Three-quarter time frustration eventually became exhilaration as St Kilda extended their amazing AFL winning streak over Melbourne to 14 matches.
In a game of fierce momentum swings, the Saints kicked clear during the last term to win 15.20 (110) to 11.8 (74).
It was St Kilda’s sixth win from their last eight games and leaves them in 10th spot, two games plus percentage behind slumping North Melbourne.
Coach Alan Richardson was particularly pleased that when Melbourne came charging either side of three-quarter time, his players held firm.
The Demons only trailed by five points early in the last quarter, after St Kilda should have iced the game in the third term.
“I was incredibly frustrated at three-quarter time and I thought it was a really good conversation with the players,” Richardson said.
“To dominate the quarter the way we had and then not to win the quarter, and for Melbourne to finish off so strongly, that had the potential to knock them about a bit.”
A year ago, St Kilda might have folded in the last quarter and Richardson was proud of their resilience.
“That’s shows that we’ve grown,” Richardson said.
“We certainly think our better footy is at another level, we just have to bridge the gap and today was pleasing.”
St Kilda have not lost to the Demons in a decade, an extraordinary streak particularly given that the two teams are at a similar stage of development.
The Saints are now eight wins and eight losses, Melbourne are 7-9.
“I don’t really care (why) – I just want to focus on the way we play whenever we play them and today I’m pleased,” Richardson said.
Melbourne also have won just one of their last 25 games at Etihad Stadium.
Two incidents involving Demons key forward Jesse Hogan when the game was in the balance went against them.
First, the goal umpire ruled Hogan’s booming shot on goal late in the third term was ruled touched on the line and a video review upheld the decision.
Then, with the Demons trailing by just five points early in the last quarter, Hogan probably should have received a free kick near goal.
Instead, he was reported for striking Jarryn Geary with an elbow to the face.
Moments later, St Kilda had the ball up the other end and kicked a crucial goal.
But Demons coach Paul Roos said those two incidents were not why his team lost.
“All you can do is look back on the game and say they were better than us for four quarters,” he said.
“Would it have made a difference? Yeah, they make differences, because it’s two goals, but their overall performance was better than ours.”
Leigh Montagna, Tim Membrey (four goals) and ruckman Tom Hickey starred for the Saints, while midfielder Jack Viney and defender Tom McDonald were Melbourne’s best.