Sluggish Saints keep AFL eye on positiv

Was St Kilda’s win over Essendon a case of a good AFL side finding a way to win when below their best?

Or did it reveal the Saints’ true form; a developing side yet to find a rhythm?

Whatever the answer, Saints coach Alan Richardson and five-goal star forward Tim Membrey don’t want to reproduce Sunday’s sort of performance again this season.

“We didn’t play well,” was Richardson’s summation of their 11-point win over Essendon.

St Kilda came within 10 minutes of being the Bombers’ first scalp in 13 games on Sunday night, before finding a late four-goal burst to get home.

Richardson said his side “relied a bit much on too few”, naming Jack Steven, Jarryn Geary, Tom Hickey, Seb Ross and Membrey as the few.

The third-season coach lambasted his team’s performance publicly and Membrey said he was similarly upset in the rooms.

“To play the way we did last night – inconsistent – I guess that’s why he’s a bit frustrated,” he said.

“He expects so much from us. He knows what our best is.

“We didn’t play our best footy.

“It was one of those games, it was a bit of a slog.

“It’s just good to sometimes be able to grind them out.”

Whether glass half-full or half-empty, the Saints still have a chance to put their win-loss ratio into the positive for the first time in four years, and shape the eight in their final seven rounds.

Their run-in includes no interstate trips, with Etihad Stadium matches against Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Sydney their toughest tasks.

Given they’re on a five-match winning streak at the Docklands venue, those matches should hold no fear for the emerging Saints.

“I think we’ve just got to keep plugging away,” Membrey said.

“We haven’t looked too far (ahead) just yet. Richo makes it pretty clear each week that he just wants us to play the way we want to play.

“We’ve got to get together as a group in the back half of this year and really start playing some strong footy.”

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