St Kilda defeat Richmond after wild second half comeback, Gather Round, AFL news

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St Kilda has defeated Richmond at Norwood Oval in the penultimate game of the 2024 Gather Round, winning 9.13 (67) to 9.6 (60).

The Tigers were aiming for back-to-back wins and started the game strongly, though Adem Yze’s undermanned side was ultimately overrun by a determined St Kilda outfit.

The Saints, who square their 2024 ledger at 2-2, toppled the Tigers in the third quarter after being bolstered by the return of spearhead key forward Max King.

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Richmond blooded South Australian product Kane McAuliffe at Norwood Oval as one of four inclusions to the side that beat Sydney on Easter Sunday, also welcoming back superstar Dustin Martin, midfielder Jack Graham and key forward Jacob Koschitzke.

Returning from suspension for St Kilda was King, who came into Ross Lyon’s brigade in place of the suspended Marcus Windhager.

THE 3-2-1 …

3. ‘A GOOD SPRAY’: THE HALF-TIME EARFUL THAT LED TO FIGHTBACK

It wasn’t pretty, but the Saints eventually showed enough class while in possession to topple the plucky Tigers.

The Saints were consigned to a 1.5 (11) score at half-time, as Richmond had quelled St Kilda’s ability to move the ball with speed on a narrow Norwood Oval.

“St Kilda has had its chances,” Fremantle legend Matthew Pavlich told Fox Footy at half-time.

“Max King kicks one out on the full – they’ve got enough supply in there, they just haven’t been able to capitalise.”

Added Brad Johnson: “It was very slow going … It’s not damaging, it’s chip around and it’s chip sideways.”

However, the Saints turned it on the minute the second half got underway, kicking six goals to Richmond’s two in the third term to lead at the final change.

St Kilda outmuscled its opponent in possession (121-74), the contest (45-31) and in inside-50s (22-9) in the third quarter – after an apparently scathing Ross Lyon spray.

“It was tough, we played very (badly) in that first quarter, and we wanted to come out (after) last week (against Essendon) and play our system and we didn’t do that,” star defender Callum Wilkie said post-game.

“Ross gave (us) a good spray at quarter-time and half-time to put the boys into gear. That second quarter we got the game on our terms, we just didn’t execute going forward.

“We knew (if we) just kept playing our way, played front half footy it’ll eventually turn and we got it on the scoreboard in the end.”

The 2-2 Saints’ next challenge is an almighty one – the Giants in Western Sydney – so they can’t afford to start as slowly as they did on Sunday.

2. ‘SENSATIONAL’ SHAI, DUSTY SPUR GALLANT TIGERS EFFORT

After restricting St Kilda to one goal in the first half, Richmond will be disappointed to have been overrun.

The Tigers were undoubtedly undermanned but were able to put themselves in a commanding position to win the game after stemming the Saints’ transition movement.

“The Tiges are playing some unusual football – (it’s) small-ball for Richmond, no (Tom) Lynch, no (Noah) Balta,” three-time Richmond premiership player Jack Riewoldt told Fox Footy at half-time.

“We know they’re the key pillars down there, but they’ve been able to do it. It’s a low-scoring game, which I think Adem Yze will be very happy with.”

Analysing Richmond’s first-half performance, Fox Footy’s Brad Johnson lauded the Tigers’ intercepting ability, which was conducive to scoring opportunities in transition.

“The Tigers were able to create some good run off their half-backline,” Johnson said.

“(Toby) Nankervis was massive in that quarter I thought, defensively, for the Tigers, (with) intercept marks.

“That allowed (Daniel) Rioli and the defensive runners, (Nick) Vlastuin included, for Richmond to really get their game going.”

Shai Bolton (19 disposals, nine marks, four goals) was at his mercurial best for the Tigers and almost willed his side to its second win of the season.

“He is the talisman for Richmond,” Riewoldt said of Bolton.

“He’s so dynamic up forward,” Johnson added.

“The good part about his game today is he’s been able to do it and get some open space and kick some nice goals, but he’s competing in the air against the tall defenders for the Saints.

“He’s actually the one bringing the ball to ground – in the right place at the right time, and then they’re able to lock it in or create some good space around that movement.

“He’s been a super player for the Tigers.”

As for the returning Dustin Martin, the 2017 Brownlow Medallist played tremendously – particularly in the first half when the Tigers were firing.

“We saw Martin around the ball a little bit more, in the midfield, probably out of necessity, really,” Riewoldt said, describing the flag star’s role.

“He’s had 18 touches and only two score involvements, which, if you look at the way Dustin’s career has shaped, that’s probably not how it usually happens, but they’re getting it done at the moment.”

Johnson was impressed by Martin’s showing after battling a soft-tissue ailment that kept him out of last Sunday’s win over Sydney.

“No issues with the calf at all for Dustin Martin,” Johnson said.

“20 disposals in the first half, 14 of those are kicks, and the way that he’s been able to work right up the ground – he’s working between the arcs really well and his link-up play has been sensational.

“He’s calm in the contest, which we know, and he uses the ball exceptionally well. (He) hasn’t (done) so much of his work inside forward-50 today, it’s in between the arcs and that’s really created some good transition play from the back half of the ground.”

1. IS CRUCIAL INTERCEPTOR THE LATEST TIGER IN MRO STRIFE?

After premiership teammate Liam Baker was slapped with a one-game ban by the MRO for a hit on Sydney’s Lewis Melican, Nick Vlastuin could be the next Tiger under scrutiny from Michael Christian.

The heralded intercept defender was penalised for a dangerous tackle on former teammate Dan Butler in the third quarter on Sunday.

Vlastuin appeared to sling St Kilda’s Butler after he disposed of the ball, bringing him to the turf and causing the forward’s head to make contact with the ground.

Butler was able to play out the remainder of the contest, but the ‘potential to cause injury’ MRO clause could place the veteran flag-winner in strife.

Christian will assess all Sunday incidents and release any subsequent verdicts on Monday.

Originally published as Coach’s visceral spray leads Saints to second half comeback over Richmond