Saints dent Freo’s finals hopes

Saints dent Freo’s finals hopes

ST KILDA has dumped Fremantle out of the AFL finals race, Josh Bruce kicking the winner with less than a minute left to hand his side a thrilling three-point victory at Marvel Stadium.

Play restarted with 39 seconds left on the clock, but Josh Battle ended the Dockers’ frantic final forward thrust with an intercept mark deep inside his defensive 50 to seal Sunday’s 10.12 (72) to 10.9 (69) win.

Fremantle looked to have done enough when Brandon Matera kicked the first goal of a tense last quarter. But Ross Lyon’s men return to Perth out of the finals hunt in 12th with a 9-11 record.

Jack Steven and Dan Hannebery, playing together for St Kilda for the first time, added a level of class that would have had sacked coach Alan Richardson pondering what might have been if he had the pair at his disposal.

Steven inspired the Saints with three clutch goals, while Hannebery had 23 possessions and two goals, with Seb Ross (28 disposals) and Jack Billings (27) also important.

Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe put on another masterclass, almost dragging his team across the line with 35 possessions, seven clearances and two goals, with Ed Langdon (28 disposals) and Bradley Hill (27) also influential.

Hannebery booted his first two goals as a Saint in quick succession to fire his new club to a game-high 18-point lead in the first quarter, before Michael Walters and Fyfe combined to make it a 12-point game at the first break.

Lyon was animated in the quarter-time huddle and the Dockers responded, Fyfe giving his side the lead for the first time 19 minutes into the second term with his second goal.

St Kilda led the see-sawing affair by a point at halftime, but Fremantle enjoyed a purple patch without making the home side pay.

The inaccurate Dockers held a seven-point lead entering the final term but would have gone behind had the Saints not wasted opportunities with the first four behinds of the quarter.

Matera booted the first goal of the term in the 19th minute, but the Saints kept coming with Steven’s brilliant third goal setting up the grandstand finish.

St Kilda pulled off their ninth win of the season – the third in four games under caretaker Brett Ratten – with one player down on the bench for most of the contest after Nick Coffield dislocated a shoulder in the first quarter.

Rowan Marshall’s left leg buckled under him in gruesome fashion in the opening term, but the young star ruckman escaped serious injury and returned to the field.

© AAP 2019

ST KILDA 4.3 6.5 8.7 10.12 (72)

FREMANTLE 2.3 6.4 9.8 10.9 (69)

Goals: St Kilda: J Steven 3 D Hannebery 2 T Membrey 2 J Battle J Bruce L Dunstan. Fremantle: B Matera 2 N Fyfe 2 E Langdon L Schultz M Crowden M Walters S Darcy S Switkowski.

Umpires: Jeff Dalgleish, Eleni Glouftsis, Hayden Gavine.

Official Crowd: 17,715 at Marvel Stadium.