Tim Membrey takes a pack mark against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Getty Images
Tim Membrey takes a pack mark against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Getty Images

Steven provides feel-good story in Saints win

Just go ahead and sign up Brett Ratten.

Scour the earth to find a fitness program that can keep Dan Hannebery intact to play like he did at Marvel Stadium.

And while you are at it, get around Jack Steven and maybe remind him how much fun football can be as a St Kilda player.

St Kilda's powerbrokers have a busy week ahead after a stunning last-gasp victory that so clarified many aspects of their bright future.

With three minutes remaining after an arm-wrestle against dangerous Fremantle, the Saints had kicked six straight behinds and looked to have thrown away their finals chances.

Of course it was Steven who emerged from a pack, long hair flowing and moustache bristling to snap the goal that dragged the margin to within a goal.

Then Nick Hind's precise pass found a leading Josh Bruce, who with 39 seconds remaining kicked St Kilda into the lead.

 

Jack Steven is mobbed by teammates after kicking a goal. Picture: AAP
Jack Steven is mobbed by teammates after kicking a goal. Picture: AAP

When Josh Battle took the saving last-line mark despite his broken nose stuffed with gauze with a handful of seconds remaining, St Kilda was home.

And maybe Ratten is too, after three wins and a loss ahead of this week's presentation to the St Kilda coaching subcommittee.

Ratten, however, said he didn't want to run a weekly commentary on his coaching claims.

"To see Jack with a big smile and three goals, Hanners (Dan Hannerbey) in the first half was very influential in his run but also his ball use to allow us to control the footy.

"So hopefully we finish the year nice and strong with him and Jack. That would be fantastic. It was a real step forward for those two.

"We didn't need Jack to get 30 possessions but what better place for him to be than in the forward line and he kicked three goals and set up a few and could have finished with five for the day.

 

"I won't do a running commentary on it but more so because of the duties of coaching the team it's been staggered over a few days so it works for me. I have got a few meetings over a few sittings.

"I have (coached against Carlton) as an assistant for a few years. It is what it is, the colours change from the purple and white to navy blue but our focus won't change too much."

The Saints endured a Nat Fyfe masterclass - two goals and 21 touches in the first half alone - until opponent Jack Steele eventually stifled his influence.

This time a St Kilda teams crying out for game breakers had a pair of their own.

Steven played mainly held forward and while he isn't as trim and terrific under his Saints jumper his three goals were just as spectacular.

Dan Hannebery was everything the Saints had hoped he would be despite regular work from fitness staff on his groin.

His kicking was full of precision, he dragged Freo players to ground with crunching tackles and his two first-term goals saw him assaulted by his teammates.

 

 

Dan Hannebery gets a handball away despite being tackled by Brad Hill. Picture: Getty Images
Dan Hannebery gets a handball away despite being tackled by Brad Hill. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

In between St Kilda's fast start and that nailbiting finish were too many skill errors and botched shots to mention.

Ed Langdon and Brad Hill were Fyfe's willing wingmen, while Griffin Logue's pair of touched goal line saves and Brandon Matera's late goal put the Dockers in a winning spot.

But in this extraordinary match of momentum swings, it was St Kilda charging hardest late.

Steven said he was thrilled to be back playing AFL football after missing large chunks of the season away from St Kilda with mental health issues and conceded his VFL form had been below par.

But the four-time best-and-fairest winner was just happy to be out playing with his mates again.

"That was pretty much my main aim, to have a bit of fun and luckily I got backed in by the boys, that's pretty much all they told me to do," Steven said.

 

Jack Steven said he just wanted to have some fun in his return for the Saints. Picture: Getty Images
Jack Steven said he just wanted to have some fun in his return for the Saints. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

"It was awesome, my main aim was to get back this year and to get the boys over the line was awesome. I think we had a good crack all day and had a bit of fun and it was good to be back out there

"I was a bit worried, the last couple of games of VFL I haven't been too good, a bit overweight, a bit under fit, but I felt like I contributed today so that's all that matters.

"The (last few months) have been pretty solid, it's hard to explain but full credit to everyone, they have given me my right space at the right times and also had my back at the right times.

