Highlights: St Kilda v Gold Coast
The Saints and Suns clash in round 22
Stephen Milne was handy on Sunday and is expected to announce his retirement during the week
ST KILDA finally has something to celebrate, notching its first win in two months and locking in Lenny Hayes for next season.
Captain Nick Riewoldt starred with 15 marks and four goals, veteran small forward Stephen Milne also booted four goals and Leigh Montagna was superb with 33 disposals and three majors as the Saints beat Gold Coast 17.14 (116) to 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
It was the Saints' first win since downing Melbourne in round 13 and just their fourth for the season.
Further boosting the mood, the club announced on Sunday that 33-year-old midfield star Hayes had signed on
for next year.
It was a welcome double dose of good news for the Saints, which even if they upset Fremantle next Saturday, are set to finish with their fewest wins in a season in more than a decade.
Riewoldt set the tone for the Saints with a first half in attack that was most inspirational.
The Saints broke the game open with a six-goal, 16-minute burst in the second quarter, which turned a two-goal deficit into a four-goal lead.
Riewoldt took five marks for that quarter, booted two goals and could have had more, if not for two missed shots.
Montagna also kicked two goals and won plenty of the ball during that surge, while Hayes helped set things up with some hard work in the packs.
Leading by three goals at half-time, the Saints continued to push clear in the third term, kicking three of the first four goals, including a brilliant Montagna snap, to extend their lead to 34 points.
Two classy running goals from Suns youngster Jaeger O'Meara kept the margin to 21 points at the last change.
But when Milne kicked his third early in the final quarter, the result was beyond doubt.
Riewoldt, Montagna and Nick Dal Santo (31 disposals, one goal) were the Saints' best, while Clinton Jones prevented Suns star Gary Ablett becoming a match-winner and Ben McEvoy performed well in the ruck.
"It probably consolidates the last three, four, five weeks where we've played some top four sides and we've been able to go with them for a half or three quarters," coach Scott Watters said.
"To get the reward for effort today and play the full four quarters I thought was really strong reward for the group."
For the Suns, Harley Bennell, Dion Prestia and Danny Stanley battled hard in the midfield, with O'Meara also handy while Tim Sumner kicked three goals.
"We haven't had a game like that I reckon all season," he said.
"It's very important that we get ourselves up and finish the year and play a lot better than we did this week."
Nick Riewoldt leads Gold Coast's Steven May to the ball at Etihad Stadium. Picture: AFL Media
ST KILDA 3.2 9.5 12.9 17.14 (116)
GOLD COAST 3.3 6.5 9.6 10.10 (70)
St Kilda: Milne 4, Riewoldt 4, Montagna 3, Ledger, Schneider, Steven, Hickey, Geary, Dal Santo
Gold Coast: Sumner 3, O'Meara 2, Dixon 2, Thompson, Hall, Prestia
St Kilda: Montagna, Riewoldt, Dal Santo, Jones, Hayes, Steven, Dempster
Gold Coast: O'Meara, Prestia, Sumner, Bennell, Stanley
St Kilda: Nil
Gold Coast: Jarrod Harbrow (illness) replaced in the selected side by Karmichael Hunt, Andrew Boston (sternum), Daniel Gorringe (groin), Greg Broughton (Achilles tendon)
St Kilda: Tom Ledger replaced Cameron Shenton in the third quarter
Gold Coast: Karmichael Hunt replaced Andrew Boston at half time
Umpires: Donlon, Harris, Hosking
Official crowd: 17,622 at Etihad Stadium