ST Kilda has prevailed in another AFL cliffhanger against Gold Coast, beating the Suns by four points in a comeback which relieved coach Alan Richardson admits had been hard to watch.
The Saints overcame their own sloppiness and a ferocious start from the Suns to claw back from 31 points down in Saturday afternoon’s third quarter to win 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76).
It was deja vu for the sides after St Kilda came from 31 points down last year to win by two points, while they also beat the Suns by one point in this season’s opening round.
It keeps St Kilda within, at most, one win of the eight and consigns the Suns (3-10) to a ninth-straight loss, many of which have come in similarly frustrating fashion for Stuart Dew’s rebuilding list.
The Saints move to 6-6 this season, easing pressure after a heavy last-start loss to Port Adelaide in Shanghai and only one win from their six prior games.
St Kilda kicked and caught poorly in the first half and looked gone early in the third term.
But they finally cleaned up their act to trail by just seven points at the final turn and go ahead for the first time with 11 minutes to play.
Saints standout Jack Billings (33 disposals, nine tackles) kicked two final- quarter goals in an attempt to kill off the Suns, who were out on their feet but still throwing punches.
Alex Sexton snapped truly and Anthony Miles (27 touches, six tackles) goaled to make it a three-point game inside the final two minutes in front of 7243 fans in Townsville’s first AFL game.
Tim Membrey (three goals) missed the chance to ice it with a wonky set shot, but they scrambled to clear the ball from the top of their defensive 50m zone in the ensuing play.
“I’ve never seen us make so many mistakes (in the first half). It was hard to watch,” Richardson said.
“We were able to adjust, get our run going and we’ll go into next week’s game looking at how we were able to convert those second-half opportunities.”
The Suns had earlier out-tackled and out-hustled St Kilda, camping in the opposing forward 50m zone to limit the Saints to just two first-quarter points, as Lachie Weller (27 touches) and Jarrod Harbrow drove from the back.
A Luke Dunstan rocket and debutant Nick Hind’s maiden goal kick-started St Kilda’s afternoon midway through the second quarter.
“Disappointing … you lead for the majority of the day but, in the end, they were all over us,” Dew said.
“We were okay on the inside in the stoppages but the ‘what next’ was when they got on top.”
© AAP 2019
ST KILDA 0.2 2.5 7.8 11.14 (80)
GOLD COAST 3.5 5.6 8.9 11.10 (76)
Goals: St Kilda: T Membrey 3 D Kent 2 J Billings 2 J Battle J Gresham L Dunstan N Hind. Gold Coast: B King 2 N Holman 2 P Wright 2 A Miles A Sexton J Martin S Day W Powell.
Best: St Kilda: J Billings L Dunstan T Membrey J Gresham D Kent R Marshall. Gold Coast: L Weller J Martin D Swallow W Brodie C Ballard C Ah Chee.
Umpires: David Harris, Nicholas Foot, Alex Whetton, Justin Power.
Official Crowd: 7,243 at Tony Ireland Stadium.