"It's not the best thing but my main aim was to get back and I did that so that's all right."

 

HOLLER FOR A MEDICO

There weren't that many St Kilda supporters at a frigid Marvel Stadium but their collective gasp of horror was audible when Rowan Marshall's knee buckled in the first quarter.

He was caught in a Dockers sandwich as Connor Blakeley came back with the flight and his knee seemed to hyperextend as he hit the ground at an awkward angle.

With Josh Bruce having a cut attended to in the rooms Jake Carlisle was pushed into the ruck and actually did a manful job.

Thankfully Marshall resumed after some structural checks, but again it underlines why Todd Goldstein is a priority target for the Saints.

He has been offered a three-year deal by St Kilda - compared to two years and a trigger clause by the Roos.

Marshall was still excellent but Fremantle had the best of the hit-outs and he was double-teamed by Sean Darcy and Aaron Sandilands.

 

 

Rowan Marshall screams in pain after hurting his knee but thankfully there was no serious damage and he played out the game. Picture: Getty Images
Rowan Marshall screams in pain after hurting his knee but thankfully there was no serious damage and he played out the game. Picture: Getty Images

 

TALENT FOR THE FUTURE

Regardless of who is their coach next year St Kilda have finally unearthed a core of juniors who can excite the Saints faithful.

Nick Coffield dislocated his shoulder and might be done for the year but he and fellow draft alumni Hunter Clark look the real deal after time in the VFL this year.

Marshall, Callum Wilkie and Josh Battle have all taken significant steps this year and look key position pillars for a very long time.

Ben Long's forward pressure was exceptional yesterday and Nick Hind is a keeper as a buzzy forward with a nose for goal.

Regardless of Paddy McCartin's fate and Jack Steven's 2020 home, with Max King back next year there is a nucleus of young talent to go with the established stars.

 

ROSS FRUSTRATED WITH LOSS

Ross Lyon says Fremantle will keep fighting to the line despite admitting his frustration his Dockers now need a miracle to play finals after a heartbreaking loss to St Kilda.

The Dockers were nine points up with only 2min 35sec on the clock.

But after St Kilda snatched the game with two late goals Lyon will now turn his mind to whether to grant club stalwart Hayden Ballantyne a farewell game next week.

The Dockers take on Essendon at home before a Round 23 clash against Port Adelaide away, and would have to make up a huge percentage gap and win both games to have any hope of September.

Lyon was reluctant to go into the bigger picture about his club's growth this year but said he couldn't fault his team's effort.

"The effort can't be questioned. It's probably about execution and we spoke about the game situation. Even the last stoppage was six versus six and we could have generated a seventh player and didn't get that done.

"Of course we are frustrated. We invest a lot. That was our finals opportunities closed but to come interstate and compete like we did, I can't really question the effort. We focused on improving our interstate preparation as a young group."

The Dockers granted Michael Johnson a farewell game when he retired, with Aaron Sandilands also playing in what might be his last season of football.

"I haven't had one conversation with Hayden," Lyon said.

"We are driving to the line and will continue to drive to the line. We have done it in the past but it's not something I haveput my head to.

"At the right time I will turn my attention to that as it comes across my desk.

"We feel like there has been real growth and every team has its availability issues. There is real growth in our system andwe are driving to the line."

 

 

SCOREBOARD

 

 

ST KILDA 4.3 6.5 8.7 10.12 (72)

FREMANTLE 2.3 6.4 9.8 10.9 (69)

GOALS

St Kilda: Steven 3, Hannebery 2, Membrey 2, Dunstan, Battle, Bruce

Fremantle: Fyfe 2, Matera 2, Walters, Darcy, Switkowski, Crowden, Langdon, Schultz

BEST

St Kilda: Hannebery, Steven, Ross, Clark, Marshall, Billings, Marshall

Fremantle: Fyfe, Langdon, Blakeley, Hill, Tucker, Switkowski

INJURIES

St Kilda: Coffield (right shoulder)

Fremantle: TBC

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Gavine, Glouftsis

Official crowd: 17,715 at Marvel Stadium

 

 

JON RALPH'S VOTES

3. Nat Fyfe

2. Dan Hannebery

1. Jack Steven

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