ST KILDA has starved Brisbane of a shot at the $1m McClelland Trophy with a stunning 21-point boilover at RSEA Park on Saturday afternoon.
The top-four Lions were favoured to claim another four points against the mid-table Saints to set up a last-round battle for the lucrative prize against Melbourne next week, but the home side stole the limelight with a memorable 8.7 (55) to 5.4 (34) upset win.
SAINTS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
The result will see Melbourne claim the McClelland-Trophy treasure, with Collingwood one game and nearly 18 percentage points behind.
Brisbane's chance to claim the $1m bounty went begging after it was simply outworked by a Saints side desperate to keep in touch with the top eight.
The Lions' top-four chances have suddenly been turned into a tenuous prospect, with Essendon and Gold Coast now hot on their heels heading into the final round.
The Lions were challenged before the game even began, with Sophie Conway, who averages more than a goal and 15 disposals a game, withdrawn from the starting line-up with hamstring tightness.
The Saints claimed more early gains by kicking with a strong wind in the first quarter, helping them open a lead they would never relent.
The breeze advantage was such that even St Kilda's 21-point lead at the last break wasn't cause for comfort, but that changed when the home side booted the first two goals of the last quarter against the gusts.
They were the first majors scored against the breeze all day, and the knockout blow came when the Saints added a third for the quarter through a Deanna Jolliffe snap.
Brisbane's top-four aspirations now appear in jeopardy, with Essendon's big win over Carlton meaning both the Bombers and Gold Coast are now a chance to snare fourth spot.
Fittingly, those teams meet on Friday night, so Brisbane will need to defeat the top-placed Melbourne on Saturday night to hold on to the double chance.
St Kilda, powered by big performances from former Lion Jesse Wardlaw (two goals) and Jaimee Lambert (20 disposals, eight tackles) catapulted themselves into the top eight – for now – meaning they can dare to dream with a round to play.
Melbourne's spring winds took to Moorabbin with force on Saturday afternoon, causing the ball to live on the south side of the ground for much of the game. The breeze's strength was such that lofty chip kicks were picked up and pulled back in mid-air, while boundary umpire throw-ins took skill and calculation. It made scoring at the north end incredibly difficult and defending at the south end a daunting task.In the end it was St Kilda who played the conditions best, even finding a way to boot goals against the breeze to rub salt into the wounds in the final term.
Wardlaw reunites with old mates in style
Key Saints tall Jesse Wardlaw wasted no time making a statement against her former teammates, taking advantage of a free kick to slot the opening major of the match. Wardlaw also engaged in some obligatory push-and-shove with her old mates when a short scuffle broke out later in the first term. The 23-year-old was everywhere, finishing one of her side's best with two goals and five marks.
Ally's party crashed
Ally Anderson was one of the best players afield - as usual - in her 75th match, becoming the first AFLW player to reach the milestone. But it will go down a memorable one for the wrong reasons, with the Lions stunned in a boilover on the road.
The Saints head over to Carlton to take on the Blues at IKON Park in what shapes as a potentially finals-defining contest, depending on other results. The Lions host Melbourne and will need to win to hold onto a top-four spot. It won't be the $1m contest as hoped, with Saturday's loss all but confirming that prize will go the Dees' way.
ST KILDA 2.3 2.4 4.7 8.7 (55)
BRISBANE 0.0 1.4 1.4 5.4 (34)
St Kilda: Wardlaw 2, Richards 2, Exon, Patrikios, Jolliffe, Smith
Brisbane: Davidson 2, O'Dwyer, Mullins, Smith
St Kilda: Lambert, Wardlaw, Patrikios, Smith, Vesely
Brisbane: Anderson, Mullins, Campbell, Davidson, Grider
St Kilda: Jaimee Lambert (ribs)
St Kilda: Nil
Brisbane: Sophie Conway (hamstring tightness) replaced in selected side by Analea McKee
Crowd: 2,005 at RSEA Park