2011 Elimination Final Match Review – St Kilda vs Sydney

St Kilda          1.3   3.4 7.7 8.9 (57)

Sydney        2.4  7.6  8.9 12.10 (82)

St Kilda finished the 2011 home and away season in sixth position, one place ahead of their Elimination Final opponent the Sydney Swans however the two clubs had contrasting paths to reach the finals.

Sydney started the season well and after 12 rounds they were strongly placed in fifth position. The Swans then had a form slump, losing six of their next eight games to slip back to eighth position and be in jeopardy of missing the finals. Sydney rebounded superbly to win their final three games of the home and away season commencing with a 15 point victory in their Round 22 match against St Kilda at ANZ Stadium.

St Kilda on the other hand had a horror start to the season to be languishing in 15th position with one win, a draw and five losses after Round 8. From Round 9 to Round 20 the Saints were a much improved outfit, recording nine wins and two losses during this period to rise to sixth on the ladder. Losses to Collingwood and Sydney in successive weeks meant that the Saints battle for a position in the top eight and a home final for the sixth placed team continued into the final fortnight of the home and away season.

Both sides secured their finals berths with wins in Round 23, Sydney becoming the first team to defeat Geelong at Skilled Stadium since Port Adelaide in Round 21 2007, whilst the Saints recovered from a 20 point deficit in the second quarter to overpower North Melbourne and record a comfortable 65 point victory.

Entering the final round it was guaranteed that St Kilda and Sydney would play each other in an Elimination Final, the only thing to be determined was which of the two clubs would finish sixth and get themselves a home final.  Sydney’s 52 point victory over Brisbane meant that St Kilda had to defeat Carlton at the MCG in their Round 24 match to finish sixth. The Saints trailed by 18 points early in the third quarter but finished full of running to kick nine of the last 12 goals of the match and win by 20 points,  this resulted in St Killda getting the home gorund advantage and playing their first ever final at Etihad Stadium.

The opening stages of the Saturday night Elimination Final between St Kilda and Sydney saw more skill errors than you would expect from two finalists and it took 16 and a half minutes for the first goal to be registered, with St Kilda small forward Stephen Milne kicking accurately from a set-shot 40 metres out on a slight angle to kick the first goal of a match for the 11th time in 2011, a phenomenal achievement. Mumford and Goodes both goaled for Sydney in time on to give the visitors a nine point lead at quarter time.

Sydney took control of the match in the second quarter with Ryan O’Keefe being the catalyst, having 10 disposals and being involved in four of the Swans five goals for the term, providing a goal assist to Adam Goodes and kicking three goals, all with set shots from at least 40 metres out. St Kilda could manage only two goals for the quarter, from Brendon Goddard and Adam Schneider and found themselves trailing by 26 points at half-time and facing a massive task to progress to the second week of the finals.

St Kilda responded brilliantly in the third quarter, dominating general play with 116 possessions to 63 for the term, this advantage also translated to the scoreboard as they kicked  four goals themselves whilst keeping Sydney goalless to reduce the margin to eight points with a quarter to play.

Sydney were able to steady at the seven minute mark of the final quarter through a set shot goal by Ben McGlynn to extend the lead to 15 points. The next goal was not scored until the 18 minute mark through Ryan O’Keefe with his fourth goal for the match. Sydney added two more in the next five minutes to seal the victory, ending St Kilda’s 2011 season.

In the Round 22 match against Sydney Ben McEvoy suffering from illness was badly beaten by Shane Mumford in the ruck. McEvoy was voted best Saint afield in the Elimination Final by True Sainters members with five kicks, nine handballs and superb ball use to have a disposal efficiency of 93%. McEvoy had 20 hit-outs and took five contested marks, two more than the next ranked Saint Justin Koschitzke.

As he has done consistently throughout 2011 Nick Dal Santo led St Kilda in disposals (33), contested possessions (16) and clearances (7) against Sydney. It was the 12th ocassion in 2011 that Dal Santo had at least 28 possessions, late in the match Dal Santo kicked a classy goal from 45 metres out, on an angle from the non-preferred side for a left footer.

Against his old club Sean Dempster continued his outstanding form to have 13 kicks and nine handballs and performed the roles that were asked of him well, starting the match in the forward line and later being moved to defence. In the Round 22 match against Sydney Dempster received the maximum three votes from True Sainters members for a superb performance on Ryan O’Keefe , however surprisingly Dempster spent little time opposed to O’Keefe in the Elimination Final.

Jason Gram provided run for the Saints, accumulating 17 kicks and nine handballs including 10 possessions in the third quarter to be a valuable contributor to the St Kilda revival during this term. Gram covered a lot of territory to take seven marks, have four rebound 50s and five inside 50s.

Clinton Jones was ranked second at St Kilda for disposals and contested possessions with 31 and 14 respectively. Jones applied good defensive pressure to lay an equal team-high six tackles, he also took seven marks and had five clearances.

On the Thursday night following the 25 point  Elimination Final loss to Sydney Ross Lyon shocked the St Kilda Football Club when he resigned as head-coach. On Friday Lyon was announced as coach of the Fremantle Dockers for four years, replacing Mark Harvey who had been controversially sacked the previous day.

True Sainters votes

5  Ben McEvoy

4  Nick Dal Santo

3 Sean Dempster

2 Jason Gram

1 Clinton Jones

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