfectly.

Having undergone two rounds of brain surgery in 2019 after complaining of headaches and blurred vision during games, there would have to be some concern over his health and how to proceed with his recovery.

Despite the end result, there was still some scepticism over whether Kolodjashnij should be suspended.

“It didn’t look like there was a lot in it,” Jonathan Brown said. “On face value, he would be unlucky to get a week’s suspension for that.”

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