West Coast’s top three hopes copped a setback when they were thrashed by the Saints at Waverley Park.
The Eagles managed just three goals for the day as they were outplayed in the wet, soggy conditions.
After a dour first quarter when both teams managed just one goal, the Saints broke the game open with five goals in the opening 13 minutes of the second term. The Saints finished with six for the term to take a commanding 27 point lead into the major break.
The Eagles task got harder over the half time break when a hailstorm hit the ground making the surface treacherous and reducing the game to a muddy slog.
West Coast could only boot one further goal in the second half as St.Kilda ran out 66 point winners.
With few winners on the ground, coach Mick Malthouse had no doubts as to where the issue lay with his side. “We have to get more fire in the bellies for us to succeed in this competition. We have to become tougher all over.”
The Eagles had been questioned over their intensity in the previous fortnight, with unimpressive wins over the Demons and Swans, both of whom sit in the bottom four on the ladder. West Coast once again came out with a lax attitude, but were made to pay against a side who were fighting to hold onto their finals position, after consecutive losses in the previous fortnight.
The Saints made no secrets that they were treating the match as a ‘mini-final’ after losses to Essendon and Footscray had dropped them from third to fifth. St.Kilda also had a tough run home in the final six weeks of the season with games against Hawthorn, Fitzroy and Carlton – all of whom are fighting the Saints for spots in the bottom half of the top six – as well as an away trip to Adelaide.
In a boost for the Saints, they welcomed back Stewart Loewe who was initially expected to miss three weeks after damaging a shoulder a fortnight earlier against the Bombers.
Michael Brennan came back into the side after missing several weeks with a hamstring injury, with Ashley McIntosh still unavailable with a groin strain.
John Worsfold also returned to the line up after missing a fortnight through injury, but the Eagles were still missing Brett Heady, Guy McKenna and Don Pyke as they continued their rehabilitations. Dean Laidley missed out despite strong WAFL form, while youngster Matt Clape was unlucky to miss out.
Brennan though was no match for Lockett who booted seven goals.
At the other end, Peter Sumich had a black day, held to just two kicks for the day opposed to Saints full back Danny Frawley. Sumich’s frustration boiled over at the half-time break, having to be pulled away by trainers after being involved in a heated exchange with Saints fans on the boundary.
David Hynes, Karl Langdon, Tony Evans and Paul Peos all struggled up forward in the conditions, with the Eagles breaking down as they went forward. John Georgiou and Russell Morris were both standouts for the Saints across half back, with Georgiou blanketing Chris Lewis, while Morris had nine uncontested possessions in the opening quarter, before finishing with 23 for the game. Morris also drifted forward to kick two goals.
The Eagles midfielders were exposed for their lack of accountability with Robert Harvey and Nicky Winmar both dominant. Winmar had 20 first half possessions, before finishing with 37 in a best on ground display. Harvey also accumulated 37 disposals with Dwayne Lamb the best for West Coast with 23 in a tagging role on Brett Bowey.
Malthouse was critical of his side’s lack of marking on Winmar and Harvey. “If you let Harvey and Winmar and these sorts of players control the football, they’re going to kick it to players who can finish off like Loewe and Lockett.”
In the other camp, Ken Sheldon was ecstatic with his side’s performance. “This was the most important game of the year – it just had to happen for us today.”
The Saints showed more desperation for the contest and were more willing to put their bodies on the line. Even though they won by 11 goals, the Saints recorded 13 more tackles than the Eagles in a sign of the attitude they brought to the contest.
While most players were beaten, Paul Harding was a shining light for the Eagles, against his former side. Harding battled away with Lazar Vidovic to finish with 21 disposals and nine marks, most of which were collected as Harding dropped into defence in front of Lockett. Peter Wilson was also one of the few winners racking up 21 touches through half forward and the midfield.
Despite the thrashing, the Eagles held onto fourth spot ahead of the Saints who remained fifth. Most other positions stayed the same, except for the Magpies and Bulldogs who switched places in 2nd and 3rd. The Bulldogs dropped out of the top two for the first time since Round 4 when they fell to the Bombers by 16 points in a bruising encounter.
The Magpies scraped past Sydney by 18 points to jump into second, with the Cats holding top spot after thrashing the Tigers by 82 points. The Blues had the bye, but still held onto sixth spot, even with the Hawks and Bombers both winning. All three teams had 10 wins, but Carlton stayed inside the top six with a better match ratio – having played one less game - even though the Hawks percentage was higher.
The Saints win at Waverley followed a vote during the week by Saints members to permanently move all home games from Moorabbin to AFL Park starting in 1993. St.Kilda had a debt of $704,000 with the club set to receive a one-off inducement payment from the AFL as part of the move. The Saints also believed that the move to Waverley would increase the clubs gate takings and increase club membership.
The Saints would still maintain Moorabbin as a training base, but with the ground requiring $3.2 million to upgrade to AFL level, the decision was made to play home games at Waverley, joining the Hawks as co-tenants.
Match Details Sunday 19 July 1992
St.Kilda 1.2 7.3 12.3 15.5 (95)
West Coast 1.3 2.6 2.10 3.11 (29)
Waverley Park Attendance: 24,691
Best: STK N Winmar, R Harvey, T Lockett, T Pekin, J Georgiou, R Morris, J Daniels, S Loewe
WCE P Harding, P Wilson, D Lamb, C Turley
Goals: STK T Lockett 7, R Morris, B Bowey, M Dwyer 2, N Burke, N Winmar.
WCE P Sumich, C Lewis, D Kemp.
Brownlow: 3. N.Winmar (STK)
2. R.Morris (STK)
1. R.Harvey (STK)