St Kilda were at their best and most frustrating all in one quarter during Sunday’s AFL win over Melbourne.
Instead of killing the Demons off in the third term, they somehow managed to lose ground.
First they missed some easy shots on goal, then Melbourne rallied and turned a 29-point deficit midway through the quarter into a very gettable 11-point margin at three-quarter time.
It took some stern words from coach Alan Richardson at the last break and a big rally in the final quarter before the Saints shook off Melbourne by 36 points.
The win means the Saints remain in the finals hunt, at two games plus percentage behind slumping North Melbourne.
Overall, Richardson was pleased with how his team played on Sunday – but admits consistency remains elusive.
In their previous three matches the Saints had pulled off one of the upsets of the season against Geelong, then lost to Gold Coast and had come back late last week to beat Essendon.
“In the third quarter, I don’t think we’ve played better footy (and) I’m not sure we won the quarter,” Richardson said of Sunday’s game.
“We weren’t great last week, so we’re still learning to be consistent with our footy.
“We’re impatient, we want it to happen sooner rather than later.
“Hopefully (Sunday) was a turning of the form.”
The Saints will find out exactly where they stand next Saturday night when they play the third-placed Western Bulldogs.
For now, Richardson’s only public goal is that St Kilda keep improving.
“If, at the end of the day, then we qualify (for the finals), that would be brilliant – that’s certainly what we want to do,” he said.
For the Demons, it was their 14th-straight loss to the Saints.
They also have also won just one of their last 25 games at Etihad Stadium.
But Sunday was also the first time that their two round-one picks from the 2014 draft, Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw, had played in the same AFL side.
Melbourne and St Kilda are around the same point in development, with Demons coach Paul Roos noting that the Saints probably have the edge because they boast more experienced players.
He said a couple of weeks ago, Melbourne’s reserves team had more AFL experience than their young, developing senior team.
He also noted that the Demons lacked a player of Patrick Dangerfield’s quality to give them lift in attack when the game was on the line.
“We’ll play finals when we’re good enough to play finals – at the moment, we’re not good enough,” Roos said.
“The ladder is there for a reason.